Lakers v. Celtics: Everything Burns

Phillip Barnett —  February 7, 2013

This season, the Lakers are paying $100,087,153 to the various players on their roster and the Boston Celtics pretty much took all of that money, set it on fire and let everyone in the TD Garden know that “everything burns.” The Lakers walked out of the Garden with a 21-point loss, but the game wasn’t really that close — which is a testament to how awful the Lakers played on the night.

There really isn’t much to say in a huge loss to what is the organizations biggest rival. Their collective energy level was low, they were poor rotating defensively, they had trouble initiating sets offensively, and were garbage on the boards.

Defensively, the Lakers couldn’t stay in front of a painting. Paul Pierce was getting to his spots at will, Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee were able to repeatedly get to the rim, and Kevin Garnett was able to hit his turn around fade away over defenders who failed to get their hands up. Foul trouble for Dwight compounded these problems, especially considering he didn’t have the best night of his career on either end of the floor. There was a period where the Lakers had a line up of Steve Blake, Chris Duhon, Kobe, Ron, and Earl Clark. Ron was guarding Garnett and just wasn’t able to do anything with his jump shot. Darius left a few words about the defense in a comment on the last thread:

Mostly, this game was about defensive failures. The big men (mostly Dwight) were awful in helping on screens and Pierce got free for his mid-range jumper early and found his rhythm by knocking down some easy (for him) shots. The Lakers wings also were not prepared to guard the quick ball movement the C’s brought to the game. With the ball moving, the C’s generated good looks and the Lakers got down on themselves and it snowballed from there.

On the offensive end of the floor, both Kobe and Nash actively looked for teammates despite their assist numbers, but there was very little movement off the ball. Darius also mentioned that Nash struggled a bit with Avery Bradley’s on ball defense. I also noticed this, and it seemed to take away from the Lakers ability to run actual sets. There was a lot of dribbling going on from a lot of guys, and very little actions leading to opportunities for high percentage shots. You can give a lot of credit to the Celtics perimeter defenders for disrupting the initiation of the Lakers offense, but a lot of the blame also falls on the other four guys without the ball for pretty much watching the ball handler.

This also led to Kobe taking (and making) a lot of shots in the third quarter. He found a rhythm in the third, and was aggressively looking to score, but he was still a willing passer. Bean finished with no assists, but he hit a lot of wide open guys who just simply couldn’t knock down shots. The combination of guys not moving and not hitting open shots led to the Lakers only recording nine assists as a team after three quarters. They finished with 16 for the game, but a lot of those came in garbage time in the last seven or so minutes when the intensity of the game completely died.

Lastly, Howard just didn’t look himself at all. They went to him early, and he was able to draw a few fouls on the Celtics defenders, but he was never ever able to find any rhythm as the game progressed and ultimately hurt the team on the floor more than he helped. He fouled out in the fourth, albeit during a time when the game was already decided. He also led the team in turnovers, shot one-for-six from the free throw line and didn’t recored double-digets in either points or assists. His struggles were expected as it’s been over a week since he’s seen the floor and he’s still recovering from his shoulder injury.

Tonight was just a bad loss that they’re just going to have to forget even happened as they head to Charlotte tomorrow for what is a very winnable game, even on the road on a second of a back-to-back.

Phillip Barnett