Lakers Gameday | 06/15/10 | Celtics

ROUND 4 GAME 6 | JUNE 15 | TUES | 6:00 PM | STAPLES CENTER
67
89
GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Boston Celtics 18 13 20 16 67
Play by Play Los Angeles Lakers 28 23 25 13 89



  • GAME HIGHLIGHTS
  • GAME RECAP
  • QUOTES
  • COACH PREVIEW
  • GAME PREVIEW
  • SCOUTING REPORT
  • INJURY REPORT
  • GAME NOTES

Lakers-Celtics Highlights

 








GAME PHOTOS


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Lakers rout Celts, force Game 7 in NBA finals

By GREG BEACHAM, AP Sports Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP)—Buckle up, Boston and L.A. These epic NBA finals are going to Game 7.

Kobe Bryant made sure of it, with plenty of help from the rest of the revitalized Los Angeles Lakers.

Bryant scored 26 points, Pau Gasol added 17 points and 13 rebounds, and the Lakers emphatically extended the NBA finals to a decisive seventh game with a 89-67 victory over the Boston Celtics in Game 6 on Tuesday night.

Ron Artest added 15 points for the Lakers, who stared down elimination by jumping to a 22-point lead during a dazzling first half. While limiting Boston to the second lowest-scoring performance in NBA finals history, the defending champions stretched the finals to the limit for the first time since 2005.

A champion will be crowned Thursday night at Staples Center.

Ray Allen scored 19 points for the Celtics, who took an ugly pratfall on the verge of winning their unprecedented 18th title. It turns out their longtime rivals are still quite serious about earning their 16th championship.

Two years after the Celtics ended the finals with a 39-point blowout of the Lakers in Game 6, Los Angeles turned Game 6 into a long nightmare for Boston. Only Utah’s infamous 54-point performance against Chicago in 1998 was worse than this offensive disaster, which included 33 percent shooting and a 52-39 rebounding advantage for the Lakers.

“We did a great job,” Bryant said. “We have to come with the same energy, the same dedication to defense (in Game 7).”

Bryant grabbed 11 rebounds, and Gasol led the Lakers with nine assists in a remarkable bounce-back game for Los Angeles, which dominated from the opening minutes by vacuuming up rebounds and playing relentless defense. The Lakers’ bench largely took care of the rest, outscoring Boston’s reserves while the Celtics failed to make a run.

“Our defense was good, our rebounding was better,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “We had some good luck on some tips and offensive rebounds, and those things changed the course of the game.”

These rivals have played a Game 7 four times in their 12 previous finals meetings, with Boston winning all four. But it hasn’t happened since 1984—and it hasn’t happened to Bryant, who looks determined to stake his claim among the NBA’s greats in pursuit of his fifth championship.

Bryant was a one-man band for much of the Lakers’ three-game stay in Boston, but Los Angeles was a symphony in Game 6. Gasol was a constant low-post presence and playmaker after disappearing for long stretches of the series, while Artest harnessed his wildly inconsistent jumper and hit three 3-pointers.

With first lady Michelle Obama watching from a luxury box, the Lakers were on their best behavior—and the Celtics responded terribly to the chance to clinch a title.

Paul Pierce scored 13 points and Kevin Garnett added 12, but the Celtics’ offense was a jumbled, stand-around mess. Rajon Rondo, the late-game hero in Boston’s last appearance in Los Angeles, got off to a 1-for-8 shooting start before finishing with 10 points and six assists.

“I thought we’d play better, obviously,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said. “I thought we were ready. … We played an individual game tonight on both ends. We never gave ourselves an opportunity offensively, because we never trusted each other. Everybody was out to make their own place.”

After earning the NBA’s second-best road record during the regular season, the Celtics must win on the road again to avoid becoming just the third team to blow a 3-2 series lead in the 2-3-2 finals format.

The Celtics lost starting center Kendrick Perkins in the first quarter to a sprained right knee when he landed awkwardly under the hoop, but his absence couldn’t explain the Lakers’ utter domination of the first half—a 30-13 rebounding edge while holding Boston to 34 percent shooting and frustrating Rondo.

There hasn’t been a winner-take-all finals game since San Antonio finished off Detroit five years ago, and Thursday’s Game 7 will be just the 17th in NBA history. The Spurs’ victory over the Pistons was the first Game 7 since 1994, when the Houston Rockets capped a comeback with two home victories over the New York Knicks and their point guard—Rivers.

The Celtics were on the verge of finishing off the Lakers after winning three of the last four games, including Game 2 in Los Angeles and the last two back in Boston. With their fluid offense purring and their sturdy defense holding the Lakers to meager scoring totals, the Celtics needed just one win in the final two games to clinch another title.

But facing their first series deficit and elimination game of the postseason, the Lakers kept their championship cool. The Lakers improved to 10-1 in the postseason at Staples Center, using the homecourt advantage they earned by finishing ahead of the Celtics, the East’s fourth-place team before their remarkable playoff run.

The Celtics dropped to 3-4 in closeout playoff games this season, including 0-3 on the road. Boston had nine chances to finish a playoff series away from home in the past three postseasons, but has been successful only once.

After the Los Angeles bench barely provided any boost in Boston, several reserves made big plays in the first half, whether it was Jordan Farmar diving on the floor to knock a loose ball to Bryant, or Lamar Odomemerging from his series-long struggle to contribute eight points and 10 rebounds.

While the Lakers hardly were perfect, the Celtics looked profoundly out of sorts. When Nate Robinson’s alley-oop pass to nobody thumped high off the backboard in the second quarter, Rivers ducked his head in frustration—and right after Shelden Williams missed an open one-handed dunk, Bryant drove for a heavily contested layup he somehow willed into the net.

Los Angeles’ 49-27 lead in the second quarter was the biggest for either team in the series. Even after going 3 1/2 minutes without a point shortly before halftime, the Lakers led 51-31 at the break.

NOTES: Los Angeles got little from injured center Andrew Bynum, who had two points and four rebounds in 16 minutes before going to the locker room in the second half, presumably for work on his injured right knee. … Fans near courtside included anthem singer Christina Aguilera, Josh Brolin, Diane Lane, Lenny Kravitz and Snoop Dogg sitting alongside Diddy. Dane Cook and Maria Menounos were among the Massachusetts transplants decked out in Celtics regalia, while director Eli Roth wore a Red Sox shirt.


Copyright 2010 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

MORE FROM BASKETBLOG
NUMBERS
9 L.A.’s collective advantage in the steals and blocks categories, blocking eight shots to Boston’s four (led by Pau Gasol’s three) and stealing 13 balls to the C’s eight (led by Kobe Bryant’s four).

15 Minutes played by Andrew Bynum, who sat out for all but two minutes of the second half to rest his ailing right knee. Bynum suffered no additional damage, but was having trouble moving normally and thought it better to rest considering L.A.’s 20+ point lead. His counterpart Kendrick Perkins, however, suffered a knee injury after just six minutes, and C’s coach Doc Rivers said it “doesn’t look good” for Perk to play in Game 7.

17 More rebounds corralled by the Lakers than the Celtics in the first half (30-13), which dwindled slightly to 13 (52-39) for the game. The team that won the board battle has won all five games.

24 Bench points scored by the Lakers before Boston had mustered even a single point off their bench, composed of Sasha Vujacic’s nine, Lamar Odom’s eight and four each from Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmar. Bryant led all scorers with 26 points, while Gasol had 17 and Ron Artest 15.

67 Points scored by Boston, the fewest the Lakers had allowed throughout the postseason. The previous low was 79, from Oklahoma City in Game 1 of Round 1.

Mike Trudell, Lakers.com


Lakers-Celtics Quotes


Lakers Head Coach Phil Jackson

PHIL JACKSON: Well, before we start, just to say a word about the travel from Sunday night to this game tonight ‑ you saw the effects on both teams. I thought we had a little more energy than they did. But both these teams ran out of gas in the second half, and we struggled through that ballgame.
Our defense was good and fortunate, both. Our rebounding was what was good.

Q. How more than anything else did you hold them to 67 points?
PHIL JACKSON: You know, our defense was good, our rebounding was better. We had some good luck, some good fortune. Got some loose balls, some tipped balls. Those kind of things change the course of a game.

