NBA Matchup: Los Angeles Lakers @ Boston Celtics

Los Angeles Lakers at Boston Celtics Thurs. Feb. 10, 2011 8 p.m. EST

As one of the few heated NBA rivalries to stand the test of time, the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers and the defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics always give each other a run for their money every time they go head-to-head during the NBA regular season.

A few weeks ago, the Lakers and the Celtics faced off for the first time since Game 7 of the2010 NBA Finals. Obviously, Kevin Garnett and company still had a bitter taste in their mouths considering how close they came to get the best of the Lakers once again on the NBA’s biggest stage and winning yet another NBA title.

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Even though these two teams were considered to be equals on the basketball court heading into this showdown at the Staples Center, that wasn’t the consensus around the league once the final buzzer sounded at the end of the fourth quarter. The Lakers may have been in control in the first half with reigning NBA Finals MVP Kobe Bryant lighting up the scoreboard for 22 points heading into halftime, but the second half was a different story altogether.

Once the second half began, Paul Pierce really started to get hot in the third quarter and finished with a team-high 32 points. Pierce’s big third quarter was the turning point in this game as the Lakers were able to keep it close, but losing control after the Celtics’ leading scorer took over.

Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett shoots ov...
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Kobe Bryant tried to rally his boys back in the fourth quarter, like he had done countless times during his Hall of Fame caliber career, but the Black Mamba’s season-high 41 points turned out to be not enough to lead the defending champs to victory over their arch rivals.

On Thursday night, the Lakers will travel to Boston and enter an extremely hostile environment at the Garden. Even though Phil Jackson’s squad struggled to compete with the Celtics late in their last meeting, the Lakers will come into this game with a must win mentality as a loss to Boston could devastate this team’s confidence against the best of the best in the league.

Over the past few days, there have been a lot of trade rumors circulating around the Lakers as players like Ron Artest and Andrew Bynum appear to be on the block. The Lakers have recently been linked to superstar Carmelo Anthony and a trade with the Denver Nuggets, but it is all speculation at this point.

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If the Lakers do lose to the Celtics for the second time this season on Thursday night, the defending champs will almost certainly a make deal to improve their team and their chances of pulling off the three-peat in Phil Jackson’s farewell season.

Personally, I believe the Lakers still have some fight in them as all they need to do is starting playing up to their potential, but this team seems prone to quitting when the chips are down. A win over the Boston Celtics could be just what they need to get right back on track!

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