Caught in the Web: Stomaching a Lakers loss to the Celtics
In any one-point loss, including the Lakers' 87-86 defeat Thursday to the Boston Celtics, there's always various areas that could have shifted the balance the other way. It's part of the perils in competition where the margin of defeat or victory is disproportionate to the number of factors that led to the final outcome. Or in more simpler terms, the little things start piling up.
There was of course the absence of Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (sprained left ankle), which the Lakers successfully stomached for the previous four games but could've benefitted from his clutch play down the stretch. That role should've gone to forward Pau Gasol, but he proved against Boston he's not entirely comfortable being the main man during crunch time, wrote the Orange County Register's Kevin Ding.
Instead, it was Lakers guard Derek Fisher, who attempted the final shot, but the Daily News' Vincent Bonsignore said the "shot never had a chance." It was a final shot that would not have been necessary had the Lakers made shots late in the game, including Shannon Brown going zero of four in the final quarter. The Times' Broderick Turner summed up it was a tough night for the Lakers' back court, with Fisher and Brown combining for only three of 18 from the field. And while noting the Lakers' poor shooting in the fourth quarter, Forum Blue and Gold also pointed out that "the game started out with Boston taking an early and healthy lead due to unbelievably accurate shooting and some sloppy Lakers offense."
Yet, the loss didn't really mean much to Silver Screen and Roll because "I saw enough to know that these guys are getting ready for the stretch run." As for the Celtics, Coach Doc Rivers made not the see the victory as more important than any others, but ESPN Boston's Chris Forsberg says the latest victory provides proof that the Celtics shouldn't be written off this season.
More Lakers links (after the jump)
--Bryant's absence has done more than just force the Lakers to find other options. It's also altered the MVP race, with Sports Illustrated's Paul Forrester ranking Mamba third behind Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant and Cleveland's LeBron James.
--Lakers forward Luke Walton told The Times' Mike Bresnahan that surgery is "definitely an option," regarding his pinched nerve in his lower back.
--Bryant and Walton aren't the only ones dealing with injuries. Lakers reserve guard Sasha Vujacic suffered a Grade 1- Right shoulder sprain and the team is listing him as day-to-day. Vujacic said he couldn't provide a timetable, until he sees a doctor today during the team's day off. ESPN Los Angeles' Andrew and Brian Kamenetzky wrote in part of their post-game wrap that Vujacic's struggles in the second quarter and energy in the fourth quarter epitomized his frustrating season.
--The Times' Mark Heisler takes a trip down memory lane regarding the Lakers-Celtics rivalry.
--Despite the loss, the Riverside Press Enterprises's Greg Patton says the Lakers will fare better than Boston in the postseason.
--Bryant has still felt the sting of the 2008 Finals loss, and acknowledged to The Boston Herald's Steve Bulpett that he wants to face the Celtics in the Finals again.
--It's been a long time since The Times' T.J. Simers interacted with Jackson, and it's fair to say he wished it could've stayed that way before Thursday's game against Boston.
--Celtics forward Rasheed Wallace tells The Boston Globe's Gary Washburn said he didn't deserve getting a technical foul. He suggested in not so-diplomatic-terms that his reputation got him the T, instead of Gasol.
--Lakers forward Ron Artest will make an appearance in Los Angeles today at 2 at 8238 Beverly Blvd for the unveiling of a PETA billboard to raise awareness about spaying dogs.
Tweet of the Day: "Thanks to all those positive thoughts - my dog, Princess Cujo Buss, is doing great after her cataract surgery. Thanks again Lakers family." -- jeaniEBUSS (Lakers executive vice president Jeanie Buss)
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Photo: Pau Gasol fouls Boston's Rasheed Wallace during the fourth quarter of the Lakers' 87-86 loss Thursday night. A timeout by Gasol with seconds left gave the Lakers a last attempt to win the game, but the team eventually picked up its first loss in Kobe Bryant's five-game absence. Credit: Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times.