Monday, June 09, 2008
The Celtics rode a roller coaster last night in Game 2 of the NBA finals. After leading by as many as 22 points in the 4th quarter, their lead evaporated, getting as close as 2 points. But the Celtics were strong down the stretch and prevailed 108-102.
Leon Powe had the game of his life. Any question marks surrounding the Celtics' bench in this series were answered with exclamation points thanks to Mr. Powe. In only 15 minutes of playing time, he had 21 points. He was 6 of 7 shooting (that one miss was actually an alley oop gone awry), and got to the line 13 times. He was simply unbelievable as he sparked the Celtics run that put them 20 ahead of the Lakers.
Powe wasn't the only one who answered questions. Paul Pierce clarified a great many things about his health last night. He had 28 points, 8 assists, and was 4 for 4 from 3 point range.
Kevin Garnett had a decent night, although he struggled early. He started the game 3 for 12 from the field, before finishing 7 for 19. Defensively he was a beast, and under the glass he hauled in 14 rebounds.
Ray Allen continued to shoot well. He was 2 of 3 from beyond the arc, and 6 of 11 overall. He once again finished with 17 points.
Rajon Rondo didn't put up many points (only 1 of 4 shooting for 4 points), but he did have 16 assists. The Celtics as a team had 31 assists for their 36 field goals. About the only knock on Rondo's night was that he was 2 of 6 at the charity stripe, and late in the 4th he got a little bit crazy with the unnecessary alley oop passes that wound up as Laker rebounds.
The big story of the game will probably be the way Los Angeles came back and made a game of things down the stretch, but to be honest, I don't think it was that big of a deal. Both teams slowed down when the Celtics were up by 20. Suddenly, Los Angeles couldn't miss three pointers. The Lakers started the 4th shooting 7 of 9 from behind the arc. That's insane. And it helped bring them back into the game.
The officials also deserve an assist. The Celtics weren't the only ones out there who lost focus. With 1:31 on the clock, Paul Pierce was mugged, but the refs didn't blow the whistle. Sasha Vujacic runs down the court, nails a 3, and it's a 104-98 game.
On the very next play, Vladimir Radmanovic took a stroll through the paint - a 4 step stroll - before dunking the ball. No travelling was called and the score was 104-100.
The Celtics put themselves in a bad position by losing their concentration and not properly finishing off the Lakers. But the refs were a big reason why the potential for a close game became a reality. Thankfully, the C's turned it back on, Paul Pierce nailed some clutch free throws, and so did James Posey.
Even though they allowed 102 points, the Celtics defense had one of their best games in the post-season, at least for 4/5 of the night. They smothered Bryant, forcing him to take near impossible shots. They kept Kobe out of the paint and held him to 11 of 23 shooting and 30 points. He only had 9 points in the 1st half and Ray Allen had already gotten him into foul trouble.
The series now heads west to LA. The Celtics proved in Detroit that they can win big games on the road. Now it's time for another test. Tuesday night, 9 PM
AP Photo/Charles Krupa
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images
Justin Masterson improved to 3-0 with yet another solid outing. He went 6 innings, allowing just 1 run off 3 hits. Craig Hansen pitched another scoreless inning, earning his 4th Hold of the season. Okajima and Papelbon pitched a perfect 8th and 9th, respectively. Papelbon only threw 5 pitches, all of which were strikes.
JD Drew provided all the offense that Masterson and company would need. He was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the 3rd, then hit a solo homerun to center in the 6th.
The Sox have Monday off, then continue their homestand when the Orioles come to town. Beckett goes against Daniel Cabrera on Tuesday, which will start early due to the Celtics game.
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer