While Boston Magazine’s John Gonzalez spent a good number of column inches tackling what Bill Burt might consider a non-issue, David Raposa of the exceptional Cave 17 considered a Boston scourge of a more contemporary sort. To wit, “the frontrunners and long-suffering faithful that might flinch when fortune turns fickle.” We join Raposa in the middle of the Celtics’ close call Wednesday night against Houston.

Boston sped out to a twenty-point lead, playing the sort of unselfish tenacious ball they™ve been playing for most of the season. And then they started playing like dogass. Yao Ming wrung out his foul sponges quite quickly (a Mr. Perkins & a Mr. Pollard), Bonzi Wells decided to show up and ball a bit, and that European dude that looks like the prototypical European post-Ginobli hustle-punk was doing hustle-punk stuff (sneaking around box-outs for offensive boards, getting every loose ball within 25 feet, playing obnoxious leg-humping defense, flopping like he was possessed by the spirit of Vlade Divac). After a particular odious sequence, featuring nominal back-up point guard Tony Allen pretending he was a speedy drive-by point guard on two consecutive (and fruitless) possessions, and two scores by Houston to give them the lead for the first time since early in the game, the crowd got a little uppity, sprinkling some boo sugar on the creampuffy Celtics effort after a timeout. (For what it™s worth, this guy right here chose not to boo, and was instead channeling his inner Heinsohn, except my vitriol was aimed at European hustle-punks, not referees deigning to call fouls against white & green-clothed folk.)

But fear not long-suffering Celtic fans, because everything turned out okay – with Perkins and Pollard both fouled out, Garnett took on Yao and played the best defense anyone had played against Yao all game, and also came up big on the offensive end. Garnett pops his collar, Garnett bangs his chest, Pierce hops on Garnett™s back for a little ride, and the justification for this commercial becomes self-evident. But there it is – for that brief moment when the game was in doubt, Boston fans spit the bit and showed the sort of so-called fandom that naysayers expect from the city that features a two-time World Series champion and an umpteen-time Super Bowl champion. In other words, the sort of what-have-you-done-for-me-lately shtick that makes Yankee losses a joy to behold. Then again, it™s easy to hate a franchise and its fanbase whose success is continually rubbed in the face of its competitors and various passerby. And it™s equally easy to dust off the hate when you™re experiencing success.

Which is to say that I really really hope Garnett and Pierce and Allen stay healthy the rest of the way and get an NBA championship for themselves and for Massholes of all stripes (with some exceptions), because the Pistons and Spurs can go sit on a tack.

Possibly looking ahead to Saturday’s clash-of-the-titans with Detroit —winners of 11 straight after tonight’s decision over Toronto — the Celtics have left it fairly late to put their collective foot on the throat of the Grizzlies. Currently leading 91-77, Pierce (22 points) and Garnett (19 points)are spectators with 5:12 to go. Tony Allen’s scored 20 coming off the bench, while James Posey has hauled down 10 rebounds in limited action.