Lakers Gameday | 06/17/10 | Celtics

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Lakers edge Celtics in Game 7, win 16th title

By GREG BEACHAM, AP Sports Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP)—Purple and gold confetti raining down upon him, Kobe Bryant hopped up on the scorer’s table, shook his fists and extended five fingers.

When he hopped down, Boston’s legendary Hall of Fame center Bill Russell was waiting to shake his hand.

A Game 7 classic—and this time, it finally went the Lakers’ way.

Bryant, the finals MVP, scored 23 points despite 6-of-24 shooting, and the Lakers won their 16th NBA championship Thursday night, dramatically rallying from a fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Celtics 83-79 in Game 7 of the NBA finals.

Bryant earned his fifth title with the Lakers, who repeated as NBA champions for the first time since winning three straight from 2000-02. Coach Phil Jackson added his 11th, matching Russell’s total and possibly putting a cap on his remarkable career if he decides to leave the Lakers.

“This one is by far the sweetest, because it’s them,” Bryant said after the Lakers beat Boston for the first time in a Game 7. “This was the hardest one by far. I wanted it so bad, and sometimes when you want it so bad, it slips away from you. My guys picked me up.”

Ron Artest added 20 points for the Lakers, who didn’t exactly show a champion’s poise while making just 21 shots in the first three quarters, even hovering around 50 percent at the free throw line.

Yet with Bryant driving the lane to earn eight free throws and Pau Gasol finally coming alive with nine of his 19 points in the fourth quarter, Los Angeles reclaimed the lead midway through and hung on with a few more big shots from Gasol, who had 18 rebounds, and a remarkable clutch performance by Artest, a first-time champion as the only newcomer to last season’s roster.

“Well, first of all I want to thank everybody in my hood,” Artest said in an ABC interview right after the game. “I definitely want to thank my doctors … my psychiatrist, she really helped me relax a lot.”

With their fifth title in 11 seasons, the Lakers moved one championship behind Boston’s 17 titles for the overall NBA lead. After downplaying the NBA’s best rivalry for two weeks, Bryant acknowledged this banner will loom just a little larger than the rest in those Staples Center rafters, given the opponent, the Game 7 stakes and the history they just made. The teams have met in 12 NBA finals, but the Lakers won for just the third time.

Jackson won his fifth ring in Los Angeles to go with his half-dozen from Chicago. And it might be the last: Weary of the regular-season grind and facing a likely pay cut with the Lakers, Jackson hasn’t determined his future, though he previously said another title would make him more likely to chase an unprecedented fourth threepeat next season, when he’ll be 65.

“I’ve got to take a deep breath. I’ve got to take some time to think about this,” Jackson said, wearing a satisfied grin underneath his championship hat. “This was great. I’ll wait to make that decision in a week.”

With his hands already full, maybe Jackson will follow Russell’s lead and put that 11th championship ring on a chain around his neck—and Bryant isn’t likely to settle for just one handful of rings.

He made that clear to his coach.

“He knows how bad I want him back,” Bryant said. “I’ve been openly blunt about how much I want him back.”

Paul Pierce had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Celtics, who just couldn’t finish the final quarter of a remarkable playoff run after a fourth-place finish in the Eastern Conference. Kevin Garnett added 17 points, but Boston flopped in two chances to clinch the series in Los Angeles after winning Game 5 back home.

“Listen, give the Lakers credit,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “They were terrific.”

Rivers knows changes are coming, even saying afterward that the ’10-11 Celtics will be different than the ’09-10 team.

“We were the tightest, most emotional, crazy group I’ve ever been around in my life,” Rivers said, adding that he’ll wait a while before deciding on his oft-speculated future.

He called this team “crazy close” and throughout the playoffs, the Celtics only got closer. Down by 14 in their first playoff game against Miami, they won that night and rode that instant burst of confidence not only past the Heat, but through Cleveland and Orlando in the next two rounds.

“We were scratching and clawing, trying to do everything we could to try to pull this out,” said Ray Allen, who had 13 points on 3-of-14 shooting. “We had an opportunity to win, but it just didn’t go our way down the stretch. I don’t think we ran out of steam. Lady Luck just didn’t bounce in our corner. … There were a lot of tears, a lot of tears.”

The Celtics were a .500 team for the final two-thirds of the season, prompting many to wonder if they could turn it back on for the playoffs. That question was answered long ago. Yes, they could—and one or two more stops on Thursday, they’d have won an 18th title.

“There’s a lot of crying in that locker room,” Rivers said. “A lot of people who care. I don’t think there was a dry eye. A lot of hugs, a lot of people feeling awful. That’s a good thing. Showed a lot of people cared.”

The Celtics had never lost a seventh game in the finals. Despite nursing a lead through most of the night while holding the Lakers to ridiculously low shooting percentages until the final minutes, Boston couldn’t close it out on the coast, becoming just the seventh team to blow a 3-2 finals lead after winning Game 5.

The Lakers tied it at 61 on Artest’s three-point play with 7:29 left, and Bryant’s free throws 90 seconds later gave the Lakers their first lead of the second half. The Lakers forged ahead by five points before Bryant and Sasha Vujacic hit free throws in the final seconds to keep Los Angeles ahead by at least two points on every possession.

Bryant said he had to downplay the magnitude of the rivalry during the series, but he came clean on the podium with his daughters, Natalia and Gianna.

“I was just lying to you guys,” Bryant said. “When you’re in the moment, you have to suppress that … but you guys know what a student I am of the game. I know every series the Lakers have played in, and I know every Celtics series. I know every statistic. It meant the world to me, but I couldn’t focus on that. I had to focus on playing.”

