Lakers Gameday | 06/17/08 | Lakers 92, Celtics 131 (Celtics win series 4-2)
Celtics wins 17th NBA title with 131-92 rout of Lakers
BOSTON(AP) On a new parquet floor below aging championship banners, the Boston Celtics won their 17th NBA title and a first one - at last - for Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen - their Big Three for a new generation.
After 22 long years, the NBA has gone green.
Lifted by ear-splitting chants of "Beat L.A.'' from their adoring crowd, which included Boston legends Bill Russell John Havlicek and JoJo White, the Celtics concluded a shocking rebound of a season with a stunning 131-92 blowout over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 6 on Tuesday night.
With the outcome assured, Boston fans sang into the night as if they were in a pub on nearby Canal Street. They serenaded the newest champs in this city of champs, and taunted Kobe Bryant and his Lakers, who drowned in a green-and-white wave for 48 minutes.
Garnett scored 26 points with 14 rebounds, Allen scored 26 and Pierce, the finals MVP, added 17 as the Celtics, a 24-win team a year ago, wrapped up their first crown since 1986.
This was total domination. The Celtics obliterated the Lakers, who were trying to become the first team to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the finals.
No way. No how. No chance.
Boston's 39-point win surpassed the NBA record for the biggest margin of victory in a championship clincher; the Celtics beat the Lakers 129-96 in Game 5 of the 1965 NBA finals.
Pierce doused Celtics coach Doc Rivers with red Gatorade. Owner Wyc Grousbeck, who named his group Banner 17 to leave no doubt about his goal, put an unlit cigar in his mouth - a tribute to Red Auerbach, the patriarch who had a hand in the franchise's first 16 titles.
Garnett dropped to the parquet and kissed the leprechaun at center court, then found Hall of Famer Bill Russell for a long embrace.
"I got my own. I got my own,'' Garnett said. "I hope we made you proud.''
"You sure did,'' Russell said.
Rivers pulled Pierce, Garnett and Allen with 4:01 left and they shared a group hug with their coach, who was nearly run out of town last season. In the final minute, Rivers, who lost his father at the beginning of this remarkable season, was soaked by Pierce, the Celtics' captain who decided to stay when things were bad and was rewarded for his loyalty
It's was Boston's first title since the passing of Auerbach, whose signature victory cigar was the only thing missing on this night. Even Auerbach, who died in 2006, got some satisfaction. Led by Rivers, his beloved team denied Lakers coach Phil Jackson from overtaking him with a 10th championship.
A perfect ending: a 17th title on the 17th of June.
The Boston-Los Angeles rivalry, nothing more than black-and-white footage from the 60s and TV highlights of players wearing short shorts in the 80s to young hoops fans, remains titled toward the Atlantic Ocean. The Celtics are 9-2 against the Lakers in the finals.
They missed their first crack at closing out the series in Game 5, but didn't miss on their second swing, running the Lakers out of their gym.
Bryant, the regular season MVP, finished with 22 points.
Garnett and Allen were All-Stars in other cities, stuck in Minnesota and Seattle, respectively, on teams going nowhere. But brought together in trades last summer by Celtics general manager Danny Ainge, a member of the '86 Celtics champions, they joined Pierce and formed an breakable bond, a trio as tight as the club's lucky shamrock logo.
With Garnett scoring 17 points and Pierce adding 10, Boston built a 23-point halftime lead, and unlike Game 2 when they let the Lakers trim a 24-point lead to two in the fourth quarter before recoveirng, the Celtics kept coming in waves.
They pushed their lead to 31 in the third quarter, and with Boston still up by 29 after three quarters, plastic sheets started going up in the Celtics' locker room in preparation for a champagne celebration.
Bryant started 4-of-5 from the field, but he missed seven shots in a row and finished 7-of-22. Everywhere he went, L.A.'s No. 24 ran smack into a wall of Boston defense as high as the Green Monster a few miles away at Fenway Park.
"Defense,'' Rivers said before the game. "Is what we do.''
In the second half, Celtics fans chanted "You're not (Michael) Jordan'' at Bryant, who will have to wait for his fourth title and first without former teammate Shaquille O'Neal. The Lakers, who stole Pau Gasol away from Memphis in a mid-season trade to help Bryant, will have the all summer to think about what went wrong.
No team had to work harder for a championship than these Celtics, who were playing in their record 26th postseason game. They were pushed to seven games in the first round by Atlanta, another seven by Cleveland and then took care of Detroit in six to win the Eastern Conference title.
They entered Game 6 of the finals slowed by injuries as Pierce, Kendrick Perkins (shoulder) and Rajon Rondo (ankle) were less than 100 percent. There was also uncertainty surrounding Allen, who stayed behind in Los Angeles following Game 5 after his youngest son became ill.
