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Lakers and Celtics Dispel Preconceived Notions

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Photo by =Manny= via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr
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There were a lot of preconceived notions with the Lakers and Celtics that were dashed in the Lakers’ 88-87 overtime victory in the Boston Garden (or TD Price WaterhouseCooper Garden whatever it’s called now).

To play word association with these two teams the following three-word phrases automatically come to mind: too damned old; past their prime; yawn yawn yawn. But this game was compelling right from the opening tip. Despite both teams shooting a smidge under 40%, the two teams really focused on the defensive end of the floor that belied the perceived age of the two teams.

The Celtics did start fast getting out to a nine-point lead in the first quarter, but the Lakers punched back and never trailed by more than seven points for the rest of the game. The Lakers, the worst three-point shooting team in the league, hit only one of 15 three-point attempts from the field which makes - a Steve Blake 23-footer in the waning seconds of the first quarter. It really makes you question why Ron Artest is allowed to throw up a three from the corner late in regulation. It was an air ball, by the way.

The player who really stood out was Pau Gasol. The perception of him is being the typical soft European player. It doesn’t help that when he gets outmuscled in the paint, he usually lets out a shriek that can be heard back in his hometown of Barcelona. It’s even worse what his arms flail in the air a la Olive Oyl when he tries to draw a foul unsuccessfully.

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But Gasol did his thing in this game. His 25 points wasn’t the eye opener. His 14 boards weren’t either. It was his four put-back buckets and two blocked shots, the last of which on Ray Allen’s second-chance attempt at the end of overtime which gave the Lakers the win.

Kobe Bryant scored 27 points and Andrew Bynum got 16 points with 17 boards. With the defense played in this game, those points just seemed that much more impressive.

The Lakers were 3-9 on the road coming into this game with their best win another overtime win in Utah. But this one was more impressive. For one, it was against the hated Celtics who were rolling through a five-game winning streak and nine of their last ten. The Celtics were starting to look like they had been in previous years after getting off to an awful 4-8 start. For each Celtics jab, the Lakers countered. And for this Irrelevant Award Show road trip, the Lakers are now 2-2.

Too bad perceptions were the truth for the Kings down near the swamps of Miami. They lost 3-1 to the Florida Panthers.

In the local college basketball scene: California beat USC 75-49; UCLA beat Stanford 72-61; Cal State Fullerton beat UC Irvine 100-94; Long Beach State beat Pacific 74-66; LMU nipped Portland 76-62; UC Davis upended Cal State Northridge 79-71.

TONIGHT’S ACTION
LA Clippers at Philadelphia 76ers. 4:00 p.m. FSWest, AM 980 KFWB.
LA Lakers at New York Knicks. 5:00 p.m. KCAL9, ESPN, AM 710 KSPN.
Anaheim Ducks at Detroit Red Wings. 4:30 p.m. FS Prime Ticket, AM 830 KLAA.