Bryant wasn’t at his best in Game 7, saying he “was on E … really, really tired” after 23 playoff games with a litany of injuries. Didn’t matter—he still captured the finals MVP award, after averaging 28.6 points in the series.

He’s won three straight crowns before, and is already eyeing another three-peat try.

“Let’s go for it again,” Bryant said, moments before hoisting the finals MVP trophy.

The Lakers will hold a parade Monday, with the team riding floats from Staples Center down Figueroa Street to the USC campus in downtown Los Angeles. A rally at the Coliseum last year attracted 95,000 fans, but the Lakers are skipping the arena in favor of a more interactive celebration, the team said.

Exactly two years to the day after Boston beat the Lakers by 39 points to clinch the 2008 title, Los Angeles got revenge for perhaps the most embarrassing loss of Bryant’s career—even if he did little more than grab 15 rebounds for most of the night.

The Celtics had much more poise from the opening tip in Game 7, playing vicious defense that forced Los Angeles to miss 21 of its first 27 shots. Bryant and Gasol were a combined 6 for 26 in the first half.

But forget how it looked early on, because history will. Bryant even did something Jerry West and Magic Johnson never could: He beat the hated Celtics in Game 7 of the finals.

The Lakers are the first team to rally from a 3-2 deficit to win a finals since Houston did it in 1994, beating theNew York Knicks. Although Los Angeles stumbled to the brink of elimination for the first time in these playoffs last weekend in Boston, Bryant’s teams still are spectacular finishers: They’ve closed out their playoff opponents on the first try 10 times while winning three straight Western Conference titles over the last three years.

NOTES: Home teams improved to 14-3 in Game 7 in the finals. No road team has won a title in Game 7 since 1978. … The Lakers are 14-1 in a seventh game at home, losing only the 1969 finale to Boston. … Garnett nearly flattened Jack Nicholson when he chased a loose ball into the front row in the second quarter, but the Lakers’ most famous fan got back up smiling. Other fans near courtside included Jake Gyllenhall, Kirsten Dunst, Ryan Seacrest, Timbaland, director Todd Phillips and George Lopez in purple-and-yellow plaid pants

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5 Championships for Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher. Bryant also earned his second straight Bill Russell Finals MVP trophy behind averages of roughly 28 points, eight boards and four assists in the series, including 23 points and 15 rebounds in Game 7.

16 NBA Championships for the Lakers’ franchise, including two straight.

20 Points for Ron Artest, none bigger than a dagger three-pointer from the wing, off Bryant’s pass, with 1:01 left in the fourth quarter to put the Lakers up 79-73. His fellow Queens, N.Y., native Lamar Odom saved his best play for the second half, during which he scored six of seven points and grabbed five of seven rebounds.

23 Offensive rebounds for the Lakers, led by Pau Gasol’s remarkable nine (of his 17), by far a high for the playoffs and helping the team overcome the following number…

32.5 L.A.’s shooting percentage in the game. The Lakers also missed 12 free throws, but hit 16-of-21 in the deciding fourth quarter, led by Bryant’s 8-of-9.

Mike Trudell,

Lakers-Celtics Quotes

Lakers Head Coach Phil Jackson

PHIL JACKSON: Well, it's done. It wasn't well done, but it was done. And we did it with perseverance. I thought our defense was terrific. We were able to step in and play the kind of defense that we've established as kind of a calling for this team, and we found a way to generate some points. And it certainly was that, generating points.

Q. Ray Allen hit a big three in the fourth quarter with just seconds left on the clock. Can you take us in the huddle, what you told your team after the time‑out.
PHIL JACKSON: Switching on all back screens and crosses. If things happen, you have to bail each other out and make sure you take guys off the line. It didn't happen, but that's what we were planning.

Q. Kobe admitted that he thought he was forcing it a little, that he was gripping the ball too tight. Was there anything that you could say to him or did he have to work through it?
PHIL JACKSON: In the first half I just mentioned I thought he was a little bit too animated. He was trying too hard, and I thought, he's a guy that can try hard and get things accomplished by sheer will. But this night was not one that he was able to do that on. He had to do things that were off ball and things that were in the context of what we wanted to do offensively.

Q. You sat him at the start of the fourth quarter. Was that just to give him a moment of pause?
PHIL JACKSON: Yes, and then he came back and gave us the help we needed down the stretch.

Q. Is this one more emotional than the others for you, and if so, why?
PHIL JACKSON: No, it's not. There's no residual as far as beating Boston or anything like that. Of course it's always great to have an opportunity to play against a highly‑watched team and a popular team like that in a series that is as difficult as this one is. But emotionally, no, it was not. I thought there was ‑‑ the closing stanza at Chicago was perhaps as high emotionally, and also running through the series in 2001 was one of the most perfect ball that I ever saw a team play that I have in the playoffs.

Q. Another touchy‑feely question: But you have this veneer of unemotional responding to us, but can you talk about what another one means in your heart, in your mind. We saw Derek get very emotional after he wins the game back in Boston. Do you ever have moments where you're close to showing emotion?
PHIL JACKSON: I frequently cry, I really do. (Laughter). But not tonight. It's really about my inner being, it's about the joy for this group of guys that put so much work out. I mean, we tax these guys. We make them go through all kinds of difficult things during the course of a year, ask them to play injured, ask them to play with injuries, and they're a willing group and I'm very proud of them and very happy for them.
I think that's really the joy. To have put in 114 games and coming out this way at the end, there's a certain sense of gratification, and that's what I have to believe in.