Q. Ron seemed a little confused and down after the last game. What did you have to do to get him back into it?
PHIL JACKSON: Well, he made a shot. It's always great to make a shot when you've been struggling. It was good to see that ball go in. But we tried to simplify some things for him tonight.

Q. Different places to go in the offense?
PHIL JACKSON: Yeah, some stuff just to give him some confidence that he could have a shot and be comfortable taking one, and didn't always have to come out of the offense with a read and he had to do things.

Q. This morning when we spoke, you spoke with such conviction that your team was going to play extremely well tonight. What gave you that feeling?
PHIL JACKSON: Well, you know, I think we said after the game the other night we felt that we had come up short and we made some ‑‑ not only played poorly, we had missed plays that we made offensively to give up easy baskets, and we tried to eliminate that. I thought at the start of the game we started off with a fast break, and I was like, "oh, no, here we go again" type of thing, but we were able to corral and play better offense which contributed to our defense. That was a confidence thing that we were going to eliminate the easy points.

Q. Did Andrew suffer any kind of a setback on the knee?
PHIL JACKSON: Yeah, he wasn't able to move very fluidly the second half. He had some tightness in the back of his leg. He just said, "You've got to take me out. I can't run." And it was obvious at that point that he couldn't. He had some swelling in the back of his leg, and we'll have to work on that and see if they can't ice it down and control that.

Q. Did you that concern you for the next 48 hours?
PHIL JACKSON: Of course it concerns us. Both teams are playing without players at this time, and you just have to gut it through at this point in the season.

Q. How much did Kendrick being out open things for you guys in the middle?
PHIL JACKSON: You know, I'm sure it had a big effect in the ballgame. You know, he only played the first quarter, six, seven minutes or whatever in that segment. But I think our energy was good enough that it was not a matter of who wasn't there, it was about what we were going to do. We were trying to determine our own fate tonight.

Q. Pau had a very good game, almost getting a triple‑double. What did you see from him out there tonight?
PHIL JACKSON: Ran the court well. That's an important thing. Pau is an extremely good passer. He's able to make plays out of his position, which is important for us, that someone makes some plays. We had, I thought, stilted offense in Games 4 and 5, and this helped open people up a lot, and he had some offense. He got created and started playing the kind of post game we've been accustomed to playing in the postseason.

Q. You had talked about maybe them not having their legs quite as much. I wonder, Rondo going 5 for 15, how much of that was your defense, how much of that was maybe just not having the lift?
PHIL JACKSON: You know, not only that, I thought they really featured him in the second half. They were running a lot of screen rolls, a lot of screen roll situations with Garnett and Rondo in those situations, and we were fortunate enough to escape a few of them, but I thought that was the time he was most effective out there.

Q. Can you talk about what you got from Artest and Odom specifically tonight and also talk about how you were able to maintain the 20‑point lead.
PHIL JACKSON: Well, Ron, I think, kick started us with a couple threes and got confidence in what he was doing. You know, he made some plays out there. Defensively he felt more comfortable with what we were trying to do out there I think on the floor. And I thought he continued his game. It wasn't just a little quarter burst or a little half, but I thought he continued playing the right way.
And Lamar I was concerned about tonight. I thought he looked a little tired out there most of the game. Really chipped in tonight with just some details of his game, which he made some plays and made some baskets that were important.

Q. Correct me if I'm wrong, I believe this will be the first time in NBA Finals that you have coached a team in a Game 7. Can you talk about this penultimate game with these two storied teams.
PHIL JACKSON: Yeah, it's really a high‑tension situation. Players have come down to putting a lot on the line at this particular point. A lot of times it's not about the coaching at that point. They've already got it in them. It's about who comes out and provides the energy on the floor and plays the kind of game and dictates the kind of game they want to dictate.

Q. The rebounding, the defense, guys diving for loose balls, did you feel like there was just more desire and passion in this game than maybe you've seen in games past?
PHIL JACKSON: Yeah, we just talked about those parts of the game that make a difference, and as we reiterated before the game, those things fell in the lap on Boston. They had three turnovers late in the ballgame, extended their lead from 6 to 12, took the game out of our hands in some form or fashion, and tonight we were able to come up with those loose balls and those rebounds.

Q. Your team played really well tonight. How important will the bench play a part in Game 7?
PHIL JACKSON: Well, Jordan made a big recovery getting on the floor and getting after a ball. Sasha made some baskets. Fish got in foul trouble, and Shannon came out and played a good backup role as a defensive player out there with the first unit, and that really helped us out. Josh even gave us some minutes that were important out there to relieve Lamar.

Q. Your bench outscored them 24‑0 through three quarters, how do you explain how that happened?
PHIL JACKSON: Well, historically benches are much more comfortable on their home floor. There's a comfort zone out there. But the energy and the direction they had was what I was pleased with. I felt like they were directed and they had an idea what they wanted to get accomplished out there on the floor. That was important.








Lakers Guard Kobe Bryant

Q. I heard a story from some of the guys in the locker room that you were actually pretty confident and pretty loose coming into this game; is that right?
KOBE BRYANT: Yeah.

Q. How was that? There was quite a bit of pressure on this, right?
KOBE BRYANT: Yeah, but you know, it's part of it. I mean, it really doesn't bother me too much.

Q. Was there a danger of coming out in this game and being too tight, playing too hard?
KOBE BRYANT: Yeah, there's a danger, but we're used to being in must‑win situations. The way we look at it, it's just a game we've got to win. We've been in must‑win situations before, so we have to approach it the same way.

Q. When is the last time, Game 7 in Houston?
KOBE BRYANT: Game 7 in Houston. We've had critical Game 5s on our home floor. Those situations prepared us.

Q. The media is savoring this dream where Lakers and Celtics go to a Game 7. What does it mean to you, you've never been in Game 7 in The Finals, you're facing the other team that's been the dominant NBA team. It's a classic match‑up on paper, historically, as well. What does it mean to you to be in Game 7 in The Finals and against the Celtics?
KOBE BRYANT: No different to me. I don't mean to be a buzz kill, but it's not. I know what's at stake, but I'm not tripping.

Q. Can you talk about what's in your mind, your heart, what does a Game 7 in The Finals mean to you?
KOBE BRYANT: It's a game we've got to win, simple as that. I'm not going crazy over it. We've got to take care of business.

Q. Maybe I'm overexcited about it, but if someone told you before the season, one game at home for the title, what would your thoughts have been?
KOBE BRYANT: We've got to win it.

Q. Are you happy with that opportunity?
KOBE BRYANT: No. The opportunity is not something that makes me happy, it's winning and taking advantage of the opportunity that makes me happy. That buzzer goes off and we're not victorious, am I thankful for the opportunity? Nope.

Q. You've been preaching all playoffs long about defense, defense, defense. You have to be pretty happy tonight, right?
KOBE BRYANT: I was very happy. We did a great job defensively, we kept them out of the middle, kept them out of the paint, did a good job on the boards. You know, it was a solid effort by us.

Q. How does the way you won this game affect the mindset going into Game 7? And a lot of the fans are asking, where was this last week?
KOBE BRYANT: It doesn't affect it at all. You've got to forget about this game as you forget about a tough loss. Forget about it, move onto the next one.

Q. The team that's controlled the rebounding has won every game in this series, and tonight at one point I think it was 17‑4. I think you finished way ahead of them on rebounds. Was that a point of emphasis? Talk a little bit about how you controlled the boards. And was that a conscious effort to do that?
KOBE BRYANT: It definitely was. We understand the importance of rebounding and getting to those balls that pop loose. You see a lot of guys on the floor tonight and getting after them. Those are things that change the complexity of the game. It's something we're consciously trying to do.

Q. Does it take a special mentality, a special type of fortitude to be at your best in a Game 7?
KOBE BRYANT: I don't know, I don't think so. How I approach it is going out there and doing what I always do. It's not because it's Game 7 you've got to do anything different, but if you play hard all the time, you've just got to do the same thing you're accustomed to doing.

Q. Have you seen other players in the league that kind of melt in that situation, though, a Game 7?
KOBE BRYANT: Have I personally seen it? No, I personally have not seen it. But I am sure it happens. It's part of it.

