Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers: Celts Go for Season Sweep
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While the Celtics continue on their journey to make up for last year's heartbreaking Game 7, the Lakers will try to disprove critics who say the are stuck in a rut and incapable of beating the elite, in what will undoubtedly prove one of the most exciting games of the remaining regular season.
In this year's previous meeting, Paul Pierce's monster game combined with the Celtics suffocating defense proved too much for the Lakers, who despite having a 54-50 lead at the half lost 109-96.
Kobe Bryant went for broke, scoring 41 points, but the rest of the Los Angeles team came out lethargic.
The second highest scorer for the Lakers was Lamar Odom with 15 on six-of-eight shooting. Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol were the only other Lakers in double-digits, with 11 and 12 respectively, and no Laker notched more than seven boards.
The C's, on the other hand, came out passionate and energetic, full of the fire many naysayers claim they lack.
Paul Pierce had a team-high 32, going 11-of-18 from the field and 3-of-5 from distance. Rajon Rondo had another incredible assist game, notching 15 of his 16 points in the second half. They silenced the Staples Center crowd and proved that they're still the team to beat in the Eastern Conference.
Since then, the Celtics have gone 2-2, handily beating the Orlando Magic and pulling off a comeback victory against the Sacramento Kings, who played some of their best ball of the season against Boston.
Who will emerge with the win after Thursday's game?
A sloppy fourth quarter coupled with some incredible shooting by Dallas veterans Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki led to a disappointing loss at home last Friday, along with an inexplicable defeat at the hands of the Charlotte Bobcats, despite the ejection of Stephen Jackson at the half.
LA has fared slightly better, despite an agonizing loss to the San Antonio Spurs, 89-88, after a buzzer-beating tip in by Antonio McDyess. They have beaten the Hornets, Grizzlies and Rockets, but still can't quell talk of their fall from the top of the West.
The return of Kendrick Perkins has been huge for Boston. Even though he only scored two points in the last game against the Lakers, his phenomenal interior defense kept the LA bigs silent for most of the game. Perk has been gradually working up to heavier minutes and has been starting as of late, giving the Celtics their usual starting five for the first time all season.
They suffered another blow on Sunday, as reserve guard Marquis Daniels bruised his spinal cord driving on the Magic's Gilbert Arenas and is expected out for one to two months.
Though they have had some trouble against subpar teams this season, the Celts have proved that they can dominate the league's upper echelon.
With the Miami Heat coming to town Saturday just a half game back in the standings, look for Boston to start the homestand off with a solid win over the Lake Show.
With Ray Allen a mere two three-pointers shy of breaking Reggie Miller's all-time record, expect huge things from Mr. Shuttlesworth and the entire Boston team looking to beat their biggest rival for the second time in 12 days.
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