Archive for the 'Finals' Category

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Lakers Reign Supreme in Game 6

60765840From Inglewood, Venice and the Valley, from Philadelphia, Spain and Queens, came the Lakers.

The Purple and Gold were omnipresent throughout a championship-like performance that produced Tuesday’s 89-67 Game 6 blowout victory over Boston to force a Finals Game 7 that will decide which of the previous two Larry O’Brien trophy winners will become the 2010 champs.

L.A.’s stars were brilliant, led by Kobe Bryant’s 26-point, 11-rebound, 4-steal effort and Pau Gasol’s 17-point, 13-rebound, 9-assist near triple-double.

The bench was outstanding, dominating Boston’s by scoring 24 points before the C’s pine unit had registered a single point, and the team defense was suffocating all night.

The Lakers simply had it all firing from start to finish.

“I’m really happy about the way we played as a team tonight,” said Gasol, a key part of L.A.’s critical 52-39 control of the glass. “Defensively, the activity and the intensity. Everything was very, very positive and together.”

60766649While the Lakers followed their usual road format of staying close in the first three quarters before attempting to steal victories in the fourth in Games 3-5 in Boston, Game 6 saw the pedal pushed to the floor from the get-go.

“They were absolutely terrific tonight,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “I thought (they) played harder, better … They executed, they trusted more.”

L.A. built a 10-point lead after the first that became 20 at halftime and 25 after three quarters, holding Boston to just 18, 13 and 20 points while amassing 76 themselves, before allowing the visitors to chip only three points off the lead in the fourth.

The trenches favored the Lakers throughout, with the home team winning the paint battle 40-32, shooting 41.8 percent to Boston’s 33.3 percent, blocking eight shots to Boston’s four and adding 15 second-chance points to Boston’s six.

“Our defense was good, our rebounding was better,” said Lakers coach Phil Jackson. “We got some loose balls, some tipped balls. Those kinds of things change the course of the game.”

Though Doc Rivers said it “wouldn’t have mattered the way things were going,” Boston suffered an early blow when center Kendrick Perkins went down with an apparent knee injury six minutes into the first quarter, leaving his availability for Game 7 in question.

“I don’t know,” offered Rivers about his center’s playing prospects. “It doesn’t look great, but I don’t know.”

60766293Yet and still, it was Bryant who set the tone for his team early, scoring 11 first quarter points by making five of his first six shots, flying around on defense, going hard to the glass and involving those around him.

“I think most people – not us – assumed that Kobe would come out and take 1,000 shots, and I thought he did the exact opposite, I thought he trusted his teammates,” said Rivers.

Led by Gasol, those teammates came through.

The Spaniard’s near triple-double came after he’d failed to match terrific production in Games 1 and 2 in Boston; Lamar Odom offered eight points, 10 rebounds and two blocks; Ron Artest hit three triples en route to 15 points along with six boards while limiting Paul Pierce to 6-of-14 FG’s and 13 points; Sasha Vujacic, Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown amassed a motley crew of high-energy plays while combining for 17 points, highlighted by Brown’s violation of LAX air space with two massive one-handed dunks.

In short, it was a team effort that came at the most crucial of times … at least until Thursday’s Game 7.

Bryant also set the tone for L.A. after the game.

When asked if he were excited, or happy, to have the opportunity to play a Game 7 in the Finals particularly against the Celtics, Bryant simply said “No.” That’s now what makes him happy.

“Winning is what makes me happy,” he concluded.

He and the Lakers will have their chance in 48 hours. Until then, your numbers:

60766757POSTGAME NUMBERS
9 L.A.’s collective advantage in the steals and blocks categories, blocking eight shots to Boston’s four (led by Pau Gasol’s three) and stealing 13 balls to the C’s eight (led by Kobe Bryant’s four).

15 Minutes played by Andrew Bynum, who sat out for all but two minutes of the second half to rest his ailing right knee. Bynum suffered no additional damage, but was having trouble moving normally and thought it better to rest considering L.A.’s 20+ point lead. His counterpart Kendrick Perkins, however, suffered a knee injury after just six minutes, and C’s coach Doc Rivers said it “doesn’t look good” for Perk to play in Game 7.

