Ford Keys to the Game: Kings 95, Celtics 119
Kings 95, Celtics 119
Having an eight-point lead over the Sacramento Kings at halftime of tonight’s game was nice for the Boston Celtics, but it wasn’t like the C’s were playing at a dominating level. In fact, that lead was only two points with 3:34 remaining in the first half.
The team of veterans headed back to the locker room clearly unsatisfied with their first-half performance. That must have come to a group decision that enough was enough.
Something was in the air as the halftime clock wound down and the third quarter was about to start. It just felt like Boston was going to turn it on and rout the Kings in the second half. That’s exactly what happened, and it didn’t take long to kick into action.
Boston came out in the third quarter and fed the ball to the matchups it believed it had an advantage in. The first was Shaquille O’Neal versus DeMarcus Cousins. O’Neal took a pass on the right block and faced up on Cousins before two other Kings swarmed in on him for a triple-team. That’s not a good idea against O’Neal, because he is one of the best passers his position has seen.
As the triple-team closed in on O’Neal, all he had to do was look directly in front of him to find Rajon Rondo streaking to the basket from the left side of the court with no defender in front of him. The Big Shamrock threw a laser of a pass to Rondo and the point guard put in an easy layup to start the second half’s scoring.
Moments later, after Francisco Garcia missed a jumper for Sacramento, Boston went right back to O’Neal in the same post position. This time O’Neal made a move toward the center of the paint and put a shot up over the triple-team that attacked him yet again. His shot missed, but he grabbed the rebound in traffic and dropped the ball into the basket for another easy layup.
Cousins answered right back at the other end with a 17-foot jumper of his own to cut Boston’s lead back down to 10, but the C’s didn’t flinch. Rondo, who was also keen on posting up his defender, found Glen Davis for a jumper on the left baseline during Boston’s ensuing possession.
Davis’ jumper put some pep in his step and just 15 seconds later he stepped in to steal a pass by Jason Thompson. That steal led to a quick shot by the Celtics at the other end, and it was by none other than Ray Allen – from 24 feet. Allen swished the 3-pointer and Boston up 66-51 with 9:30 remaining in the third. Rondo tacked another two points onto the cushion with a layup on Boston’s next possession.
In less than three minutes, that halftime lead of eight points had more than doubled. Boston’s 11-2 run to open up the second half put the lowly Kings away, and the C’s easily handled them from that point on en route to a 119-95 victory.
Key Box Score Line
When you’re a superstar and you nearly score as many points as you logged minutes, you know it was a good night. Paul Pierce had one of those games tonight against the Kings, who had no answer for the versatile forward.
Pierce dipped deep into his bag of offensive tricks and schooled numerous Kings players in numerous ways. He drove to the basket from the perimeter, he posted up, he spun to the basket out of those posts, he drilled deep 3-pointers. Everything was working, and that’s how he racked up a game-high 25 points in just 27 minutes of playing time.
Boston’s starters were able to put the game out of hand in the third period, so Doc Rivers was able to rest them in the fourth. None of the starters saw a second of playing time in the final quarter, which means Pierce’s numbers could have been greatly inflated had this game been close.
With Sacramento having no answer for him, Pierce hit 10 of his 14 shot attempts that included a 2-of-3 showing from downtown. In addition to his offensive exploits, he also finished with six rebounds, three assists and a game-high four steals, which was more than double that of any other player in the game. Pierce finished with a plus/minus rating of plus-21, and he was able to sit back, relax, and enjoy the game from the sideline for the entire fourth quarter.
Box Score Nuggets
- Both teams scored 16 fast break points.
- The Celtics recorded 19 assists on the night, 13 of which came from Rajon Rondo.
- Rondo also scored 10 points, giving him the only double-double of the game.
- Paul Pierce recorded game-highs of 25 points and four steals. He also had six rebounds and three assists.
- Both teams shot better than 51.0 percent from the field (52.1 percent for Boston, 51.4 percent for Sacramento).
- Four Celtics reserves scored at least 10 points: Nate Robinson (16), Marquis Daniels (12), Von Wafer (12) and Semih Erden (10).
- Robinson shot 6-of-9 from the field and made four of his six 3-point attempts.
- In addition to his 10 points, Erden also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.
- Boston outscored Sacramento 56-42 in the paint.
- Carl Landry, who came off the bench, led the Kings with 17 points.
- The Celtics forced the Kings to commit 23 turnovers.
- Boston shot a whopping 12-of-20 from downtown, led by Robinson (4-of-6) and Ray Allen (4-of-5).
- Jason Thompson led the game with nine rebounds.
- Sacramento made only two of its 13 3-pointers, good for 15.4 percent.
- Both teams finished with 37 rebounds.
- Nine of the game's 10 starters played 30 minutes or less.
- Every Celtic who participated in the game scored at least two points.
Quote of the Night
Marquis Daniels on what the Celtics need to do to continue to improve: "Just do things harder. There is always another notch that you can go to."