Q. Can I also ask you when you're down by 13, is there worry, is there concern? The fans are obviously worried and concerned, but as a coach are you nervous, aware that the game could get out of control?
PHIL JACKSON: We're very aware of that, and I knew that that was a very possible scenario in this game tonight, that they were going to come back and play better, they were going to be more aggressive in their defense and be better. They make good adjustments as a team. Ron Artest was the most valuable player tonight. He brought life to our team, he brought life to the crowd.

Q. We're used to seeing Kobe Bryant take over a game with his scoring at the end of a game. Can you talk about the way he rebounded and took charge in the fourth quarter?
PHIL JACKSON: Well, he found himself frustrated out there for a number of minutes, all kinds of little things, ball coming out of his hands, losing the ball, very simple things, not being able to make complete plays, turnovers, et cetera. But he stayed with it and he found a way to help this team win, and most of it was defensively, I thought in the course of the fourth quarter. Rebounding, extra effort, challenging guys for three‑point shots. He did a great job.

Q. We saw Kobe, as you were mentioning earlier, kind of trying to force it a little bit in the first half especially and then toward the end there when you've got this big moment, hands up, throwing the ball out to Artest at the three which is not one your fans often like to see. What did you see at that moment in terms of kind of deciding to give up that shot?
PHIL JACKSON: Well, the time‑out we mentioned to them that they're not going to let you beat them on the drive. You're going to have to get the ball up, hit the open man, we're going to have to share the ball. My staff was very strongly encouraging Ron because he was the guy with the open looks to step into his shot, be confident and take the one there in rhythm, otherwise penetrate and move the ball to the bigs inside.

Q. Was it meaningful to see Kobe make that move, though?
PHIL JACKSON: Yeah, it really was. The real play that I thought was a play that kind of changed and gave us that renewed energy, we came back, was Pau coming off the post and hitting Fisher, and Fisher hitting the three‑point shot to bring the game back to a tie. I thought that era, and then Pau controlling the game from the post position for a couple minutes there, that really changed the complexity of this game.

Q. You've always said throughout the year that if you were lucky enough to win a title, that would improve your chances of coming back next year, if you were invited that opportunity, and improve the chances of a lot of the guys, as well. Can you talk about that, and do you still feel the same way?
PHIL JACKSON: That's a wonderful thing. That's as much as I'll talk about it. It does improve my chances.

Q. Doc talked a little bit about Rasheed and how this might be the last time that we see him on an NBA court. Can you just talk about what Rasheed gave as an opponent tonight?
PHIL JACKSON: Oh, he was a good defensive player tonight. I thought he befuddled Pau the first half. I thought his length, his ability to change his shot, block a couple shots, help them out ‑‑ his offense was effective as a post‑up player. I was very concerned about the fact that this team was going to have more options without Kendrick Perkins than they would with him on the floor because of Rasheed's talent and how talented he is. He's been a very good competitor over the years and I don't know if he's going to give the game up or not, but it's certainly a very fitting way to go out of the season.

Q. How do you win a game shooting 32 percent from the field and 67 percent from the free‑throw line?
PHIL JACKSON: Well, we had 23 offensive rebounds. That's how you do it. I think we had 11 turnovers. That's another way you to do. It's just about being persistent and aggressive and getting extra shots because shots aren't going to go in, and that's what we did tonight.

Q. You talked about the role of fatigue after Game 6 affecting both teams. It seemed like it was a big factor tonight. Talk about that and the ability for both teams just to work through that over the course of the game.
PHIL JACKSON: Yeah, it obviously was ‑‑ timeouts were taken sometimes with just the idea of resting players, fatigue factor being a contributing element to I think just maybe lazy passes or turnovers or whatever happened that was difficult out there. I saw Kobe struggling, called a time‑out early, had to try and get the legs back under the team again.
I thought Pau had good energy in the game tonight. He was the one guy I felt really played with good energy. And for the most part, I didn't see Ron tire out there. I thought he played with good energy in a game in which he had to play a lot of minutes, and he's played consistent minutes throughout. With the Boston team obviously I saw Garnett fatigue, and that's been one of the issues we've had all the way through this series is run him hard and keep running him if you get a chance because fatigue will affect his game. But he played a good game tonight, too.

Guard Kobe Bryant

Q. You talked on the postgame interview about actually feeling the moment and feeling the pressure, something unaccustomed for you.
KOBE BRYANT: You know, I just wanted it so bad. I wanted it so, so bad. On top of that, I was on E. Man, I was really, really tired. And the more I tried to push, the more it kept getting away from me. I'm just glad that my teammates really got us back in the game. I was thankful that I was able to make one damn shot at the end of the game and made some free throws. But it was a tough one.

Q. You said it was special beating the Celtics, so you did feel a rivalry?
KOBE BRYANT: I was just lying to you guys. When you're in the moment you have to suppress that because if you get caught up in the hype of it all, you don't really play your best basketball. But I mean, you guys know what a student I am of the game. I know every series that the Lakers have played in. I mean, I was just a Laker nut, and I know every Celtics series, I know every statistic. It meant the world to me, as well, but I couldn't focus on that. I had to focus on playing.

Q. When you were struggling what did it mean to you early in the fourth quarter when the fans kind of started chanting "Kobe" to help get you going, encourage you? What did that means to you?
KOBE BRYANT: I'll be really honest with you, I didn't even hear them. I was so tired my ears were ringing, they really were. It felt like I was 6:00 in the morning and I was on the track running. I was just drained.