17 More rebounds corralled by the Lakers than the Celtics in the first half (30-13), which dwindled slightly to 13 (52-39) for the game. The team that won the board battle has won all five games.

24 Bench points scored by the Lakers before Boston had mustered even a single point off their bench, composed of Sasha Vujacic’s nine, Lamar Odom’s eight and four each from Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmar. Bryant led all scorers with 26 points, while Gasol had 17 and Ron Artest 15.

67 Points scored by Boston, the fewest the Lakers had allowed throughout the postseason. The previous low was 79, from Oklahoma City in Game 1 of Round 1.

Lakers 89, Celtics 67: Finals Game 6 Twitter Diary

60764355Lakers – Celtics Gameday Page
After consecutive losses in Boston, the Lakers returned to STAPLES Center down 3-2 to the Celtics, looking to force a Game 7 with Tuesday’s Game 6. Mike Trudell was typing all the way through on Twitter via the @LakersReporter account to make sure you didn’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 6 Video Preview
Among the way-too-many statistics you might read heading into Game 6 of the NBA Finals between L.A. and Boston: the Celtics are just 1-7 in close-out road games over the last three playoff campaigns. Frank Hamblen joined us on video to discuss how L.A. can make that C’s mark go to 1-8 on Tuesday night at STAPLES.

Pregame
- If you hadn’t heard, Christina Aguilera’s singing the National Anthem tonight. We’re a few minutes away.
- You could tell that it wasn’t Christina’s first time singing in a pressure situation … T-5 min. to tip off of Game 6 now.
- “Let’s Go Lakers” chant breaking out as fans fill remaining seats. Crowd’s starting to heat up here.

60765300First Quarter
- Kobe hasn’t been to the rim in a while … but got there on L.A.’s 2nd possession to answer KG’s transition layup.
- Massive key here is how low L.A.’s bigs can establish post position. So far, it’s been good, including a Bynum turnaround.
- Standing ovation early here at STAPLES after Artest nailed a corner 3, following a 24-sec violation on Boston. Fisher’s steal and subsequent layup then made it 9-6 for L.A.
- Fun to watch, fast pace in first 3+ minutes here. Only 1 foul called, physical play encouraged with L.A. up 9-6.
- LA has gotten dribble penetration from Kobe & Fish in the early minutes, creating plenty of open looks. Only 4-of-8 FG’s though.
- So, Ray Allen likes to play in L.A., apparently. He didn’t hit 1 three in Boston, but just nailed his first attempt here.
- First sign of foul trouble comes as Fisher picks up No. 2 after getting switched onto Rondo. Shannon Brown’s in, 6:30 to go.
- Kobe has been clinical so far, making 4-of-5 shots with a steal & set up for 2 Pau FT’s and later a Pau fastbreak layup as L.A. opens an 18-12 lead.
- Ouch … Kendrick Perkins landed awkwardly on his right knee, and remains on the floor here as Boston’s trainers attend.
- Perkins’ absence means a whole lot of Rasheed Wallace, whose conditioning has been questioned by Doc Rivers.
- Wallace came into this game averaging 18 minutes a game, with a high of 22.
- Kobe’s hit 5 straight shots, including a tough 3 that has him to 11 points, & L.A. up 7 before KG’s layup.
- Gasol hasn’t had many offensive opportunities (2 FGA’s), but he’s been terrific on the glass, with 4 boards already, plus a block.
- Ron Artest is now 2-for-2 from the corner 3 spot, giving L.A. its biggest lead at 26-16. Big lift, 8 points for Artest.
- L.A. opens w/65% FG’s to go up 26-18. LA’s been great when has had to be for last 2 years, & have for 1st 10 min. tonight.
- Here’s Lamar Odom’s first appearance tonight… remember that he barely played in Games 1 & 2 due to early foul trouble.
- Another great defensive possession from L.A. caused Boston’s 3rd TO; Gasol follows w/put-back layup. 28-18 LA.
- A standing ovation for L.A. after a 1st Q that produced a 28-18 lead. Kobe was terrific on both ends, led w/11 pts.
Key stat: the Lakers outrebounded Boston 12-5 in the quarter … in fact, Gasol outrebounded them himself, 6-5.

