In another year, taking the Lakers to overtime could be considered a moral victory, a stepping stone to gaining further momentum in games in the near future. The Celtics did a lot of things right on Thursday, but the two things they failed to do — rebound and go to the basket — eventually did them in. They almost got away with it, but against this Lakers team, that wouldn’t have been much of a moral victory, either.
“I thought our execution the whole game was terrible,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “I thought this was an awful game, except for they won. If we had won it, it would’ve been an awful game that we had won.”
The awful started on the glass, where the Celtics were outrebounded, 55-45. The offensive glass is where the Celtics really got burned. The Lakers had 15 offensive rebounds; Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum combined for 11.
“We talked about it before the game,” said Rivers. “Longer teams, you’ve got to go hit them. You’ve got to put a body on them. If you think you can just turn and rebound when a guy’s five inches taller than you, it’s not going to happen.”
The other thing the Celtics failed to do is get to the rim. Boston attempted five three throws all game to 20 for Los Angeles. Anyone who watched the game got the overwhelming sense that the Celtics were settling for jump shots.
“I just thought we just didn’t get to our sets like we wanted to,” said Paul Pierce, who had 18 points on 7-of-18-shooting. “I thought we played a little too much random pick and roll basketball. They really blocked a lot of things that we were trying to do.”
That was never more evident than on the final play of regulation, when Pierce picked up his dribble and forced a pass to Mickael Pietrus, who forced a bad shot which forced overtime. Rivers included that play in an entire game of miserable offensive execution.
“I thought a lot of it was self-inflicted,” said Rivers. “We’ve been very good at just running the floor, ball movement, second and third options, second and third picks. Today the ball just was not – it was no fun to watch.”
Kevin Garnett was 6 of 23 from the floor. Ray Allen led the team with 22 points but was 9 of 20.