Previewreview: Lakers 88, Celtics 87

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Previewreview: Lakers 88, Celtics 87

BOSTON As expected, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers battled until the absolute bitter end, with the Celtics coming up short, 88-87, in overtime Thursday night.

Down the stretch, the Celtics were unable to execute in a manner that they have in past years.

And that more than anything else, was at the heart of Thursday's loss, which snapped the Celtics' five-game winning streak.

"Our execution the whole game was terrible," said coach Doc Rivers.

But there were other contributing factors to the loss. Earlier yesterday, we talked about what to expect in the game; now, we'll take a look at what happened:

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Thursday's game should be a low scoring affair. Now normally that's a good thing for Boston, which comes in giving up an NBA-low 86.5 points per game. The Lakers have started to buy into new coach Mike Brown's defensive principles, and the result has been a Lakers squad that's No. 4 in the league in fewest points allowed (91) per game.
WHAT WE SAW: Not surprisingly, both teams slugged it out in a defensive, grind-it-out kind of matchup. In the end, it came down to which team could execute and to some degree, out-effort the other. The numbers don't lie. The Celtics were clobbered in both categories, and yet still had a chance to steal a victory up until literally the final horn sounded.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Kevin Garnett vs. Pau Gasol. Garnett has been on an incredibly hot streak at both ends of the floor, providing the Celtics with the kind of end-to-end game they desperately need him to deliver. Meanwhile, Gasol continues to be the subject of trade rumors. And while he says he tries not to let it affect him, he's averaging a career-low 16 points per game. It's hard to imagine that the one year where he's a focal point of trade talk just so happens to be the same year in which he struggles offensively.
WHAT WE SAW: This matchup was all Gasol, who scored 25 points on 12-for-20 shooting. He also managed to grab 14 rebounds. As for Garnett, he'll be the first to tell you that he had an off - really off - night shooting the ball. He had 12 points on 6-for-23 shooting. "I know myself, I probably rushed a couple things," Garnett said. "I was more than hype. I should have calmed down; go to a meditated state, do some yoga on the side. But for the most part, I thought when we needed to get stops, we got stops. It came down to overtime. If you in your building, that's what you want."

PLAYER TO WATCH: Rajon Rondo has steadily regained the form we saw prior to his right wrist injury. But he hasn't had the breakout-type game he's so overdue to have. This could be that night, especially against Derek Fisher who still a solid defender, but has clearly lost a step or two.
WHAT WE SAW: Rondo had a solid, but far from spectacular game against the Lakers. He had 14 points on 7-for-13 shooting. He also had seven assists. But there was never really moment on Thursday when Rondo took over.

STAT TO TRACK: One of the Celtics' strengths of late has been their ability to score in the paint. During their current five-game winning streak, Boston has outscored opponents by 4.8 points per game in the paint. With the Lakers' Twin Towers of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, points in the paint will be hard to come by for Boston.
WHAT WE SAW: Boston's inability to rebound the ball was a major factor in their loss to the Lakers. The C's were out-rebounded 55-45, and Los Angeles outscored them 24-13 in second-chance points, and 46-38 in points in the paint.

Talking Points: Spooner, third line struggle vs. strong Ducks team

Talking Points: Spooner, third line struggle vs. strong Ducks team

Joe Haggerty hands out his superlatives following the Boston Bruins loss to the Anaheim Ducks

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