Boston was coming off of 5 wins in a row and the Lakers were amidst serious trade rumors, which made for two evenly matched teams hungry to win and it showed. Boston took a 2 point lead in at half-time only to be down by 3 after the end of the 3rd quarter and with only a couple minutes left it was still anyone’s game.
The Celtics went up by 2 with just over a minute to play on a smooth Ray Allen catch and release from 3 point land, but Gasol came right back and tied it with a hard fought tip-in that sent the game into overtime.
In OT Paul Pierce did a lot of the heavy lifting for the Cs on offense with back-to-back buckets, but it was an Andrew Bynum deuce that put the Lakers up by 2. This set up the dramatic finish of Pierce’s rimmed out fade away with 2 seconds remaining leading to the Ray Allen put back underneath that Gasol blocked as time expired to give the Lakers the win.
The story for the Lakers was the Bynum / Gasol combo. The Celtics had no answer for this frontcourt combo that dominated the boards, the low post, and when it was all on the line made a block to save the game. Bynum went for a rock solid double-double with 18 points and 17 rebounds. Gasol kept pace with 25 points, 14 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Yes, Kobe was definitely present as well with 27 points, but this was not a Kobe-saves-the-day kind of win, but rather a win by the Big Three in LA.
The Celtics had big nights by Pierce who had 18 points and 9 rebounds and Allen who had 22 points and a number of critical 3s at crucial moments in the game. Allen’s 3-point shooting and overall point production has come alive in 2012 as the condensed schedule seems to have brought the fire out of this veteran. This might be just the lift the Lakers need to get on a winning streak and move up a few spots in the Western Conference.
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