But just as they had while winning 66 games during the regular season, the Celtics got plenty of help from their bench as P.J. Brown, James Posey, Leon Powe and rookie Glen "Big Baby'' Davis came in and contributed.
It was a group effort by this gang in green, which bonded behind Rivers, who borrowed an African word ubuntu (pronounced Ooh-BOON-too) and roughly means "I am, because we are'' in English, as the Celtics' unifying team motto.
The Celtics gave the Lakers a 12-minute crash course of ubuntu in the second quarter.
Boston outscored Los Angeles 34-19, getting 11 field goals on 11 assists while holding Bryant to three points, all on free throws. The Celtics toyed with the Lakers, outworking the Western Conference's best inside and out and showing the same kind of heart that made Boston the center of pro basketbal's universe in the '60s.
House and Posey made 3-pointers to put the Celtics ahead by 12 points and baskets by Pierce, Garnett and Rondo put Boston ahead by 18.
In the final minute, Garnett floated in the lane, banked in a one-handed runner and was fouled. His free throw made it 56-35, and after Perkins scored, the Celtics ran to the locker room leading by 23.
On his way off the floor, Garnett screamed, "That's that.''
And so it was.
Notes: Since the finals began in 1947, 16 have gone seven games, the most recent in 2005 when San Antonio had to go the distance to beat Detroit. ... With little to say, Jackson answered three questions during his pregame news conference before saying, "It's been nice, thank you.'' ... It wasn't as starry as L.A.'s crowd, but Game 6 brought out celebrities including Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler, actor Leonardo DiCaprio, Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who got a huge ovation when he was shown on the scoreboard, and Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade.Copyright 2007 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited
The Boston Celtics are home, not home free.
Unable to put the finishing touches on the Los Angeles Lakers and wrap up their first championship since 1986, the NBA's best team since November flew back across three time zones Monday for a Game 6 they were hoping they wouldn't have to play.
But injuries, another big first-half deficit and a sub-par performance by center Kevin Garnett cost the banged-up Celtics, who lost 103-98 on Sunday in Game 5 at Los Angeles and left Staples Center kicking themselves at the missed opportunity.
"Not what we wanted," coach Doc Rivers said of the team's stay in Southern California. "We wanted two more (wins). Obviously, the blanket was that we get to go home, but we really believed that we could win one of these games. We won one and we'll take it, but that's obviously not what we want."
The Celtics weren't at full strength for Game 5, missing center Kendrick Perkins with a shoulder injury. Whether he'll play in Game 6 will be a game-time decision, but Boston expects to have shooting guard Ray Allen available.
He left the arena immediately following Sunday's game because of a "health issue" with his toddler son, Walker, who underwent medical tests Sunday and Monday. Allen was still at the hospital when the rest of the Celtics arrived in Boston at about 10:30 p.m. EDT Monday, team spokesman Jeff Twiss told The Associated Press.
Allen planned to take an overnight flight so he could play Tuesday night, according to Twiss.
The Larry O'Brien Trophy, given each year to the league's top team, was nearly Boston's on Sunday night in Los Angeles. At one point, it appeared to be on its way to the floor for an awards ceremony now on hold. Instead of being hoisted by the Celtics, it was hauled off to LAX and loaded into a jet's cargo hold for the six-hour flight to New England.
Despite the loss, the tradition-drenched Celtics feel good about their chances of winning a 17th title -- on the 17th.
"We're one up, with two games to go at home," said Paul Pierce, who scored 38 in Game 5. "It still feels like we have the advantage, and I do feel like we're the better team."
So the 11th installment of Celtics vs. Lakers, the league's signature rivalry and one of the best in pro sports, has at least one more 48-minute episode.
After a 21-year gap between finals meetings, these teams aren't quite ready to part company.
Why would they?
Now five games old, this series has had plenty of drama (Pierce's return from a Game 1 knee injury), history (Boston's finals record 24-point comeback in Game 4), surprises (Leon Powe's emergence as a Game 2 star) and even a little scandal as former referee Tim Donaghy's allegations of fixed playoff games has hung over the finals like a layer of L.A. smog.
The Lakers are trying to become the first team in finals history to overcome a 3-1 deficit to win a title, and they're one step closer. If they can win Game 6 on Tuesday night in TD Banknorth Garden, they'll force a decisive Game 7 to cap a season as trying as any in commissioner David Stern's career.
Kobe Bryant and his teammates staved off elimination Sunday by getting more physical with the Celtics, who Tuesday night will play their 26th game of this postseason -- a record -- and could be wearing down physically.
Los Angeles center Pau Gasol shed his "soft" label for a night and scored 19 points with 13 rebounds, banging his way inside against Garnett, the league's best defender who couldn't push back at the Spaniard while hampered with fouls.
"Pau was terrific," said Bryant, who set the tone early with 15 first-half points and finished with 25 on 8-of-21 shooting. "He was aggressive. At both ends of the floor he did a great job."
