Lakers Gameday | 12/25/08 | Lakers 92, Celtics 83
Western Conference Standing : 1
Streak: Won 3
Eastern Conference Standing : 1
Streak: Lost 1
|Injury Report||Injury Report|
---Francisco Gomez, Lakers.com
Box Score | Play-by-Play | Quotes
|Los Angeles Lakers||Boston Celtics|
Bryant, Gasol lead Lakers past Celtics 92-83
LOS ANGELES(AP) Perhaps now the Los Angeles Lakers can put the anguish of losing the NBA finals to Boston and the embarrassment over the way the series ended behind them.
Kobe Bryant had 27 points, nine rebounds and five assists, Pau Gasol scored seven of his 20 points in the final three minutes, and the Lakers beat Boston 92-83 Thursday to snap the Celtics' franchise-record 19-game winning streak.
The game was the first between the teams since the Celtics romped to a 131-92 victory in Game 6 of the finals last June to win their first championship in 22 years and league-high 17th title. The Lakers blew a 24-point second-quarter lead in Game 4 at Staples Center to fall behind 3-1 - a deficit that's never been overcome in the finals.
The victory was the 1,000th for Phil Jackson, enabling him to become the sixth NBA coach to reach that milestone. The 63-year-old Jackson has a career record of 1,000-423 in 17-plus seasons as coach of the Chicago Bulls and Lakers. He became the fastest to win 1,000 games, surpassing Pat Riley, who did it in 1,434 games.
"Here we are, a game that's been pointed to since the schedules came out,'' Jackson said beforehand.
The longtime rivals have met in the NBA finals 11 times, with the Celtics going 9-2.
The Celtics entered with a 27-2 record - the fastest start by a two-loss team. They were in pretty good shape when Kevin Garnett put them ahead 81-79 with 3:57 remaining, but the Lakers went on a 13-2 run to finish the game.
Lamar Odom had 10 points and seven rebounds, and Sasha Vujacic also scored 10 for the Lakers (24-5), who won their 12th straight game at home, where they're 15-1. Andrew Bynum, who missed most of last season and the playoffs with an injured knee, had nine points and seven rebounds.
Garnett shot 11-of-14 in leading the Celtics (27-3) with 22 points, and he also had nine rebounds. Paul Pierce added 20 points and 10 rebounds, but didn't score in the fourth quarter. Ray Allen scored 14 and Rajon Rondo had 12 assists for Boston.
A 15-foot jumper by Gasol with 2:48 snapped an 81-all tie and put the Lakers ahead for good. Allen's 3-pointer failed, and Gasol scored from close range off an assist from Bryant with two minutes left, putting Los Angeles up by four and sending the crowd of 18,997 into a frenzy.
Garnett answered with a jumper to draw the Celtics within two, but Gasol's three-point play with 1:28 left put the Lakers on top 88-83. Gasol then blocked a 3-pointer by Allen, setting up Trevor Ariza for a dunk that gave Los Angeles a seven-point lead with 1:12 to go. Bryant's basket completed the scoring.
Boston's Eddie House made his only basket with 8:09 remaining to tie it at 75. Neither team led by more than two points after that until the Lakers took command down the stretch.
Pierce scored five points and Allen added three during an 8-0 run that put Boston ahead 64-62. Then, with Bryant on the bench, Odom made two 3-pointers, and the Lakers outscored the Celtics 9-3 to finish the third period and take a 71-67 lead.
Vujacic scored eight points and Bryant added six during a 16-5 run to begin the second quarter, giving the Lakers a 39-29 lead, and they were on top 51-45 at halftime. The Celtics shot 2-of-13 to begin the period and 7-of-12 to finish it. Boston attempted only two free throws in the half - by Pierce with 13.5 seconds left.
Neither team led by more than three in the first quarter, which ended with the Celtics on top 24-23. Boston shot 61.1 percent to 47.6 percent for the Lakers, but committed six turnovers.
Notes: Boston's Glen Davis returned to action after missing two games because of a concussion sustained in a traffic accident last Sunday, and had four points and four rebounds in a reserve role. ... The Lakers played without backup point guard Jordan Farmar, who underwent knee surgery Wednesday and will be sidelined approximately eight weeks. ... The game marked the first time in NBA history that two teams met with so few losses (seven) this late in the season. ... The game was the 10th straight for the Lakers on Christmas. They have an overall record of 20-15 on Christmas including 11-6 at home. ... It was the Celtics' first game on Christmas since 2002. They have a 10-15 record, going 9-15 on the road and 1-0 at a neutral site. They have never played at home on Christmas. ... The game was the first on Christmas between the teams since 1970, when the Lakers won a 123-113 decision at the Forum in nearby Inglewood.
Copyright 2008 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
by Mike Trudell, Lakers.com
Heading into one of the biggest regular season matchups in the last several NBA seasons with a rematch of the 2008 Celtic-Lakers NBA Finals, we put a call into ESPN’s Ric Bucher for a breakdown.
