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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:

Lakers: Adam Morrison
Celtics: Tony Gaffney

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.

Lakers Attack Celtics in Finals Win No. 1

60630588The Lakers had two full years to think about a 39-point loss to Boston in Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals.

Two years, during which time the Purple and Gold happened to grab their own NBA title, then make it back through the Western Conference for a third straight trip to the Finals.

But when looking at an Irish clover, Kobe Bryant still seethed, Pau Gasol still simmered, and Ron Artest just wanted to help.

On the other coast, Boston defeated the Heat, Cavs and Magic, giving L.A. what it wanted as the Celtics traveled to Los Angeles for the 12th end-of-season meeting between the two storied franchises.

Two years, and L.A. had its shot at redemption … and in Game 1 of the 2010 Finals on Thursday at STAPLES Center, the home team fired its first shot at the Celtics with a dominant 102-89 victory.

Clearly, the Lakers had forgotten nothing from 2008.

60630609From the opening tip, L.A. flew around defensively, contesting everything Boston tried to do on offense. They moved the ball in crisp fashion around the perimeter and into the paint. They attacked the backboards at both ends of the floor. They dove on the ground. They did everything they’d learned in the last two years.

“We understand what a rival is, how they play, that you’ve got to compete and you’ve got to make sure you match that physicality,” said Gasol. “The most positive thing is that the whole team just brought an intensity and activity, especially defensively.”

“We just responded to the challenge,” added Bryant, a smile crossing his face not once in the postgame presser. “Played well, rebounded the ball well. That’s something we’ve done all year.”

Kobe was omnipresent with 30 points, seven boards and six assists; the Spaniard was tough at both ends with 23 points, 14 rebounds, three blocks and three steals; and Artest was bullish in holding Paul Pierce to 6-of-13 shooting while making 3-of-5 three-pointers himself en route to 15 points.

“I think (Artest) does a great job for us of setting the tone defensively with his intensity and with his energy,” said Bryant, who at one point in the fourth quarter leapt off the bench to hug Ron Ron. “I was just letting him know it was well appreciated.”

Artest’s effort typified that of the whole team.

L.A. grabbed 42 boards to Boston’s 31, used 12 offensive boards to outscore the C’s 16-0 on second-chance points, scored 48 points in the paint to just 30 for the visitors and scored 12 fastbreak points to Boston’s five.

“The Lakers were clearly the more physical team,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “They were more aggressive. I thought they attacked us the entire night. They killed us on the glass. It was impossible for us to get any rhythm.”

The matchup with Bryant on Rajon Rondo worked quite well, Boston’s point guard limited to 13 points with eight assists, while L.A.’s bigs limited Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins to just seven total rebounds. Ray Allen was in foul trouble all game and scored only 12 points on eight shots in 27 minutes, while only Rasheed Wallace made an impact off the bench with nine points and four boards in 18 minutes.

Losing Game 1 had never crossed L.A.’s collective mind. They just weren’t letting it happen from the opening tip.

“At this point the important thing is to win every game,” said Bryant. “A good start – that’s absolutely key. You want to take Game 1 and now it’s Game 2 … and so on.”

That they’ll head into Game 2 up 1-0 is also thanks to contributions from other Lakers, including Andrew Bynum’s 19 first half minutes mandated by foul trouble to Lamar Odom, during which L.A.’s center posted seven points and five boards. Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown were both effective off the bench during spurts in the second and fourth quarters, combining for 10 points, while Derek Fisher added three boards and three assists to his nine points. And Gasol answered any remaining questions as to his toughness after Kevin Garnett got the better of him back in 2008.

60628296“What I see from him is just the little actions that represent not backing down type of things,” said Lakers coach Phil Jackson. “Getting hit, taking the blow, absorbing it, not reacting to it one way or the other. Those are the things he’s learned in the last year and a half or two.”

“He was more aggressive, he attacked us,” added Rivers. “I thought he was the best player on the floor at times … if you heard for two years what you couldn’t do, you’re probably going to come in and try to prove that, and I thought Gasol proved a lot tonight.”

So to did the Lakers, if only for one game.

They’re well aware that an equal effort is mandated for Sunday’s Game 2.

Until then, your numbers:

2 Fourth quarter turnovers for the Lakers after 13 total in the first three periods, helping L.A. keep a 10-plus-point cushion throughout the final quarter.

8 Offensive rebounds for Pau Gasol, and the entire Celtics’ team. Gasol had a huge double-double with 23 points (on 8-of-14 FG’s) with 14 rebounds, plus three blocks and three assists.

16 Big-time edge in second-chance points for the Lakers, thanks to 12 offensive rebounds, eight of which came from Gasol.

30 Points from Kobe Bryant, thanks to a three-pointer with four seconds left in the game. It was the 11th time in 12 games that Bryant hit the 30-point mark. He added seven boards, six assists and a big block.

48.7 Shooting percentage for the Lakers, a solid mark against the usually terrific Boston defense.

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.