The Finals Game 4: In-Game

Inactives for Tonight’s Game:
Celtics: Scot Pollard, Gabe Pruitt, Brian Scalabrine
Lakers: Andrew Bynum, Coby Karl, DJ Mbenga

1st Quarter:
11:49 Obviously heeding the advice of Coach Jackson, Odom starts the scoring off for both teams by making an aggressive drive to the basket, drawing a goaltending call for a 2-0 Lakers lead. Hopefully, the move is a sign of things to come for the forward.

10:05 The strong start for the Lakers continues as Kobe, Odom and Gasol put on a clinic in interior passing, with Kobe throwing it Odom who dished a perfect pass to a running Pau who slammed it home to give the Lakers an early 7-2 lead.

8:31 The crowd is rocking early after consecutive layups by Lamar who has clearly come into tonight’s game a determined man, leading the team with six points. After a low-key Game 3, the atmosphere inside STAPLES Center is absolutely electric tonight.

6:39 Doc Rivers is forced to call timeout after another series of perfect passes results in Odom’s fourth layup of the game already. Meanwhile, the Lakers’ offense is looking as crisp as it has all series, now up by double digits early 16-6. All five players on the floor have scored.

5:39 Everything’s falling early for L.A. as Radmanovic ignites the crowd once again, nailing his second three pointer of the game to push L.A.’s lead to a game-high 14 points at 20-6. The Celtics have made three of their 12 shots from the field so far, while also struggling to hold on to the ball, committing four early turnovers.

3:20 Boston looks dazed and confused heading into a Lakers timeout. After Odom showed he can hit it from outside too, connecting on a jumper just above the free throw line, L.A. has a commanding 17 point lead at 24-7. Even though the Celtics have missed several open shots so far, the purple and gold deserve a lot of credit for their smothering defense in the first quarter.

1:58 Farmar checks into the game with the Lakers up 28-12.

35.9 Slowly but surely, Trevor Ariza is earning back Phil Jackson’s trust after missing more than four months with a broken foot. The forward just flashed his improved outside shot, nailing a three to give the Lakers a 20 point lead at 34-14.

04.7 Standing ovation for Game 3 hero Sasha as he enters the game for the first time.

00:00 Not only was the Lakers 35-14 fourth quarter dominating in its own right, it was also historical as the 21 point lead was the largest ever after one quarter in an NBA Finals game. While their defense has been stellar so far, L.A.’s expert passing also deserves a lot of the credit as the team currently has 10 assists to Boston’s 1.

2nd Quarter:
11:09 Ariza’s been primarily taking jumpers since returning from injury against the Spurs, but he just reminded everyone what an incredible athlete he is, stealing the rebound from the Celtics and slamming it home to give the Lakers a game-high 22 point lead at 37-15. Ariza has six points to lead all reserves.

8:13 After missing a trey on the Lakers’ previous trip down the floor, Luke hits nothing but net on his third long range attempt on the night. After it looked like the Celtics might be gearing up for a little run, Walton’s corner bomb appears to have quelled any uprising for the time being as L.A.’s still up big 40-19 heading into a timeout. The Lakers are dominating the game in pretty much every statistical category so far, up 11-1 in assists and an equally impressive 18-9 edge in rebounding.

Turiaf and Odom both check in for the purple and gold.

6:46 Vujacic hasn’t lost his touch since Thursday’s game of his life, connecting on his first three of the night, giving L.A. their largest lead of the night at 45-21 almost halfway through the second quarter. While it might have been natural for the Lakers to come down a little bit after their historic first quarter, they’ve fought the urge in the second quarter, using the first 12 minutes as a platform to build on their lead.

5:25 Radmanovic returns to the floor for the home team.

4:06 Jackson calls timeout after a deuce by Garnett and a three by Allen cut the lead back under 20 again at 45-26. The Lakers have fallen in love with the three pointer a little too much over the past few minutes of play with Sasha then Vladi missing from long range, igniting Celtics fast breaks.

2:36 Fisher comes through with a huge bucket for the Lakers after Boston trimmed the lead to just 12. Derek was also rewarded with the and one for his aggressive drive to the hoop. Derek’s made both of his shots from the field, but has been otherwise quiet so far on offense.

52.2 Vujacic replaces Bryant who just picked up a costly third personal foul. Of equal concern is the dwindling Lakers lead, now standing at just 13 after two free throws by Pierce.

HALFTIME: Although L.A. sputtered a little bit in the closing minutes of the first half–losing six points off what was once a 24 point lead–they still thoroughly dominated the Celtics in nearly every statistical category in the first 24 minutes for a 58-40 lead. From the get-go, the Lakers saw a different Odom and Gasol as both players came out of the gates strong, with Lamar scoring a team high 15 points–on a perfect 7-7 from the field no less–and the Spaniard grabbing nine points to tie Kobe for second best on the team. Even better news for the Lakers–they built their lead with Kobe still 0-4 from the field. More impressively, the Lakers pulled down 10 more boards than Boston, 26-16 and dished out 15 assists compared to just four for the Celtics. L.A.’s defense also did an exceptional job in holding Boston’s Big Three to just 21 total points.