Q. This kind of reminds us of the team we saw going into Game 6 in Denver last year, Game 7 in Houston. You had a rough and tumble series and then kind of found something. Did you find that zone this morning, the meditation session? Did you feel confident going into it?
KOBE BRYANT: We were confident, but in terms of finding rhythm, I guess that's a dangerous way to think when you're playing the Celtics. You can't think that way. They make great adjustments. I'm sure they'll make adjustments for the next one.

Q. So what was it, though, a team, everybody contributing?
KOBE BRYANT: We executed. We executed extremely well. You didn't see us blow too many assignments and get too many easy opportunities which we did in Boston, and then on top of that, we had a lot of effort behind the execution, and because of that we had a big win.

Q. You got your first rest in the second quarter. You guys had a 15‑point lead, and in three minutes they moved it to 20 with you on the bench. Given how little help you ended up getting last game on both sides of the ball, can you talk about the significance of them doing that without you?
KOBE BRYANT: It has nothing to do with the last game. It's all about the present, and they did a great job. We have an explosive bench, and they got after it tonight defensively, got the loose balls, got out on transition, made big plays, which is something that they're extremely capable of doing.

Q. Last game was so different, and even throughout the series, the change‑over, is it an effort, is it focus? Why such a flip? Both teams seems like they have the opposite problems game to game.
KOBE BRYANT: For us it was execution. We didn't execute well defensively. We just missed a lot of coverages. But a lot of it was what they were doing and adjustments that they made that put us in situations where it was compromising our defense. Tonight we made the adjustment and then had the effort to go along with it.

Q. Talk about Ron helping getting you guys jump started and also the bench play tonight.
KOBE BRYANT: Ron played extremely well on both ends of the ball. He was patient offensively and took the opportunities that were given to him. And defensively he made things tough for Paul, and Paul is a tough cover, and he did a good job on him.

Q. From your perspective, how much of a disadvantage was it for the Celtics when Perkins got injured?
KOBE BRYANT: Well, it's a big disadvantage. Teams are used to playing with a certain lineup. We've been through that. We've gone through that this year with guys coming in and out of the lineup, and it's tough because you've got to adjust. He's a big presence for them defensively, on the boards. He's a big emotional leader for the team. I'm sure it didn't help them, him going down.

Q. With Fisher in foul trouble tonight, can you talk about what you got from the three guards off the bench.
KOBE BRYANT: Well, I thought they did a great job defensively. That's always where it starts for us is the defensive end. And they gave a great effort, understood their assignments, and they picked Fisher up when he was in foul trouble.

Q. And then also what you got from Odom and Gasol tonight.
KOBE BRYANT: Well, Pau was sensational. He just played a great game, single coverage, scoring the ball. Was double‑teamed, made plays for others.
Odom, it's constant effort, constant energy, offensive glass, also pushing the ball in transition and creating a lot of opportunities where you have hockey assists just by pushing the ball.

Q. Do you sense the squad has the intention to close this thing out on Thursday night, big Game 7?
KOBE BRYANT: They don't have a choice. Got to.

Q. Intention?
KOBE BRYANT: Intention, yes.

Q. Do you think there's any chance there will be any surprises in Game 7, or do you see teams showing everything they have to show?
KOBE BRYANT: No, I'm sure there will be. Doc is a hell of a coach with a hell of a coaching staff, and I'm sure there will be quite a few wrinkles.

Q. What about from your side?
KOBE BRYANT: There will be some on our end, too.






Lakers' Center Andrew Bynum

Q: How do you feel?

Bynum: I feel OK. I have to get some more treatment … with the lead that we had and I felt a couple of twinges. I let Phil know and he took me out.

Q: Why did you beg out tonight?
Bynum: We had a big lead and a couple of rebounds I couldn’t get to because I couldn’t pick my leg up. With the lead [it was] and opportunity to rest.

Q: [Inaudible]
Bynum: I think before I came out we played good defense. We need to be aggressive coming out in Thursday’s game.

Q: With the possibility of Perkins beyond out of Thursday’s game, that must make you want to be out there even more, right?
Bynum: It’s unfortunate what happened to him. I know where he’s at, so I wish him the best [and] I hope he’ll be able to play.

Q: How did you hold the Celtics to 67 points?
Bynum: Everybody was out there rotating and everybody putting out the effort. They didn’t get many second-chance opportunities.

Q: How do you explain the difference between Game 5 and Game 6?
Bynum: We came out at home, the crowd gave us a nice boost of energy, and we just played defense.

Q: This is your first Game 7. What are your thoughts about Thursday night?
Bynum: We’ve got to come out, be ultra-aggressive. It’s the last game. We’ve got to win; we’re at home.












Lakers' Guard Derek Fisher

Q: [Inaudible]

Fisher: … We just seemed to really be quick to the ball in the first half in particular, and they were pretty much just getting one shot, and that was it. We were then able to get out into the open floor [and] try to score on the fast break – I think we scored some good points early before their defense was able to get set.

Q: Do you believe in leprechauns or do you think the leprechaun is limping into Game 7?
Fisher: Personally, I’ve never seen a leprechaun growing up in Little Rock or any of the years I’ve been here in L.A. I’ve only seen them on t-shirts and commercials. I don’t want to see one Thursday, that’s for sure.

Q: You’ve been through a lot in your career, but never one single game for the NBA title. What do you expect on Thursday?
Fisher: I don’t know. I expect both teams to recognize that fact. They have a locker room full of guys as well that have had phenomenal NBA careers, and I think they’ll recognize as well that this is a special moment that you just don’t get to be a part of – I don’t want to say every season – but sometimes never in your career. So I think both teams recognize that and I think it’ll be a much more tightly contested game [with a] closer margin and [will] still be about the team that plays the best as a team … It won’t be about individual performances, it’ll be about which team is best.

Q: Are you able to appreciate the context of a Game 7 between Lakers and Celtics while you’re in it?
Fisher: Yeah, I mean, I don’t know if we can see it that way. I don’t, to be honest. I know because it’s Lakers-Celtics we appreciate the way in particular our fan base – who a large number of them have been fans their entire lives, generations [and] for decades … So this is a different type of series whenever the Lakers and Celtics play, whether it’s a Game 1 or a Game 7 there’s just something that Lakers fans and Celtics fans just don’t like about this matchup. Both teams have obviously had some moments where we don’t like each other very much, and they’ll be a lot more on Thursday.













Lakers' Forward Pau Gasol

Q. When you go into a Game 7 like this, do you want to consider how big the moment is? Do players like to do that? Or do you as the old cliché says, it's just another game?

PAU GASOL: It's definitely not just another game. But it's a crucial game, obviously, like it was tonight, and luckily we play at home, and we want to carry everything that we did right tonight to it, too. And then I think we'll be in a very good place to win.

Q. Do you want to think about all the implications, everything that's at stake? Does that help drive some guys?
PAU GASOL: You know, whatever helps different individuals, it's okay with me. To me it's just a huge opportunity. It's a game that means that the winner gets a championship, and that's plenty.

Q. How important was this for you to come back after getting only 12 points in Game 5?
PAU GASOL: I think it was good. You know, I'm really happy about the team, the way we played as a team tonight, defensively, the activity, the intensity, just everything was very, very positive and very together. So you know, we're really, really happy with that. I just did my part, I guess.

Q. At the end of the second quarter, you guys were outrebounding 30 to 13. How important is it for you guys to win the rebound battle?
PAU GASOL: It's huge. Pretty much every game that either team has won has been also the winner of the rebounding game and battle. When you outrebound a team like we did tonight, you're giving yourself a huge advantage.
So it's really important that we continue to work extremely hard as a group, as a team on the rebounding because it's just something that you need to control, and it gives you an advantage.

Q. It seemed like in Boston your shot was off a little bit and it seemed like tonight you were attacking the basket a little bit more. Can you talk about that.
PAU GASOL: Yeah, a little bit. I think the fourth game it was ‑‑ my shot was feeling good. Last game, fifth game, not so much. But you're going to have these kind of better or worse games offensively. But you've just got to make sure you bring the kind of intensity, activity that we brought tonight and then things will go your way for the most part.

