LOS ANGELES — For years, the Boston Celtics have found the road to success included beating up opponents in their own building.
For all the transitions and changes that this season's club has undergone, Boston's inability to win consistently away from home stands out.
You can add Wednesday's 113-99 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers as yet another game in which the Celtics failed to deliver away from the TD Garden.
Certainly the Lakers got an emotional boost with it being the first game after the All-Star break and of course, their first game since the death of team owner Dr. Jerry Buss.
But put those things aside and you still have a Celtics team that doesn't play the kind of basketball that translates into road wins.
Wednesday's loss drops the C's to 8-17 on the road. The last full 82-game slate saw the C's lose 18 road games all season.
And when you throw in the fact that Boston will likely start the playoffs on the road, improved play on the road is crucial.
"We have to raise our level of play," said Boston's Paul Pierce. "It's easier to get up on games at home because you have the crowd behind you but when you get in these tough buildings you have to up your competitive level another level."
Becoming more competitive is a good place start, because it was indeed one of the factors that led to the C's second straight loss - both on the road.
Here are some other keys identified prior to the game, and how they actually played out.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Kobe Bryant is going to score a ton of points regardless of what the Celtics do defensively. Limiting the four starters around him from having a big game will be crucial. It certainly was when these two met earlier. Bryant had a game-high 27 points, but he was the only Lakers starter to score in double figures.
WHAT WE SAW: Bryant only had 16 points to go with seven assists, but it wasn't as though the Lakers needed much from him on Tuesday. Each of the Lakers' other four starters along with two backups (Antawn Jamison with 15 points and Steve Blake with 10) scored in double figures.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Paul Pierce vs Metta World Peace: This was a matchup that Pierce dominated in their first meeting on Feb. 7. But with the Celtics coming off a game at Denver on Tuesday, there's no telling how much did last night's loss take out of Pierce.
WHAT WE SAW: Pierce once again won this battle, with most of his damage being delivered in the first half which is when he scored 23 of the team's 26 points.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Courtney Lee remains a wild card of sorts for the Celtics. His scoring and defense helped keep the C's in Tuesday's loss to Denver. And his overall game was big in Boston's win over the Lakers earlier this month. On Tuesday, Lee had 15 points, five rebounds, three assists and a blocked shot.
WHAT WE SAW: Lee continues to play with the kind of steady play that the Celtics have been longing for, for such a long time. He had a season-high 20 points on Wednesday on 9-for-14 shooting.
STAT TO TRACK: Boston has to feel better about it's chances of winning the rebounding war with Pau Gasol (plantar fascia) sidelined with an injury that's expected to keep him out until sometime in March. The Celtics saw first-hand how well or woeful depending on who you root for, the Lakers are without Gasol. In the first meeting, Gasol was out with the foot injury. It is not a coincidence that Boston out-rebounded the Lakers 48-43, and will look to control the glass again tonight.
WHAT WE SAW: The Celtics and their rebounding shortcomings have been well documented this year. Even though they have had troubles on the boards, the C's have to continue finding ways to at least keep the rebounding margin relatively close. In Wednesday's loss, Boston was out-rebounded by 15 rebounds.