From Kevin Ding, OC Register: A month after the Miami Heat brought a snowstorm to Staples Center on Christmas Day by blowing through the Lakers, the Boston Celtics tagged them with another confidence-quaking home loss. Out for revenge for their 2010 NBA Finals loss, the Celtics dominated the second half for a 109-96 victory over the Lakers. Boston had 24 more assists, 13 more rebounds and a lot more team-wide intensity. “It’s definitely an emotional game, especially since losing Game 7 here,” said Boston’s Paul Pierce, who scored a team-high 32 points on 11-of-18 shooting.
From Jeff Miller, OC Register: The Lakers are way too cool, accomplished and — let’s put this as kindly as possible — old to push the panic button. So, fellow members of the media, please stop asking Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher, Phil Jackson and their collected 23 NBA titles if it’s time for them to start freaking out. These guys are more likely to admit to being pregnant than worried. They aren’t just unflappable; they are physically incapable of being flapped at all. After being bullied again in their own home Sunday, this time by Boston, a team that could eventually end their season, the Lakers sighed and shrugged and Fisher took the composed stance a step farther, to the edge of the absurd. “Somebody has to define for me,” he said, “what concern means.”
From Mark Medina, LA Times: Nearly seven months have passed since the confetti dropped in Staples Center, the Lakers collected their 16th championship and the Boston Celtics walked away dejected for having fallen short. At no point in their 109-96 loss to Boston on Sunday did the Lakers display the characteristics of the 2010 championship team that overcame a double-digit Game 7 deficit, won as a team and stood at center court bearing smiles and fighting back tears while holding the Larry O’Brien trophy. Instead, the Lakers (33-15) on Sunday appeared disorganized offensively and overwhelmed defensively, and afterward had the same stoic reaction they’ve offered after other disappointing performances. “It’s not the playoffs yet, we’re still playing regular-season games,” Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said, explaining why he’s not concerned the Lakers have consistently lost games against marquee opponents, including splits against Denver and Utah and disappointing losses against Miami, Dallas, San Antonio and Boston. “You know, we’ll get there in time.”
From Vincent Bonsingore, LA Daily News: The message written on a greaseboard inside the Lakers locker room Sunday was short and to the point. But boy, what a story it told. It read, simply: Boston 59-42. Those numbers represent the second half scoring breakdown from the Celtics’ 109-96 win over the Lakers at Staples Center, and it doesn’t take a basketball genius to understand you aren’t going to win many games when you get outscored by 17 points over the final two quarters. But the figures have a much deeper meaning then just a second-half collapse in a Sunday afternoon loss in late January. It signifies as changing of the guard atop the NBA – whether temporary or permanent – the depths the Lakers have fallen since ripping the Celtics’ hearts out in last year’s NBA Finals and either an end or a new beginning to their quest for a third consecutive championship.
From ESPN Stats and Analysis via Land O’ Lakers: After the 109-96 loss to the Celtics, Phil Jackson was asked if Ron Artest, who scored just three points on one-for-10 shooting while struggling to check Paul Pierce, “got lost” on the way to Staples Center. “No, he was on time,” Phil replied. “(But) he got lost on the court.” Artest did, however, manage to locate the bench during the second half. He played fewer than six minutes over that duration, none of them in the final quarter. explained Jackson, “They started off with Pierce, what did he get, nine points right off the bat. Three three-pointers. (AK’s note: Only six points, but in less than three minutes.) And Ron took a couple shots that I thought were perhaps not in the context of what we were trying to do, so I thought maybe it would go in another direction, but it didn’t seem to work.”
From Dexter Fishmore, Silver Screen and Roll: My reaction to this game is a bit paradoxical. What’s troubling me most isn’t everything that went wrong – although that’s troubling me plenty – but everything that went right. Against the Celtics at Staples this afternoon, the Lakers forced a load of Boston turnovers, went to the free-throw line early and often, shot well on threes and got a masterly performance from Kobe Bryant. It should’ve been enough. But it wasn’t. It wasn’t close to being enough. The Celtics played splendidly, shooting the lights out from the second quarter on and taking away every non-Kobe offensive option the Lakers threw in their direction. Quickly erasing a seven-point deficit in the third quarter, the Celts blasted the champs in the second half and won going away, 109 to 96. The Lakers have lost four of their last seven and continued their season-long trend of coming up small in their biggest games.
From Hayes Davenport, Celtics Hub: So now we’ve had a few hours to let this sweet, sweet victory simmer. During this time, various outlets of sports punditry have come to some conclusions re: Kobe’s role in the loss. Now, like most things about Kobe, the dialogue surrounding the relationship between his production and his team’s results drives me a little bonkerballs. Today’s debate is no exception. Here’s a brief summary of the media reaction to today’s game: “Kobe singlehandedly took his team out of the game with his shooting! He made so many shots his teammates temporarily lost interest in playing basketball! You could see the disgust and resentment in their eyes as they watched Kobe selfishly make shot after shot, with no regard for whether or not someone else might like to make a shot sometime! Bottom line: if Kobe hadn’t made so many shots, the Lakers might have won this game!”