Q. You were in these situations before many times that one game decides everything. It was world championships, European championships, Olympics. How much does experience help you in Game 7 here that you've been in this situation that you have to win this one game?
PAU GASOL: Experience is always a huge plus, especially when you face these kinds of games and these kinds of situations. I've been fortunate throughout my career that I've experienced a few, and it puts me in a better place mentally, especially, to be able to face it and be successful. So I hope that we get now some good rest tomorrow and look at the tape again and just come to Game 7 to play as hard as possible to win it.

Q. During the second quarter Kobe got his first bit of rest and you guys pushed the lead from 15 to 20. A lot of the plays orchestrated actually by you. Given the way Kobe really didn't get much help in the last game, can you talk about the significance of being able to push that lead with him off the court?
PAU GASOL: It's important when any player comes out of a game, I think we have enough on our bench that we can sustain the level of playing that we have been carrying throughout to that point. So yes, it's important that the bench comes in and is ready to step in and make plays and be active. So I think that was the most important thing, that we set the tone so well from the defensive end that everything was more flowing on the offensive end. So we've got to understand how important that is and carry it on to next game.












Lakers' Forward Lamar Odom

Q: What do you think about Game 7 – one game for the NBA title?

Odom: It’s going to be tough; it’s going to be hard. [The score] might be 42-44.

Q: If Perkins is out for Game 7, how will it affect how you approach your game inside?
Odom: I don’t know. We have to do the same thing we did tonight. You never wish an injury on anyone. I hope he can get out there and compete.

Q: I know you had the flu before tonight’s game. How did you get through that?
Odom: Focus. Will. Just getting myself up.

Q: Tonight the bench took over and contributed much like theirs did last game …
Odom: I just think controlling the tempo [and] getting good shots. Kept those guys off the glass. On drives, we made other guys finish at the rim. They didn’t step up too soon, where we got easy dump-offs where we could find guys sitting on the baseline. That’s it, just the flow of the game. That can switch throughout the series.

Q: Lakers-Celtics, Game 7 for all the money …
Odom: Yeah, it’s a lot of fun.

Q: This is as big as it gets …
Odom: Yeah, it’s just great to be a part of it.

Q: Bynum was talking about the meditation session the team had this morning and that it really helped him focus …
Odom: That’s something that we always do. To me, meditation is a form of prayer … you can just understand the power of prayer; the power of people coming together … willing themselves toward the same thing. It works for us as a team and individually as well.






Celtics Coach Doc Rivers

Q. Just how surprised were you by your team's performance tonight?
DOC RIVERS: Oh, very. I thought we would play better, obviously. I thought they were ready. I just thought the Lakers played harder, better. They executed, they trusted more. I thought we played an individual game tonight, really on both ends. You know, they jumped on us with 50‑whatever points in the first half, so we never had a chance to get into transition to get Rondo going, which I thought hurt him. And we never gave ourselves an opportunity offensively because we didn't trust tonight. Everybody was trying to make their own plays.
You know, when we've done that this year, we've lost games. We've been blown out in some of those games, and if you do that against a team like the Lakers and a team like the Lakers who are really ready to play and play desperate, you're going to lose, and I thought we did that.
I was really disappointed with our defense in the first half because I just thought everything they did was harder than us. So that was tough.

Q. And do you think Kendrick will be able to play in the next game? What's the story with him?
DOC RIVERS: I don't know. It doesn't look great, but I don't know.

Q. Is it his knee, is that it?
DOC RIVERS: Yeah, I'm not even sure. I know it's his knee, but I don't know what it is.

Q. Are you and your team somewhat shellshocked because you trailed for most of the contest?
DOC RIVERS: No, we had enough time to get over it, you know, because it was all game. Probably the first quarter or by the middle of the third I thought we were pretty good, at least I was. I was already thinking next game, honestly.
But I was disappointed. I just thought we'd play better, and we didn't, and it happens. You know, listen, our play has allowed us to have a Game 7, as well.

Q. Talk about going into a Game 7. You've coached them before. This is Phil's first. Talk about what to expect on Thursday night.
DOC RIVERS: Well, I'm hoping both teams play great and the best team wins, and I'm hoping that's us. The effort is going to be great by both teams. It's really going to come down to the trust, it's going to come down to the execution. You know, one team will do that and one team will question it at some point in the game. We'll see.

Q. At this point in the year after the way things have gone all year, are you kind of resigned to the fact that whatever you get out of the season it's going to be the hard way?
DOC RIVERS: Well, we've done it that way. I wasn't resigned to that fact before the game, now I have no choice, if you know what I'm saying. It's like someone asked me that before the game. It's going to be hard for both teams, really.
Before the year I'm sure if you had asked the Lakers would they take a Game 7 at home, they would say yeah. They would have taken a Game 7 anywhere for the championship. And we would have said yeah, as well. We would have obviously loved it at home more, but we're not there. So you know, we're both probably in a game that we'd like to be in. If you told the teams that that's where you had to be, I think we'd both take it.

Q. Do you ever allow yourself to expect what's going to happen or what your team is going to give you on a night‑to‑night basis?
DOC RIVERS: No, but we've been pretty consistent through the playoffs. We haven't had many clunkers. We had the one at home against Cleveland. Other than that we've been pretty good.
You know, it happens. We have a day and a half to get over it and get ready for Game 7.

Q. How do things change without Kendrick in the game?
DOC RIVERS: Well, another body. No size. Honestly tonight it wouldn't have mattered the way things were going, but it would have been nice to have him on the floor. He's one of our guys that I think gives us great spirit, gives us a lot of toughness and gives us size. You know, I hope he can play. It would be tough if he can't. Somebody else is just going to have to step forward.

Q. He's one of the guys who does a lot of rebounding for you ‑‑
DOC RIVERS: He's a guy that cleans the paint up, let's say, and not having him there made the Lakers awful long. It also I thought allowed them to rest Bynum even more in the game.

Q. How much did not rebounding hurt you guys tonight?
DOC RIVERS: Well, there's such a long laundry list, but rebounding was number one. I just thought the 50/50 game at halftime, I think it was 18 to 3. I don't care who you're playing, 18 to 3 in the 50/50 game, on the road, you have no chance to win that game.

Q. What are some of the ways that you do start coaching for the next game, apart from substitutions? Are you almost trying to set guys up to keep them involved?
DOC RIVERS: No, in this one I wasn't. I was more concerned about injury honestly, so I took Kevin right back out. There were a couple guys that I wanted to give minutes to because we may need them. Not knowing about Perk, I wanted to make sure we played Marquis and make sure we played Shelden because if Perk is not there, one of those two guys may have to play. And so I just wanted to get them as many minutes in the fourth quarter once I knew the game was decided as I could.

Q. I know this is impossible for you to address really, but the idea of a Lakers‑Celtics seventh game I think is just the ultimate for fans.
DOC RIVERS: Yeah, well, I'll let you guys all enjoy that. Like I said, I'm sure we'd both take it. I'm sure it's not what we wanted, either one of us. But it is here, and it should be great. I hope we embrace it. It should be a lot of fun.

Q. You talked about it before the game and the first thing Phil said when he came out is the cross‑country flight took a toll on both teams.
DOC RIVERS: Yeah, we were old tonight because we lost. If we would have won, we would have had more experience. You know how that works. I think it took a toll on both teams. I thought you could see it in the play. I thought it was ragged. I think the two extra days ‑ tomorrow and then the game ‑ everybody will have their legs back and be okay. At least for the Game 7, I think you're going to get both teams' best. Really that's what the fans want.

Q. There's that question of effort from the Laker fans and the readers. It didn't look like they gave the effort the last couple of games ‑‑
DOC RIVERS: That's not true.

Q. And you look at tonight with the Celtics ‑‑
DOC RIVERS: It's other things. It's never an effort thing.

Q. What is it, confusion?
DOC RIVERS: It's just mental. Sometimes you come out and you want to do well and things don't go well, and then it's not a panic word, but things don't go well and you don't react well to it. And it does look like effort. It's more frustration. When you get frustrated, you don't move as fast, you don't move as quick, you're thinking, and then it looks like effort. But it's never effort.
You know, in the regular season there are guys where guys just don't put any effort. In the playoffs, I think everybody comes to the game to play well and play hard. Things go bad for them, they get frustrated, they start walking around thinking like the other team is moving and confident and quicker. I think it's more that than anything else.

