Coming into Sunday's epic matchup against rivals Boston Celtics, the Los Angeles Lakers have been heavily scrutinized for a number of reasons, including mishandling the Pau Gasol trade rumors and their mediocre play. However, a huge win against the Boston Celtics should instill confidence in one of the proudest fan bases in sports.
Despite blowing a 10-point lead created in the first quarter, the Los Angeles Lakers staged off the veteran Celtics to improve their record to 25-16.
Kobe Bryant did not fail expectations, as the superstar shooting guard put up an efficient 26 points on 9-of-20 shooting. Artest also played exceptionally with 14 points while reaping havoc on Paul Pierce all game long.
However, the real story of the night was the dominant play of Los Angeles' "Twin Towers."
Both Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum had double-doubles on the night. Bynum, who the Lakers looked for late in the fourth, garnered 20 points along with 14 boards. Gasol, on the other hand, only had 13 points, but still grabbed 13 rebounds.
It was clearly evident that the Lakers' strength and size in the middle bothered the Boston Celtics all game long.
The Celtics, who were missing a few role players including Jermaine O'Neal, had huge contributions from All-Star Rajon Rondo.
Rondo had 24 points and 10 assists in 40 minutes of action. Kevin Garnett chipped in with 14 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. However, the size of Bynum and Gasol proved to be too much for the veteran to handle on defense.
Boston's starting swingmen, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, had rough shooting nights. Allen, the best three-point marksman in NBA history, shot 3-of-8 from downtown, but only 6-of-14 from the field. Pierce, who was guarded by the notoriously aggressive Ron Artest, scored only 13 points on 4-of-14 shooting.
Neither team received much help from the bench, a problem that has plagued both organizations all season long.
The trio of Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo all had three-point opportunities in the closing minutes to tie the game, but none could convert.
Hopefully, this win convinces Lakers brass to keep their big man duo of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum intact. There is a reason the Lakers rank first in rebounds per game with 45.8 per night.
Nonetheless, this is a huge win for the resurging Los Angeles Lakers. After a rough start to the season, the Lakers have risen to their rightful place on top of the conference led by the fantastic play of Kobe Bryant.