By Malaika Bobino
OAKLAND, Calif. — The best gift given to the Golden State Warriors came the day after Christmas. Beating the defending champions 99-89 was a bitter sweet victory. Stephen Jackson returned to the line up after missing four games due to a sprained hand was simply spectacular in leading this team to a win after losing seven of their last eight games.
After trailing most of the game by 10 points something happened at the end of the third quarter. The solid defense known by the Celtics did not prevail and the Warriors took advantage in controlling the paint. “I was worried at halftime when I saw we were shooting 56 [percent] and they were shooting 39 and it was a 12-point game,” Rivers said. “I was completely concerned about it. … Once they start making shots, it’s tough to turn them off, and we couldn’t make anything.”
Kelenna Azubuike’s 3-pointer with 7:47 to play cut the Celtics’ lead to 76-74 before Ray Allen hit a floater on the other end. Jackson then scored eight straight points for Golden State. He followed Allen’s bucket with a 3 at 7:03, hit the go-ahead basket with 6:02 to play to make it 79-78, then made another 3 at 5:33. After Eddie House’s 3 pulled Boston to 93-87 with 1:17 left, the Celtics had two misses and Jackson knocked down a pair of free throws with 36.2 seconds to go.“It feels good to be back on the court and we needed this win to give us some momentum. It’s a big game considering we beat the best team in the league. We kept playing fast! We’re hard to beat when playing good defense and making shots.” Shots wasn’t Golden States only vice this night. Ronnie Turiaf was solid on defense on both ends of the court.
He finished with 14 points and eight boards. With Garnett and Rajon Rondo on the bench, Belinelli hit consecutive 3-pointers in the final minute of the third quarter for the Warriors, who trailed 72-64 heading into the final period. This was the turning point of the Celtics many turnovers and mistakes. “We couldn’t get control of our defense.
We gambled a lot and that’s not the way we play defense Paul Pierce said.” Pierce had 21 points and five assists and Kevin Garnett scored 14. Rondo had 11 points on 5-of-11 shooting, 10 rebounds and nine assists to go with seven turnovers.
Boston was without starting center Kendrick Perkins, who injured his left shoulder in the first quarter Thursday. Native Leon Powe started in Perkins’ place, finishing with 12 points and seven rebounds. “They were getting loose balls after halftime. They played hard” Powe said.
Despite the Celtic loss Leon Powe was able to see some friends and family before leaving town to face the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night. Powe was a college star at California and played his high school ball at nearby Oakland Tech. His story so compelling that he and a fellow mentor established the “Fresh Start Family Services” which is a mentoring program for foster children.
Powe, who overcame a challenging upbringing in Oakland. His father walked out of his family when Leon was 2, and he bounced around to different foster homes and homeless shelters throughout most of his childhood. Powe also lost his mother just days before his Oakland Tech High School team was to play for the state championship.
William G. McCray contributed to this report