Q. How about the travel? I know both teams had to travel ‑‑
DOC RIVERS: Yeah, I think it hurt both teams. I don't think any team had an advantage, but I think it didn't help either team.

Q. If Perk is unable to go in Game 7, will you start Rasheed Wallace? And how is that going to change perhaps your outlook for the game? And also if you could talk a little bit more about the struggles that your front court had in scoring today after Perk went down.
DOC RIVERS: The whole team had struggles scoring. I haven't given that any thought yet on who we would start. It's pretty easy to figure out, it'll be one of two guys, Rasheed or Baby, but I'm not sure. We've got to get better play out of Baby, and I told him that after the game. We do. He has to come with that same spirit he came in the famous Shrek and Donkey game. We need that again, and we need that from everybody.

Q. Let's face it, there is no momentum, only the moment, and it seems you guys embraced the moments in Boston Games 4, 5 and the Lakers embraced the moment tonight, so who will embrace the moment in Game 7?
DOC RIVERS: Well, I know who I hope and I know who you hope, I can tell you that. (Laughter). I'm hoping it's us, but somebody will. And maybe both teams will and you'll get a great game.
It was too easy, I had to. (Laughter).

Q. We'll get rid of the word "effort" and we'll go to "activity" ‑‑
DOC RIVERS: They were terrific. They cut harder, they were absolutely terrific tonight. I just thought their movement, their trust ‑‑ you know, I think most people, and I will say not us, but I think most people assumed that Kobe would come out and take 1,000 shots, and I thought he did the exact opposite. I thought he came out and trusted his teammates, and every time they needed a basket in that first quarter he made one. But I thought they just showed great trust. And the more they got it going, the more everybody got involved.

Q. How surprised were you of the Lakers' bench performance tonight? They came out and ‑‑
DOC RIVERS: Well, like Phil said, I said it, too, before the game, on the road ‑‑ usually the home team's bench plays better, and they were at home, and I thought their bench guys were comfortable. Bench players are typically more comfortable at home and stars play well everywhere. There was a lot of that tonight. I thought their bench was terrific. I thought their bench gave unbelievable energy. Every single guy. I didn't think there was one guy off the bench that didn't give them great play.

Q. What about the disruptive defense of the Lakers? How much did it throw off the chemistry of your offense?
DOC RIVERS: Well, I thought their offense threw off the chemistry of our offense. Every team needs stops and multiple stops to score. I don't know, at one point it felt like they were shooting 70 percent in the first quarter and the second quarter. Everything was half court for us. You know, with the shooting we have on the floor, we need to get in the open court a little bit more. So we need to get stops.







Celtics Guard Ray Allen


Q. Talk about what happened with you guys tonight. It seemed like you had a start and then kind of faded out.
RAY ALLEN: Well, a couple of us, the starting five, we had a conversation at the end on the bench and a little bit in the locker room just now, and we take complete responsibility. We just ‑‑ I don't know, after the first quarter I think it was 28‑18, and we just put us in such a hole early. You know, it affects our bench. We didn't give them any great rhythm, any great chemistry. I think we talked about our defense and how we allowed so many points, but I think it stemmed a lot from the offense because we didn't make the extra pass. Each individual tried to make the home run play early. With that we turned the ball over, sent them into transition, then our defense couldn't really set up. They shot a couple threes early to give a run. They were in transition the whole time.
As a unit, starting unit, we take responsibility. We have to do a better job for next game.

Q. Also, how tough is it to see a guy like Perk go down?
RAY ALLEN: It's terribly unfortunate. You know, you hate to see anybody, if it was this team or the other team. But we have to do this for him. We have to push forward, and there are guys that are on the bench that can step up and make the plays that Perk is capable ‑‑ or that Perk has made over the course of our time here. So you know, it does make Glen more valuable and Rasheed will play more minutes and definitely Shelden will be in there a lot more. We're going to be counting on them.

Q. Considering the way that the season has gone, did you kind of figure that whatever you guys accomplished this year was going to have to be done the hard way?
RAY ALLEN: Well, where we've come from to where we are now, we're sitting here, Game 7 of the NBA Finals, something that I've marveled watching my whole life growing up. You know, I said to you guys earlier a couple days ago when we sat in the locker room, we were trying to decide who we were going to play, whether it was Miami or Milwaukee, who we thought was going to be a better match‑up. The one thing that we said coming out of it was regardless of who that match‑up is going to be, in order for us to move forward, we're going to have to beat Cleveland, we're going to have to beat Orlando and we're going to have to do it on their floor. Not having home‑court advantage, our backs were up against the wall the whole time.
This is no different situation for us. There's not going to be another game added where we're going to be able to go home and play in front of our building. That's a comfort that the Lakers have right now. So in order for us to accomplish what we want, we've got to do it here in this building on this floor against this team, and it's got to be Thursday.

Q. Talk about the energy factor. Doc Rivers said that it was the travel that possibly had an effect on you guys. What are your thoughts on that?
RAY ALLEN: Both teams had to come back. I won't use any excuse or make any reason. They had more energy than us. They were home in their building. That's point blank. I didn't feel any different. I felt pretty good myself, and I'd like to think that everybody else felt good. We can't use that as an excuse.

Q. Can you talk about the shooting percentage you guys shot, 33 percent, whereas at home you shot a much higher percentage. Was that due to the fact that the Lakers' defense was that intense against you guys?
RAY ALLEN: Well, I definitely give them credit. They all did their jobs to keep us to that number. But in our defense, we made it tougher on ourselves because we didn't move the basketball. You know, just the extra pass, making a play for your teammate, that didn't really exist out there tonight for us, and we turned the ball over, not a lot but early in the game when the game was starting, when we were trying to develop a rhythm.
We didn't make their defense work at all, and we allowed their offense to score easier because they were in transition, and we weren't able to set up. You know, as much as we give them credit, you know, we didn't do our jobs offensively just the same.

Q. Considering your performance here in Game 2 and how you seemed to regain your three‑point touch tonight. Did you have a certain comfort level here at the Staples Center and how important is it going to be for you to continue that going into Game 7?
RAY ALLEN: Well, it's not really just me. Obviously the team does feed off me when I'm shooting the ball well, but it's time for all of us to step up and play well together. We haven't seen that ultimately all the way yet. You know, I think my legs are where they need to be right now. I think for a couple games I was hindered a little bit, so I've been working on getting that strength back. You know, again, this team, we all have to do a better job of helping each other score, make the easier play. A couple lay‑ups for either one of us, allows us to develop a great rhythm. Getting to the free‑throw line, I think we've got to do a better job of it, take the pressure off of shooting the long ball or let the shot clock expire as much as we have, moving the ‑‑ just passing. That's going to get us all better shots.

Q. How do you guys explain being outrebounded 30 to 13 the first half and how do you fix that in Game 7?
RAY ALLEN: Again, I can attribute most of our issues right now to ‑‑ I think when you put a team in transition, they're shooting long balls, we're out of position because we're rotating, we're in mismatches because they are out running on us, and then the ball goes up and we don't have our guys boxing out the guys that need to be boxed out. Most of the time we have our smalls on bigs because of mismatches.
Giving our defense a chance to set, that's what we have to do by executing offensively.

Q. A lot of what you've just said is somewhat similar to what the Lakers were saying the last game, that their offense never really got going and that killed the defense. What is the reason for such a switch? Is there a simple explanation or just a different game?
RAY ALLEN: Well, I think both teams have great offensive players. Both teams have individuals on the team that can score loads of points. But for both teams to be successful, you can see that when everybody is playing well, it allows the other team to struggle. From ball movement, you've got our team having guys in position to make defensive plays, and then when you get on the offensive end, you get a fast break you make the right play and somebody gets a lay‑up. You know, everybody is capable.
As far as the reason for the switch, it's just, when you start a game, it's always a rhythm. One thing that I've learned playing in my career is that you never really take a tough shot early in the game. Fourth quarter, somebody is going to have to take a tough shot to either win the game or for the shot clock. But starting the first couple quarters, you don't take tough shots. You just move the ball around and you find an open guy. The ball is going to find the right guy. I think tonight we didn't necessarily do that. We didn't find the right guy and find the right plays often.