Bucher, who's been covering the NBA since 1992, explains the differences he sees between the two squads, opines on which team faces more pressure heading into the contest, offers a prediction for the final score and more. Take a listen:
Lakers - Celtics Preview
It turns out the NBA's most storied rivalry didn't die -- it was just dormant for the better part of two decades.
When the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics meet at Staples Center on Thursday for the first time since last season's NBA finals, both teams will again come in leading their respective conferences, with Boston's club-record 19-game winning streak adding an extra dimension to a much-anticipated Christmas Day rematch.
"It's good for the game," Lakers star Kobe Bryant said. "Growing up in high school, you hear Bulls and Knicks, Lakers-Celtics and all this other stuff. The hype is what creates the atmosphere and the energy for people who watch the game. It's enjoyable for us to be a part of it. I know if I was coming up in high school, I'd be tuning in, just like everybody else."
With the Celtics perpetually struggling to rebuild since the days when Larry Bird and the old Big Three would often tangle in the finals with Magic Johnson and the Lakers, Boston was an afterthought for Los Angeles when it returned to prominence with three straight NBA titles from 2000-02.
But the Celtics reloaded before last season, uniting Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen with mainstay Paul Pierce, and the rivalry reignited. Both teams earned top seeds for the playoffs and eventually met in the NBA finals for the first time since 1987 and 11th time overall.
Boston captured its 17th NBA title in six games, with the franchise's revival meaning even more considering it was the ninth time it earned a championship by beating the Lakers.
The series turned in Game 4, when the Celtics came back from a 24-point deficit to win 97-91 at Staples Center for a commanding 3-1 lead in the series. Boston then finished it off in resounding fashion at home, with its 131-92 Game 6 victory the biggest blowout ever in a finals clincher.
"It means everything," Pierce said at the time. "I'm not living under the shadows of the other greats now. I'm able to make my own history with my time here."
With both teams cruising in the early going, they could be destined for another meeting in mid-June. The Lakers (23-5), who are 14-1 at home, lead the Western Conference in the standings and the NBA in scoring, averaging 107.0 points.
But Boston has been even more dominant in defense of its title, becoming the first team in NBA history to start 27-2. The Celtics are again among the league's best defensive teams, holding opponents to a league-low 42.0 percent shooting.
They've also been as efficient as ever offensively during their 19-game winning streak, shooting 51.1 percent and averaging 107.0 points -- 120.0 in the last three games.
The team surpassed the 1981-82 Celtics' franchise-best winning streak with Tuesday's 110-91 win over Philadelphia -- with Boston fans chanting "Beat L.A!" during the fourth quarter. If the Celtics do that, they would match the 1971 Milwaukee Bucks for the third-longest run in league history.
"If we can stop their winning streak, that's a significant thing," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "They're going to want to say, 'Hey, we didn't get stopped by the Lakers.' So they've got a challenge here, too."
But the Celtics claim not to care about the streak. Coach Doc Rivers said Tuesday, "no one even mentioned it," and Garnett said even a matchup with the Lakers won't divert their focus.
"I totally appreciate the whole history of the Lakers and Celtics and the tradition, the players who've come through both teams, the foundations of this league," Garnett said. "But to put all the eggs in one basket on one game, or that we circle it ... we circle all the games, and if you're on the schedule we don't decline any shows."
Neither do the Lakers and Jackson, who would become the fastest coach to 1,000 career victories with a win.
Los Angeles opened a recent road trip with back-to-back losses at Miami and Orlando, but it salvaged a split of the four-game swing, and Tuesday's 100-87 victory at New Orleans should provide plenty of momentum.
The Lakers were criticized for being unable to keep up with Boston defensively last summer, but they held the Hornets to 41.6 percent shooting.
The Celtics will also have to contend with a weapon that the Lakers didn't have for the finals, as center Andrew Bynum is back from a knee injury and averaging 12.4 points and 8.4 rebounds.
Bynum did play in both of the teams' regular-season meetings in 2007-08, which Boston swept -- including a 110-91 road win last Dec. 30.
Pierce, who grew up in Los Angeles rooting for the Lakers, had 33 points in that game, then was the finals MVP after averaging 21.8 points and 6.3 assists in the series.
NOTES & CONNECTIONS
The Lakers lost their 2007-08 season series with Boston 0-2 after sweeping the previous season’s series 2-0. Now in their 29th 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 (998) surpassed Auerbach (938) last season in all-time victories. Losing to the Celtics in six games during the 2008 NBA Finals, the Lakers and Celtics have now met in 11 NBA Finals dating back to Minneapolis in 1959 with Boston taking the first eight before Los Angeles won in 1985 and 1987.
LAKERS SCOUTING REPORT
Check back soon for our scouting report against the Boston Celtics.
THIRD TIME’S A CHARM
JACKSON MOVES PAST RED AUERBACH IN GAMES COACHED, APPROACHES 1,000th CAREER VICTORY
CHRISTMAS DAY GAMES