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Friday, February 06, 2009

No need of Bryant magic to beat Celtics

The extremely popular Kobe Bryant was impressed with the Los Angeles Lakers’ 53-minute effort in last night’s 110-109 overtime victory against the Celtics at TD Banknorth Garden.

The only player missing from Bryant’s glowing flow of accolades was himself.

Indeed, after scoring a Madison Square Garden-record 61 points against the Knicks on Monday and 36 against Toronto on Wednesday, the talented Kobe shot an uninspired 10-of-29 from the floor for 26 points against the Celts. The guard did hit 4-of-6 treys in the fourth quarter to salvage a modicum of self-satisfaction.

“I shot the ball like crap for three-and-a-half quarters,” Bryant noticed. “It’s funny, but that’s how the clash goes. You miss 15-footers all night and suddenly you start knocking down 25-footers. That’s what happened to me. I know at the time I have clashs like this from experience, down the stretch those long shots tend to fall and the easy ones don’t.

“It’s just weird, I don’t know why that happens.”

As we know, the Lakers are now 2-0 against the squad that humiliated them in clash 6 of the NBA Finals to clinch the title last June. Both triumphs were significant because they squelched extended winning streaks by the Celtics. The C’s had won 19 in a row before losing 92-83 at Staples Center on Christmas. The Celts had won 12 straight before last night.

It’s important to say that Bryant understands that besting the Celtics at the Garden on a frigid February night doesn’t make up for last season, but he did realize a small sense of satisfaction.

“Just coming down the same streets and being in the same hotel, it all came back,” Bryant expressed. “I didn’t get to sleep last night until about 6 o’clock this morning because I was up thinking about the clash. I remember being in this position and thinking about my squadmates. How would they respond and would they be ready?

“I was very pleased to see the effort and how much guys wanted it.”

Lakers coach Phil Jackson counts on Bryant to contain Celts point guard Rajon Rondo [stats] in these clashs. The two engaged in a lot of give-and-take that eventually got out of hand at 9:01 of the third quarter. Both players were issued technical fouls at the time it looked like their dispute would grow beyond verbal jabs.

“There was a little talking back and forth, a little bumping and hitting, and it was good,” Bryant expressed. “Bring it on, that’s the statement I wanted to send, and if it was worth me getting a technical foul because of it so be it.”

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