Lakers vs. Celtics: One More Win For You, Dr. Buss

Darius Soriano —  February 20, 2013

(h/t to Jose3030 for the video)

If there’s one thing the Lakers had going for them tonight, it was emotion. You could hear in Kobe Bryant’s voice. You could feel it emanating from the fans in the arena. The Lakers were playing the Celtics — the hated Celtics — in their first after Jerry Buss passed away and there was no way they wouldn’t be ready to come out and give it their all.

And give it they did, beating their longtime rival 113-99 in a fitting tribute to their late great owner. This game may have been just one of eighty two, but it was so much more than that.

Interestingly enough, it was actually a trio of new Lakers who came out and put their stamp on this game.

Dwight Howard started the game with great activity on both ends of the floor, flying to the ball defensively and carving out space in the paint on offense. His first basket of the game came on a power post up where he took the action right to Kevin Garnett and finished with a lefty hook from in close. And, from there, it was on for Dwight. He’d score on lobs and offensive putbacks. He’d get more baskets on post ups where he backed his man down and on others where he’d move quickly right after the catch. He set hard screens and then dove into the gaps of the defense seeking out the action rather than standing and waiting for the ball to come to him. The results were 24 points on only 13 shots and a level of play that was sight for sore eyes.

Defensively he looked as quick and reactive as he has all season. He slid his feet and showed active hands. He’d cut off dribble penetration, recover to his man, and then slide with him before contesting a shot. He helped quickly when a teammate was over matched and challenged to either block or alter shots to force misses. He showed out on screens and still recovered back to the paint to rebound the ball. This was the defensive player that the Lakers have needed all season and while it could have simply been due to his back and legs being fresh after so many days off, it was the effort that stood out; it was the desire to race all around the floor that was so important.

Steve Nash, in his own way, had a similar impact on this game. With Dwight setting crushing screens to free him from Avery Bradley’s ball pressure, Nash found the creases in the defense he’d need to put Celtics in no win situations. When the hedge man sat back, Nash would simply pull up and knock down a jumper. If they stepped up but gave him a lane to drive, he’d penetrate the gap and then kick the ball out to a shooter. If the D played him flat, he’d keep his dribble, draw a defender, and then hit the roll man on his way to the rim. The result was a 14 point, 7 assist night with only one shot missed and countless plays made for his teammates. Oh, and another result was a new place in the record book too. With Nash’s 4th assist in this game he passed Magic Johnson for 4th on the all-time assists list. Congratulations are certainly in order for this accomplishment.

The other big night came from Earl Clark. Obviously still a bit hampered by his sore right foot, Clark battled through the pain and put forth the type of effort that really makes a difference. Though he didn’t shoot a high percentage (6-14 from the field), Clark found ways to get baskets just by hustling. He’d make a timely cut, grab one of his own misses and score on a put back, or just race to a loose ball and find a way to get the ball back into the basket. Beyond his 14 points, though, it was his work on the glass that was really key. Clark grabbed a career high 16 rebounds, with 11 of those coming on the defensive end. With Dwight challenging shots all over the floor, help was needed in the paint to secure defensive rebounds and it was Clark who was there to grab them.

Beyond those three, every other Laker also channeled the energy in the building to make positive plays. Kobe was only 5-15 from the floor, but he got to the line, chipped in on the glass, and made several great passes to set up his teammates. His 16 point, 7 assist night wasn’t his best effort this season, but he showed poise and control throughout the game when initiating the team’s sets. Antawn Jamison’s effort also stood out as he battled for every rebound in his area and worked his way close to the paint to try and get baskets around the rim. His 15 and 8 line doesn’t necessarily stand out as anything extraordinary, but it was very good line that came from a real workman’s like effort. Add in Steve Blake — who made several good passes to set up his teammates and hit some key shots — and Ron and Meeks and it was a real team effort to get this win.

Dr. Buss would have been proud of his guys tonight. Even though the Celtics kept the game close early in the game with Inglewood native Paul Pierce (23 first half points) doing his best to not let the Lakers get any separation, the team simply stuck to the plan and kept working hard on both ends. In the 2nd half they were finally able to break the game open and put the game out of reach. On the night the Lakers celebrated the life, ownership, and success of their fallen owner the Lakers beat their historical rival playing great team ball on both ends of the floor. I’m sure he (and for sure the fans) wouldn’t have had it any other way.

This one was for you, Dr. Buss.

Darius Soriano

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to Lakers vs. Celtics: One More Win For You, Dr. Buss

  1. As bad as the season has been, it was good to be a Laker fan tonight.



  2. I’d like to echo that. It’s been a tough season for us as fans, but you couldn’t help but be proud of that game.


  3. Thought the Lakers played very well last night. A very strong team effort. Everybody did their job and played their role. Our team turned an emotional night into a very good memory. The type of Laker basketball that the Jerry Buss era created and embodied was on display last night.

