The Boston Celtics completed the largest Finals comeback in more than 35 years, eliminating what was once a 24 point Lakers lead for a 97-91 win that puts them one victory away from winning an NBA title.
The Lakers led by 21 points after the first quarter–the largest lead after one quarter in Finals history–and held an 18 point lead at halftime. However, Boston caught fire in the third quarter, outscoring the Lakers by a 31-15 margin to crawl within two of L.A. heading into the final quarter.
“Some turnaround in that ballgame,” said an obviously stunned Coach Jackson after the game. “The air went out of that building. You’ve got to give them credit. Their defense was up to the task in the third quarter and changed some momentum of the game.”
Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 20 points, but Boston received clutch secondary contributions from Ray Allen (19 points) and James Posey (18 points). That smaller lineup, coupled with Eddie House’s 11 points, were pivotal in overturning the Lakers’ lead in the decisive, game-changing third quarter.
“Well, that changed the course of the game, obviously,” said Jackson. “Time-out called, Perkins is injured, we’re up by 20 points. They put in Posey and House, and they spread the lineup and run screen rolls, put some pressure on us to have to match up on screen rolls and have three-pointers available and they hit shots in the second half.”
Lamar Odom led L.A. in scoring with 19 to along with a game-high 10 rebounds, but most of his points came in the first half. Kobe had a miserable shooting night from the field, only making 6-19 shots amid intense double and sometimes triple coverage from the Celtic’s defenders. Pau Gasol also had a solid effort for the Lakers, chipping in 17 points and 10 rebounds of his own.
After the game, Jackson stressed that while the situation looks grim for the Lakers, they’re not out of it yet.
“Our back is against the wall, but it’s just a game at a time, and that’s one thing we have to understand,” Jackson said. “We have to keep forcing the action because anything can happen in these situations. You just keep playing through it and you’ll find a way to keep succeeding as you go along.”