|Posted by paul on November 15, 2012 at 10:55 PM|
Paul Pierce came to play today, as he always does when Rondo is out. You could see even in the warmups that he was stoked for this game, and he played well, playing tough defense, scoring with determination and amazing skill, and passing well. Leandro Barbosa also played brilliantly in replacing Rondo, and Lee played well too. Wilcox provided some strong minutes off the bench, and Collins played perhaps his first minutes of the season. With Rondo out, the Celts moved well and passed well as a team, and played pretty tough defense, but for most of the first half they got just murdered on the boards. The result was that the Nets maintained a double digit lead, or so, for most of the first three quarters.
Late in the third quarter, after the Nets gained their biggest lead of the game (only 12 points, or so, but still), the Celts went on a fantastic 20-2 run, and seized the lead and control of the game, led by Garnett and Pierce. Pierce went on a scoring tear, and Garnett helped the team toughen up their defense and - most importantly - their rebounding. It looked certain that the Cs would win.
Then it almost seemed as though a switch got turned off, or a gear was changed. Pierce and Garnett must have gotten tired, and this time Green didn't step up, though he did try, and chipped in a nice defensive play and a big three. The Cs suddenly seemed to be fighting their way through mud, and Joe Johnson, who had had a very difficult game, heated up, and the Nets took the lead, for good. You could see that Pierce and Garnett were incredibly frustrated. They had this game won.
This is a team that is continuing to struggle to find itself, but progress is clearly being made. They missed Rondo a lot tonight, no doubt, despite Pierce and Barbosa playing brilliantly, but they may have missed his rebounding more than anything (though Lee contributed an amazing 9 rebounds). They dug a hole for themselves early, and it was mostly with bad rebounding.