For the bulk of his time with the Boston Celtics, MarShon Brooks looked alternately disinterested or disillusioned. At times, a little bit of both.
Brooks played a grand total of 73 minutes over the first 2 1/2 months of this season, and every minute he didn’t play was well-deserved. Celtics coach Brad Stevens, as well as veterans like Gerald Wallace and Keith Bogans, did everything to light a fire under the young shooting guard out of Providence.
To the very day he was shipped to the Golden State Warriors in January, though, Brooks seemed not to get it. He had a promising offensive game, but if he was under the impression it was good enough to overshadow his lack of focus at the defensive end, he was mistaken. The Celtics traded him to the Warriors, who then traded him to the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday. Oddly enough, his first game in a Lakers uniform came against the club he began the season with.
He was ready.
Brooks erupted for 10 points in the fourth quarter to help the Lakers wipe out a 13-point deficit to beat the Celtics 101-92 on Friday. The third-year shooting guard finished with 14 points as the Lakers put six players in double figures, with none scoring more than 16 points. The player who once largely lacked for motivation seemed to have plenty to prove.
“A hungry NBA player is better than another NBA player,” Stevens said. “You see that every night.”
If only Brooks had been this hungry in Boston, he might still be in green having games like this for the Celtics, not against them. There is still time for Brooks to turn things around. Some players take a little longer to be humbled, but it’s not too late for Brooks.
With Brooks knocking down shots and even making a few uncharacteristic hustle plays — he nabbed three steals and picked up some floor burns diving for a loose ball — the Celtics folded in the fourth quarter. They were outscored 38-18 by the Lakers (19-36) in the final 12 minutes after ending the third quarter with an 11-point advantage. Only Rajon Rondo and Brandon Bass seemed to keep their composure for Boston (19-37).
Rondo and Bass kept running successful pick-and-pops while their teammates wandered. At the defensive end, Jeff Green inexplicably sagged off Kent Bazemore, who came to L.A. along with Brooks in the same trade. Bazemore made Green pay by scoring eight of his 15 points in the closing frame.
“We’ve got to respond to adversity better,” Stevens said. “We have not shown that at enough of a level all year. That’s something we’ve just got to get better at. We’ve got to find out, over the next however long the season is, who can best do that.”
There is clearly a trust between Rondo and Bass that the point guard doesn’t have with the rest of his teammates. Taking on LeBron James and the Miami Heat in a seven-game Eastern Conference Finals will do that. It’s funny how the concepts of “experience” and “intangibles” get laughed at by purely analytical-minded types who don’t believe human beings who play sports can be affected by emotions.
The young Lakers, burgeoning with confidence as they were egged on by their home crowd, soared. At the same time, the young Celtics crumbled, while two players who have been on the court in crunchtime deep in the playoffs kept their cool. Hmmm …