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Celtics examine wreckage, plot countermoves

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Rajon Rondo often enjoys returning to his room at the Celtics' hotel to watch video of a Boston victory before he goes to sleep.

The losses, not so much.

Yet Rondo did just that after the NBA Finals opener Thursday with teammate Kendrick Perkins, ordering room service and watching the replay of the Lakers' 102-89 win. In his own room elsewhere in the hotel, Kevin Garnett did the same thing, twice.

"You learn a lot about yourself when you lose," Garnett said. "You learn a lot about yourself when you're down. This shows what you're made of."

While Rondo and Perkins muted the television, Garnett turned it up to hear every unflattering thing said about the Celtics. Yet all three came away from the replay sessions with two conclusions: Kobe Bryant is awfully good, but Boston still can compete with the Lakers.

"That might be the first time after a loss that I watched a game again so quickly," Rondo said Saturday as Boston prepared for tonight's Game 2. "This isn't the first round any more. You don't have a lot of time to get things right. I think I correct my mistakes better when I see them."

Rondo, Perkins and their teammates all promised increased intensity in every aspect of their game tonight.

"Everybody gets punched," Celtics big man Glen Davis said. "Everybody gets knocked out. It's about how you get up. We got punched. We got dazed. It's about how you react to it."

The Celtics all realize that while Bryant's offensive artistry is responsible for most of the attention directed at him, particularly after 12 30-point games already in this postseason, he's a perennial all-defensive team selection for a reason. Rondo used his replay session to analyze exactly what Bryant did to slow down the Celtics and their young point guard.

"He did a great job on me," Rondo said. "A lot of what they do on both ends keys off Kobe."

Bryant guarded Rondo at times during the 2008 Finals largely because the matchup left him free to help out on other defensive matchups while daring Rondo to beat them.

After Rondo shredded Cleveland and Orlando in consecutive playoff series, he's possibly the Celtics' single biggest offensive threat. The Lakers used Bryant's superior size to direct Rondo into tough areas of the court.

"You don't want to overcommit too much, but it's a full-time job because he's very smart," Bryant said. "He gets after it quite a bit. It takes a great deal of energy and effort to key in on him."

So everybody played a role. When Rondo slipped underneath the basket for difficult layup attempts in the first half of Game 1, both Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum swatted away one of his shots. Lakers coach Phil Jackson drilled his big men to resist the urge to pick up Rondo immediately, which would allow Rondo to pass to his own low-post players for dunks.

"We try not to commit too early, because that's when they get you," Bynum said. "You just have to stay disciplined, and we did that in Game 1."

Boston ended up with playoff lows in field goals (29) and attempts (67), and Celtics coach Doc Rivers traces it all back to his team's play on defense.

Los Angeles surprised Boston by running relatively little of its customary triangle offense, instead using pick-and-roll plays that cleared space for numerous aggressive drives to the hoop, even by backup guards Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown.

Bulls To Hire Celtic: Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau accepted the Bulls' head coaching job Saturday, according to multiple media reports in Chicago. The Celtics' Rivers would not confirm the reports before practice. Thibodeau was the architect of the defense that contained Bryant when the Celtics beat the Lakers for the title two years ago. Bulls officials and the NBA agreed to wait until after the Finals are over to make the hiring official.

Fast facts

Lakers 1, Celtics 0

(all games Ch. 28)

Game 1: Lakers 102, Celtics 89

Tonight: at Los Angeles, 8

Tuesday: at Boston, 9

Thursday: at Boston, 9

June 13: at Boston, 8*

June 15: at Los Angeles, 9*

June 17: at Los Angeles, 9*

* if necessary

Celtics examine wreckage, plot countermoves 06/05/10 [Last modified: Saturday, June 5, 2010 9:52pm]
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