60765104Second Quarter
- Sasha Vujacic’s first contributions felt early with a made jumper from just inside 3-point line, though Allen answered.
- Lakers are playing volleyball around the rim … though Bynum/Odom didn’t convert, we didn’t see that in Boston.
- ‘Sheed just picked up his 3rd PF, which hurts worse in Perkins’s absense. KG back in for Boston, Odom 2-for-2 FT’s, 13-pt. lead.
- Sorry, make that a 14-point lead at 34-20, before Allen’s layup gave him 12 of Boston’s 22 points.
- STAPLES on its feet again this time courtesy of a diving effort play from Farmar, which earned 2 FT’s for Kobe.
- A few notes: Kobe’s yet to rest, has 13 pts, 5 reb, 2 ast, 2 stl; Lakers crushing rebounds 19-7; Lakers lead by 13.
- Great energy: Another nice play from Farmar, bursting baseline 4 a layup, preceded a put-back layup from Gasol (7 rebounds). Gasol’s 7 are literally the same total as Boston’s, L.A. with 22 overall.
- We’ve mentioned Gasol’s 7 rebs 3 times already, but he also has a team-high 4 assists, & 7 pts on 3-of-4 FG’s, with his team up 17 points.
- Phil Jackson’s taking this opportunity to give Kobe some rest … & Vujacic’s 3, then Farmar’s big slam dunk made that easier.
- L.A.’s bench is crushing Boston’s. Farmar, Vujacic & Odom have 13 pts, 4 reb, 2 ast; C’s bench has 0 pts, 4 reb, 1 ast.
- Fans encouraged Artest to take a corner 3 after he’d hit a J on the previous trip … but he missed that one. Still w/10 pts.
- Phil Jackson rewarded Josh Powell for his constant work in practice with a few minutes in the 2nd here b4 Odom returned.
- Fisher was hit with his 3rd PF trying to strip C’s sub Shelden Williams, putting him on bench for final 1:18. Lead still at 20.
Continue reading ‘Lakers 89, Celtics 67: Finals Game 6 Twitter Diary’

Playoff Podcast: NBA.com’s Steve Aschburner

Heading into Tuesday evening’s Game 6, we enlisted NBA.com’s Steve Aschburner to chat about perhaps the most important matchup of the series: Pau Gasol vs. Kevin Garnett.

Aschburner is the guy to do so, since he nearly covered Garnett’s entire career in Minnesota while writing for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, allowing for some perspective on KG.

We had detailed the discrepancy in numbers between the Spaniard and Garnett earlier on Tuesday, and Aschburner gave his opinion as to why, in addition to his expectations for Game 6 and a potential Game 7.

To listen, click play below:

Video Preview: Finals Game 6


Among the way-too-many statistics you might read heading into Game 6 of the NBA Finals between L.A. and Boston: the Celtics are just 1-7 in close-out road games over the last three playoff campaigns.

Lakers assistant coach Frank Hamblen joined us on video to discuss how L.A. can make that C’s mark go to 1-8 on Tuesday night at STAPLES Center.

The discussion began with the paint, which the Lakers controlled in Los Angeles but ceded in Boston, and went over to rebounding, general effort and ball movement.

To watch, click play above, or head over to our Lakers Gameday page.

Ray Allen’s Shocking Shooting Turnaround

60745856Nine days ago, Ray Allen caught fire from three-point range like no player ever had in NBA Finals history.

In Game 2 of the 2010 Finals at STAPLES Center, Allen buried his first seven triples, all in the first half, to tie an all-time record before breaking it in the third quarter.