Q. On another note you said after the game, I believe, that this was the hardest of the titles that you've won. Just talk about how hard this series was, and was this maybe the most tension‑filled, feistiest Finals game you've been in?
KOBE BRYANT: It was. It was the most physical one. They believed that they could beat us. Obviously what happened in '08. But the physicality of their team, how smart they are, extremely well coached, and guys made big shots. It was tough. They weren't going to beat themselves, we had to beat them.

Q. Can you speak in terms of what this means to you individually? We know what it means as a team, but what about individually for you?
KOBE BRYANT: Just got one more than Shaq. (Laughter). You can take that to the bank. You know how I am. I don't forget anything.

Q. Now that the season is over and you're being straight with us, what is the condition of your body and what is the toll of all these games?

Q. What does it feel like?
KOBE BRYANT: It felt good enough to get through the playoffs. I'm obviously going to have to look at the knee and figure some things out. I can't play a whole entire season the way it is now. But I'll have to figure some things out. Same thing with the finger. You know, without the tape, I can't grip a basketball. There's some things I'll have to figure out in the off‑season, but it was good enough to get through this one.

Q. Is it a matter of fixing your body or is it a matter of learning how to play differently as you age?
KOBE BRYANT: No, it's just an injury, and that's what drove me nuts and made this even sweeter was everybody kept talking about, he's old, he's old. I was hurt. I drained my knee, and all of a sudden reeling off 30‑point games like they're 10‑point games and everybody said how young I looked. I was hurt.

Q. You are aware that you've played more NBA basketball by a long shot than anyone under the age of 32?
KOBE BRYANT: You want to start my motivation right now for next season? Don't start with me right now.

Q. First of all, I don't know if you know, but Shaq said yesterday if you win today you're the greatest Laker of them all. I don't know if you heard that.
KOBE BRYANT: That's fantastic.

Q. It matters a lot to you, doesn't it?
KOBE BRYANT: Of course.

Q. What did Fisher say to you guys after the third quarter? He looked unbelievably animated.
KOBE BRYANT: He's our emotional leader and our verbal leader, and he said, guys, we've got 12 minutes, 12 minutes to dig down, get back into this game. Everything that we've worked hard for, we've got 12 minutes to put it back together, and we followed suit.

Q. Fitting he came up with that three‑pointer late again, too.
KOBE BRYANT: That's D Fish. That's just who he is. You know, there's not enough words of praise that I can use to describe him and how I feel about him.

Q. After Game 2 you had Tim and Mike Procopio fly out to Boston. How much of an overall playoffs ‑‑
KOBE BRYANT: Huge. He's my Jack Bauer. He gave me all the edits and scouting reports and wrote defensive rotations of the Celtics. He was my eyes and ears so when I played the game, I'd use all the scouting reports and all the information and it was huge for me.

Q. That was all postseason?
KOBE BRYANT: All postseason, particularly this series, because Boston was a huge problem for me, personally a huge problem, and I needed some extra eyes and ears to help me get through it.

Q. No. 5 is also one away from Michael, and I know one of the things you admired about him, he had an innate ability to figure out how to win a game, whether it's offense, defense, whatever. Where did you dig in the memory banks in your mind? Where did you find that tonight?
KOBE BRYANT: Well, I had to do something. I mean, I had to rebound the ball. Rebounding was a big key for us, and it was a big focus for me. It's whatever it takes to win the game. You've got to do whatever it takes. That's my job. Sometimes shots aren't going to fall, but you've got to figure something out to help your team win, and nobody was better at it than MJ.

Q. Speaking of him and No. 5, how much does that mean to you, taking one more step toward that mark?
KOBE BRYANT: I don't know. I mean, it's tough for me to really put that in any kind of context in terms of he and I goes because 90 percent of what I've learned and what I've figured out comes from him. So this is not a situation where it's me and Shaq rivalry kind of thing. It's not the same thing. It's different. It's more of a ‑‑ it's a genuine love that I have for him and what he's done for me. It's completely different.

Q. If you don't mind one quick look ahead, if you're able to get back here next year, can you envision it would be impossible that you'd play in some LeBron‑Wade, LeBron‑Bosh combination, playing against a team with multiple guys like that?
KOBE BRYANT: What is it with you, you want to just emotionally drain me? I don't want to think about that. Those guys, I've seen those guys up close and personal. I don't want to think about playing against both of them at the same time. I want to enjoy this for a little bit.

Q. You like a challenge. Would you welcome something like that going for a third?
KOBE BRYANT: What do you mean by that? I'm going to be surly with you.

Lakers' Forward Ron Artest

Q. Two parts: 20 points, five rebounds, five steals, seems like you had your hand in every play for the Lakers tonight. Is that why you came here?
RON ARTEST: Oh, man, first I want to say, you know, that God put me in a situation ‑‑ before I go real crazy, got put me in a situation, and I want to thank Him for the blessing, a Game 7, home‑court advantage. We give away Game 2 or I gave away Game 2. Game 7, you go to bed, I want to thank God for this blessing to be here, and the one thing I said earlier was when I was younger, I bailed out on my Indiana team. I was so young, so egotistical, and I bailed out on Donnie, Larry, Jermaine, Tinsley, Foster, who never bails out. He just fights for you, for his team. Stephen Jackson who already had a ring, continued to fight for us, et cetera. I feel sometimes like a coward when I see those guys, because it's like man, I'm on the Lakers and I had a chance to win with you guys, and I feel almost like a coward. I never thought God would put me in this situation again because of that.
So I'm blessed, and I totally forgot the question you asked. (Laughter).

