Last night's Lakers-Celtics game, a 92-86 win for the Lakers, was much more than a dog-and-pony show for Ray Allen's super-human 3-point shooting capabilities.
(Allen connected on 3-of-8 threes to surpass Reggie Miller for the all-time lead in 3-pointers made with 2,562.)Allen, without question, was brilliant and gracious. I've followed him since his time with the Milwaukee Bucks and I can honestly say there isn't a more deserving guy to hold this record than him.
But for the game, and the rivalry, there's a lot to draw upon from last night's contest. It was, in the best way I know how to describe it, an "I told you so" game. Let me explain.
1.) Only nine healthy -- Shaquille O'Neal, Jermaine O'Neal, Semih Erden, Marquis Daniels and, for giggles, Delonte West didn't play last night for Eastern Conference's best team. Is it any wonder why they lost? Erden, the 7-foot Turk who has been playing aggressive and strong in his reserve role, was out with an adductor strain leaving the Celtics thin in their greatest asset -- the frontcourt -- after notable injuries to Shaq and Jermaine. The whole reason the Celtics picked up Erden and the O'Neals was to compete with the Lakers in the paint. Last night's loss becomes painfully obvious when the bigs to back up Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins are not available and, like last night, get in foul trouble.
2.) Andrew Bynum defines his worth -- You could see in the fourth quarter, when Lamar Odom got his head busted by his teammate Pau Gasol, that Andrew Bynum was gassed. He's not used to playing in the fourth quarter stretch. But when he's in the game, albeit unproductive on the offensive end, his length creates problems in the paint for opposing teams. Sans one layup by Rajon Rondo, Bynum affected multiple shots down the stretch as the Lakers made their final push. I'll reiterate here, as I have before, that trading Bynum for Carmelo Anthony, as Kobe Bryant has insisted, is not a wise idea.
3.) Kobe defends Kevin Garnett -- I'm positive that Kobe Bryant knows Kevin Garnett better than anyone I know -- including the Celtics beat writers and whatnot. But I honestly don't think he's been watching KG lately. There's been some pretty questionable stunts by Garnett that have warranted criticism, and at times, I would say, a fine. His punch to Channing Frye's groin put him on the league's radar. Spike Lee went so far as to tell him to "calm the f--- down." Charlie Villanueva ripped him on Twitter (causing Garnett to release a rare statement in response). Joakim Noah cried about him on the radio. People talk. And Kobe, who admittedly has talked a lot of trash with KG over his 14 years in the league, doesn't believe any of it.
"He's not a (jerk) by any stretch of the imagination," Bryant told the Globe's Gary Washburn. "He's a good dude. But he plays his heart out though."
I guess that's how he really feels. Watching the game last night, you could tell there was none of that "jerk" demeanor by Garnett in the game. Did Kobe's comments have anything to do with that? Maybe it's Kobe's new mind game. Say great things about KG to get him to calm down. He definitely didn't get into it with anyone, even though one of his favorite targets (Gasol) was battling with him all night.
4.) The Lakers aren't really down on themselves -- Nationally, the Lake show has been getting ripped for weeks. But as you take a look at the standings (37-16, second in the Western Conference), the last 10 games they've played (6-4), and consider last night's win over the Celtics as part of the equation, there's really nothing to jump off a bridge about if you're a Lakers fan. And certainly no reason to trade for Carmelo Anthony. To borrow a phrase, the news of their demise is greatly exaggerated.
5.) Kobe Bryant looks more and more like Michael Jordan -- I don't like the comparison any more than he does. But I happen to think that his growing use of the fadeaway jump shot looks very familiar. However, no player -- and I mean none -- has been able to master the post-up to fadeaway shot from mid range like MJ. Not even Kobe.
The main contributors to The Buzz are:
- Matt Pepin, Boston.com sports editor
- Steve Silva, Boston.com senior sports producer
- Gary Dzen, Boston.com senior sports producer
- Zuri Berry, Boston.com sports producer