His scoring, in addition to Rajon Rondo’s triple-double, carried Boston’s offense to a 103-94 victory that tied the series at one.

Then, improbably, came one of the worst shooting performances in Finals history, when Allen (literally) missed all 14 of his field goal attempts in Game 3, including eight three-pointers, in L.A.’s 91-84 win.

That was enough of a surprise after he’d buried 8-of-11 threes the game before, but nearly just as surprising is that Allen also missed all four of his threes in respective Game 4 and Game 5 Boston wins.

Overall, he’s missed 16 straight long-distance attempts.

Deserving some credit for Allen’s struggles is Derek Fisher, who has refused to cede an inch of space throughout the last three games in a fun-to-watch battle.

Yet Fisher and the Lakers are expecting that Allen, a career 40 percent shooter from three who is certainly among the sport’s best ever bombers, will find his range.

They just plan to prevent the wide-open looks he had in Game 2, particularly in transition, which hurt L.A. so considerably.

Home vs. Road in the Paint

60745222Perhaps the biggest discrepancy between L.A.’s play at STAPLES Center and at the TD Garden was how effectively the Lakers were able to execute in the paint.

As it turned out, the Lakers averaged 37 points in the lane in L.A. thanks largely to a powerful 48-point performance in Game 1′s 102-89 win, while Boston came in at 33 paint points on the other end. L.A.’s average might have been considerably higher had Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum not combined to take 25 free throws in Game 2, making 20, while Boston’s bigs attempted only nine foul shots.

But in Beantown, it was an entirely different story, the Celtics averaging 50 points in the paint through three games, and L.A. only 34.7.

The specifics:

FINALS POINTS IN THE PAINT
Game 1: L.A. 48, Boston 30
Game 2: Boston 36, L.A. 26*
*Not including the 25 FT attempts by Bynum/Gasol.
Game 3: Boston 50, L.A. 38
Game 4: Boston 54, L.A. 34
Game 5: Boston 46, L.A. 32

In short, the Lakers were +4 at home, and -15.3 on the road.

101007645SB_LAKERS_CELTICSThe difference in home/away outputs could be ascribed generally to the more physical play in Boston, or specifically to the differences in output from key players Gasol and Kevin Garnett.

While Bynum’s inability to play more than 12 minutes in Game 4, and his limited field goal attempts (six) in Game 5 certainly affected his team’s paint production, the power forward matchup was deliberately marked by one another’s home court edge.

The Spaniard was fantastic at home, averaging 24.0 points on 62.5 percent shooting along with 11.0 rebounds, 4.5 blocks and three assists, but in Boston he produced only 15.3 points on 44.4 percent shooting, plus 9.3 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 2.3 assists.

For Garnett, it was just the opposite. On the road, KG averaged 11.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.5 blocks. But in Boston, he contributed an average of 18.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.3 steals and 1.3 blocks.

Gasol’s worst, and Garnett’s best all-around game came on Sunday, Gasol offering just 12 points on 5-of-12 shooting without an assist (though he did have 12 rebounds), and KG notching 18 points, 10 boards, five steals, three assists and two blocks.

“(Gasol’s) been consistent for us for a while now,” said Kobe Bryant. “So he can afford to have a bad game every once in a while.”

The good news for L.A., who heads back to STAPLES for Game 6 at least, is that Gasol has yet to have even one poor game at STAPLES Center in the playoffs, scoring at least 20 points in 9-of-10 games, and reaching 19 points with 13 rebounds in the one game he didn’t hit 20 (Game 1 vs. Oklahoma City).

Bynum, limited by his knee injury but expected to start on Tuesday after a six-point, one-rebound Game 5, remains a question mark but received a vote of confidence from Lakers coach Phil Jackson.

D073880035.jpg“You know, more than anything else, Andrew was out of rhythm in the game,” explained Jackson. “I think he’ll feel much more comfortable getting back (home) and playing. He’s really only played limited minutes since Tuesday night, so we anticipate that he’ll have some opportunity to kind of get himself out there, shoot the ball a little bit and give us more than just a big body in the sixth game.”

