Celtics looking forward to rivalry game vs. Lakers

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Celtics looking forward to rivalry game vs. Lakers

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

WALTHAM We have seen this before.

The Boston Celtics suffer a disappointing loss to a team that they know they should have beat.

Sunday's 94-89 loss at Charlotte qualifies.

Next game out, the C's are expected to have some off-the-hook focus because the next opponent, well, is a better team.

Yes, the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers fit that description.

"We could have won (at Charlotte) and still had the antenna up," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "It's the Lakers. It's a good game to play because it's them."

It's also a good game because once again, both Boston and the Los Angeles Lakers are among the handful of teams in the hunt for an NBA title this season.

The two teams met on Jan. 30 in Los Angeles, and the Celtics pulled away for a 109-96 win. A Boston victory on Thursday would give them the season sweep for the first time since the 2007-2008 season - the year the C's hung Banner 17.

Regardless of their status among the NBA's elite, Boston versus LA is always going to be a highly-anticipated game.

Players for both teams are well aware of the extensive history that exists between these two franchises, a history that has been updated with some of the greatest games in their storied rivalry coming about in recent years.

"It's been intense since we met in the (NBA) Finals in 2008," said Lakers forward Pau Gasol. "It's been that way and it will continue to be that way for a while."

Of all the players on the floor Thursday night, few understand just how intense the rivalry is between these two more than Kobe Bryant.

"Our situation, our rivalry has become more real than others because of facing them in the (NBA) Finals twice, and the history that's involved," Bryant said. "It holds a little more substance than the rivalry we have with the (San Antonio) Spurs, for example."

And as much as the fans for both teams look forward to seeing the two square off, the anticipation is just as great for the players.

"Who doesn't look forward to that game?" said Boston's Glen Davis. "It's a great game where guys are going to be competing, try and rip each other's heads off. I'm all in. I'm looking forward to it."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Pistons to honor Hamilton, who had impact on several Celtics

Pistons to honor Hamilton, who had impact on several Celtics

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- The Detroit Pistons will retire the jersey number of former UConn star Rip Hamilton tonight, an instrumental figure in the Pistons’ success in the early 2000s that included an NBA title in 2004.
 
Although Hamilton never played for Boston, his impact can be felt within the Celtics locker room.
 
Boston’s Amir Johnson spent his first four NBA seasons as a teammate of Hamilton's in Detroit.
 
In that time, Johnson acknowledges how many of the positive things folks associate with him come from lessons he learned from Hamilton.
 
“He was so relentless when he ran,” Johnson told CSNNE.com. “I remember working out with him one summer. For him to even get his shot off, he sprints full court, goes back down shooting shots, and he just kept doing this over and over and over again, full court sprinting . . . To see that as a young kid, and at his age, just working hard like that, it was great to see.”
 
James Young grew up in nearby Rochester Hills, Mich., so he watched Hamilton’s scoring prowess up close and personal.
 
And as he continued to evolve as a player, Young would see Hamilton during the summer months while attending Hamilton’s basketball camps.
 
“I was there every year, won MVP a few times,” Young told CSNNE.com. “He’s a great guy, a great player.”
 
And, like Hamilton, Young has a lanky frame for an NBA player, which was among the many reasons Young acknowledged Hamilton as being one of his first significant basketball influences as a youth.
 
“For sure,” Young said. “His mid-range game was crazy, great shooter. He was always consistent.”
 
And that consistency has paid off in the highest honor an NBA franchise can bestow upon a player.
 
“That’s big time,” Johnson said. “He’s a champion, great father, great baller. To have his jersey retired is an honor. To see the success he had in the league, and to see his jersey retired with the greats, it's definitely an honor. I’m glad I’ll be there to see that. Kudos to him. He’s a hard worker. Had a great career. I had my high school jersey retired, but to get your NBA jersey retired, that’s great.”
 
Hamilton played 14 seasons in the NBA, nine of which were with the Pistons. A career 17.1 points per game score, he averaged 18.4 with Detroit and was named an Eastern Conference All-Star three times (2006-2008).
 
Although he is known as one of the greatest mid-range shooters of his era, Hamilton began to expand his range over time. During the 2005-06 season, Hamilton shot 45.8 percent from 3-point range (most of them being corner 3’s), which led the NBA that season.  

WATCH: Celtics vs. Pistons

WATCH: Celtics vs. Pistons

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