A Charge And A Three Save Boston; Pau Gasol Denies The Lakers Another Bad Road Loss

Someone forgot to tell Boston they don’t have Rajon Rondo or Jared Sullinger for the rest of this season. The Celtics ran off their fourth straight win after losing their All-Star starter point guard a week ago by devouring the short-handed Clippers, then holding on for dear life at the end, 106-104. One Caron Butler dunk aside (we’ll get to that in a second), the Celtics were clearly the dominant team in the first half and even led by 19. When the the second half started, all of that was turned upside down. DeAndre Jordan (12 points) got to the line a couple times and made shots, Blake Griffin (20 points, 11 boards) jumped a lazy Kevin Garnett (12 points, five boards) pass on the wing for a steal and dunk, and eight points disappeared from Boston’s cushion quickly. Fast forward to the final minute, after Eric Bledsoe got the lead within two, when Avery Bradley took a huge charge from Jamal Crawford, only to have The Truth (22 points, six turnovers) go step-back triple in Matt Barnes’ eye for a 106-101 lead that would hold up. … Bledsoe wasn’t a Chris Paul clone at point (dribbled off his foot, got caught in the air once with one second left on the shot clock) but played probably his best all-around game of the season with 23 points, 10 dimes and seven boards. He’s so freakishly athletic you’d think confidence would just spew from him like a blown water main but he plays with serious ebbs and flows. Hope he plays like that when CP3 returns, too. … Butler raised eyebrows with his bush-league steal off a high-five fake to end the Clips’ loss to Toronto, but his dunk over KG was a better reason for attention Sunday. Getting past Pierce from the corner isn’t all that hard anymore but there’s much respect here for Butler’s hops. Still, it was also kind of awkward, considering  The Sporting News reports the Clips and Celtics are talking about a trade for Garnett with Butler and Bledsoe involved. And here all along we thought Ainge would send Pierce back to his L.A. home if anyone was getting dealt … Unless you’re Garnett, you have to like hearing this bit of good news from San Antonio: Spurs forward Tim Duncan doesn’t have any structural damage in his left knee or right ankle after an MRI and is “day to day.” We really didn’t want Timmay’s season to end because of Martell Webster. … Hit the jump to read about the rarest of Steve Nash plays. …

It wasn’t quite as strange as seeing the Super Bowl’s lights blow out just like your apartment when two people tried to use the kitchen outlet at the same time, but Steve Nash missing two straight free throws was shocking. The Lakers’ guard missed a pair with 1.2 seconds left, giving Detroit a chance at a final shot to win. Kyle Singler‘s inbound to Andre Drummond at the hoop got shut down by Pau Gasol (23 points, 10 boards and looking smooth in another start), though, and the Lakers won, 98-97 at the Palace. Back to those crunch-time free throws. We weren’t kidding about its rarity: He’s only missed two free throws in a row on a shooting foul nine times in his career. The more pressing issue has to be how the Lakers gave back a 14-point lead in the third quarter when Charlie Villanueva (10 points) stepped back for a triple to tie it at 91. … Kobe had 18 points and Earl Clark had 17 points and 10 boards and one of the sickest ways to end a half, ever. … Metta World Peace chose a random opponent to get physical with at the exact wrong place Sunday. He’s still treated with slight revulsion in Detroit for his punches in the “Malice in the Palace” and when he got Brandon Knight in a head lock in the second quarter, Knight wriggled away heated. He said afterward he “definitely” got punched, while MWP ran off some completely unintelligible answer where he claimed not to know Knight’s name, college or position. Both dudes got something out of the game, though, between MWP’s win and Knight’s fourth-quarter yam on Gasol’s face … LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh played exactly like everyone thought the Big 3 could in a 100-85 win over Toronto on the road where the Heat went on a 14-2 run to close. Miami’s triangle of stars combined for 81 points, of whom LeBron owned a game-high 30 (with eight points and seven assists) and Wade had 23. Bosh hit a win-sealing corner three in the final three minutes to keep Miami up seven. From the Raptors’ perspective this was a dream scenario from its two best players, too, with Rudy Gay scoring 29 points and DeMar DeRozan having 27, but they played defense like a bullfighter in the fourth, allowing Miami to run by unimpeded. … We’re out like the Superdome’s lights.

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