While the easy buckets Bynum frequently gets around the rim are nice, it’s his defensive presence that perhaps plays a bigger role in the paint points discrepancy (look no further than his seven blocks in Game 2).

Then, of course, there’s the matter of Lamar Odom, who was quiet both at home – particularly due to foul trouble – and on the road. For the series, Odom is averaging just 7.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.2 fouls per game on 27.8 percent shooting after posting 14.0 points and 11.8 boards against Phoenix in the Western Finals, including a 19-point, 19-rebound performance in Game 1 against the Suns.

What can L.A. expect out of Odom in Game 6? We’ll see.

One thing’s for sure, however, come Tuesday: to understand the game’s outcome, the paint is a good place to start.

L.A. Heads Home Down 3-2 After Game 5 Loss

60744948The Lakers battled the Celtics throughout a Game 5 in Boston that defined the fight-for-every-inch cliche, but couldn’t make enough shots, or get enough stops, to prevent a 92-86 loss that sent the Purple and Gold back to Los Angeles down 3-2 in the NBA Finals.

L.A. managed to stay within six points at the half despite being out shot by 33 percent (66 to 33), but things began to get away in the third even as Kobe Bryant went on a phenomenal individual run to score his team’s first 19 points.

In full Mamba mode*, Bryant buried his first seven attempts – including three triples – after getting his “tweaked” ankle re-taped at halftime, but Boston made nine of its first 11 shots at the other end to go ahead by as many as 13 points.
*”Kobe is the one guy that you can’t stop in this league,” described Paul Pierce.

“They broke the game open in the third quarter, and it was a struggle for us to get ourselves back into that ballgame,” said Lakers coach Phil Jackson. “I know they were shooting a high percentage, but it gets that way when you shoot lay-ups in this game.”

60745184With Bryant finally getting some help from his friends, L.A. had a chance to get within just three points with 43 seconds left after Derek Fisher improbably won a jump ball over Kevin Garnett, but Ron Artest missed both free throws at the other end, the score stuck at 87-82. The Lakers missed nine free throws on the night, four in the final quarter, all of which were critical, and failed to clear three defensive rebounds in the fourth off missed C’s three-pointers.

“We were knocking at the door a couple of times, but just couldn’t get through,” said Bryant.

Last season’s Finals MVP finished with 38 points, an individual high in the Finals, but his teammates managed just 48. Pau Gasol played a sub-par offensive game by his standards to finish with 12 points on 5-of-12 shooting, while Artest and Derek Fisher each struggling to convert only 4-of-18 shots. Down low, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom took six shots apiece to score 14 collective points.

“Aside from Kobe, we pretty much contained everyone else,” said Kevin Garnett.

Boston, meanwhile, was far more efficient in getting 12-of-21 makes from Paul Pierce (27 points), 6-of-11 from Garnett (18) and 9-of-12 from Rajon Rondo (18) as the C’s shot 65 percent through three quarters before cooling considerably in the fourth to finish at 56 percent.

“I told the players before the game (that Boston) is going to shoot well in one of these games,” said Jackson. “You just have to hang with them.”

The Lakers did for a while at least, thanks to an effort that produced 16 offensive rebounds (including seven from Gasol) to Boston’s seven resulting in 22 second-chance points, but L.A. struggled to run its offense effectively for a second straight game.

“You look at the assists, we had 12,” said Jackson. “They had 21. That’s a big differential in a game like this. It’s a struggle.”

With all that said, the Lakers are glad they’re heading home. Jackson was the first to display optimism after the contest.

“If you look at it, they’ve come home and carried the 3-2 lead back,” he explained. “Now we’re going back to home court to win it. That’s the way it’s supposed to be, isn’t it?

“We got the one we needed … we’re upbeat about going into (Game 6).”

Bryant, later, was asked if he and the team had the confidence to win two straight games at home.

His voice thick with sarcasm, a smirk on his face, he replied, “I’m not confident at all.”

In other words: “Yes.”

