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Fast Break: Celtics vs. Lakers

02.19.10 at 1:26 am ET
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Danny Ainge made his trade deadline move and, all things considered, it was a relatively minor one. He effectively traded Eddie House for Nate Robinson and while it will give the second unit a different look, it doesn’t do a lot to alter the makeup of this team.

The Celtics hopes will still rise and fall primarily upon the health and effectiveness of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. To that end Allen looked positively rejuvenated and Garnett looked like the 2007 version of himself in an emotional 87-86 victory over the Lakers Thursday night in Los Angeles.

The Big Three will get at least one more chance to see if they can win a championship together. That’s what they have been asking for the last few weeks and now that the final decision has been made there can be no more excuses. It’s on them to turn it around in the final 30 games and through the playoffs.

Turning Point: For three quarters the Celtics controlled the matchup, but when the Lakers made their inevitable run to start the fourth quarter and turned a nine-point deficit into a four-point lead, the Celtics had a decision to make. They could retreat into a shell, as they have done so often the last few weeks, or they could stand and fight. They chose to fight.

Player of the Game: Ray Allen. It’s dangerous to read too much into a player’s one-game performance but Allen resembled the dangerous outside shooter that he’s been known for being throughout his career. He made his first four shots and finished with 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting. Was he more relaxed after the trade deadline passed? Who knows for sure, but if this is the Allen the Celtics can get night in and night out for the rest of the season, it will go a long way toward making them a serious contender again.

* The game was physical throughout with several big dunks and a few minor staredowns. Ron Artest and Pierce continued their rivalry, Garnett and Lamar Odom exchanged words after a jump ball and Kendrick Perkins and Andrew Bynum battled under the glass.

* The officials let the two teams play for the most and both sides wanted calls in the final seconds of the game. Doc Rivers could be seen asking the refs, “That wasn’t a foul?” after Pierce drove to the basket. On the other end, the Lakers though Allen fouled Derek Fisher’s last-second shot.

* Rasheed Wallace missed nine of his first 10 shots and picked up a technical foul when he tangled with Pau Gasol at midcourt. After several solid outings, it was not a good night for Wallace.

* Kobe Bryant didn’t play for the Lakers. He is battling an assortment of injuries but it’s his ankle that seems to be giving him the most trouble.

* Robinson and Marcus Landry, the other player acquired from the Knicks in exchange for House, J.R. Giddens and Bill Walker did not play. The Celtics had only 11 players in uniform and lost Tony Allen with an ankle injury, but Doc Rivers stayed with a tight rotation throughout.

* All five started scored in double figures.

* Once again Rondo was on the floor for the final offensive possession. The play involved Pierce and Garnett in a high pick and roll, but without House, expect to see more of that.

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