Lakers 91, Celtics 84
Tonight was almost filled with another historic comeback by the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals, but when it came down to it, the Los Angeles Lakers made the plays they needed, while the C's faltered.
The Lakers led by as many as 17 points in the first half, but a furious second-half comeback helped the C's trim that lead down to as little as one point, at 68-67, in the fourth quarter. At that moment, it looked like the comeback was ready to be complete, but Derek Fisher had different ideas.
Fisher dropped a driving layup through the basket to up the Lakers' lead to three with 8:41 remaining in the game, but he had plenty more in the tank from that point on. He would go on to score another nine points in the quarter, and the biggest of those came on a play where he took one of the hardest fouls of the game.
With the C's down by four points and in possession of the ball with less than a minute remaining, the Celtics ran a beautiful play to get Ray Allen a great look at the basket. Paul Pierce drew the attention of the entire team just outside of the lane on the right side of the court, but that was used solely as misdirection to get Allen open in the opposite corner. It worked about as well as it could have, forcing Ron Artest to switch onto Allen, but he was a step too slow. Despite being 0-for-12 from the floor to that point, Allen fired up a trey from the corner in front of the Lakers' bench, but this one didn't find the bottom of the net, either.
Instead, the Lakers grabbed the rebound and took off for a fast break. Fisher, being the intelligent vet that he is, had already leaked out after the Allen shot and he was hit with a perfect outlet pass on the left side of the court as he streaked to the other end. He put it into the highest gear he could with those 35-year-old legs of his, and he beat every Celtic chasing him down the court. Three C's, in fact, trailed him from behind, and they all converged on him as he went up for the layup. He was crushed by all of them, drawing a foul on Glen Davis, and somehow made a miracle shot off the glass to boot. After tacking on the free throw, the Lakers were then up by seven with 48 seconds remaining and had put the game fully out of reach for Boston.
Key Box Score Line
After having his abilities questioned by an opponent following Game 1 and putting up a dud in Game 2, Kevin Garnett finally came alive tonight. The Big Ticket was back to his old ways in Game 3, finishing with a team-high 25 points on 11-of-16 shooting. He also grabbed six boards, dished out three assists and blocked one shot.
His offensive game was as impressive as it gets, as the Lakers saw him draining shots from all over the court. Garnett nailed the 20-footer with regularity; hit face-up, mid-range jumpers; and dominated on the block in a way he hasn't since Boston's second-round matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Even better for the C's, KG was nearly as impressive at the defensive end as he was at the offensive end. Pau Gasol had been dominant through the first two games of the series, but he was human tonight, as Garnett helped limit him to only 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting.
Garnett's stout defense might be more important than the scoring, and the C's will need to witness it more often if they're going to come back and win this series in the next four games.
Box Score Nuggets
- Los Angeles assisted on only 13 of its 34 made field goals.
- After scoring 32 points and putting on a shooting display in Game 2, Ray Allen shot 0-for-13 tonight and finished with only two points.
- Los Angeles outrebounded Boston 43-35.
- Rajon Rondo and Rasheed Wallace each had two steals, accounting for Boston's four total steals and each equaling the Lakers' two team steals.
- Kobe Bryant scored a game-high 29 points but shot only 10-of-29 from the floor.
- Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol tied for the team-high with 10 rebounds apiece for the Lakers
- Kendrick Perkins grabbed a game-high 11 boards.
- The two teams combined to shoot only 6-of-33 from downtown.
- Paul Pierce, however, shot 3-of-4 from downtown, but finished with only 15 points.
- Glen Davis scored 12 points off the bench for Boston, while Lamar Odom did the same for Los Angeles.
- All of Boston's reserves who entered the game finished with a negative plus-minus rating.
- Rajon Rondo recorded a game-high eight assists without committing a single turnover.
- Garnett and Pierce each racked up five fouls apiece.
- The Celtics outscored the Lakers in points in the paint (50-38) and fast break points (12-8) but still lost.
- The teams combined for only 18 turnovers, 10 for Boston and eight for Los Angeles.
Quote of the Night
Rajon Rondo on Ray Allen's shooting struggles tonight: "Ray is one of our go-to guys, so we're never going to lose confidence and stop going to him even if he's 0-out-of-20. He usually comes through in the clutch, but tonight was one of those nights. He didn't have it."