Until L.A. has a chance to prove it, your numbers:

POSTGAME NUMBERS
1 Slim rebounding advantage for Boston (35-34), despite L.A.’s 16 offensive window cleans due to a major discrepancy in shooting percentage (see below). The boards stat has decided the winner of each of five games

14 Fast break points for Boston, to just three for the Lakers.

16 Boston’s percentage points advantage in field goal percentage (56.3 to 39.7 percent).

38 Points for Kobe Bryant on 13-of-27 field goals, including a 7-for-7 start to the third quarter. He added 8-of-9 free throws, five boards and five assists.

86 L.A.’s point total, a low for the 2010 postseason.

Lakers 86, Celtics 92: Finals Game 5 Twitter Diary

60743985Lakers – Celtics Gameday Page
After a Game 4 loss in Boston decided in the fourth quarter, the Lakers had a chance to take a 3-2 series lead back to Los Angeles with Sunday’s Game 5 in Boston. Mike Trudell was typing all the way through on Twitter via the @LakersReporter account to make sure you didn’t miss a thing:

Inactives
Lakers: DJ Mbenga
Celtics: Tony Gaffney

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

Bynum set to Start
What would Andrew Bynum be able to give? It had been a major focus throughout the Finals, but the news looked good for L.A. heading into Game 5. Bynum had his knee drained following a Game 4 second half in which he played only two minutes, and progressed well in the two days before Sunday. Bynum said on Saturday that he was “100 percent” going to play, and Phil Jackson confirmed the fact in his pregame media session.

Pregame
- Similar atmosphere from the last two games in the Garden, though Game 3 still loudest. No smiles from L.A. in warmups/intros. Anthem done by Boston Pops, pretty solid.
- Bynum’s using the extra few minutes of warmups between the starting lineups & tip (Finals only) to re-activate himself.
- Artest told reporters the other day that he had a meeting with Phil Jackson, & felt support. We’ll see if it impacts his play.

60743916First Quarter
- It’s a similar start to Game 3, with Boston riding a huge energy surge to start the game with a 4-0 run. L.A.’s 0-for-3.
- Already, Bynum’s impact is felt with an offensive board and put-back, plus the foul, stopping a 6-0 C’s run. FT miss, 6-3 early.
- The only difference between this and Game 3′s start is that Artest didn’t pick up 2 early fouls. Now 2-pt game after Fish FT’s.
- Kobe’s in distribution mode once again to begin, having taken just 1 shot (miss), with an assist and two hockey assists.
- Fisher just drew the 2nd foul on Pierce while attempting a 3. PP thinks he had ball, as do C’s fans, but 3 FT’s to come.
- LA has not been called for a foul with 4:58 to go in the 1st. We’ll likely see Odom in for Bynum, who had 6 pts, 1 reb.
- Fish 3-for-3 FT’s, has 9 pts. Pierce’s 1st foul was changed to another Celtic, meaning he has just 1 and will stay in the game, with L.A. up 15-14.
- Bynum stayed in the game out of the time out, Odom still on sideline with 4:41 left. First L.A. foul goes to Kobe.
- After a slow stretch, Boston has hit 6 straight shots to take an 18-15 lead. Perkins, however, picked up foul No. 2 on a charge.
- Artest was hoping to break out offensively tonight, getting a confidence boost from his team, but he’s opened 0-for-4.
- RT @LAIreland: Lakers have made just 5 of 17 shots (29%). Pau and Kobe haven’t scored–and they are only down 3.
- Odom’s first entrance (2:39) was marked by a Bryant 3-pointer from the wing to tie the game at 18.
- Boston literally stuck 4 guys in the left corner to isolate for Pierce on Artest, but Pierce missed a step-back J. PP’s 3-for-6.
- Lil’ Nate missed a 3 at the buzzer, as L.A. trailed 22-20 despite 7-for-21 FG’s in the 1st (33%). L.A. up 11-8 on glass.
- We’ve seen that before … Pierce drew a charge on Odom, negating Odom’s driving layup. Pierce looked to be way late.