Garnett was disgusted by his game and Boston's big man vowed to make amends when the Celtics get back inside their rowdy house on Causeway Street, where Boston's fans arrive early, party late and treat visitors with little regard.
Lakers, you've been warned.
"It's going to be like coming into the Amazon, into the jungle," he said. "I look forward to coming home and playing."
Following the teams' first across-the-U.S.A. trek of the series, Game 3 was one of the sloppiest finals games in recent memory as the Lakers and Celtics battled jet lag and season-ending fatigue.
With just one day off in the highly debated 2-3-2 format, Boston coach Doc Rivers expects Game 6 to be a struggle.
"It's a terrible turnaround," he said. "It's as tough as you can have. I think going West to East is tougher. Sleep patterns are messed up. It's a tough one. There's no way around it. But both teams have the same issue, so it could come down to a game of mental toughness, who fights the fatigue mentally better than the other group."
But Boston is comforted by being at home, where they are 12-1 in the postseason, where the parquet-patterned floor soothes any nerves and where the 16 championship banners hanging overhead link the Celtics to their past and remind them of their goal.
"That," Rivers said, "'is not a bad place to be."Copyright 2007 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited
(Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images)
NOTES & CONNECTIONS
The Lakers lost their 2007-08 season series with Boston 0-2 after having swept last season’s series 2-0. Now in their 28th season since Dr. Jerry Buss purchased the team prior to the 1979-80 season, the Lakers dropped just their sixth season series to Boston since 79-80 and first since losing the 2001-02 season series 0-2. The two teams have met 177 times since the Lakers moved to Los Angeles prior to the 1960-61 season with Los Angeles trailing the all-time series 80-97, marking the lone losing record the Lakers have to another NBA franchise in the regular season. The Lakers are 6-4 against the Celtics in their last 10 overall meetings. At STAPLES Center, the Lakers are 6-3 all-time against the Celtics while in Boston, the Lakers are 6-4 in their last 10 games at TD Banknorth Garden. Under head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers are 10-6 against Boston. In 19 career games against Boston including 16 starts, Kobe Bryant is averaging 24.9 points (25.0 points in two games this season vs. Boston). Celtics forward Paul Pierce grew up in Southern California, attending Inglewood High. Lakers center Chris Mihm was acquired by the Celtics 12/15/03 and played 54 regular season games with Boston, averaging 6.1 points and 5.1 rebounds before being acquired by the Lakers in August 2004. Phil Jackson and legendary Celtics head coach Red Auerbach each have nine NBA championships apiece as head coaches, an NBA record, while Jackson (976) surpassed Auerbach (938) this season in all-time victories. The Lakers and Celtics have met in 10 NBA Finals dating back to Minneapolis in 1959 with Boston taking the first eight before Los Angeles won in 1985 and 1987.
LAKERS vs. BOSTON IN THE POSTSEASON
LAKERS WIN GAME FIVE AFTER BEING DOWN 3-1
The Lakers have come from 3-1 down to capture a series on one occasion, defeating the Phoenix Suns in seven games during the 1970 Western Division Semifinals. In their most recent contest when trailing a best-of-seven series 3-1, the Lakers dropped Game 5 in the First Round of the 2007 Playoffs versus Phoenix. The Lakers last 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals came in 2004 versus Detroit, with Los Angeles losing Game 5 at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Prior to this series, the Lakers most recent victory in a Game 5 when down 3-1 came in the 1995 Western Conference Semifinals at San Antonio when Los Angeles defeated the Spurs 98-96 in overtime. Additionally, this is only the third time in Phil Jackson’s career that his team has been down 3-1, the others coming in last season’s 2007 First Round and in the 2004 NBA Finals.
This is the 11th time since the NBA Finals went to the 2-3-2 format prior to the 1986-87 season (29th overall) that a team has trailed 3-1. This will be the sixth occasion under the 2-3-2 format, the team trailing 3-1 has forced a Game 6: 1987 Boston vs. Lakers, 1993 Phoenix vs. Chicago, 1996 Seattle vs. Chicago, 1998 Utah vs. Chicago, 2000 Indiana vs. Lakers, and 2008 Lakers vs. Boston.
Only twice in Finals history has a team forced a Game 7 after trailing 3-1: 1951 New York vs. Rochetser and 1966 Los Angeles vs. Boston.
GAME SIX IN THE FINALS
Lakers head coach Phil Jackson has now coached in 16 elimination games - 1990 Eastern Conference Finals (twice), 1992 EC Semis, 1994 EC Semis (twice), 1995 EC Semis, 1998 EC Finals, 2000 WC First Round, 2000 WC Finals, 2002 WC Finals (twice), 2003 WC Semis, 2004 NBA Finals, 2006 WC First Round, 2007 WC First Round, 2008 NBA Finals - leading his teams to victory in nine of those games (9-7).Click here to read the full Game Notes