When you’re in the middle of a season with one goal in mind, a Championship, looking back is a serious no-no of epic proportions. That being said, the Boston Celtics (even though they wouldn’t admit it), came into Los Angeles with thoughts of there Finals game 7 loss fresh in their heads and was looking for some payback. They got some measure of it in the form of a dominant 109-96 win.
"It’s another game, but it was definitely an emotional game, especially because we lost Game 7 here," said Boston’s Paul Pierce, who dueled down the second-half stretch with Bryant. "It feels good to come back in this building and get a win."
The Celtics used a complete team effort to overpower the over-matched Lakers and put a stamp on a possible home court advantage if the two teams should meet up down the road in the Finals again.
"If we had home court last year, who knows maybe what happens in Game 7?" Pierce asked. "We’re not looking ahead, but maybe if it comes down to another Game 7, maybe we’ll have it at home."
If the Lakers are going to make it that far this season, then they need to figure a few things out because they are far from looking like the back to back NBA champions of the past two seasons. They are playing lackluster defense and have been mauled of late by some of the better Eastern Conference teams. These losses are helping to create a palatable air of frustration around the players.
"I think guys are upset, and they should be," Bryant said. "We’re not playing very well against these top teams, so we need to elevate our level and need to get better if we’re to defend our throne. There’s no other option but that."
Boston was led by another Herculean effort by All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo, who once again proved why he should be considered one of the elite in the game. For the night, Rondo put up only 10 points but added 16 assists to fuel the Celtics to their 8th win in 10 games.
"I told Rondo, in front of the team, that I thought it was one of his best games of the year," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "I think he called an absolutely perfect game. He’s our pitcher. … [We] lost our senses in the second quarter for a stretch. We got into complaining about everything except for playing basketball, and I told them at halftime just keep playing through anything."
It’s a long season and with half yet to play, anything can happen, but for one night the Celtics can bask in winning over their long time rivals. What will happen later this season is anyone’s guess.