Friday, June 18, 2010

Lakers down Celtics 83-79 to repeat with 16th NBA title


With the NBA championship at stake in Game 7 of the NBA finals, the Los Angeles Lakers shot just 32.5 percent from the field, 20 percent from 3-point range and 67.6 percent from the free throw line.

Turned out not to matter. Finals MVP Kobe Bryant and Co. played excellent defense, dominated Boston on the boards and made all the big shots down the stretch.

Bryant scored 23 points with 15 rebounds, the previously frigid Ron Artest scored 20 and the Lakers won their second straight title and avenged a 2008 finals loss to Boston with an 83-79 win in Los Angeles Thursday night.

The Lakers brought home their 16th title and second straight, denying the Celtics their 18th. It’s Bryant's and Derek Fisher’s fifth championship with the franchise.

Paul Pierce led five Celtics in double figures with 18 points in addition to 10 rebounds.

Like most of the series, it wasn’t a pretty game offensively. But the Lakers outrebounded Boston 53-40 and brought down 23 offensive boards, capitalizing on the absence of Boston center Kendrick Perkins, who was out after tearing two knee ligaments in Game 6.

Down 49-36 in the third quarter, the Lakers scored nine of the next 11 points, with Kobe Bryant scoring the first three points and Lamar Odom hitting a putback to cut Los Angeles’ deficit to 51-45.

Then, after the Celtics opened a nine-point lead back up, Bryant made a layup, Pau Gasol sank two free throws and Odom made another putback to close the third period. Gasol’s jumper to open the final frame brought the Lakers to within 57-55.

From that point, L.A. outscored Boston 30-22 in the fourth quarter, to the delight of the home Staples Center crowd. Gasol and Boston’s Kevin Garnett traded baskets before Bryant hit three free throws. After an Allen runner, Ron Artest made a three-point play to tie the game 61-all with 7:30 left.

Allen missed his first free throw of the finals but then canned three straight from the line, but Fisher retied the game with a 3. Bryant then hit two freebies and a jumper and Gasol netted a pair of free throws to go up 70-64 with 4:30 to go.

A Pierce jumper and a Garnett slam sandwiched around a Bryant free throw then cut the Celtics’ deficit to 71-68 before three Gasol free throws. Pierce drained two from the line, but Gasol got the roll on a shot down low for a six-point edge with 1:30 remaining.

Boston’s Rasheed Wallace drilled a crazy 3 and Artest answered with a trey before Allen sank a 3 of his own in the corner. With less than a minute to go, Bryant missed his own try from beyond the arc, but Gasol pulled down the offensive board and found Bryant, who was fouled and sank two free throws for an 81-76 lead with 25.7 seconds left.

On the ensuing possession, Rondo grabbed an offensive rebound and hit a desperation 3 with 16.2 seconds to go to cut the Celtics’ deficit to two. Boston then fouled Sasha Vujacic, who canned two from the line to open up a two-possession lead.

Rondo then threw up another 3 which found nothing but air. Odom threw the ball high downcourt as time expired to seal the Laker victory.

Despite getting pounded on the boards early with Perkins’ absence, Boston took care of business on offense with a 13-3 run to close the first quarter. Ray Allen sank a 3-pointer in the corner, Rajon Rondo found Garnett for an alley-oop, Glen Davis made a reverse layup, Paul Pierce drained a jumper and Davis scored and hit two more free throws for a 23-14 lead.

But L.A. scored the first 11 points of the half while forcing eight straight Boston misses from the field to retake the lead. Bryant hit a J in the lane, Odom made a free throw, Artest sank a putback and Gasol scored down low. Artest then made a steal, outran a lackadaisical Allen for a transition layup and followed that with another putback to go up 25-23.

With the score 29-all, the Celtics put together a 9-2 spurt to lead at halftime. Allen made two from the charity stripe, Pierce hit two more, Wallace sank a jumper and Pierce canned a 3 for a seven-point lead. Pierce’s free throws to close the half gave Boston a 40-34 edge at the break.

The Celtics picked up where they left off with a 9-2 run in the opening minutes of the third quarter. Garnett scored down low and made a three-point play before Rondo hit a scoop shot in the lane and a putback for a 49-36 edge.

Gasol scored 19 points with 18 boards. Fisher added 10.

Garnett netted 17 points. Rondo scored 14 with 10 assists, Allen added 13 and Wallace, starting for Perkins, scored 11.

NOTES: This was the longtime rivals’ 12th meeting in the finals. Boston has won nine of those series. … Allen hit his first 21 free throws of the series. … Fisher was 0-for-8 on 3s coming in but his both he tried in Game 7. … The Lakers hadn’t won a title at home since dispatching Indiana in 2000. … No visiting team has won a finals Game 7 since the Washington Bullets did so in 1978.


Photo above: Los Angeles' Kobe Bryant drives past Boston's Ray Allen in Game 7. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times)

Video credit – ESPN on ABC

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