Notes: Lakers have trouble with elite; cut fires up KG


Notes: Lakers have trouble with elite; cut fires up KG

By A.Sherrod Blakely

LOS ANGELES When you're two-time NBA champions, you grow accustomed to taking the best shot from opponents every night.

But this season, it seems the best shot from opponents -- specifically the upper echelon, title-contending bunch -- has leveled the Los Angeles Lakers.

Boston's 109-96 win over the Lakers Sunday was yet another instance in which Los Angeles came up short against one of the NBA's better teams.

The Celtics and the San Antonio Spurs have the best records in the Eastern and Western Conference, respectively.

Los Angeles lost to both of them.

Dig a little deeper and you'll find that Los Angeles has suffered defeats to other top-notch teams, such as Dallas, and split two games with Chicago.

Aside from beating the Bulls, the Lakers' only other marquee victory was a 101-94 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Jan. 17.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson isn't overly concerned about his team's struggles against the top teams in the NBA.

"It's not the playoffs yet," Jackson said. "We're still playing regular-season games. You know, we'll get there in time."

Los Angeles center Andrew Bynum isn't discarding these losses to top teams quite as easily as Jackson.

"It's going to give them momentum for later on in the postseason," he said. "But it's not something that we can't correct."

Good or bad teams, it doesn't matter.

"When you don't execute, you leave yourself open," said Lakers forward Lamar Odom. "You leave your chin open, especially against a team like this Celtics that executes and plays tough and plays hard on both ends of the court. We got beat."

Kevin Garnett is one who never needs added incentive to play well.

But after the inadvertent elbow he took to the head -- and the five stitches that he needed after the game -- Garnett acknowledged he became even more locked in to what he needed to do in order for the C's to be successful.

"If anything, it woke me up," he said. "I wanted to be a lot more aggressive to the basket and just be aggressive with whatever I was doing."

On the play, there was no call made.

To Garnett, that signaled that the officials were going to allow players for both teams to be aggressive.

"I took like they were going to let us play, and they did," said Garnett, who had 18 points and 13 rebounds for his 15th double-double this season.

If there was a good thing about Kendrick Perkins missing the first 43 games of the season recovering from surgery to repair a torn MCL and PCL injury suffered in Game Six of last season's NBA Finals, it's that the likelihood of him racking up enough technical fouls to miss games is slim.

Unfortunately for the Celtics, that doesn't mean he won't make it interesting.

Perkins has picked up a technical foul in each of his last two games.

While it's not necessarily at the level of trending, Rivers hopes the 40-plus game cushion will be enough to where it won't become an issue.

"He has a cushion," Rivers said. "The 40 games he's missed. We're safe with him this year."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

How the 1956 draft changed the Celtics franchise


How the 1956 draft changed the Celtics franchise

We take a look at how the 1956 Boston Celtics draft landed them three All-Stars and changed the franchise forever.

Avery Bradley elected to NBA All-Defensive First Team


Avery Bradley elected to NBA All-Defensive First Team

BOSTON -- It seems that while Avery Bradley comes back every season with something new that he’s added to his game offensively, his defense has always been solid.

But this past year, Bradley, 25, was more committed to being not just a great on-the-ball defender, but also to expanding his game at that end of the floor to be a better help defender, too.

Bradley’s efforts didn't go unnoticed. The NBA announced Wednesday that he was among the players named to the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team.

It was Bradley's first time being named to the first team. His only other all-league recognition defensively came in 2013, when he was named to the league's second unit.

Bradley's play certainly was pivotal in his selection. But it didn't hurt that Portland's C.J. McCollum praised Bradley via social media as the best perimeter defender in the NBA.

"I don't think it's close," tweeted McCollum. 

San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard was the lone unanimous choice on the first team. In addition to Leonard and Bradley, the first team also included Golden State’s Draymond Green, Los Angeles Clippers big man DeAndre Jordan, and Jordan’s teammate Chris Paul.

Of the first-team players, Bradley was third in total points (149), which included 62 first-team votes and 25 second-team votes. The only players with more first-team votes were Leonard (130) and Green (123).

Players were awarded two points for a first-team vote and one point for a second-team vote.

The All-NBA Defensive Second team included Paul Millsap of Atlanta, Paul George of Indiana, Hassan Whiteside of Miami, ex-Celtic and current Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen and Chicago’s Jimmy Butler.

Bradley wasn’t the only Celtic to receive some all-Defensive love from voters. Jae Crowder had a total of 47 points, which included 3 first-team votes. His 47 points were the third-highest among players not named to the first or second team.  Also, Celtics guard Marcus Smart received seven points which included 2 first-team votes.