Lakers 91, Celtics 84: Finals Game 3 Diary

60682621Lakers – Celtics Gameday Page
After a tough home loss in Game 2, the Lakers looked to regain home court advantage while in Boston for Game 3. Here’s our running diary from the contest, here to make sure you don’t miss a thing:

Inactives
Lakers: Adam Morrison
Celtics: Tony Gaffney

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

Game 3 Video Preview
Pinch hitting for assistant coach Frank Hamblen was fellow assistant Jim Cleamons, who pointed out the major points of emphasis for L.A. – such as containing Boston’s transition game – after the team’s Tuesday shootaround.

60682497First Quarter
9:54 A frenetic first two minutes had the fans going wild in the TD Garden as a 6-0 Kevin Garnett run kicked things off, including a pretty up-and-under layup, an alley-oop dunk and a finger roll. Artest stopped the early bleeding with a put-back layup off Bynum’s missed dunk attempt, but promptly picked up two personals to send Luke Walton into the game far earlier than he’d entered all playoffs.

6:13 The Lakers gradually settled in, getting a turnaround J from Walton and two Kobe free throws to get within three points. Perkins was then hit with his second personal foul – bringing Rasheed Wallace and Lamar Odom into the game – before Gasol hit 1-of-2 free throws to make it 12-10 Celtics. First major crisis = averted by L.A.

4:00 Odom marked his entrance into the game with a banked three – that’s one way to get it going – but Garnett countered with his fifth field goal conversion in as many attempts, helping make up for 0-for-4 starts from both Pierce and Allen.

0:00.7 A fantastic end to the quarter from the Lakers concluded in kind, as a streaking Odom caught Fisher’s 50-foot pass before laying it in, plus the foul, just before the buzzer sounded. That gave L.A. a 26-17 lead, as they finished the quarter on a 19-4 run.

60682558Second Quarter
10:30 L.A. slowed down not a bit to start the second, getting an and-1 layup from Bryant and Shannon Brown’s jumper to take a 31-17 lead as the crowd struggled to find anything about which to cheer.

7:14 Odom hit his third shot in as many attempts to give the Lakers a 17-point lead as L.A. continued to shine on defense, limiting Boston almost exclusively to long jumpers. Meanwhile, the bench had made all seven of its shots, but when Bryant went to the bench, the Lakers’ offense suddenly stalled, Brown and Farmar missing consecutive jumpers, as Boston scored four straight. That brought Bryant and Fisher quickly back into the game with the Lakers up 37-24.

5:00 Finally, the Celtics found some offense, running off nine straight points before Bynum scored from their paint at the other end. A Bryant to Gasol alley-oop followed, to put L.A.’s lead back at 12 after a momentary scare. Boston’s run included an absolute no-no as the Laker coaches saw things … an uncontested fastbreak layup for Rondo. Assistant coach Frank Hamblen would probably rather wear a kelly green shirt around town than see that (OK maybe not).

1:52 Great play from Kobe, who snatched the ball out of KG’s hands on a defensive board, then fed Bynum for an and-1 layup while falling out of bounds. Bryant had 12 points with six boards and three dimes at that point, with L.A. still up 11. Pierce countered with two free throws, but Kobe responded in turn by somehow dropping a left-handed runner over Perkins’s outstretched hands. The half closed with L.A. leading 52-40, on strength of a massive 32-8 run that surrounded the first quarter break, led by Kobe’s 16 points, and 15 points off the bench.

60682403Third Quarter
11:00 While Gasol hit a 17-footer for the first bucket of the second half, Garnett answered with a baseline jumper to get to a game-high 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting. Terrific stuff on O from KG, who struggled considerably in L.A. particularly in Game 2 (though in part due to foul trouble).

3:45 The Lakers’ offense stalled considerably for a 4-minute stretch without a field goal until Bryant finally got back-to-back shots to go, keeping the lead at nine. Kobe had been working considerably hard for all of his shots, having made 8-of-20 to that point.

0:24.9 As the Lakers continued to struggle to find open shots, particularly in the paint as Boston’s physical defense stepped up considerably, Gasol hit a 17-foot jumper to put L.A. up 67-61 heading into the fourth, their 12-point halftime lead cut in half. The momentum had swung in Boston’s direction, the crowd patiently awaiting further explosion, to make it a very difficult task for the Lakers to hold on.

60682445Fourth Quarter
9:45 The crowd was officially all the way back after Rondo’s transition layup followed another missed Kobe 3, his fifth of the game with just one make. The Purple and Gold were getting almost nothing inside, continually chucking shots from the perimeter as layups from Big Baby Davis and then Rondo cut the lead to only one (68-67).

5:40 It wasn’t Bryant, Gasol, Bynum or Odom that stepped up on offense, but Fisher, who twice drove around the Celtics defense to finish difficult shots heading to the rim. The second put L.A. up 74-70, as Boston took a full time out with possession for the Lakers.

2:17 Fisher continued his clutch stretch by hitting two more shots (eight points in the quarter) to keep the Lakers afloat until Gasol’s tough turnaround shot from the left block went in off glass and made it an 82-78 lead for the road team. L.A. certainly needed the extra offense as Bryant struggled to get shots to fall.

1:40 Of course, that wasn’t going to keep Bryant from firing. Undeterred, he nailed a tough turnaround over Allen to put L.A. up 84-80, the shot coming from near the spot on the floor that won L.A. the Jan. 31st game last time the Lakers were in Beantown.

0:48.0 Fittingly, Fisher nailed a ridiculous and-1 layup to seal a road victory for the Lakers. It was his fifth field goal of a fourth quarter he entered making only 1-of-5 shots, giving him 11 of his 16 points in a quarter for the ages. The Lakers also came up big on defense, getting crucial stops in the final minutes including a Kobe-Bryant-caused turnover on Garnett. Sasha Vujacic also made his contribution, checking in and immediately getting fouled before making two free throws with 23 seconds left. Bryant would add two free throws and Pierce a meaningless layup in what was a 91-84 final, the Lakers reclaiming home court advantage and thrusting control of the series right out of Boston’s grasp.