3rd Quarter:
9:35 After a sluggish start to the second half, the Lakers finally get on the board with free throws by Lamar to to bump a precarious 13 point Lakers lead to 15 at 63-48. Odom’s totals on the night are up to an impressive 17 points and nine rebounds.

8:36 Kobe comes through with a huge three pointer for just his second field goal of the game. The Lakers lead 66-48 with three and a half minutes gone by in the third quarter. Bryant is shooting 2-7 from the floor, but the team hasn’t needed his scoring with Odom and the rest of his teammates shouldering the offensive load.

7:07 Timeout Boston as a roaring STAPLES Center crowd rises as one following a long two by Fisher to push the lead back to 20 at 68-48. Just when it looked like the Celtics were preparing to mount a comeback, Kobe and the rest of his Lakers teammates stepped it up a notch on both ends of the floor. With the make, Derek becomes the third Laker to reach double figures in scoring with 11 points.

4:55 Allen’s headed to the line for two after Fisher committed a great foul to stop the guard Ray from getting an uncontested layup. With the two makes, the Lakers’ lead is down to just 13 points again. This is the third or fourth time that the Celtics have cut the lead to 12 or 13, but each time, L.A.’s had an answer. Point and case, on the team’s next trip down the floor, Kobe just lobbed it to Gasol for an ally-oop dunk to push the lead to 15 again.

2:58 Timeout for the Lakers after a sloppy possession results in a turnover and a wide-open layup by Allen to finally cut the lead below 13, with the purple and gold now leading by just 11 points at 72-61. The Celtic guard now has 13 points on the night to lead Boston, with Pierce and Posey both trailing him by a point with 12.

Vujacic and Ariza are both back into the lineup after the timeout with the Lakers in desperate need of a spark.

1:34 Eddie House just hit a dagger from long range that amazingly brings the Celtics to within six points of the Lakers after L.A. led by 24 at one point and 18 at halftime. Meanwhile, the team’s offense is in disarray and Boston is playing with a renewed sense of urgency.

0:00 A miserable third quarter finally comes to a close for the Lakers with Boston outscoring them 31-15 to come within two of L.A. heading into the fourth and final quarter.

4th Quarter:
9:32 After the Celtics played suffocating defense for the first two and a half minutes of the quarter, Kobe finally got the Lakers on board in the fourth, driving deep into the lane and gently laying the ball in off glass over the outstretched Boston defenders. Bryant’s still one point shy of becoming the fifth Lakers started to reach double figures in what’s been a balanced offensive attack so far.

7:58 Tie game with eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter of a pivotal Game 4 of the NBA Finals=Kobe’s time. Just in case anyone had any doubts about Bryant’s ability to come through in the clutch, he just gave everyone in the building a gentle reminder, nailing an outside jumper to put the Lakers up 77-75.

6:25 Turiaf swatted Brown’s shot away on the Celtics end, sending the Lakers on a mini fast break, resulting in a layup for Odom that gives the purple and gold the lead and pushes his total on the night to a team-high 19.

6:06 Gasol returns for the Lakers with most of the antsy crowd on their feet. The Spaniard has 13 points and nine rebounds for the game.

5:47 Timeout after a spectacular coast-to-coast dunk by Kobe sends the crowd into a frenzy and gives L.A. a small four point cushion at 81-77 with less than half of the fourth quarter remaining.

4:56 After another three by the Celtics cut the lead to just one, Pau comes through with a huge–albeit awkward–face-up floater over Garnett that puts L.A. up 83-80. Gasol would be wise to start his move a little closer to the hoop as he was at least 12 feet out when he started his path toward the basket.

3:48 Boston calls timeout after finally taking over the lead 84-83. On the ensuing Lakers’ possession, Pau withered under the Celtic’s defensive pressure, throwing an ill-advised pass to Odom that the forward bobbled before Garnett dove to the floor and quickly called timeout. The purple and gold have gotten away from their excellent ball movement from earlier in the game, standing around too much, waiting for Kobe to bail them out.

2:11 The Lakers’ season is on the brink after back-to-back makes by Allen and Garnett have put the Celtics up by five with two minutes to go, 88-83.

Fisher and Radmanovic return to the lineup for the final two minutes of play.

1:30 Kobe weaves his way into the lane and makes an impossible layup to bring L.A. to within two of Boston at 87-89.

46.8 Pierce is headed to the line for two with a chance to push Boston’s lead to five again after a long two pointer by Fisher cut the lead to three.

15.7 After playing 21 seconds of pesky defense on Allen, the Celtics guard just blew by him for a wide-open layup that gives Boston a commanding five point lead with only 16 seconds remaining. Unless they get a quick two or three and hope that the Celtics miss their free throws, it looks like Boston might pull off arguably the greatest comeback in NBA Finals history.

03.6 After missing a series of threes and a free throws by House, it’s all over for the Lakers as Boston is about to go up three games to one.

FINAL SCORE: Celtics 97, Lakers 91