Lakers 102, Celtics 89: Finals Game 1 Diary

60630079Lakers – Celtics Gameday Page
Here it is. Lakers vs. Celtics. With nothing else needed to be said, we were there to make sure you didn’t miss a thing:

Lakers: Adam Morrison
Celtics: Tony Gaffney

Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Celtics: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins

Series Preview
For the complete series preview, including position-by-position breakdowns, a podcast with Lakers Scout/Director of Video Services Chris Bodaken, a preview video with assistant coach Frank Hamblen and more, CLICK HERE.

Coaches Pregame Pressers
In two of the shorter coach pregame sessions ever (apparently everyone just wanted to start the game), the most interesting comment came from Phil Jackson. A question was asked regarding Kevin McHale declaring the coaching advantage for the series going to Doc Rivers, and Jackson responded: “Kevin McHale gave them Kevin Garnett.”

60629404First Quarter
11:33 So … that only took 27 seconds. Artest and Pierce took exactly that much time to draw matching technicals after a wrestling match. Lakers – Celtics! Fun times for all. This, if you remember, nearly happened in Boston before the opening tip even occurred back on L.A.’s 90-89 Jan. 31st win.

5:30 ‘Twas a good first six minutes for the Lakers, who worked hard defensively to force Boston into a bevy of tough shots, while working the ball inside frequently on offense to score 10 of their 16 points in the paint. Gasol’s layup around KG and put-back of Bryant’s first miss after a 2-for-2 start made it a 16-10 game heading into Boston’s first time out. Meanwhile, Bynum was moving quite well on his knee, contesting in the paint and clearing three rebounds.

2:50 L.A. struggled to score over a three-minute stretch as Boston went on a 5-0 run to tie the game at 18, all five points coming from the foul line as Artest, Bryant and Farmar were all whistled for personal fouls. It was the second on Artest (when Pierce barreled into a standing-still Ron), bringing Jordan Farmar into the game as Bryant slid over to the three to guard Pierce.

1:00 The amount of personal fouls called began to get ridiculous, as Pierce literally threw himself to the floor while grabbing Bryant’s arm, drawing Kobe’s second personal. He would join Fisher and Artest on the bench with two, while the Celtics had foul trouble of their own with Ray Allen (two) and Tony Allen (3) leading to Michael Finley’s appearance. But on the court, Farmar and Shannon Brown provided a terrific late boost, alternating for explosive layups to give L.A. a 26-21 lead after the first.

60629253Second Quarter
10:20 The Lakers suffered a blow from, you guessed it, a foul call when Odom picked up No. 3 as, you guessed it, Pierce drew a charge. That likely meant the last we’d see from Odom for the half, which meant quite a bit of Bynum for the duration, and perhaps some Josh Powell, as L.A. held onto a four-point lead.

4:36 With Boston’s defense collapsing towards Bryant, he simply found Gasol through the coming double, and the Spaniard’s jumper put L.A. up 39-35 despite 10 turnovers from the home team. A big edge on the glass (19-10) was key for the Lakers. Gasol’s nine points were second only to Kobe’s 10.

2:31 And there’s Artest on offense. First an open three-pointer, than a breakaway layup thanks to Fisher’s steal of Pierce’s attempted pass. That sequence gave the Lakers their biggest lead at 44-35.

0:27.0 Gasol capped a very solid half – call it “tough” if you will – by drawing a foul on Perkins

60629621Third Quarter
9:52 Bynum’s pretty footwork helped him reach 10 points with his six boards, and the Lakers take a game-high 12-point lead after back-to-back J’s from Kobe (16 points). Paint points were a huge edge for L.A. in the first half (28-12), and the early third quarter action showed no sign that this would change. By the way, I almost ran into Chris Rock (who’d stopped to talk to Snoop Dogg) on my way back up to my media seat at halftime. That was almost a walking-while-texting crime.

3:03 Though you couldn’t tell from the box score, Artest was having a terrific all-around game, adding two free throws to get to nine points with a rebound, assist and two steals. He’d been key on Pierce throughout the game defensively, forcing him to just 3-of-6 field goals. Meanwhile, he’d stayed disciplined on offense, moving the ball steadily and shooting only when open. On his second steal, Artest found Bryant streaking ahead for a two-handed dunk that created a 13-point lead.

0:28.0 Remember that last paragraph in praise of Ron Ron? He added a three-pointer when Boston went under a screen, putting L.A. up by an even 20 points to cap a 13-2 run as the crowd rose to its feet. Really a tremendous atmosphere in STAPLES on this evening. Bryant had 14 in the quarter to reach 26 total, while Gasol was impressive in getting to an 18-10 double-double.

60629440Fourth Quarter
9:10 The Celtics finally put together a good stretch, outscoring the Lakers 8-1 to open the fourth to cut the lead to 13 on Garnett’s top-of-the-key jumper. Odom, trying to get himself going, then missed an early-shot-clock three that led to Pierce’s getting to the line at the other end. Both went down, cutting L.A.’s 20-point lead suddenly to 11.

7:31 With Jackson giving Kobe a quick breather, Jordan Farmar picked up where he left off in the second quarter by getting all the way to the rim for a layup. Gasol then added a baseline hook to quickly answer the Celtics’ run. Another key play came from Artest, who first swatted Big Baby, then used his ridiculously strong hands to grab the ball, which he gave to Farmar who immediately threw a baseball pass to Gasol for a dunk at the other end.

2:15 It was more of the same across the next five minutes, the Lakers keeping up the solid work on D, Gasol clearing his 12th rebound (the same number as Garnett, Perkins, Allen and Rondo had combined) before Bryant hit 1-of-2 freebies (his first miss in 10 chances) to make it a 96-82 lead for L.A. The C’s never got within single digits in the quarter.

0:04.0 For good measure, Kobe nailed a top-of-the-key three, becoming the only Laker not named Artest to hit a three (4-of-10 total) while reaching 30 points for the 11th time in 12 games in what was an impressive all-around 102-89 victory for L.A.

A championship performance, no doubt. We’ll be back soon on with far more.