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John Schuhmann

Ron Artest's defense on Paul Pierce in Game 7 was a major factor in the Lakers' win.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Four key stats show why Lakers stand as NBA champs

Posted Jun 18 2010 12:20PM

We all got exactly what we wanted.

Game 7 of The Finals went down to the wire and the season, after 1,312 games, came down to six minutes. In the end, it was the Los Angeles Lakers who executed best, earning title No. 17.

The Celtics went down fighting. In the 17th Game 7 in NBA Finals history, this was the eighth time the game was decided by four points or less.

Here's a look inside the numbers of Game 7 and the Finals as a whole...

1. Game 7 wake-up call

There's no doubt about it ... the first three quarters of Game 7 were ugly. Entering the fourth quater, the teams had combined for just 110 points on 128 possessions, an anemic rate of just 85.9 points per 100 possessions.

Then, somehow, the Lakers found a way to score 30 points in the fourth. L.A. made only six of its 16 shots in the quarter -- not much better than it did through the first three quarters -- but it had more free-throw attempts in the final 12 minutes (21) than it did in the first 36 minutes (16).

The fourth quarter was the Lakers' second-most efficient period of The Finals. Only their third quarter of Game 1, when they scored 34 points on 22 possessions, was better.

2. Getting defensive

The Celtics had won with defense, but the Lakers were the better defensive team in The Finals, with the defense being particularly good in Games 6 and 7.

In those two games, the Lakers held the Celtics to 146 points on 172 possessions, a rate of 84.9 points per 100 possessions. Those were Boston's worst two offensive games of the postseason.

As talented as the Lakers are, they had only the 11th-best offense during the season. But with the addition of Ron Artest, they were improved defensively, ranking sixth. They turned up the offense to beat the Jazz and Suns in the West semis and finals, but they got back to their defense in The Finals.

3. Say Queensbridge

Artest was unquestionably the Lakers' best defender. It came as no surprise that coach Phil Jackson called Artest the MVP of Game 7. The no longer ring-less Laker had 20 points and hit one of the game's biggest shots while recording five steals and holding Paul Pierce to a 5-for-15 night.

Game 7 was only the seventh time (in 100 games) that Artest scored 20 points this season. It was also the first time in more than two seasons that Artest has registered at least 20 points, five rebounds and five steals in a game.

Though he was certainly inconsistent in The Finals, Artest had the best plus-minus of the series. He was a plus-40, mostly thanks to plus-26 performances in Games 1 and 5.

4. Control the glass, win a trophy

The team that won the rebounding battle won every game of the Finals. The Lakers had their worst shooting game of the season (32.5 percent) on Thursday, but they won the game because of those 21 fourth-quarter free throws and because they had 23 offensive rebounds.

The biggest play of the game was arguably Pau Gasol's offensive board with 27.9 seconds left and the Lakers up three. That led to two Kobe Bryant free throws and the Celtics never got a chance to tie.

The 23 offensive rebounds in Game 7 were the most the Lakers have grabbed and the most the Celtics have allowed this season.

Quick Hits

• This was the first time (in five tries) that the Lakers have beat the Celtics in Game 7, but it's the fourth straight Finals Game 7 win for the Western Conference.

• Phil Jackson's teams are now 48-0 all time in the playoffs after winning Game 1.

• The Lakers were held to 13 assists or fewer in just seven of their 105 total games this season. Four of them were in the Finals, including Game 7, when they recorded just 11 assists (their second-lowest total of the season) on their 27 field goals.

• Kobe Bryant's 11 defensive rebounds tied a playoff career-high and his 15 rebounds were the most he's had in a playoff game since 2001.

• Overall, Game 7 was more efficient than Game 6. The teams combined to score 95.3 points per 100 possessions, an improvement over the 90.2 scored in Game 6.

• Bryant took 163 shots in the series, more than any other two Lakers combined. Gasol and Artest were next with 90 and 72 shots, respectively. The Celtics' big four of Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett each attempted between 88 and 98 shots in The Finals.

• The only players to shoot 50 percent or better in the series were Kendrick Perkins (12-for-21, 57 percent), Garnett (45-for-88, 51 percent) and Marquis Daniels (1-for-2, 50 percent).

• The teams shot 43 percent, 29 percent from 3-point range. That marked the worst shooting series of the last two postseasons for both teams.

• Ray Allen's final tally? He was 11-for-20 from the field and 8-for-11 from 3-point range in Game 2. He was 22-for-70 (31 percent) from the field and 4-for-30 (13 percent) from 3-point range in the other six games.

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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