The Boston Celtics, led by Rajan Rondo’s 20 assists, made like Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown. When the Raps crept within 2 points in Q3, the Celtics pulled the ball away by going on a 16-3 run, & Charlie Brown was on his butt, wondering what just happened.
Garbage time started early, as the Raps lineup in Q4 bore no resemblance to the starting one. Quincy Acy got some burn, John Lucas ended up within 3 minutes of Jose’s PT, & Ed Davis was effective on the boards (although Coach yanked him several times when Boston’s rookie Jared Sullinger grabbed a board over Ed – is Coach’s patience running short?)
The Raps starters should have stayed in their hotel, as they combined for a risible 40 points, led (if that’s the word) by Bargnani’s 15. He was -22 for the game, which is a truer picture of his blase effort. Amir Johnson has been handy to have most games, but not today, as he could manage just one free throw. That’s not surprising if you take only 1 shot in 15+ minutes.
It’s games like this that reveal the hefty gap which exists between championship-class teams & struggling ones like the Raps. Boston’s second unit was so effective that the Celtics’ big guns were hardly needed. Kevin Garnett played a mere 17+ minutes, & Paul Pierce 25+. Rondo spread the wealth around, as 10 Celtics scored, with Jason Terry burying 4 3s on his way to a team-high 20 points. Chris Wilcox was the happy recipient of several alley-oop passes for easy scores, which are the only kind he gets.
The Raps’ defence never found a solution to the relentless ball movement of the Celtics, who shot 56%. Jonas Valanciunas fouled out, & produced 3 measly points. Brandon went Bass-awkwards on one of JV’s fouls, a collision caused when he didn’t give the Celtic space to land – a rookie mistake, & there were others. Keep your head up, JV, you’ll be fine. Our other rook, Terrence Ross, had his best game as a pro, with 10 points, including 2 3s, & 2 floaters in the key. His recognition is improving.
The next time we play the Celtics is February, by which time we can hope Kyle Lowry is back in the lineup & playing like he did before his injury. A match-up between him & Rondo, perhaps the NBA’s 2 best undersized Point Guards, should be a game to remember.
Up next: the Magic, in a Sunday matinee.