    Caveat: Boston is an old team that played in mile high Denver last night. Still nice to take some Boston scalps.


  4. Darius, you mentioned that Dwight was “setting crushing screens” and that, to me, was the difference in the game. The last time LA played the lepers Nash was overwhelmed when initiating sets because he just couldn’t get any space to operate. As you’ve noted regarding that, and other recent games, this led to turnovers and fast breaks, and clunky possessions where defenders were able to chain themselves to Dwight and clog up the flow when LA did try to run P and R.

    Last night, with room to operate, we finally saw the Nash that we thought we were getting, and the key was that the screeners (usually Dwight) were wiping out Nash’s defender, sometimes sustaining the action through multiple screens. It remains to be seen if that can be repeated in subsequent matchups–but if it is, this team might finally start reaching some of its goals.

    Of course one huge caveat is, the evil shamrocks are pretty slow, pretty undersized, and woefully undermanned right now. Against a bigger, more-physical team, or a faster team, it won’t be as easy. This is, at the end of the day, just one game.

    Kobe had a mediocre shooting night, but I have to give a short compliment to him as well. With all of the emotion building up to this game, how many of us were wondering before tip-off if we were going to see Kobe go into full-on hero-ball mode, and try to win one for Dr. Buss all by his lonesome? I sure thought we might. He did a great job picking his spots, attacking when he could, but otherwise making sure everyone was involved.


  5. The Celtics were on the bak end of a back to back that included Denver. The Lakers were riding a wave of emotion. It was a SHOULD win game.

    But it was a good win. As Darius said, crisp. With the death of Dr. Buss and the attention it drew, Dwight may have learned a little about what it means to be a Laker. And Mitch standing up during the all star break and saying Dwight is not for sale, at any price, Dwight is our future. In spite of this season so far. That was a Jerry Buss type move. And it looked like Dwight understood that message, and the risk (free agency) Mitch was taking.

    Nash said it best. They played as a team. They moved the ball. They moved bodies. All they need to do to win, really. Play together. Play hard. The Lakers have two incredibly creative guards. Move. Set screens. Play together. And it should work. Really.


  6. Rusty Shackleford February 21, 2013 at 7:03 am

    Garnett couldn’t handle Dwight last night. If there’s one person I love to see get bullied in this league it’s Kevin “Goonett”.

    Everytime I look at a Laker box score I always cringe when I see how many shots Ron gets. 15 shots for the guy shooting the lowest percentage on the team is not a recipe for success.

    Through the end of March (hopefully when Pau will be back) the schedule doesn’t look too tough. They have games against Chicago, OKC, Atlanta and Golden State. Other than that I see Minny a few times, Sacramento, NOLA & Pheonix. They need to go on a run and get some momentum going now or this season is going to be a lost cause soon.


  7. looks like D12 is here to stay, so lets hope we get consistent efforts like last night.

    and KB24 has to quit shooting 3’s, wow.

    also, MWP has fallen off a cliff defensively. he was getting torched by Pierce in the first half. it looked like Clark and KB24 were guarding him in the second half, but I was not paying too close attention.

    would love to see Mitch pull a rabbit out of the hat and get jsmoove but doesn’t seem like we have assets to trade


  8. When the team matches individual energy and effort,they can be very dominant. I like what I saw in the first qtr.


  9. Incredibly, now the Lakers are actually closer to catching the Warriors than Utah (when you factor in Utah owning the playoff tie-breaker). Their margin for error has become so thin, that they need to win road games against non-playoff teams, and home games against all but elite teams (they’ve been successfully keeping this pace since the start of their long road trip).

    That means, every “bad” loss they’ll have to make up by winning a more difficult game. So, beat Portland on Friday, then split the Dallas-Denver road trip…


  10. Can someone cite chapter and verse, on whether the Lakers can actually sign-and-trade Dwight? A couple of people on here mentioned that they cannot, due to the new CBA which they said disallows S&T to tax-paying teams. Then I heard some ESPN bitchclown say they *could* — which I of course disregarded, until Van Gundy last night also mentioned that they could. Should I take it JVG is just ignorant of the details of the new CBA?


  11. The Lakers can sign and trade to a team with room under the cap. They cannot take on a sign and trade because they are over the cap.


  12. Wow, a very interesting game last night, their first since the passing of Dr. Buss, and a great win vs the Celtics. Peace & Blessings to his family. Big question, was the D-12 I saw last night legit or just an anormaly? I am still looking for the article which quotes Phil Jackson stating “the Lakers have misused Dwight Howard” as discussed on ESPN’s Ist Take between Steven A. & Skip yesterday morning (2/20). I’m wondering if what the Zen Master says makes a difference to those who want him to coach the Lakers again but also want to get rid of D-12?


