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Stray Bullets: Celtics vs. Lakers

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  • I usually don't believe in moral victories in professional sports.  Maybe for really young teams with no expectations, but not for top tier teams like the Lakers.  Yet, last night's loss meant absolutely nothing to me.  I saw enough to know that these guys are getting ready for the stretch run.  I would have liked to see them win, but losing to the Celtics didn't mean what it would have in the past two years, or even last month.  I know the Lakers were the better team, and the Lakers know it.  That's what what mattered to me the most.  They wanted it, and didn't need Kobe's fuel to keep them fired up.
  • In both games against the Lakers, the Celtics were most engaged I've seen them all season.  The Lakers games make you wonder how the Celtics could possibly be struggling like they are.  They wanted this game and just couldn't impose their will and intimidate like they did in the past.  They were trying though.  Previously, there was no way the Lakers could punch Boston back without Kobe.  The physicality last night seemed to encourage the Lakers.  The defense was great again.
  • The Celtics continue to play absolutely craptastic in the 4th.  Folding late and giving up leads, or letting a team runaway is a recurring problem for them this season.  Sure enough, after opening a 9 pt. lead, the Lakers go on a 14-0 run to go up 5 midway through the final period.   We weren't too great in the last 6-7 minutes of the 4th, but I think it had to do with some head scratching substitutions by Phil that added to it.
  • The Lakers made their run with Pau, Odom, Sasha, Farmar, and Shannon.  Everything was going fine.  The Lakers were playing good defense and were pushing the tempo en route to erasing a 9 pt. deficit.  Then Andrew comes in for Shannon at 80 all.  He helps LA get to 84-80, then proceeds to hold the ball for a few light years, then take a bad shot.  A few times.  In a game in which the refs are letting them play, scoring is at a premium.  You cannot afford to waste offensive possessions following great defensive play.  It killed momentum at a time when Lamar was feeling it. 
  • "Having said that...," Drew's emotion was great.  I love it when he plays with passion.  We are very, very good defensively when he does.
  • I understand that players need rest for the final minutes.  I understand that Pau needed some rest as well.  What I can't understand is subbing in Pau and Fish and Shannon back in at the 3:36 mark.  Farmar was pushing the ball well and keeping the C's on the heels.  Also, up until that point, Sasha was doing a great job.  Especially on defense.  Ray Allen was roasting Shannon or Fish.  It didn't help that neither of them could buy one of the many bad shots they took.  Sometimes you have to ride the momentum.  Should've left Sasha and Farmar in.
  • The reason Shannon takes some bad shots that we'd only like to see Kobe take is because he is absolutely terrible at post entry.  He either can't do it, or refuses to.  There were quite a few possessions that Pau was working for position, only to have Shannon not make the pass.  Knowing Pau's sometime problem with establishing post position against physical teams, you have to make sure he gets the ball when he does.  Work the ball inside-out, post entry, get it back, re-post.  
  • Fish?  Please stop driving to the basket.  You have to be about 10% on the year point blank.  What's worse is you don't get foul calls.  You're also not going to get a foul call on a wild shot, in a physical game, with 2.2 seconds left. 
  • If Fish is going to be put back in there for his veteran presence, then he should think like a 4-time Champion, 14 year vet.  He makes some questionable plays at times.
  • I will never understand how a great coach like Phil Jackson continues to have underwhelming inbound plays.
  • Ron Artest's foot must be feeling much better.  He actually jumped a couple of times last night.  He can dunk.  Ask Rasheed.
  • Sasha deserves more minutes.  Give him some of Fish's.  We saw the Machine again last night.  He was great on D, and actually successfully took it to the hole twice.  All he needs is consistency.  Making it through the trade deadline has to boost confidence.
  • Supposedly Marquis Daniels played last night.  Complete non factor.  I think I like him more than the mistake machine Tony Allen.
  • As usual, KG was brick city in the 4th.  He's good for that.
  • I usually hate on Rajon Rondo, but he's absolutely great at finding the right guy.  Especially in semi-transition.  The Celtics don't have to run set plays a lot because he's so good at it.
  • Rasheed is done. Okay, that's an exaggeration, but he's not a player that worries you anymore.
  • Lamar Odom found out that if he takes it to the hoop hard, he can dunk.  Easily.  It's kind of easy when your 6-10 and lefty.  After you ask Rasheed about Ron Ron, ask Ray and Perk about LO.