The Finals Game 3: In-Game

1st Quarter:
10:18 After a sloppy first two minutes of play, the Lakers finally get on the board with a free throw by Gasol after L.A. received their first foul call of the game–much to the delight of a raucous STAPLES Center crowd. Early on, it’s Celtics 2, Lakers 1.

9:00 Odom stops midway into his drive and dishes to a wide-open Radmanovic who drains the three to give the Lakers a 6-2 lead a lot of early momentum. It’s only been three minutes, but the purple and gold are sending an early message to the Celtics that the two teams aren’t in Boston anymore. More good news for the Lakers, Kobe’s driven to the basket on each of his past three possessions after hearing criticism from across the nation for taking too many jump shots in Games 1 and 2.

7:32 Standing ovation for the Lakers heading into the timeout after a steal by Fisher led to a near monstrous dunk by Kobe. Instead, the MVP will head to the line for a pair with a chance to add on to the Lakers’ early 9-2 lead. L.A. is playing with an incredible amount of energy in the first four and half minutes of the game, obviously feeding off a hungry crowd that’s desperate for a Lakers victory.

5:29 Kobe answers the Celtic’s 5-0 run that cut the lead to two by nailing an outside jumper for his team-leading seventh point. Even from up here in the upper press box, high above the 300′s, there’s no doubt that Kobe has the “Not in my house” look and attitude going tonight.

5:16 Turiaf is the first reserve off the bench tonight with STAPLES Center serenading the visiting team with a “Boston Sucks” chant.

4:28 Fisher steals the ball from Rondo and pulls up for a seventeen footer that rattles home that bumps L.A.’s lead back to a much more comfortable eight points at 15-7. Derek’s been aggressive on both ends of the floor in the first quarter even though the basket is his first of the game.

2:29 Vujacic and Farmar enter the game with the Lakers up 17-14 following the timeout.

1:39 Pierce picks up a costly second personal foul, grabbing Sasha when he was on his way to the basket. Through 10 and a half minutes of the opening quarter, it seems like the Lakers have finally gotten some calls to go their way, but they’ve also been much more aggressive driving to the hoop.

2nd Quarter:
11:37 Walton comes into the game for the first time, joining Turiaf, Bryant, Farmar and Vujacic.

10:36 Kobe’s fouled on his way to the basket, drawing yet another pair of free throws. That’s nine total for the MVP after the entire Lakers team only shot 10 in Game 2. It’s become pretty clear early on that the refs made sure to pack their whistles for the long flight from Boston to L.A. Bryant leads all scorers with 15 points.

9:15 All five players on the floor touched the ball at least once, with the hot potato finally landing in Sasha’s hand who drills a wide-open three pointer from the top of the key to give the Lakers an early 29-22 lead in the second quarter. L.A. is on a 9-2 to run since the end of the first 12 minutes.

8:50 Personal foul against P.J. Brown and a technical on the veteran and Jordan Farmar who appeared to get into some kind of scuff on Boston’s end as the the other eight members on the court were already down at the other end of the floor. The crowd here at STAPLES is excited to see some emotion out of their Lakers, rising to their feet once again heading into a timeout.

8:07 Gasol returns to the Lakers lineup, replacing Turiaf.

6:34 Jordan shows confidence in his outside shot, nailing a trey from the left corner that hits nothing but net and opens up a nine point lead for the Lakers–their largest of the game–at 34-25. Both Farmar (five points) and Vujacic (six points) have been factors early for the purple and gold off the bench.

5:49 Turiaf returns for L.A.

4:45 Sasha’s feeling it in the first half and the Lakers are thriving because of it, taking their biggest lead of the night 38-27 in what’s turning into a woeful offensive first half for the Celtics. On the game, Sasha has 10 points to lead all reserves.

4:11 Kobe checks back into the game for the final four minutes of the first frame.

2:43 Pau’s headed back to the line for a pair with a chance to extend the Lakers’ lead to 11. After the two free throws, L.A. will have gotten to the line 20 times compared to just two for the Celtics. While the Lakers are clearly reaping the benefits of playing on their home floor, to their credit, they’ve made a conscious effort to drive the ball deep into the lane from the opening tip of the game onward.

2:18 Kobe draws a technical foul after having the ball stolen from him on the Lakers end. Allen missed the free throw though to preserve L.A.’s 10 point lead.

1:42 Vujacic continues his scorching hot shooting from the field, connecting on his fourth field goal in five tries for 12 points–second on the team to Bryant’s game-high 19.