60743897Second Quarter
- It’s Bynum, Odom, Artest, Vujacic & Farmar to start 2nd. Phil wants more rest for Kobe so he has energy in 4th.
- Boston has the same lineup as the 4th Q in Game 4, except PP in for R. Allen. T. Allen opens with a rare made J; Bynum misses.
- Lakers are hitting the offensive glass so far quite well, grabbing 5 & 6 already concluding w/Odom’s put-back to stop a 6-0 Celtics’ run.
- Kobe got just 2 minutes of rest before returning in place of Artest. Bryant was 1-for-4 for 3 pts w/2 ast in 1st.
- A poor start to the 2nd from L.A. allowed an 8-2 Celtics run, Boston taking a 30-22 lead into a Jackson time out.
- Lakers are 1-for-8, Boston 4-of-5 to open the 2nd before a 24-sec. violation on the Celtics. Kobe yet to get going (1-for-5). They needed the ensuing Sasha Vujacic three from the left wing.
- Gasol’s getting more rest than he’s used to here, having yet to appear with 6 min & counting going off in 2nd.
- There’s Artest … finally sticking a jumper, a wing 3, to cap a 9-3 run for L.A. Score’s at 32-31 C’s, who had led by 8.
- Some extra stuff here: Artest knocked KG to the ground (PF), & Rondo shoved Artest, who laughed. Rondo given T, Kobe hit FT.
- Artest just hit his 2nd straight 3, again from the left wing, with Kobe getting assist No. 4. Then Kobe hoop puts L.A. up 1.
- Great atmosphere here, fans going nuts as PP 3 is followed by a Perk tip-in. Good time out from Phil Jackson w/C’s back up 4.
- Gasol has taken only 2 shots in 15 min., making 1, along w/4 rebounds. L.A. will clearly need more production.
- The Celtics are shooting lights out (20-for-30), the Lakers ice cold (14-for-39) yet L.A.’s within 4, helped by 8 off. rebs.
- Gasol missed 2 wide-open J’s that he usually swishes in the final 2 minutes as Boston takes a 45-39 lead into the half.

60743884Third Quarter
- Celtics stay hot in the 3rd, backing up their 65% 1st half with a Rondo layup and Pierce 3 to go up by 11, biggest lead thus far.
- The Celtics haven’t cooled off in the 3rd, making their first 3 shots to reach 69% for the game, a ridiculous number.
- Just as ridiculous – Kobe’s last 3 shots, including an off-balance, pull-up 3 as he tries to keep L.A. in it.
- Kobe has buried 4 straight shots, including his 2nd 3, to reach 20 for the game suddenly. 10 pts in 4 min. L.A. still down 7.
- Boston is scoring at an incredible rate right now, making 7-of-8 FG’s in the 3rd. And that’s after shooting 66% in 1st half.
- Finally, a Celtics’ miss after another Kobe hoop (made 5 FG’s already in 3rd), but L.A. can’t clear rebound. C’s bringing A game.
- Wow, is Kobe putting on a show to keep L.A. afloat, finishing a wide alley-oop pass with a one-handed tap. He has 14 in 5 min.
- Celtics fans in front of me punching each other after Black Mamba nails an absurd 3. He’s 7-for-7 in 3rd (incl. 3 3′s).
- Bryant has all 17 of L.A.’s 3rd Q points, the lead at 64-56.
- Lakers just have not been able to get it done on defense here, with a rare C’s miss resulting in an off. reb & bucket. 11-pt lead.
- Gasol’s and-1 were the first non-Kobe points of the quarter (Kobe had first 19). Now a 10-point game w/Odom heading to line, 1:49 to play.
- Vujacic’s 2nd 3 of the game & Gasol’s put-back layup allowed L.A. to enter the 4th down 8 at 73-65. Quick 5-0 burst critical.
- Kobe scored the 1st 19 pts of the quarter, before Gasol/Vujacic added the final 8. Interesting to see Kobe’s energy for 4th.