Q. 20 points, five rebounds, five steals, seems like you had your hand in every play for the Lakers tonight. Is that why you came here?
RON ARTEST: Well, Game 3 we won, I had two points. I always tell people it's about the total points. If I have two or three rebounds and play 40 minutes but we won the Game 60‑40 or something like that, what did we do as a team, not what I did. A lot of people are asking me when are you going to step up, score 40, do this, do that. What did we do as a team? It doesn't matter what I did. Tonight was one of those nights where I had 20 points, and I still think we did that as a team.
We fought together. This was one of the best games of I don't even know, man. I don't want to be in a game like this. Where the game came out either way on our own floor and the game can go either way, and I'm just like, okay, what did I get myself into. What did I get myself into. Honestly I've got to thank my doctor, Dr. Santi (phonetic). She would come and help me relax in these moments because usually I'm not good at these moments, and I know that about myself. You know, so what do I do to be good at these moments? You figure it out.
And I needed some type of way to relax during these moments. I missed a couple threes that I was wide open that I wish I would have went down and I trusted everything she told me as far as relaxing, and bam, the big three goes in. I didn't even realize I was really in Game 7, I was so caught up in the game itself. I've been telling you guys that for a long time now.

Q. Forget the second question. Just say "Queensbridge."
RON ARTEST: Jeff Van Gundy, please, when you see this, say "Queensbridge." So I'm so happy right now, I don't know what to say, man. I don't know.

Q. You played a lot of minutes tonight ‑‑
RON ARTEST: 46 minutes tonight.

Q. Back in Boston, you struggled, the team struggled, and it looked like the gravity was too much for you at the free‑throw line at a key moment, didn't go in, didn't execute. At a moment when the gravity seemed to be affecting Kobe and Pau and of course the defense of the Celtics, you were the one who stepped in and started to carry the load.
RON ARTEST: I didn't trust what my doctor told me at the free‑throw line. I want to be good at those moments because you want to make the NBA, you want to be good. There's certain things I'm not good at, but I want to be good because I want to win. I didn't trust myself in those games, and I wouldn't tell you guys that, not at that time, because then people will feed off that. I didn't trust in myself at that time at the free‑throw line, I was disappointed. But I was still alive, we had two more games, and I trusted myself today. I missed one free throw out there and then made a big shot and had a lot to do with relaxing and playing basketball, playing hard, bouncing back. The history of me in the playoffs, which I need to get better at, is playing more consistently throughout the playoffs. The history of me in the playoffs is I have a two good games and then I have a bad game and maybe I might win a Game 6 or lose like last year in Game 7, and that's something I want to improve on, also. Todays is one of those days where I trusted in myself and I didn't settle for some shots. I kind of at the right time did exactly what Coach wanted me to do.
I just got to thank Coach Jackson for having me and Kobe and the Lakers for giving me this opportunity, and I'm really, really just enjoying this, and I just can't wait to go to the club.

Q. Kobe had you guys' backs so many nights this year, game winners, scoring big. What does it mean for you guys to pick him up like you did tonight?
RON ARTEST: Kobe wants to win. What you saw in Boston Kobe wanted to win. People said he wasn't passing, blah, blah, blah, but Kobe wanted to win and he didn't know if he could win playing with us at that time. He wanted to win as a team, though, not going off on his own. Today he wanted to win, he didn't want to lose. You saw a determined Kobe Bryant, Black Mamba, two‑four, who wanted to win, but it wasn't with the team. Late in the second half he started to move the ball and attack and pass and still was Kobe Bryant, and he trusted us and made us feel so good and he passed me the ball. He never passes me the ball, and he passed me the ball. Kobe passed me the ball, and I shot a three. He's a Zen master, so he can speak to you, and he doesn't need a microphone, you can hear him in your head, "Ron, don't shoot, don't shoot," whatever, pow, three. I love the Zen, though.

Lakers' Guard Derek Fisher

Q. You've been known to hit big shots. You hit the shot against Tim Duncan and the Spurs one year. Was this shot that you hit in the fourth quarter sweeter than that shot?
DEREK FISHER: Yeah, no question. I've said before that that shot in 2004, although it helped us win that game and that series, we didn't win a championship that year, and 2004 is still just a bad year to remember for me in terms of us not finishing the season as champions. To hit a shot and play a part in the game that helps win a championship means more to me than anything.

Q. How special has Pau Gasol been? It's tough to put into words, but down the stretch tonight he was making play after play ‑ the block on Pierce, that lay‑up to put you up six, a minute and a half to go. Can you talk about Pau.
DEREK FISHER: Yeah, you think about what we've accomplished since he's come to this team, I mean, I don't know if you can think of another player in the last five, six years that changed teams and literally had that kind of impact. I know we obviously have a lot of other great players, but his skill sets and his ability to play the game, you know, all the way around, shooting, passing, ball handling, length, size, you know, he just settled himself down in that fourth quarter tonight and came up big for us.

Q. Two years ago after losing by 39, the mantra of the Lakers was defense, and that's how you got the title last year. Can you talk about how specifically on display that was in a game against the Celtics tonight where the offense was really, really struggling, how defense has really become what the team is about?
DEREK FISHER: Well, you know, we learned from the disappointment and the frustration and the anger that came from losing that series that year, and we knew and understood from that point forward if we wanted to be champions that we can talk about the triangle offense and talk about executing better all we want to, but if we don't defend and rebound, then we can forget winning championships.
You know, it's only fitting that in a game where we couldn't throw the ball in the ocean, no matter how big it is, that we figured out a way to get some stops when we had to. I mean, to win a 70‑point game basically to win the title is probably atypical of any Laker team in recent memory. It's special.

