This was a special night for many reasons. For starters, the Lakers wore their retro 70’s gold uniforms IN Boston. Second, Ray Allen surpassed sharpshooter Reggie Miller to become the NBA’s all-time 3 point leader. Lastly, this was the rematch in the most anticipated game of the season for the Lakers; who returned to the Boston Garden for the first time since last year’s NBA Finals.
It was just a mere week ago where Boston walked away from STAPLES Center with a dominating victory over the Lakers. Since that game, the Lakers proceeded on to a 3-1 record heading into tonight’s matchup and the Celtics 2-2. The Lakers have been surrounded by a myriad of trade rumors over the past week. Despite the media distractions, L.A. headed into the hostile environment with a slow start, but ultimately, a statement was made by Los Angeles defeating the Celtics 92-86.
Bryant took over late with 20 of his 23 points coming in the 2nd half; a league-leading 15th time this season he’s accomplished this. Bynum and Gasol combined for 36 points and 19 rebounds and controlling the paint with an active defense on the interior.
The Celtics had a 15 point advantage when the Lakers surged on a massive 10-0 run late the second quarter. Eventually, the Lakers took a 72-68 lead after three and never looked back. Jackson rested most of his starters throughout the 4th, but brought them back at a crucial time where Bryant rallied off 6 straight points and found Pau Gasol for a big bucket down the stretch. Kobe’s jumper sealed the game with 48 seconds remaining to secure the Lakers huge victory over their arch rival Celtics in Boston.
Bryant also congratulated Allen with a fist pump during the game and hug after. Despite Ray’s historic night, Kobe made a statement by leading the Lakers over the Celtics. He also commented on the playoff atmosphere up in Boston saying, “This is one of the best atmospheres, if not the best atmosphere playing in the league today.”
The Lakers have been surrounded by trade rumors, criticism and inconsistent play concerns. Despite concerns, Los Angeles has extended their grueling 7-game road trip record to 3-0 and face the New York Knicks tomorrow night.
It appears this could be the start of consistent basketball as they put on display a dominant defense that earned them a game 7 victory over these same Celtics in last year’s NBA Finals. When the Lakers lockdown defensively, with cohesion, as they did tonight, they have proven to be the best team in the league and showcased exactly why they are the two-time defending champions.