Q. You guys have played some bad games this year, but always been able to respond from them in a day or two days. How do you do that one last time for obviously the biggest game of all? How do you adjust?
RAY ALLEN: Well, this here is for all the marbles. We talk about being in this situation, getting to this situation. We've talked about this all year long. Obviously we would have loved to be in our building, but those aren't the options that we have right now. You know, we've been a team that's operated well with our backs up against the wall, and everybody knows what's at stake and everybody knows what they need to do to focus and what they need to do to do their jobs. That's what the next day and a half ‑‑ I believe that everybody will go to that.

Q. You guys as a group have been in several Game 7s. How will that experience help Thursday? And also, does it take like a special type of mentality or fortitude to be able to overcome in Game 7s?
RAY ALLEN: We definitely have. I was talking with someone in the locker room just now, and I don't think there's been any Game 7s this year in the NBA playoffs, period. So this is definitely a special treat just for the NBA, knowing that we're going to Game 7, and this is The Finals, and it's the Celtics and Lakers.
As a team, you've got guys ‑‑ we've got some ballers on our team, guys that are ready to play. You can't shake a lot of the guys' characters here on this team. We're a group of trash‑talking guys. We compete at everything we do. Everybody believes they can make the shot or stop the guy from scoring. When it comes to Game 7, it's like this is what we were born to do. It's like if we were born, our mothers said we would be in Game 7 of the NBA Finals some day and nobody would blink an eye because we would say that's where we're supposed to be. So we're looking forward to it.









Celtics Guard Rajon Rondo

Q. From your perspective, how did the Celtics' chemistry change when Perkins got injured?

RAJON RONDO: I think we were a little bit focused on if Perk was going to come back instead of just continuing to play. As soon as halftime came, you know, we all just ran to the locker room and to the training room to see how he was feeling and if he was okay. Our energy went down a little bit, but for the most part it's not an excuse. We just came out and didn't have it.

Q. How did the dynamics of the team change when he got injured?
RAJON RONDO: Perk is our enforcer. He's our biggest body we have to throw out there on Bynum. He clears the paint up for us. He does a lot of intangibles. He's a great shot blocker, rebounder, and he's the anchor of our defense.

Q. How does the way you guys lost this game affect your mindset going into the next one? And if Kendrick is not close to 100 percent, how does that affect the match‑up?
RAJON RONDO: That's why we have a lot of guys throughout the roster. We have Big Baby and Rasheed. Other guys have to step up. We've had injuries before all season and guys have stepped up. But I'm sure they'll be up for the challenge and ready to play.

Q. But the way this game went you guys were never really in it. Does that matter at all?
RAJON RONDO: To me the game is over. We have one game, they have one game; all or nothing. This is in the past.

Q. Perk is such a big part of rebounding, as well. How did that affect the rest of the game with you guys rebounding?
RAJON RONDO: We obviously didn't. At halftime I think it was 30‑12. I don't know what the final rebounding was, 52‑39. But from the start they had an advantage, and obviously the team that has won the rebounds was won the game.

Q. How out of character is that for your team?
RAJON RONDO: That rebound number? Seems like it's every other game this series.
Like I said, it's one game, so we definitely have to get the job done the next game.

Q. I know you said this game is over with, move on, but are there any positives you can take from this game to help fuel the fire for Game 7?
RAJON RONDO: We've got to watch film and try to get some positives. Obviously we're not down. We're not hanging our heads. It's where we want to be, 3‑3, one game left. We're going to go home and watch the film, try to see what we do to make ourselves better and just play with more energy.

Q. Talk about the injury to yourself when you got hit with the elbow by Artest. And just talk about, like you said, everything on the line on Thursday night and what you guys are going to have to do.
RAJON RONDO: Well, the injury by Artest, he elbowed me in my chin. I don't think it was intentional, but it was definitely a foul, one of the fouls that wasn't called. But that's how it goes. You have to still continue to play the game. It didn't affect the way I tried to play. I didn't play much more after. The game was over obviously.
As far as going into Game 7, we just have to bring it. Now our backs are against the wall. I think they played like that tonight, and we didn't. But we have to come back. This is a little bump or hiccup for us, but we have to come back and still fight and try to get a win.

Q. Game 5, you guys on fire from the outside, shot 56 percent; tonight 33 percent. What did the Lakers do tonight in Game 6 that they did not do in Game 5?
RAJON RONDO: A little bit of both. We missed some shots. Rasheed had a couple looks that he usually makes. We didn't make shots tonight. Give them credit. They challenged our shots, but for the most part, I seen for myself, I missed a couple easy looks that I usually make. We didn't play well together as a team tonight, we didn't get in any rhythm on the offensive end. But we gave up 89 points or whatever points we gave up on the offensive end, even though they didn't shoot a great percentage. But the second‑chance points killed us.

Q. Based on how close the series has been and how tight it's been between these two teams, are you surprised at all that it's going to take seven to decide a winner?
RAJON RONDO: No. You know, it's Lakers‑Celtics, the biggest rivalry in NBA basketball, seven games. It is what it is.

Q. It looks like with every game the physicality is more and more of an issue, the games are more physical, even brutal at some point. What do you expect from Game 7? To what level it can go?
RAJON RONDO: More technical fouls maybe. It's going to be a physical game. Everybody is going to give all they have. I don't know, it's hard to determine what's going to happen. But I'm looking forward to it, and I'm sure our other guys are looking forward to the challenge, and it should be a good match. Tonight the Lakers from jump to start, they dominated the game, and I'm pretty sure we'll try to get a different outcome next game, Game 7.











Celtics Forward Tony Allen

Q: [Inaudible]

Allen: It was just a surprise. I mean it’s the NBA Finals, I would have never thought we would have come out and just not have the energy.

Q: Is this similar to what happened in Game 1?
Allen: They were the harder team tonight. They played harder, boxed out harder, hit the rebounds harder, cut harder. They did everything harder than we did today. That’s just unusual.

Q: How much of this was you guys coming out and playing with desperation?
Allen: They played hard and when you don’t match that intensity the game could be very long, real long.

Q: What are your thoughts on one game for a championship?
Allen: We are definitely together. We are going to go to the session, X and O stuff, listen to Doc Rivers. We are going to have to come with it Game 7.

Q: Talk about how everything comes down to one game for the championship.
Allen: That’s definitely where we want to be. That’s definitely what training camp was about. That’s definitely what the rest of the season was there to test for the final exam and this is it. Guys have to bring it.

Q: [Inaudible]
Allen: They set the tone. They won basically every quarter. We definitely have to do better. This next game is going to take all the guys that are on the roster.

Q: If Kendrick can’t play, how does that affect this team?
Allen: When guys go down, just like all year, it’s an opportunity for the next man to step up.









Celtics Forward Glen Davis

Q: How did that happen?

Davis: They came out there and they hit us hard. They beat us mentally and physically. They needed this one and they did what they had to do to go and get it. They played great. They did a great job. They were just the better team tonight.

Q: [Inaudible]
Davis: No, we didn’t. We didn’t come out and establish a tempo. We didn’t come out there and hit them back. We didn’t do that at all. We didn’t play Celtics basketball.

Q: Why is this happening throughout the series, one team has the energy and the other one doesn’t?
Davis: I don’t know. I have no idea, but we have to find some and make it happen.

Q: If Kendrick Perkins’ can’t play Thursday are you ready to start?
Davis: If Perk can’t go, his ticket still will be here. I’m going to call him and make sure he comes in and is on a flight early probably in the morning. I’m going to call him and see how he’s doing.

Q: How important is Perkins mentally and physically for this team?
Davis: Mentally he’s our instigator, he limits the other team with blocked shots, he does a lot of things for us and for him to go down is tough for us, but hey we still have to play the game.

Q: Are you looking forward to the opportunity for a one game here?
Davis: I love it. This is what it’s all about. This is what you guys are going to talk about for years. You guys are going to remember this moment. You are going to remember Thursday forever. I can’t wait. I can’t wait to step up on the floor and win here in LA.