Q. The shooting was at about 25 to 35 percent the whole game. When the team is that tight offensively can Phil do anything to loosen you up?
DEREK FISHER: I don't know. I mean, he kept telling us to relax and just play your game, but it's tough to put into words, I think, the feelings that you have about playing in a game like tonight and just what it means and what it represents. You know, you want it so badly, and when you want something so bad, sometimes you try too hard or you try to get there too fast. You know, I think we kept trying to win the game before the end of the game, and finally in that fourth quarter, I just think because sometimes in life when you recognize that I can't do any worse than what I've done, especially like with the US Open going on right now, sometimes you hit a shot and it's just like, I can't hit the ball any worse than that, let me just relax and take a nice easy swing the next time. I think in the fourth quarter we just took it nice and easy and it started to come better for us.

Q. It seemed like you hit a couple of key shots that loosened things up. Do you feel like that's what happened?
DEREK FISHER: Yeah, I do feel like when you're on a team and you do certain things that maybe work out for you, it gives the team some confidence that, all right, we've seen the ball go through the basket, somebody can make one, so maybe I can make the next one. I think that's what started to happen on the free‑throw line, as well. We had a couple guys step up, make some free throws, then Pau was able to step up make his, Kobe made his, Sasha's free throws down the stretch. There are things that are contagious or infectious in terms of seeing that ball go through the basket. I'm glad I was able to knock down a couple for us in that second half.

Q. Did you know in the back of your mind that you would come up big in the seventh game with a three‑point shot?
DEREK FISHER: Yeah, not necessarily when or how, but you know, every game I step into, I guess I'm always in a mental space of being ready to make a play or do whatever needs to be done at any point. Because I've been so fortunate to be on so many great teams that have been in this position before. You have to be in The Finals seven times before you can make big plays in The Finals. If you don't make it to The Finals, then there's no big plays to be made.
I just feel very fortunate that I'm in the position to make something happen good for my team, and I don't think there is much that feels any better outside of just your family and your loved ones. There's just nothing better as a pro to make big plays down the stretch to help your team win.

Q. Can you talk about how surprised you were about Kobe's struggles offensively in the first half and into the third quarter, and what you said to him when you had your arm around him between quarters?
DEREK FISHER: I mean, when you shoot the ball with the volume that Kobe does, there are going to be periods where everything is going in and maybe sometimes where it's not, and I don't remember a lot of necessarily easy shots that he was getting throughout the game, either. He was having to take some difficult shots with two guys hanging off of him.
You know, not so much surprised by his struggles, but basically what I was just trying to talk to him about was just that he was playing a little too fast. He was going and he was seeing things that he wanted to do, but it was like he was a step and a half too quick to get there, and he's so good at foot work and setting guys up and getting guys leaning one way and spinning out and going the other way, and he was going too fast before the guys could even go for the move.
You know, he just had to slow himself down, and I think getting to the free‑throw line also in that fourth quarter was really big for him, to see the ball go through the basket.

Q. I think it was exactly two years ago tonight that you guys lost by 39 in the Garden to the Celtics ‑‑
DEREK FISHER: You're going to bring that up tonight, huh?

Q. Well, I'm wondering, how much did you guys talk about that and how much did you think about it on your way to these last two titles?
DEREK FISHER: We haven't stopped thinking about it. I mean, I think great accomplishments come out of negativity, setbacks, adversity. You know, there are times where you have to be down in order to go back up, and that was a down, low moment for us. And I think since that moment, there's been a greater appreciation for what it takes to be the best and the sacrifice that is required, and the last two seasons there hasn't been anybody better at it than us. From October to June 17th, we've been the best team in the NBA at doing whatever it takes to win a title.
You know, I just think that says a lot about our team because we largely have a lot of the same guys, and that says a lot about your character when things ‑‑ there couldn't have been a more embarrassing loss to have in front of the whole world than that night, and the last two seasons we've tried our best to erase that. Although we never will, but winning two championships definitely helps.

Q. Five championships in a Laker uniform, Kareem, Magic, Cooper, Kobe and Fisher. What does that mean?
DEREK FISHER: I don't know, man. I really ‑‑ it's hard to think about and it's hard to even fully understand for myself. I think it speaks to the fact that life doesn't always go according to maybe what you think the way life is going to go. Growing up in Little Rock, I never envisioned being in this position five times. You know, I dreamt about playing college basketball at a big‑time level but never really fantasized about the NBA every day. I loved watching Magic, but I never saw myself being in Magic's shoes, being in his position.
You know, to be sitting here now after five championships is quite humbling, it's surreal. I'm thankful. That's the best way to put it.

Q. We always ask Kobe certain questions about his greatness, his achievements. You've been as close to him I think as any other player. Is it unfair ‑‑ I'm not trying to say he is the greatest player ever, but is it fair at this point to put him in the conversation of being the greatest player possibly ever?
DEREK FISHER: I mean, I think the fact that there's even a conversation to have says a lot. I think he answered it best in an interview that he did I think last year. He sat down with Magic in one of these one‑on‑one things. I think Kobe kind of said it best where I think it does a disservice to the game when you try and single out one guy and say he was possibly the best ever. I know we like to say Michael Jordan for a lot of people was clearly the best player ever. A lot of people feel like Bill Russell is in that conversation. You know, Kobe, Magic, there are a lot of names that come up, and I think it just takes away from how difficult it was for every one of those guys at the stage in their lives and where they were. I mean, to think about what Bill Russell had to go through to then still have to focus and ‑‑ not a question.

