Tim Duncan had never lost a basketball game in Boston. That is, until today. Both teams were missing key players with the Spurs missing Tony Parker and Brent Barry and the Celtics missing Perk, KG and Pollard. The Celtics were undersized, with the 6'8" Glen Davis and the 6'8" Leon Powe being assigned to guard the 6'11" Tim Duncan. But in the end, it was hustle and effort that allowed the Celtics to pull out the 98-90 win over the defending champs.
It was a fairly close game throughout with each team making runs. At the end of one, the Spurs were up 23-20. The Celtics finished the half with an 11-2 run and were up 43-41 at halftime. The Celtics finished the third quarter with a 6-0 run and were up 68-61 at the end of 3. But the Spurs wouldn't go away and pulled to within 2 with 1:26 left in the game. The Celtics then pulled ahead by 7 but a Finley 3 cut it to 4 with 12 seconds remaining. Ray Allen was fouled and hit both free throws. Manu Ginobili tried his hardest to draw a foul while shooting a 3. He leaned way in toward Tony Allen who was guarding him but Tony learned from the foul in the Pistons game and just backed up with his arms down while Ginobili just leaned further and further toward him. It resulted in an off balance shot that wasn't even close. Big Baby got the rebound and hit 2 clutch free throws and the Celtics and Paul Pierce beat Tim Duncan in Boston for the first time in his career.
Pierce started out hot and stayed hot, scoring 35 points to go with 6 rebounds and 2 steals. Ray Allen had a quietly productive game with 19 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists. Rajon Rondo had another incredible game. His scoring wasn't there but he had a double double with 11 rebounds and 12 assists to go with his 5 points. How amazing is it when a 6'1" guard out rebounds everyone in the game except Tim Duncan? Rajon Rondo is a star in the making and he just continues to improve with every game.
Leon Powe started in place of the injured Kendrick Perkins but picked up 2 quick fouls. Big Baby came in for him and played such solid defense on Tim Duncan, he stayed in the game and finished with 9 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist and 3 steals in 33 minutes. Powe played only 13 minutes and finished with 5 points, 3 rebounds and 1 steal. Scal once again started in place of KG and finished with 2 points and 4 rebounds. The announcers were in love with Scal constantly calling him a fan favorite and at one point they called him a "rebounding demon" and pointed out his championship defense at another point. Not sure what that was all about, but if Danny was paying them to showcase Scal, they did a great job.
James Posey once again had a good all around game with 5 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals. Tony Allen is getting back into his pre-injury form and played very good defense on Manu Ginobili including on two plays down the stretch where Manu was flopping and doing his best to try to draw a foul on Tony, but he didn't lose his cool and stayed with it. Eddie House had a good game with 10 points, 1 rebound and 1 assist.
The Celtics out rebounded the Spurs 46-37. They had 18 fast break points to none for the Spurs. In spite of being undersized, The Celtics outscored the Spurs in the paint 30-26. The Celtics shot 47% and held the Spurs to 44% shooting. The one stat that stands out is that the Celtics shot 34 free throws to only 13 for the Spurs. This was a very satisfying win. The Celtics are now 16-0 against the Western Conference teams. They still have to face the Hornets and Suns but there should be no question that they are for real, with or without Kevin Garnett. The Celtics are 4 -2 without him in the lineup. When he comes back, he will be motivated all over again and I expect the Celtics to go on a tear through the league. But for now, this win sure feels good.