The Celtics did not look like a team playing the second game of a back-to-back.
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They played with a high level of defensive intensity all night long, and held the Lakers to just 41% shooting for the game. Meanwhile, they had their way with the Lakers on offense, getting to the rim repeatedly and outscoring the Lakers 58-36 in the paint.
And when the Lakers did have quality opportunities, they didn’t hit their shots. The Lakers shot 5 of 23 (22%) from downtown, and many of those attempts were wide open.
The inability to hit open shots was especially true at the charity stripe tonight. Lakers not named Kobe Bryant shot 9 of 21 (43%) from the free throw line – that can’t continue.
Kobe Bryant scored 27 points on 9 of 15 shooting, and Steve Nash played with a bounce in his step on his 39th birthday, but their efforts were not nearly enough.
Yes, the Lakers missed Pau Gasol, but his absence tonight probably didn’t hurt them as much as Metta World Peace’s shooting. MWP, mired in an extended shooting slump, scored just five points on 2 of 13 shooting, including 0 of 5 from downtown.
Dwight Howard returned to action after missing five games. He scored nine points (4 of 8) and grabbed nine rebounds, but was just 1 of 6 from the line, and fouled out in just 28 minutes of action. He didn’t play poorly – but his performance was certainly uninspiring.
And it would be unfair to point out Dwight’s poor numbers without also pointing out that Earl Clark scored only five points on 2 of 6 shooting, and grabbed just seven boards in 34 minutes.
And while it’s true that the Lakers were playing without Pau Gasol tonight (and will be playing without him for two months), he would not have been nearly enough to get his team the win tonight.
The Lakers need to put this game behind them, and move on. Tonight was simply not their night.
Oddly, the Lakers fell to 0-6 this year in the first game of back-to-backs. Fortunately, they are 3-2 this year in the second game of back to backs, and will have a chance to improve upon that record in Charlotte Friday night.
Fans can only hope the Lakers look as good on the second game of their back-to-back as the Celtics did tonight.
Lakers’ Player of the Game
Player of the game tonight goes to Kobe Bryant, who scored 27 points on 9 of 15 shooting. Kobe also shot 9 of 9 from the free throw line, and pulled down seven rebounds.
Tonight’s Top Two Tweets in my Twitter Feed
“Actually, tonight’s game is a sign of Lakers improvement. I’ll take 3 wins and a blowout loss over 3 losses and a blowout win any day.” – @LakersBlog_SSR, late-game tweet
“Not a lot of positivity to take from that one, folks. Burn the tape. Move on and beat the Bobcats tomorrow.” – @LakersNation, post-game tweet
Friday, February 8 at the Charlotte Bobcats, 4:00 p.m. PST