Q. But does he belong in the conversation?
DEREK FISHER: Does he belong in the conversation? For sure. There's no hesitation there. He belongs in the conversation. The most interesting part about the conversation is that he's not really close to being done. You know, that's the interesting part about the conversation is that he's already in it and there's still some room before he gets to that ceiling. There will be a lot more to talk about there.

Q. We always talk about your daughter. Was she here tonight? Was she old enough to be aware of your accomplishments yet?
DEREK FISHER: No, she was not here tonight, just for personal and safety reasons. We anticipated it would be a little bit crazy in here tonight, and the last time we won a championship here, we were stuck in the building until, I think, 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. Her bedtime is much earlier than that.
But you know, she's not aware of the magnitude of what all this means, but she knows what daddy is up to. You know, she's really the reason why I'm sitting here, and I owe her a lot. She's going to definitely get some cake and cookies this weekend for sure.

Lakers' Forward Pau Gasol

Q. Another double‑double for you, 19 and 18. Can you talk about that.
PAU GASOL: We knew it was going to be a tough game. We knew we had to do whatever it took out there and leave it all out there, just play with our hearts. Obviously it wasn't the prettiest game as far as shooting the ball and stuff like that. But we fought extremely hard. We kept our minds and our hearts into the game at all times, and we hustled. We hustled. I think 53 rebounds, 23 offensive rebounds, just tells you how much this team fought to be able to become champions again.

Q. Since you guys weren't really making shots tonight, did you internally feel like rebounds would be the difference for you guys?
PAU GASOL: If you don't make shots, you've got to make sure you get your second‑chance opportunities, and that's pretty much what I figured early on in the game. So we had to work extremely hard to get those boards, pursue them, to get opportunities, because we weren't shooting the ball well. We were rushing a little bit.
It was a Game 7, there was a lot of pressure, a lot going on. So we just continued to hustle, continued to work.

Q. Now that it's all over, can you talk a little bit about the revenge factor and just how much sweeter it is that it was against the Celtics?
PAU GASOL: I mean, it's very sweet, or it feels amazing to win a championship. It definitely adds up when you beat Boston, especially the rivalry, the history of the franchises. Our individual and personal history, 2008. It feels definitely better. Again, we won the championship, and that's the ultimate goal, the ultimate satisfaction that we can accomplish as a team. So just truly, truly happy and thankful to be in this position again and to have experienced something like this.

Q. Do you feel at all like this is kind of confirmation that you guys have grown in terms of toughness and grit, something that was questioned in 2008?
PAU GASOL: We've definitely grown. We've grown as a team, we've grown as individuals, and obviously it shows. It shows. Back‑to‑back championships is something pretty tough to do, and we're definitely proud of that, and now we want to enjoy it, embrace it and have a beautiful summer.

Q. How were you guys able to dominate the boards so completely tonight?
PAU GASOL: We were just active. We were just active. I guess they were shorthanded inside and they knew that. But we were just active. We knew we weren't shooting the ball well, so we had to be extra active and extra aggressive going to the boards and giving ourselves more opportunities to be able to score. So obviously 32 percent shooting from the field, 66, 67 percent shooting from the free‑throw line is going to give you opportunities to get rebounds, and we did, and I mean, it was definitely a big number. 23 offensive rebounds, you don't see that very often, but it just tells how much we wanted this and how much will and determination we put into this.

Q. In that last minute you got probably the biggest one of the game, 35 seconds left and set up Kobe for the foul shots. What happened on that play?
PAU GASOL: I just wanted to go get it, and I saw ‑‑ I think you're talking about an offensive rebound that I caught with Rondo there, and I was able to box him out and hold him with one arm and get it with the other one and kick it out. I was pretty proud of that play because those little plays, those little things make a huge difference, especially at that point of a game.
I'm glad things turned out the way they did, and we're enjoying this incredible victory.

Q. Talk about the composure factor of you guys being down by 13. How did you guys maintain the composure in order to rebound?
PAU GASOL: Well, we thought that we had no other option to be honest. We knew there was a long time left. We knew we weren't playing our best. And we knew that we still had a chance, it was just about getting a few stops in a row and getting a few plays on offense together and just get ourselves going and just shake off all that tension, excitement that Game 7 of the NBA Finals carries. So that's what we were just keeping telling ourselves, just settle down, make sure we're poised, we're loose out there, we execute, we continue to play defense, we rebound, and we'll be all right.

Q. Can you comment quickly on Ron Artest's great performance tonight.
PAU GASOL: Yeah, I'm just so happy for Ron the way he played tonight, the way he played Game 6, very productive, very aggressive, very confident. Defensively I think he did another great, great job on Paul Pierce tonight, so he's a huge part of our success. I'm just happy that he was able to win his first championship, and you could see it in his face. He's like a little kid right now that got his dream come true, like we all did, I think. We all feel that way.

Q. The first half you and Kobe both struggled offensively, not just trying to score but even at the line, just hitting free throws. As the game seemed to be slipping away, was there any panic or was there just a feeling like at some point the two of you were going to get some offense going and there was some confidence there that it was going to happen if you just kept rebounding, defense, et cetera?
PAU GASOL: Yeah, I think we did a good job giving ourselves more opportunities and staying in the game defensively and rebounding well, and at some point you expect Kobe to get going and me to hit a few more shots than I did in the first half. So we just stayed with it pretty much, and we understood that we had to be more patient, just relax, breathe it out and just see what's out there, see what's going on.