HALFTIME: After two lackluster games, the Lakers came firing back early and often against the Celtics, building an early lead right out of the gates and holding onto it for a 43-37 halftime lead. With much of the sports world abuzz after a Game 2 that saw Boston shoot 28 more free throws than the Lakers, Kobe and Co. finally got some calls to go their way, shooting 22 free throws compared to just seven for the Celtics. Bryant set the tone for the Lakers early, repeatedly driving to the hole instead of settling for outside shots en route to 19 first half points. L.A. also got strong contributions out of Vujacic (12 points) and Farmar (five points).

3rd Quarter:
11:16 Seldom used Eddie House replaces Rajon Rondo after the guard had to be helped to the locker room with what appeared to be some kind of leg injury.

10:14 Kobe starts the scoring in the second half for the Lakers the same way he opened the night–with an aggressive drive to the hoop. If L.A. goes on to win the game, one of the biggest reasons will be the way Bryant set the tone early on for his teammates.

8:50 Walton replaces Radmanovic in the Lakers lineup after Vladi picked up his fourth personal.

8:11 Ariza gets the call from Jackson, joining Kobe, Fisher, Gasol and Odom on the court.

7:38 Trevor doesn’t take long to flash the improved outside shot he worked on while he was out with a broken foot, drawing a burst from the crowd after hitting a long deuce with his toes on the line.

4:58 Kobe brings the Lakers within one of the Celtics, hitting one of two free throws, but more importantly, draws the fourth personal on Pierce. As a team, the Lakers are only shooting 13-24 from the charity stripe. With Boston surging ahead to take the lead in a game L.A. has controlled for much of the first 30 minutes, the Lakers need Bryant to continue to penetrate into the lane and draw fouls, hopefully with better results though. It doesn’t help that the team is getting next to nothing from Gasol who has only mustered two points on 0-4 shooting from the field so far.

4:23 Odom bails the Lakers out of a long slump, finally taking advantage of his length by going up over the outstretched Celtics defenders for a soft baby hook that cuts the deficit to two at 52-54. Somehwat amazingly, the make is Lamar’s first on the night.

2:56 Ariza shows some of the athleticism that wowed fans before his injury, picking up the loose ball off Farmar’s errant pass and driving all the way to the hoop for a layup. If L.A. is able to recover from their third quarter slip and win the game, it will be a testament to the effort of their role players as Gasol and Odom have been virtually non-existent thus far.

1:07 Sasha returns for the Lakers.

4th Quarter:
11:47 After a dismal end to the third quarter, Sasha finally gives the nervous STAPLES Center crowd something to cheer about, hitting another three pointer to recapture the lead for the Lakers, 63-62. Vujacic has 15 points on the night.

9:35 Walton returns for L.A., with his team trailing 65-63.

8:56 Ariza draws a pivotal fifth personal foul on Paul Pierce who will be forced to sit on the sidelines for at least the next few minutes. He hasn’t been much of a factor all game for Boston, but the Lakers would be wise to capitalize while he’s out as he’ll certainly come back well rested for the home stretch of the game.

8:14 Sasha is quickly making himself an instant legend amongst Lakers fans, connecting on another jumper for his seventeenth point of the game already. With only Kobe getting anything done on offense, Vujacic’s clutch effort has literally saved them through almost three and a half quarters.

7:59 Fisher and Gasol return for L.A. with the Lakers trailing 66-68 with just under eight minutes to go.

6:54 Kobe hits a big-time three pointer that brings the crowd to its feet and reclaims a slim one point lead for the purple and gold. With the make, Bryant’s total on the night just surpassed the 30 point plateau.

6:27 Odom returns for L.A. as Fisher heads to the line for two and a chance to extend the Lakers’ lead to three.

5:15 Gasol picked a great time to pick up just his second field goal of the game, gently tapping Odom’s layup attempt over the rim to send the crowd into a frenzy as the Lakers go up by five with just over five minutes to go. Pau only has six points on the night on 2-7 shooting, but none of that matters if he’s able to come through with big plays like the one he just made.

3:37 P.J. Brown just threw Gasol out of bounds after he attempted to catch a difficult pass from Fisher. But, the Spaniard was only able to make one of two free throws to give the Lakers a precarious 78-72 lead with three and a half minutes remaining.

1:53 Sasha plays hero once again, hitting the biggest three of his life–a wide-open attempt from the corner that sends STAPLES Center into temporary pandemonium and gives the Lakers a small five point cushion to work with at 81-76 with under two minutes remaining. With the make, Sasha’s scoring total on the night is up to 20 on 7-10 shooting from the field.

1:06 After giving up an uncontested dunk to KG, Kobe comes through in MVP-like fashion, hitting a twenty footer to put the lakers up seven, 85-78. On the ensuing possession, Kobe just came through again, driving into the lane and hitting a soft floater that rattled its way home to put L.A. up 87-81 with 38 seconds remaining from a 2-1 Boston series lead.

FINAL SCORE: Celtics 81, Lakers 87