60744031Fourth Quarter
- Gasol is suddenly alive and well, hitting the 17-footer he missed 3 times in the 1st half to cut lead to 6.
- A ‘Sheed 3 came after Gasol’s jumper, but Bryant hit a runner then swatted T. Allen at other end. Lead at 7, Kobe with 31.
- Kobe’s still going, pulling up for another jumper to reach 33 points, but Allen’s answer kept lead at 10. Odom, however, then answered Ray with a driving lefty layup.
- Lead’s down to 6 after a nice play from Odom, who grabbed Artest’s missed 3 & stuck it back. 81-75, 6:01 to play.
- Gasol & Odom have 11 combined points from the end of Kobe’s 19-pt 3rd Q, after just 2 each in 1st half.
- KG’s hoop, then a steal and layup from Rondo pushed the lead right back to 10 w/4:50 to go. Big, big hill for L.A. to climb.
- Lakers have turned the ball over on 4-of-5 possessions before an Artest missed 3 & Kobe foul on Pierce. Lead at 12, 3:24 left.
- Lakers hoping for one final push, with lead at 10 after 2 Kobe FT’s with 2:55 to play. Bryant has 35, rest of team has 42.
- Weird stat … L.A. has blocked only 1 shot, and it was Kobe. Meanwhile, Gasol’s1-of-2 FT’s have lead at 9, 2:23 left.
- A long rebound from Allen’s missed 3 went right to Perkins. Celts up 32-30 on the glass.
- Artest shooting 57% from the FT line in the playoffs … & hit 1-of-2 here, like Gasol had moments earlier. 87-79, 1:41 left, Boston shooting FT’s.
- That’s exactly what L.A. wanted … Kobe drew a foul on Allen while taking a 3, can cut lead to 5 with 3 makes, 1:30 left.
- Kobe hit all 3, getting to 38 points, to cut the lead to 87-82. Tension has returned to the building, audibly.
- Another killer offensive board for Perkins after a missed 3 from Allen. C’s retain possession, up 5 w/1:05 to play.
- Wow, how did ‘Sheed take a 3 there? It missed, but L.A. again could not clear a long rebound. Jump ball, KG & Fish.
- Um … Derek Fisher just won a jump ball against Kevin Garnett? Despite giving up 10 inches? Huh? Artest to shoot FT’s.
- Rondo’s transition layup has the lead at 7, 89-82, with 35.2 seconds left.
- Mistake there … L.A. couldn’t foul the terrible FT shooting Rondo when he had it, were then forced to foul Ray Allen.
- Not quuuuite over, but quite close. Still a 2 possession game with KG missing 1-of-2 FT’s. 92-86, 08.9 left.
- The final: Celtics 92, Lakers 86. LA shoots 40% to Boston’s 56%, gets 38 from Kobe but only 12 from Gasol as 2nd scorer.
- The rebounding difference again favors winner, by just 1 @ 35-34. L.A. shot 26 FT’s, but made only 17, including 4 4th Q misses.

Bynum, as expected, to start Game 5

Lakers center Andrew Bynum, the subject of the majority of BasketBlog posts of late, will indeed start Game 5 after missing all but two minutes in Game 4′s second half and getting his knee drained after the game.

“He’s ready to play the game and ready to go out there and perform,” said Lakers coach Phil Jackson prior to the contest.

Bynum had shared on Saturday that he “100 percent” was going to play, feeling confident he’d be able to produce for L.A. in the middle of the floor.

Finals Video Preview: Game 5


In a 2010 NBA Finals series that has seen the Lakers and Celtics alternate wins from Games 1-4, L.A. sees Game 5 in Boston as its turn to claim a 3-2 edge.

We spoke with assistant coach Frank Hamblen to preview the final game in Beantown, discussing what adjustments the Lakers hope to make from Game 4, how to get Lamar Odom going, how to better get the basketball inside particularly down the stretch and the ways in which L.A. can limit the Celtics’ bench productivity.

To check it out, click play up above.