Posted by Steve Aschburner
LOS ANGELES – The list of Boston Celtics’ bad performances in the NBA playoffs is Nate Robinson-short, historically speaking. But there was a nagging sense that the Celtics weren’t at their best in the last two games of the 2010 Finals.
First there was the 22-point blowout loss in Game 6. Then the Celtics never truly pounced on a Lakers team that shot 26.5 percent in the first half. Ditto in the third quarter, when the Celtics held L.A. to 19 points but scored only 17 themselves. Their lead, up to 49-36 early in the second half, was down to 57-53 by the end of the third.
Then disaster struck. And a familiar problem from the regular season — squandering double-digit leads late — returned.
“Twelve minutes,” point guard Rajon Rondo said. “Here we held them to 14 points in the first quarter and then gave up 30 in the fourth. Defensively they just kept pushing us.”
Letting the Lakers hang around proved fatal for Boston. They sputtered offensively, while sending L.A. to the foul line more in that final period (21 free throws) than the Celtics shot all night (17). Kobe Bryant scored eight of his 10 points in the fourth from the line.
“I thought we stopped playing a little bit,” coach Doc Rivers said. “I thought we had great motion and movement throughout the game, and in that one stretch, we stopped.”