Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Lakers drown Celtics 87-81

The NBA’s MVP finally showed up. After being accustomed to the constant double teams, Kobe Bryant carried the Los Angeles Lakers to an 87-81 win over the Boston Celtics and more importantly bring them back to the series only trailing by one game.

For the third straight game the Lakers started early as Bryant presided over an early 9-2 and 15-7 lead. After the Celtics settled in through Rajon Rondo’s six early points, Boston caught up with the Lakers to end the quarter tied 20-all.

Slovenian Sasha Vujacic used the second quarter to show his shooting expertise as he burned the Celtics with 9 points as the Lakers found enough leverage to break away from the opening quarter deadlock as they ignited an early 9-2 run for a 29-22 lead. After that he buried two more jumpers for another 9 -5 run to give the Lakers a 38 -27 lead. The Celtics Ray Allen refused to yield as he brought his team back to within six points 37-43. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were a combined 2 of 16 from the field with both field goals coming in the 2nd Qtr. On the other hand the Lakers Lamar Odom had no points as he was hobbled by fouls while Pau Gasol only tallied two points.

Doc Rivers told his team that they are not even doing anything different but they are down by only six. The Celtics responded with a 17-8 run courtesy of Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to go up 54-50. Boston’s Eddie House finally played after Rajon Rondo went down on a sprain and House made his presence felt as he sank a long three pointer to help the Celtics cut the Lakers lead. The Staples Center crowd was suddenly silenced as it suddenly became an uphill battle to score with the Celtics defense. The Celtics closed out the third quarter with a 62-60 lead.

The fourth quarter started with Sasha Vujacic nailing a three pointer and Ray Allen answering on the other end. The next three minutes became a defensive match until Kobe Bryant ignited a 7-2 run after he scored from the three point area to give the Lakers a momentum shifting lead 73-68. The Celtics closed in on the Lakers in the last 2 minutes as Kevin Garnett scored to close the gap 76-78. Unfortunately the Celts failed to equalize as Sasha Vujacic capped his good shooting by dropping a dagger on the hearts of the Celtics by nailing his third three pointer from the corner to give the Lakers more breathing room. After the Celtics failed to score again, Veteran Guard Derek Fisher added two free throws to give the Lakers an 83-76 lead with 1:33 to go. The Celtics made one last run to score 5 points through KG’s dunk and Eddie House’s three pointer but that was not enough to stem the tide as Kobe Bryant took charge by sinking two jumpers for the Lakers to escape with the win.

The Lakers showed renewed intensity during their fourth quarter run as their defense was a notch higher considering they played a bad game. Bryant scored 36 points but missed 7 free throws, Odom was 2 of 9, Gasol 3 of 9 and Fisher 1 of 6. On the other hand, their defense limited Paul Pierce to 6 points and Garnett with only 13 points on 6 of 21 shooting. Their defense limited the Celtics to 34.9% shooting. Another boost is their 29-21 edge in bench points. Sasha Vujacic provided the needed spark as the Lakers frontline offense was nowhere to be found.

This win changes the complexion of the finals and more importantly gives the needed confidence for the Lakers.

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