BOSTON -- The Celtics had a fever heading into Game 3.
The only prescription? More Big Ticket.
Kevin Garnett scored the first six points for the Celtics as they jumped out 12-5 to start but he had little help as Pierce and Allen went cold and the Celtics fell to the Lakers in Gam 3.
After two mediocre games and comments from Pau Gasol that he'd become a jump shooter and had "lost some of his explosiveness," Kevin Garnett erupted offensively Tuesday night, scoring 25 points on 11-of-16 shooting. Garnett scored the first six points of the game on three straight possessions, helping the Celtics jump out to a quick 12-5 lead in the opening minutes.
The Garden was rocking, Garnett looked fierce and was finishing creatively -- and loudly -- at the rim. The Celtics had landed the first punch as Game 3 got underway.
"I was able to get into a nice rhythm. Didn't really think about too much tonight. Really wasn't overly excited. I thought for the most part I stayed composed. Really just was numb, to be honest," Garnett said of finally breaking through on the offensive end. "[I] took what they gave me, stayed aggressive, took my shots, and that was it."
Unfortunately, Garnett's 25 points weren't enough because the Celtics couldn't seem to find scoring anywhere else in the lineup. Paul Pierce was buried in foul trouble all night and Ray Allen, coming off his epic night (a Finals record eight 3s in Game 2), couldn't bury anything (he finished 0-for-13) and the offensive drought doomed the C's as they fell to the Lakers, 91-84.
"I had a decent flow tonight. But at the end of the day it's about the wins. I don't care how I'm playing. I played crap in Game 2 I thought, but I got some key rebounds in that game and we won," Garnett said. "Tonight I had a nice offensive flow and we lost. I'll take Game 2 and how I played there and wins all day over a steady flow and a decent offensive game."
The C's went for nearly six minutes without scoring a field goal during a stretch that became a 32-8 run for the Lakers. That dry spell put L.A. up 37-20 midway through the second quarter. With the hole dug, the Celtics spent the rest of the game chipping away and struggled to do so with Allen coming up empty and Pierce having to sit down every time he checked back into the game thanks to another tightly officiated contest.
Garnett said the early scoreless stretch doomed the C's to a night of chasing the lead.
"I thought that the drought, the fact that we didn't score for six minutes, seven minutes, whatever it was, that does a number on you. You know, as a team we didn't play offensively well. I thought defensively we dug in there, we hung in there, we came back, we made our run," Garnett said. "[We had some] small breakdowns at the end of the game, and against a team like this you can't do that. You've got to finish the game out, and you've got to finish it out solid."
Going to Garnett early was just what Doc Rivers had ordered. Only the Celtics never quite made it all the way through his prescription.
"KG was great. [He] didn't get it enough. We talked about 20 shots before the game. He shot 16 and should have had 25 as far as I was concerned," Rivers said. "I thought there were a lot of times we still should have gotten the ball to him. I didn't think we had a lot of great ball movement tonight. I thought, again, it was a half‑court game because of the way they were playing." Rajon Rondo, who had a triple-double in Game 2, didn't post the same gaudy numbers in Game 3 but spent most of his night trying to get his teammates involved in the action.
"KG stepped up tonight, and we're going to try to continue to get him the ball," Rondo said of Garnett before discussing Allen's struggles. "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-for-20. He usually comes through in the clutch, but tonight was one of those nights. He didn't have it. Other guys had to step up."
The Celtics now trail the Lakers 2-1 in the series, and while momentum had shifted to Boston after the Celtics' Game 2 win in Los Angeles, the pendulum has already reversed back in favor of the Lakers despite Garnett's best game of the Finals to date.