  13. I have to say, the allergies got to me last night while watching the tribute and hearing people talk about Dr. Buss. I’ve said it a few times but I am very thankful for what he has done for this city. I’ve lived in many places around the world. In China in particular, when I told people I was from LA it was always, “Oh, Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe Bryant. Very good”. We have some significant aerospace achievements that have occurred in our our city. We have Hollywood. We have other arts and music that can be said to have come from LA. I can think of nothing that has brought our city together with the sort of communal pride as have the Los Angeles Lakers. We have Dr. Buss to thank for that.

    I don’t think anything speaks so strongly to Dr. Buss’ ability as a leader and visionary as the comments on the various threads this season. We sit here watching the team through a heavily produced lens, and read about the team on rags that are one step above tabloid. We watch characters like S.A. Smith, Skip Bayless and others who get paid to speak first and then see what sticks later. We mix and match sources according to our confirmation bias and then make our own assessment according to the bad mood we suffer due to a disappointing performance. All the while we spent 34 years loving a team led by a man who studied the numbers, assessed the composition of the team, and surveyed the scene for strong trends, before formulating his plan and sticking to it. That was the Lakers’ formula for consistent and high reaching success. Like I said, the comments show us how rare such excellence is. Rest in Peace Jerry Buss. One hopes your example will grow in us well past your time with us.


  14. The Celtics were not just on the second night of a back to back but they had played their starters max minutes (for them) since it was a close game. For a change, it was good to see the Lakers play a modestly up tempo game since it would take away Pierce’s and Garnett’s legs. However, if anyone can explain what the Lakers were doing on defense in the first half I would like to hear it. Kobe was barely on the same side of the court as his man and MWP kept trying to guard Pierce from behind. Once they built the big lead in the second half the Lakers did their best to give it up by running down and jacking up 3s. Just once, it would be nice to have a disciplined effort for an entire game. All in all, it was good to see D12 play with more enthusiasm and focus and for Kobe to continue to keep his shots down.


  15. Any ideas why Kobe cant hit threes lately? 1 for 34 in his last 15 games? Is it that his shot doesn’t have enough arc (i.e., legs are tired), or does the shot leave his hand wrong (arm injury?), or is it maybe just a fluke?


  16. While it’s fact that Boston was on the 2nd end of a back to back while we were rested, considering our situation, a win is a win. I can also recall instances this season, whereas it’s the same type of schedule scenario as last night, in which we walked off the court losers. At this point in our season, we’ve got to take them any which way they come.

    The effort and cohesion was there last night, particularly on the offensive end. Fortunately, the defensive intensity picked up in the 2nd half; which allowed us to eventually blow the game open.

    E. Clark just continues to improve, and therefore, impress. His board work last night, as Darius noted, was exceptional. But what’s standing out to me, is his defense. As in the previous game against Boston a couple of weeks ago, he made KG work for everything he got last evening. And the few times in which he was matched up with Pierce, he held his own. Even blocking 1 of his FG attempts. He’s been able to guard 4’s, 3’s and 2’s successfully. Even some 5’s who are of the small variety. Bottom line is that he needs to be retained during the off season. Doesn’t get any simpler than that.


  17. RE Sign and Trade of Dwight: I spoke with Larry Coon and he confirmed that the Lakers can execute a S&T if they are not *receiving* the player who is being signed to the new contract.

    Also, as far as I know, the Lakers can only S&T said player to a team *under the luxury tax* and that team would only be able to take on the S&T’d player if they stay below the “apron” line which is $4 million over the luxury tax threshold.


  18. Lakers have a glimmer of hope to make the playoffs now if they can play defense the way they did in the second half. A glimmer of hope…


  19. Darius,

    You are correct about that sign and trade situation. I spoke to Larry earlier and I told him the same. I am glad my info got to you through my best pupil. Next time, come to me directly;)

    *Checks cheek. Finds tongue*


  20. Great win last night. Seven players in double figures tells you the ball was moving.

    The part that was both great to see and a head scratcher was Howard setting screens. It’s felt like the entire season he’s set no screens, which I put more in the energy and effort bucket than the lift and mobility bucket. Made me wonder why that aspect of his game has been so non existent this season.


  21. @Mark Sigal….
    Perhaps we are underestimating the physicality of NBA basketball. Setting screens against the likes of strong, physical guards like Raymond Felton, Kyle Lowry or a Derek Fisher type isn’t easy and often results in the screener being involved in a lot of contact. I can see how the health of Dwight’s back could have an effect on his ability to set good screens and be more involved in the pick and roll.


  22. @Kenny T, it’s a valid comment, and more easily explains the reluctance to do pick and roll, which really does require active movement in service to a guard. You are also right that there is obvious contact in a screen — that’s the point after all — to create separation by being immovable. I have just seen so little screening this year from Howard that it perennially screamed out as floor management 101 – what is wrong with this picture? In any event, it was a welcome sight last night, hopefully indicative of a permanent trend.


  23. “One of the main reasons I bought this team was to beat the Boston Celtics.” …..Dr. Jerry Buss

    This one was all about Doctor Buss! Thanks for the memories & the championships!