Paul Pierce scored 24, Jeff Green added 19, and the Boston Celtics beat the L.A. Lakers 116-95 for their sixth straight win, moving to 6-0 without Rajon Rondo. Kobe Bryant scored a game high 27 for Los Angeles, almost single handedly keeping the Lakers in it for the better part of three quarters, but the Celtics ran away late in the third quarter, building a 26 point lead by the end of the frame and never looking back. The Celtics played very strong defense, limiting L.A. to just 42 percent shooting, but it was really just another solid team win for the Celtics. Nobody was really spectacular offensively. Pierce had a nice stretch in the third quarter, while Green, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry each had their moments. But it was more just an example of simple ball movement and strong team basketball. The Celtics have had a number of quality wins this year, but this one was by far the most fun to watch.
The Celtics put together a very nice second quarter to take a 58-44 lead into the locker room, however the game felt a lot closer than that as the third quarter got under way. The Celtics started the second half well, but Bryant kept knocking down tough shot after tough shot to keep L.A within striking distance. The Celtics slowly started to pull away as the Lakers' isolation offense gradually ground to a halt, but Boston blew the top off the Garden with under two minutes remaining in the frame. First Terry knocked down a three to push the lead to 21, then after an Antwawn Jamison miss Pierce found Green for a run out dunk. Green hustled back the other way after the score and came up with a huge block on Jamison on the ensuing possession. Avery Bradley grabbed the lose ball and found Pierce for a back breaking triple to put Boston up 95-69 with 40.6 remaining in the third. The rest of the night was basically garbage time.
If there is a back court tandem that can play better defense on Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant than Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee did on Thursday night Celtics101 doesn't know about them. Bryant had an overall strong night, but Lee made him work for every single point. Practically any other player who attempted the shots that Lee forced Bryant in to would not have hit double figures. Nash meanwhile really didn't have much to work with all night long, not with the way Bradley was chasing him around. There are a lot of strong perimeter defenders in the game, but there may not be a tandem in the league the puts more pressure on the ball than Lee and Bradley. Their effort, speed, and defensive intensity is just incredibly disruptive.
Milestone for KG
With 8:08 to go in the second quarter Kevin Garnett hit a tough fade away jumper to put the Celtics up 39-29. The basket was significant for the Celtics because it put them up 10, but it was particularly big for KG because the shot gave him 25,000 career points. He is just the 16th player in league history the top 25,000 mark. Even more impressively he became the first player with 25,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 5,000 assists, 1,500 blocks and 1,500 steals. If there is one thing that should tell people it's that KG is complete player, as complete a player as the game has ever seen.
More from the Bench
A lot of Celtics have stepped up since Rajon Rondo went down. Most of them are on the Celtics bench. After a somewhat off night in Toronto on Wednesday the Celtics bench was once again spectacular against the Lakers. Green keeps getting better and better while Terry's ability to run the second unit has been absolutely crucial during this six game winning streak. Even Fab Melo got in on the act, checking into the game with five minutes remaining and scoring his first NBA points a few minutes later on a nice feed from Bradley.
What It Means
We all knew the Celtics had this in them. It would have been nice if they started playing this way before Rondo got injured, but they have at least been fun to watch during this six game streak. The defense was excellent again, and the simplified offense just keeps producing results. It was the Lakers, who are about as bad a defensive squad as there is in the NBA right now, but 116 points is a lot points no matter who you're playing. Celtics101 still thinks that the Celtics ceiling without Rondo is pretty low, but as long as they keep winning the results speak for themselves.
After their best back-to-back effort in quite some time the Celtics get a little time off before the Denver Nuggets come to town on Sunday, February 10th, with tip-off set for 6:00 p.m. from TD Garden.
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