Friday, February 19, 2010
Lakers lack the closer needed, Celtics steal one in LA
LOS ANGELES -- Ray Allen missed a potential game-winning shot at the final horn the last time the Boston Celtics played the Los Angeles Lakers
He was determined to make Derek Fisher suffer the same fate in the rematch.
Allen's key defensive stop Thursday night secured an 87-86 victory for the Atlantic Division leaders. He also scored 12 of his 24 points in the third quarter and made 10 of his first 11 shots, helping send the defending NBA champions to their first loss in five games since Kobe Bryant went down with a sprained left ankle.
"I just tried to be patient and settle in," Allen said. "Just allow my body to kind of ease its way into the game and not force any action. And it just came my way."
The Lakers had won the previous three meetings with the Celtics after losing the 2008 finals to them in six games. On Jan. 13, they beat Boston 90-89 on the parquet floor, after Bryant hit a jumper with 7.3 seconds left to give the Lakers their only lead of the second half and Allen missed 3-point shot at the other end.
"Ray was huge tonight. I think we should threaten to trade him all the time and then pull him back," coach Doc Rivers said. "He was phenomenal. That stretch in the third quarter won the game for us, in my opinion."
Kendrick Perkins had 13 points and 14 rebounds, Kevin Garnett had 13 points and eight boards and Rajon Rondo added 14 points and 11 assists for the Celtics, who were busy before gametime. They acquired guard Nate Robinson and Marcus Landry from the New York Knicks in exchange for Eddie House, J.R. Giddens, Bill Walker and a future conditional second-round pick.
Pau Gasol scored 22 points, and Lamar Odom had 13 points and 14 rebounds for the Lakers -- who missed nine of 25 free throws. Bryant, the league's fourth-leading scorer, remained in the trainer's room getting treatment on his sprained left ankle while his teammates rallied from a nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter to take a four-point lead.
"Our defense gave us an opportunity to win, but we couldn't get it done," coach Phil Jackson said after the Lakers' fifth home loss. "We couldn't find a way to score in the last few minutes. I think we had some pretty good shots. We just couldn't convert."
But the Celtics, who came in allowing a league-low 93.7 points per game, held the Lakers to one field goal over the final 7:14 to record their second straight win after the All-Star break. The Lakers' point total was their lowest against the Celtics since Feb. 15, 1991, when they lost 98-85 at the Forum.
Los Angeles went 4 minutes, 48 seconds without a basket until Odom's layup with 2:26 to play. Garnett missed a 21-footer with 51 seconds left, but the Lakers lost possession on a turnover by Gasol. The Lakers got the ball back and Odom missed a driving layup with 2.2 seconds to go.
The groans from the sellout crowd turned to audible sighs of relief when everyone realized the Lakers had called a time out just before Odom made his move to the basket. But the ensuing inbounds pass from Ron Artest to Fisher resulted in a missed 21-footer by the 14-year veteran with Allen's hand in his face.
"Give Boston credit. They're one of the better defensive teams," Jackson said. "Fish broke off his cut. He was supposed to open the floor up, and we were supposed to have an option there. It didn't work."
The Celtics were leading 66-55 when Garnett picked up his fourth foul and went to the bench with 8:27 left in the third quarter. He was replaced by Rasheed Wallace, who received a technical foul from referee Bob Delaney with 3:10 left in the period for shoving Gasol as the two power forwards jockeyed for position.
Garnett didn't return to the floor until 7:53 remained. By then, the Lakers were eight points into a 13-0 run triggered by two layups by Sasha Vujacic and capped by Andrew Bynum's 20-footer. The basket gave Los Angeles an 84-80 lead with 7:14 to play, but Perkins' layup put Boston back in front to stay with 4:24 remaining.
"We really put some plays together and created some intensity," Gasol said. "We finished plays, got some stops and some defensive rebounds and gave ourselves a chance. We fought and competed. It was a one-point game. We were so close."