What Went Right:
• Kobe had his best shooting night of the series so far, making 12-20 shots en route to a game-high 36 points. Moreover, the MVP came through when it mattered most, making critical buckets in the final three minutes of the game to seal the victory for the Lakers.
• While Bryant’s effort was important, Boston Coach Doc Rivers said that Sasha’s 20 point outburst was the key to the game. Vujacic was similarly clutch too, making the biggest three pointer of his life with just under two minutes to go to create some distance from the Celtics.
• The Lakers played stellar defense on Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, holding the star duo to a combined 8-35 shooting and 19 points. After the game, Coach Jackson singled out Kobe for his defense on Pierce in particular, holding the forward to a series low six points.
• After dishing out 16 assists in Game 2, Rajon Rondo suffered an injured ankle that is threatening his status for tonight’s Game 4. In Game 3, the young Celtics guard only scored eight points to go along with four assists and wasn’t much of a factor on offense.
• The massive free 38-10 free throw disparity in Boston’s favor in Game 2 finally evened itself out a little at STAPLES Center with the Lakers going to the line 34 times compared to 22 for the Celtics. However, L.A. was largely unable to capitalize on the extra trips to the charity stripe, only making 22.
• While noted for their offense, the Lakers’ defense finally showed its teeth in Game 3, with Gasol and Kobe coming up with strong defensive efforts against Garnett and Pierce. Pau led the Lakers with 12 rebounds, including a series of late offensive boards that helped preserve the purple and gold’s slim lead. Overall, Boston shot just 35% from the floor.
What Went Wrong:
• While the Lakers did a great job of stopping KG and Pierce, they weren’t able to keep every member of the Big Three down as Ray Allen broke through for his best game of the series with 25 points on an impressive 8-13 from the field.
• Odom and Gasol continued to struggle on offense, only making a combined 5-18 field goals for 13 points between them. However, despite their inefficiencies, both came through with clutch plays when it mattered most, providing hope for an improved effort from each big man in Game 4.
• The Lakers’ offense still wasn’t at its usual sharpness level despite the team making 44% of their field goals. Overall, Boston dished out two more assists than L.A. for a 19-17 edge.
• While much of the post-game talk centered around Lamar and Pau’s sub par games, two other Lakers starters–Radmanovic and Fisher–also had poor Game 3′s with the pair scoring three points and six points respectively on a combined 2-10 from the field.