Q: How confident are you in your team?
Davis: I’m confident.












Lakers-Celtics Preview

By GREG BEACHAM, AP Sports Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP)—Down 3-2 in the NBA finals against an old foe that keeps finding new ways to beat them, the Los Angeles Lakers are going to need a big Hollywood ending to escape this jam with another championship.

That’s exactly where they’ll make their last stand against the Boston Celtics.

Game 6 is back home Tuesday night at Staples Center, where the Lakers are 9-1 in the postseason, with everybody from Kobe Bryant to the Lakers’ bedraggled bench playing with much more passion and confidence.

“If you look at it, they’ve come home and carried the 3-2 lead back,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “It’s basically home court, home court. Now we’re going back to home court to win it. That’s the way it’s supposed to be, isn’t it?”

Sure, on paper. But two straight losses in Boston led to a dire series deficit for the Lakers, who hadn’t even trailed in any playoff series this season. The Celtics have won three of the last four games, and they’re responsible for Los Angeles’ only home loss of the playoffs.

So why didn’t Jackson or Bryant seem particularly worried before they headed out on their final cross country flight of the postseason? Throughout a trying season filled with injuries and big-game setbacks since a Christmas Day loss to Cleveland, the Lakers have always been able to rise when they absolutely needed to do it.

Jackson even described the Lakers’ locker room as “spirited” after losing Game 5 in their lowest-scoring performance of the postseason in the 92-86 loss. For all their struggles in Boston, the Lakers realize they only have to defend their home court to win their 16th title.

“We have a challenge, obviously, down 3-2,” said Bryant, who scored 38 points in Game 5 while his struggling teammates only managed 48. “We let a couple opportunities slip away, but it is what it is. Now you go home, you’ve got two games at home that you need to win, and you pull your boots up and get to work.”

If Los Angeles survives, a champion will be crowned Thursday in Game 7.

Heading into the finals, the Celtics believed they could beat the Lakers, even with Bryant at his spectacular best, if they shut down his teammates. After all, that’s what Boston did two years ago in the finals—and so far, it’s working splendidly again.

Bryant is averaging 30.2 points per game, while Pau Gasol averages 18.8 points and 10 rebounds despite glaring inconsistency in his game in Boston. That’s just about it: Nobody else in purple and gold is averaging more than Andrew Bynum’s 9.6 points per game.

Yet after losing Game 1 and only surviving Game 2 with Ray Allen’s 3-point shooting binge and Rajon Rondo’s late-game poise, the Celtics aren’t fooled into thinking they’ve got the Lakers on the run in Los Angeles. Boston’s current starting five has never lost a playoff series for reasons that go beyond their talent.

“They’re playing at home. Home is always where your heart is,” Boston’s Kevin Garnett said. “With the severity of the game, it’s all-out on both ends for both teams. This will probably be the hardest game of the season, if not of the series, if not of everybody’s career, this game coming up.”

Yet two straight losses undeniably have frazzled the Lakers a bit, with Bryant noticeably furious on the court while Game 5 slipped away. Even Jackson seemed a bit testier than his usual placid self, yelling at Bryant and Ron Artest during the game and later attempting to inspire his team in the fourth quarter with a false bit of information about the Celtics’ propensity for blowing late-game leads.

Jackson likely senses the biggest danger yet to his streak of 47 straight playoff series victories after winning Game 1. The Celtics sense a golden opportunity for their 18th championship and a chance to join the Boston greats who won multiple titles while repeatedly denying the Lakers nine previous times in the NBA finals.

“The Lakers … got homecourt advantage, but we’ve played the best all year on the road,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said. “We’re going to have to beat them at their best, because they’re going to be great there, and we can’t expect anything else.”

Los Angeles’ inside game has been its most decided advantage throughout the season, yet Boston largely has outplayed Gasol, the limping Bynum and Lamar Odom down low. The Celtics outscored Los Angeles in the paint 46-32 in Game 5, while the Lakers blocked just one shot—and Bryant did it.

Aside from Artest and his miserable series, the Lakers’ least effective regular has been Odom, the reserve dynamo who played a major role in their Western Conference finals victory over Phoenix. Odom, who said he had symptoms of the flu this weekend, had eight points and eight rebounds in Game 5, along with three turnovers in a fairly passive performance.

The rest of the Lakers’ reserves were even worse: Sasha Vujacic scored five points, Jordan Farmar had one, and formerly reliable Shannon Brown played just 19 seconds.

And then there’s Artest, the only newcomer to last season’s championship roster. With the Boston crowd vocally urging him to shoot, Artest went 2 for 9 in Game 5 to drop to 13 for 43 in the series.

His inconsistent offensive skills and shaky ball-handling abilities have abandoned him entirely in the finals, leaving only his defense—and he played precious little of it in Game 5, when Pierce scored 27 points with Artest and Bryant taking turns on him.

“The offensive part of (Artest’s) game kind of comes and goes,” Bryant said. “He does a great job giving us great production most nights. I just thought defensively we weren’t very good at all. We didn’t get any stops (in the third quarter of Game 5). They got layup after layup after layup, and you can’t survive a team that shoots 56 percent. We’re normally a great defensive team.”

Copyright 2010 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

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Lakers-Celtics Scouting Report

“Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor….” - Bluto from Animal House

The character played by the late John Belushi may have had some details wrong as he gave his stirring speech toward the end of the movie Animal House but the point was clear. They couldn’t take it anymore and it was time to make a stand (once again taking some liberties with the plot/meaning). Bluto was able to coax his buddies into a frenzy and it’s that kind of passion and frenzy we need to play with in order to force a game 7 in this series. In games 4 and 5 the Celtics played a little harder and a little smarter and we must turn that in our favor tonight. By this point of the season both teams have played over 100 games and there are very few surprises. It simply comes down to who is going to get those crucial rebounds, who is going to get the vital loose balls, and who is going to play with more desire from the opening tip to the final buzzer. If it is not us we will be watching the Celtics party on our floor. That is the cold hard truth of the matter tonight.

Regster to Lakers Courtside Connection to read more.



Lakers-Celtics Injury Report


Shannon Brown (sprained right thumb) will play.
Kobe Bryant (arthritis, right index finger) will play.
Andrew Bynum (slight tear, lateral meniscus, right knee) is questionable.
Luke Walton (pinched nerve, back) is probable.

None

Lakers-Celtics Game Notes

SEASON & SERIES NOTES; CONNECTIONS
The Lakers split their 2009-10 season series with the Celtics 1-1 after sweeping last season’s series with Boston 2-0. The two teams have met 181 times since the Lakers moved to Los Angeles prior to the 1960- 61 season with Los Angeles trailing the series 83-98. Including their time in Minneapolis, the Lakers and Celtics have met 272 times in all with Boston leading the all-time series 152-120. The Lakers are 6-4 against the Celtics in their last 10 overall regular season meetings. In Boston, the Lakers are 6-4 in their last 10 regular season games at TD Garden while in Los Angeles, the Lakers are 7-4 all-time against the Celtics at STAPLES Center (regular season). Under head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers are 13-7 against Boston during the regular season. With the Lakers 92-83 Christmas Day victory in 2008, Phil Jackson recorded his 1,000th career victory as an NBA head coach. Under Jackson, the Lakers have swept Boston on five occasions while twice being swept by the Celtics during the regular season. In 22 career regular season games against Boston including 19 starts, Kobe Bryant is averaging 24.8 points, but missed their most recent meeting (2/18/10) with a left ankle injury. Pau Gasol is the next highest scoring Laker career-wise versus Boston, averaging 17.9 points in 15 career regular season games against the Celtics. Celtics forward Paul Pierce grew up in Southern California, attending Inglewood High. Last season, Phil Jackson surpassed legendary Celtics head coach Red Auerbach (9) with his 10th NBA championship as a head coach, an NBA record. Jackson surpassed Auerbach in all-time victories during the 2007-08 season and in games coached during the 2008-09 season. Losing to the Celtics in six games during the 2008 NBA Finals, the Lakers and Celtics are now meeting in their 12th NBA Finals dating back to Minneapolis in 1959. The Lakers are 2-9 in NBA Finals series against Boston, with the Celtics taking the first eight before Los Angeles won in 1985 and 1987.

