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Sounds of the game… Lakers 110, Celtics 109 OT 02.06.09 at 6:49 am ET
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Forget the NBA Finals of last June. Thursday night’s regular season game between the Celtics and Lakers at TD Banknorth Garden went a long way to restoring one of the sport’s great all-time rivalries.

And just listening to Doc Rivers’ verbal tirade to the referees in the hallway proves how much this one hurt for the Green.

Rivers COULD NOT believe a hand check was not called on the Lakers as they tried to throw Ray Allen’s timing off at the end of overtime with Allen having the ball and a chance to win the game just like he did 48 hours earlier in Philadelphia.

“That was a hand check!” Rivers exclaimed in the hallway as the Celtics filed to their locker room, past the officials’ room on the right.

Then there was the sparring between Kobe Bryant and Rajon Rondo, as Bryant, who was held to 26 points on 10-of-29 shooting, waved his finger in Rondo’s face in the third quarter. That was followed minutes later by Lamar Odom and Kevin Garnett going toe-to-toe before calmer heads prevailed. And lest we forget the rivalry between the two coaches.

Phil Jackson was peeved when Doc Rivers was given a sports-drink shower on the court in the closing minutes of Game 6 of The Finals last June. Jackson said after the game that he didn’t think Garnett looked like he was ready to return from the flu. Oh really Phil?

This game meant a lot to both teams.

It meant the end of Boston’s 12-game winning streak, meaning the Lakers have ended their 19-game AND 12-game runs this season. It meant that Los Angeles has swept the season series and holds the tie-breaker should the two teams end up deadlocked at the end of the season.

For the Lakers, it meant beating  a team that seven months earlier humiliated them on the same court by 39 points in the most embarrassing loss in franchise history. They remembered the Gatorade shower that Rivers received from Pierce and Co. as Boston claimed its 17th title.

And it showed that these Lakers, even without big man Andrew Bynum, COULD play defense when it mattered and they won’t be pushed around anymore.

Here’s how both teams articulated it.

Paul Pierce said it was just one game and hopefully they’ll meet again.

Eddie House thought the Lakers celebrated like they just won the title. Yo LA, this was game 51, regular season, that is.

House thought the Lakers were allowed to be more physical than the Celtics.

Ray Allen was more disappointed that Kevin Garnett was called for a cheap foul that gave him five late, just before fouling out in the fourth.

Doc Rivers felt that was a hand check on Allen at the end.

Rivers was worried early in the second half about how the game was getting away from the officials.

Rivers thought it was a chippy game.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson thought it was a great game for the NBA.

Jackson didn’t think Garnett was ready to play after missing the last two games with the flu.

Kobe Bryant thought it WAS a statement game for his Lakers.

Pau Gasol wished the Lakers had played like this last year in The Finals.

Read More: Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant Print  |  Email  |  Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
Perk vs. Bynum: Christmas Day Battle of the Bigs 12.24.08 at 10:01 am ET
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There was an overwhelming sentiment by Los Angeles Lakers fans after the Boston Celtics won the NBA championship last season.

“If we had Andrew Bynum, it would have been different.”

He would have shut down Kendrick Perkins, who made Pau Gasol look soft. He would have stopped the Celtics from scoring 131 points in their Game Six victory. He would have helped the Lakers win it all … right?

Not so fast.

Eyes will be on Bynum and Perk on Christmas Day as the Lakers look to snap the Celtics 19-game winning streak, with many hoping Bynum will dominate Perkins and the Cs in the paint. Both big men went through struggles early in the season but Perk has demonstrated the maturity to overcome his setbacks while Bynum continues to be inconsistent.

Perkins was called for nine technical fouls by the first week in December. He looked like an emotional ticking time bomb on the court and was on pace to unseat Rasheed Wallace as the King of the Ts. But then something clicked. Perkins channeled his energy to his own game, focusing on his shot and protecting the glass. In the ten games since his last technical foul, he is shooting better than 60% from the field and averaging nearly 13 points and 10 rebounds. Last week Perkins posted 25 points and eight rebounds against the Chicago Bulls … without a single foul.

Whether it is the veteran leadership of the Big Three, the momentum of a historic winning streak, or simply the maturation process, Perkins has taken his game out of his head and onto the court. He is just as reliable at the start of the game as he is at the end in close situations. The same can’t be said for Bynum.

This season Bynum has found himself on the bench down the stretch, and he’s let everyone know he thinks he deserves more. Unlike the Celtics, who don’t get the nod until they’ve earned the minutes, Bynum wants more time to prove himself on the court. How did Phil Jackson respond? “When he shows the ability to play defense appropriately, he’ll probably be there,” Jackson said. It’s a clear message that hasn’t seemed to resonate.

On the night of Perkins’ season-high performance, Bynum was held to four points, six rebounds, and four fouls in a two-point loss to the Miami Heat. He followed up that game with just three points, one rebound, and five fouls in a loss to the Orlando Magic. Having a bad night against Dwight Howard is one thing, but four points against Joel Anthony? There’s no explanation for that when you’re supposed to be the savior of a championship contender. Even though his performance slightly improved in the past two games, which version of Bynum will show up against the Celtics?

“If we had Andrew Bynum, it would have been different.”

On Christmas Day the Celtics and Lakers will see just how different it could have been.

Read More: Andrew Bynum, Celtics, Kendrick Perkins, Lakers Print  |  Email  |  Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
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