Posted Aug 4 2011 2:54PM
While LeBron James gripped writers, fans and teams throughout the season with his pending free agency, the Lakers marched along on their quest for a second straight title. But the road was hardly clear. Surviving a first-round scare against the upstart Oklahoma City Thunder, they trekked to the Finals to face another juggernaut.
After a slow regular-season finish, the Boston Celtics surprised the basketball world by waking up in the postseason. Though they finished with 50 wins, pundits hardly expected to Celtics to run through the Eastern Conference playoffs, ousting the LeBron-led Cavaliers and Dwight Howard-led Magic in consecutive rounds. Up 3-2 against the Lakers in the Finals, they could not close it out, losing two consecutive games (including a tight defensive battle in Game 7) and giving viewers a classic series in the process.
Afterward when asked about how much the fifth title meant to him, Kobe replied, "Just one more than Shaq. You can take that to the bank. You know how I am. I don't forget anything."
Eastern Conference first round
Atlanta defeated Milwaukee (4-3)
Boston defeated Miami (4-1)
Cleveland defeated Chicago (4-1)
Orlando defeated Charlotte (4-0)
Western Conference first round
L.A. Lakers defeated Oklahoma City (4-2)
Phoenix defeated Portland (4-2)
San Antonio defeated Dallas (4-2)
Utah defeated Denver (4-2)
Eastern Conference semifinals
Boston defeated Cleveland (4-2)
Orlando defeated Atlanta (4-0)
Western Conference semifinals
L.A. Lakers defeated Utah (4-0)
Phoenix defeated San Antonio (4-0)
Eastern Conference finals
Boston defeated Orlando (4-2)
Western Conference finals
L.A. Lakers defeated Phoenix (4-2)
L.A. Lakers defeated Boston (4-3)
PPG -- Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City (30.1)
FG% -- Dwight Howard, Orlando (.612)
FT% -- Steve Nash, Phoenix (.938)
3PT% -- Kyle Korver, Utah Jazz (.536)
Assists -- Steve Nash, Phoenix (11.0)
Rebounds -- Dwight Howard, Orlando (13.2)
Steals -- Rajon Rondo, Boston (2.3)
Blocked Shots -- Dwight Howard, Orlando (2.8)
Most Valuable Player -- LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
Rookie of the Year -- Tyreke Evans, Sacramento Kings
Defensive Player of the Year -- Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
Most Improved Player -- Aaron Brooks, Houston Rockets
Sixth Man of the Year -- Jamal Crawford, Atlanta Hawks
Coach of the Year -- Scott Brooks, Oklahoma City Thunder
All-Star Game MVP -- Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
Finals MVP -- Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers
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