The Celtics made them. The Kings didn’t…except when they didn’t want to.
Fittingly for this game, the free throw line is called the charity stripe. The magnanimous Kings gave generously and the needy Celtics took full advantage to pull out a win.
Boston was led by Paul Pierce and Rasheed Wallace with 17 points apiece. Once again the Celtics played solid defense but struggled on offense.
The Beantown Ballers came out of the All Star break a little soft, allowing the Kings to score 30 first quarter points.
Though outstanding defense was eventually played by the starters, neither Pierce nor Kevin Garnett seemed to be moving all that well in this game.
It was again a tale of two halves. The Celtics scored 57 first half points, but added only 38 more in the second half. They held the Kings to 40 second half points. The Cs played solid defense for three quarters and young team jitters under pressure enabled them to eke out the win.
They held Sacramento to .381 shooting on the night and the Kings could only hit .633% of their foul shots compared to .839% of Gang Green’s. The paint was a difficult place to score for both teams (30-28 Kings).
As did the Celtics, the Kings played an aggressive, pack-it-in, interior defense all night and held Boston to .375 shooting overall. They blocked 11 shots to Boston’s 7. Both teams executed solid game plans and the middle was a dangerous place to try to score. Besides Garnet and Glen Davis getting blocked three times each, Pierce and Kendrick Perkins were blocked twice each.
Boston Bench Mob Erupts
In a rarely seen turn of events this season, the Boston bench gave the Cs a second quarter jolt of energy and a lead that the starters (save Wallace replacing Perkins for most of the 4th) relinquished late in the 4th before fighting back to pull out the win.
With Marquis Daniels’ recent return, the bench players are completely healthy for the first time this season.
Marquis had 7 points, on one field goal and 5 of 6 from the line, all in the first half. Though he had difficulty putting the ball in the hole (1 of 5 shooting, including a couple of missed lay ups) the Celtics outplayed the Kings by 13 points when he was on the floor in the first half.
With Sacramento up 26-21 with 2 minutes left in the first quarter, the bench players caught fire and outscored the Kings 9-4 to close out the first period. Glen Davis and Rasheed Wallace each scored 4 points to tie the game 30 all after one.
They continued their assault in the second quarter as Wallace was 4-4 shooting for 10 points in 9 plus minutes that also included a steal and 2 blocked shots in the first half.
Davis Getting Better
Davis was active with 6 rebounds, 6 points, 3 assists and a blocked shot in 10 plus minutes of his finest basketball of the season. Glen finished with 8 rebounds, 7 points, but three shots of his own blocked in 17 plus minutes.
Though he continues to get his inside shot blocked at a high rate, he has been more active overall lately. The hope is that he will figure out how to reduce the Spaulding sandwiches while becoming more effective inside. Davis can be clever at times inside.
Glen let the ‘Rondo’ in him come out as he drove the paint and kicked long passes back out to an open Eddie House for assists on two three pointers in the second quarter.
Fast Eddie came in and lit up Sacramento for 3 three pointers and 9 points in nine minutes.
House, coming down the middle, had a great touch pass to Tony Allen on the right wing, who headed to the rim and was fouled by Francisco Garcia, who was playing in his first game of the year.
Free Throws Made the Difference
Foul shots are called free throws, but they were costly to the Kings as Tyreke Evans, Omri Casspi, and Jason Thompson went 0-6 combined at crucial points in the 4th quarter.
The veteran Celtics made theirs in the final 15 seconds to put away a hard fought win against the youthful Sacramento team. Rasheed Wallace, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce combined for 6-6 to hold on to a 95-92 win.
The Kings, the third youngest team in the league, gave the veteran Celtics all they could handle for 46 and a half minutes. They rebounded hard (48-45) and pushed the ball in transition for 15 fast break points to the Celtics 2 FB points. An advantage for most of the game, at that point their youth showed as did the experience of the Celtics.
Kings Take Lead, Celtics Play Cool and Win
Trailing since the second quarter, 6’ 9” rookie small forward Omri Casspi, who scored 19 points to lead all scorers, made his 3rd three point shot of the night to retake the lead 85-84 with 3:38 left in the game.
At that point, Celtic captain Paul Pierce awakened from a lethargic offensive game to score on a lay up to retake the lead 86-85.
The Kings prized second year player, 6’ 11” Jason Thompson, answered with his third jump shot of the quarter to retake the lead at 87-86. He hit three impressive jump shots in that quarter with Rasheed Wallace right in his face.
Big Shot Pierce
After Ray Allen missed a jumper, Pierce made the biggest shot of the game. It was an open three pointer to regain the lead, 89-87 with 1:38 left. The Celtics held onto the lead the rest of the way.
It was then that Casspi and Thompson missed 4 straight free throws, sandwiched around a Garnett contested lay attempt missed by Spencer Hawes that would have given the Kings the lead. ,
Garnett, who had his shot blocked by Casspi in the 1st quarter, was blocked for the third time in the game by Jason Thompson (4 blocks) with 28 seconds left.
With 15 seconds left, the Kings went to the fouling game, sending Rasheed to the line and he showed them how to make pressure free throws.
After 6’ 6” rookie phenom Tyreke Evans missed a lay up, he stepped back and hit a three point shot that got the Kings within one at 91-90 with 6 seconds left.
Evans was well guarded by Rajon Rondo for most of the game and shot 5 of 13 for 17 points. In Rondo-like fashion, Evans grabbed 11 rebounds to go with 7 assists.
The Kings were then forced to foul Ray Allen, who calmly sunk them both to extend the lead to three at 93-90.
Makes them when he doesn’t want to
At that point, Omri Casspi was fouled in the middle and went to the line. After hitting his first foul shot he was trying to miss the second in order to get the rebound, but he banked it in by accident.
Wallace played one of his best games as a Celtic, scoring 17 points in 24 minutes, going 6-6 from the line, 1 of 4 from the three point arc, grabbing 5 rebounds, blocking 3 shots, and adding a steal. But it was defensively that he really stood out. Wallace has had trouble playing help defense, Celtic style. Last night he looked much improved and it showed in the Kings’ points in the paint, FG% and total points when he was in.
Rajon Rondo scored just 4 points but had 6 assists, 7 rebounds, 3 steals, 3 turnovers and played solid defense all night.
Kevin Garnett had 9 points on just 4 of 7 shooting, and led the Celtics with 9 rebounds. He played solid D and added a steal and a block in 30 plus minutes.
Ray Allen finished with 15 points on 5 of 15 shooting and was only 1 of 6 from the three point line. Ray is in a major three point shooting slump over the last 7 games, making only 8 of 34 attempts (23%).
Kendrick Perkins had 6 points on 2 of 7 shooting, 6 rebounds, and a blocked shot in almost 24 minutes.
Paul Pierce added 4 rebounds, 4 assists, a steal, and three turnovers (two offensive fouls) in 32 plus minutes.
The Celtic bench scored 44 of the Celtics’ 95 points. I’d have to check, but I’d assume that is close to a season high.
This game wasn’t supposed to be such a struggle. But I give some credit to an energized Kings team coming off an all star break where 2 of its own participated in the rookie game. This King team came to play last night. The rest of the blame goes to a Celtic starting unit that is still a work in progress.
What this means as the Celtics move on to play the Lakers, I don’t know. They have been without Kobe Bryant, out with an ankle sprain. But they have won 4 in a row without him.
I don’t know if Bryant will play on Thursday. Either way, the Celtics still have not put 48 minutes of solid basketball together and are working things out.
It should be an interesting game.