COMING BACK FROM 3-2 DEFICIT IN THE NBA FINALS
In the history of the NBA, 40 teams have faced a 3-2 deficit in the Finals. Of those 40, six have come back to win the final two games and claim the NBA Championship. Most recently, the Houston Rockets overcame a 3-2 deficit to defeat the New York Knicks in the 1994 NBA Finals. Prior to that, the Lakers defeated the Pistons in 1988, Washington defeated Seattle in 1978, Boston defeated the Lakers in 1969, Boston defeated the Lakers in 1962 and Syracuse defeated Fort Wayne in 1955. Of those six teams, the 1994 Rockets, 1988 Lakers, 1962 Celtics and 1955 Nationals all owned home court advantage with the Rockets, Lakers and Nationals winning the final two games on their home floor in a 2-3-2 series.

ELIMINATION GAMES
The Lakers are 41-41 in postseason elimination games (games in which a loss would end a Lakers playoff run), going 32-35 since moving to Los Angeles and 9-6 while playing in Minneapolis. The Lakers were 6-5 in 11 elimination games during the 2000’s decade: Game 7 of the 2009 WC Semifinals vs. Houston (W), Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals at Boston (L), Game 5 of the 2008 NBA Finals vs. Boston (W), Game 5 of the 2007 WC First Round at Phoenix (L), Game 7 of the 2006 WC First Round at Phoenix (L), Game 5 of the 2004 NBA Finals at Detroit (L), Game 6 of the 2003 WC Semis versus San Antonio (L), Game 7 of the 2002 WC Finals at Sacramento (W), Game 6 of the 2002 WC Finals vs. Sacramento (W), Game 7 of the 2000 WC Finals vs. Portland (W) and Game 5 of the 2000 WC First Round vs. Sacramento (W).

Lakers head coach Phil Jackson has now coached in 18 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 (twice), 2009 WC Semis - leading his teams to victory in 10 of those games (10-8).

BRYANT FIRST PLAYER IN NBA HISTORY TO SCORE 600+ POINTS IN THREE STRAIGHT POSTSEASONS
With 38 points 6/13 at Boston, Kobe Bryant passed the 600-point plateau for the third straight postseason. In doing so, Bryant (622) became the first player in NBA history to score 600+ points in three consecutive postseasons while joining Michael Jordan (1992, 1993, 1998) as the only player in league history to do so in any three postseason during his career.*

BRYANT SCORES 23 CONSECUTIVE POINTS
Kobe Bryant scored 23 straight points overlapping the second (4) and third (19) quarters in Game 5 of the NBA Finals at Boston. While Bryant’s third quarter (19) fell six points shy of Isiah Thomas’ Finals record of 25 points in Game 6 (third quarter) of the 1988 NBA Finals, he did become the first player to score at least 20 consecutive points for a team in an NBA Playoff game since LeBron James scored the last 25 points for the Cavaliers in a double-overtime victory against the Pistons in Game 5 of the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals.*

LAKERS STREAK OF VICTORIES WITH THE SERIES TIED COMES TO AN END
Prior to their Game 5 loss at Boston, the Lakers had won their last 14 playoff games in series that were deadlocked entering the game, the longest such streak for any NBA team since the Bulls won 16 straight playoff games under those circumstances from 1996 to 1998. Before Sunday night (6/13/10), the Lakers had not lost a playoff game in which the series was tied since Game 1 of the 2009 Conference Semifinals against Houston.*

HIGHS & LOWS
In the Lakers Game 5 loss to the Celtics, Los Angeles saw Boston record their best shooting game of the 2010 postseason (.563, 40-71 FG). The Celtics field goal shooting was a Lakers playoff opponent high as well as the first time this postseason that Los Angeles has allowed an opponent over the .500 mark. In their previous 20 playoff games, the Lakers had held opponents to just .437 shooting (698-1597) from the field. Additionally, on the other end of the floor, the Lakers scored just 86 points in their Game 5 loss, three points fewer than their previous 2010 Playoff scoring low of 89 points in a Game 4 loss. Prior to the Finals, the Lakers lowest scoring game of the 2010 postseason came in an 87-79 Game 1 win over Oklahoma City (4/18/10) in the Western Conference First Round.

BRYANT FROM DOWNTOWN
In the Lakers Game 4 loss to the Celtics, Kobe Bryant shot 6-of-11 from behind the three-point arc, matching his playoff career-high for three-point field goals made in a game. It was the third time Bryant has hit six three-pointers in a playoff game, also doing so on 6/2/00 in Game Six of the Western Conference Finals and on 5/25/10 in Game Four of this year’s Western Conference Finals. Bryant, who holds the NBA regular season record with 12 three-point field goals made in a game on 1/7/03 vs. Seattle, currently ranks second on the all-time NBA Finals list for three-pointers made (Robert Horry (1st/56), Kobe Bryant (2nd/47), Michael Jordan (3rd/42) and Derek Fisher (4th/41)). Furthermore, Bryant (262) and Fisher (210) rank 1st and 2nd respectively for the playoff franchise record in three-point field goals made. Bryant’s total of 262 three-point field goals made ranks him 2nd in NBA playoff history behind only Reggie Miller (320), while Fisher’s total of 222 ranks him 6th on the NBA’s all-time playoff list behind Ray Allen (5th/246).

LAKERS ALLOW SECOND 4TH QUARTER COMEBACK THIS SERIES
In the Lakers 96-89 loss to the Celtics in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, the Lakers held a two point lead going into the fourth quarter. The Lakers also led by as many as three points in the fourth quarter in the Lakers 103-94 Game 2 loss to the Celtics. This marks only the second time that a team coached by Phil Jackson has lost twice after leading in the fourth quarter in one NBA Finals. The only other time came in the 1992 NBA Finals, when the Chicago Bulls lost two games in which they had a fourth quarter lead against Portland.*

EFFICIENCY FROM THE BENCH
In the Lakers 91-84 victory over the Celtics in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, the Lakers bench combined for 9-of-11 shooting from the field, marking the best percentage (minimum ten attempts) by a team’s bench in an NBA Finals game since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976-77. (Lamar Odom 5-5 FG, Shannon Brown 2-3 FG, Luke Walton 1-1 FG, Jordan Farmar 1-2 FG).

BLOCKING SHOTS
In Game 2 of the NBA Finals, Andrew Bynum (playoff career-high 7 blocks) and Pau Gasol (playoff career-high 6 blocks) helped the Lakers to 14 blocks on the night, establishing a new NBA Finals single-game record for blocks in a game. The previous Finals record of 13 blocks occurred multiple times, most recently in the 2003 Finals when the Spurs blocked 13 shots against the Nets. The mark also tied a Lakers franchise playoff record for blocks in a game, with the Lakers last blocking 14 shots in the postseason on 4/24/98 at Portland. Additionally, Game 2 of the 2010 NBA Finals marked the first time since the league began to track blocked shots prior to 1973-74 season that a pair of teammates each had at least five blocks in an NBA Finals game.*

BRYANT’S RECORDS 13th CAREER 30-POINT GAME IN NBA FINALS
In the Lakers Game 5 loss to the Celtics, Kobe Bryant scored 38 points, marking the 13th time in his career that he has posted a 30+ point game in the NBA Finals (only Shaquille O’Neal (16) has more 30+ point games in the Finals among all active players). Jerry West holds the NBA Finals record for most 30+ point games with 31 during his Hall-of-Fame career. Additionally, Bryant scored 30+ points in four consecutive Finals game dating back to last year (2009 NBA Finals Games 3-5 and 2010 NBA Finals Game 1), the longest such streak since Dwyane Wade tallied four straight 30+ point games in the 2006 NBA Finals.*

REACHING 100
With their 103-94 loss to the Celtics in Game 2 of the NBA Finals, the Lakers failed to score 100+ points after doing so in 11 straight playoff games (9-2). The streak was the longest by an NBA team in one playoff year since Phoenix did so in 12 straight games during the 2005 postseason. It marked the longest such streak by a Lakers team since the 1986 Lakers scored 100+ points in 12 consecutive playoff games.*