For Old Times’ Sake: Lakers Defeat Celtics in Overtime Thriller

With the Lakers and Celtics both much older–in basketball terms–than they were just two years ago when they met in the 2010 NBA Finals (which resulted in an epic Game 7 victory for the Lakers en route to their 16th championship), there isn’t much added value to this victory compared with any other win. Both teams are struggling with mediocrity this season (record-wise, anyway).

However, the Lakers have been struggling on the road this season (just 4-10 thus far), and a road win in a tough arena could be just what they need to get going.

So, let’s see what we should take away from this great road win.

The Tough Win – The first thing we should take away is the fact that the Lakers won in a hostile arena against a hostile team. Maybe this game isn’t going to be a preview of an NBA Finals match-up like it has been in years past, but the fact remains that these teams do have history, and hate losing to each other. To them, it had to mean something.

Pau Gasol – Next is the play of Pau Gasol. Gasol finished with 25 points, 14 rebounds, and had arguably his best game of the season so far. He took 20 shot attempts, and was aggressive throughout the game. Perhaps it was his desire to beat the Boston Celtics, but it was definitely good to see the type of performance Lakers’ fans love and expect from Pau Gasol in big games. He helped the Lakers win back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010, and we have all been waiting to see if/when he would play at the same level again.

Last night, his head seemed to be completely in the game as he was coming up with huge plays such as his game-tying, put-back tip-in at the end of regulation, as well as his game-defending block on Ray Allen at the end of overtime, which was arguably the “play of the game.” Hopefully last night’s performance can spark his play for the rest of the season. However, he may still be proverbially looking over his shoulder after almost being traded at the beginning of the season. Perhaps if he doesn’t get traded by the trade deadline, he will truly feel safe and be able to focus solely on helping the Lakers win basketball games.

Let’s not forget about Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum, however. As mentioned, Kobe Bryant managed to make several remarkable shots to keep the Lakers close most of the game. As for Bynum, he continued his All-Star level play, and has proven himself to be a consistent difference maker down the stretch, as also described with his offensive rebounds and put-backs.

The “Big Three” were definitely in full effect last night, and hopefully Gasol can maintain his aggressive play.

There are still two other factors that we should examine after last night’s victory.

Next Page: Bench & Boards

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