Q. Was some of that tension of the moment ‑‑
PAU GASOL: Probably.

Q. Especially at the line?
PAU GASOL: Yeah, well, you feel it. You feel the excitement, you feel the moment. You're shooting the same way you would shoot in any other game, but the shot goes off a little different, probably because of that excitement, that tension, I don't know, anxiety of wanting to do so well and wanting to make every shot. You're not going to, you've just got to understand that and relax and just play your game.

Q. Talk about what it's been like for you these last three years coming from where you were to being where you are now. And also talk about the two big shots, the one that Fish hit and the one that Ron hit.
PAU GASOL: Man, for me it's incredible. I mean, it's just like I'm living a different dimension. I mean, it is what it is. It's like really if I could get a genie and ask for a wish, this would be my wish as far as my basketball life and career. So I'm so thankful, like I said, for having this opportunity, being here, and that's why I continue to work hard, and it's really paying off, and it's pretty unbelievable, right, the contrast from some situations. That's why you've got to be so appreciative of life and the present.
And Ron's and Derek's huge shots down the stretch were able to counter the big threes that Boston made down the stretch, too. It takes big guts, (laughter) right, to be able to hit those shots and be that confident at that particular time when it most matters. I can't be any prouder of all my teammates, my coaching staff, the work that we've done tonight, what we've done throughout the playoffs, the season. I think it's remarkable.

Q. Kobe thanked you after the game. He said, "I can't say enough about the Spaniard." He obviously didn't have his best game. Did you sense that you guys had to pick him up, after all the games he's won on his end? Is that how you guys played tonight?
PAU GASOL: No. I mean, obviously he didn't shoot the ball well, but we all understand ‑‑ we all had the desire to win tonight, badly, and sometimes that's dangerous because it's a double‑edged sword there. Shots weren't going in for most of us.
I think we just continued to work as a team, as a group. We stayed together, and obviously the rebounding says a lot. But he also stuck with it and played excellent down the stretch, made huge free throws, made huge buckets, and you know, that's why he's the MVP and probably the best player in the world.

Celtics Coach Doc

DOC RIVERS: Well, I'm going to open up before questions start and congratulate the Lakers, number one. It was a hell of a series, and you know, it was just a tough, tough game for either team to lose. I thought both teams played terrific. I thought both teams played hard, and I think it goes to show you that you can have 83‑79 game and it can be a great game because both teams played great defense. You could see that. It was tough getting shots.
I thought the lack of size at the end of the day was the difference in the game. I thought our guys battled down there, but 23‑8, you know, on offensive rebounds, and then the 37‑17 discrepancy in free throws, that makes it almost impossible to overcome.
But I told my guys after the game I couldn't be more prouder of the group than I've ever been around. We're not going to be the same team next year. Guys are going to not be there, so that was tough for me. But again, I was just proud.

Q. As the game was unfolding, did you kind of think, hey, this is the kind of game, a Game 7 on the road, that we want?
DOC RIVERS: Yeah, we liked the game. We liked the game plan going in. We got Rondo on the break. We knew with Rasheed and Kevin on the floor that we would get more at‑the‑basket attacks because of the spacing on the floor. I thought a couple things hurt us ‑ when Rasheed started getting the cramps, that was a killer for us because they attacked our lack of size after that, and then it made me, forced me to extend Kevin's minutes, which I know is not good, because once he goes over that number, it's tough for him to come back.
And so I thought that hurt us. But it was exactly the type of game that we wanted. I thought there were a couple big plays. Fisher's three I thought the biggest single shot in the game, and Kobe's three‑point foul I thought were the two biggest plays. They were close ‑‑ we always hoped they wouldn't go on a roll. Neither of team did but they were close and those two shots bailed them out.

Q. When Kobe wasn't shooting well for most of the game, were you still expecting at some point Kobe is going to find a way to impact ‑‑
DOC RIVERS: Yeah, clearly. He didn't have to. Artest was unbelievable. The three Artest made, you think about some of the shots they made, late clock, three by Artest, Fisher's rainbow over Rondo, and then again the foul call on Ray, that's nine points. They scored 30 points in the fourth quarter, and for us, a defensive group, that's the toughest part to swallow, that we gave up 30 points. We scored 22, but we gave up 30.

Q. I was wondering if you could describe one offensive rebound in particular in that last minute when Pau got the rebound and it looked like he got caught with Rondo on him and you guys were trying to get the matchups right.
DOC RIVERS: Yeah, we were trying to trap and we got caught. I don't know, I thought Rondo boxed him out. He went over his back, but they're not going to call that with the size advantage.
You know, Kobe makes you trap, and it's what we really don't want to do because of the mismatches. Yeah, it was a big rebound.

Q. Talk about when you guys just basically couldn't score at all and they went on that run.
DOC RIVERS: Yeah, I thought we stopped playing a little bit. I thought we had great motion and movement throughout the game, and in that one stretch we stopped, and it hurt us, because they were scoring. One of the things I was trying to get our group to understand is we can go on scoring droughts but they can't score. The problem was we went on that drought and they scored.

Q. Does part of you wonder what might have been on the rebounding battle if you had Perk?
DOC RIVERS: Yeah, but you know, he wasn't there, so.... yeah, for sure.

Q. Do you think just if he was in there that that would have changed that a lot?
DOC RIVERS: I can't say. I know, and I told our guys this, the starting lineup still hasn't lost. It was a shame we didn't have that starting lineup tonight. But I told them, you're still yet to have a true chance to defend your title because Perk wasn't there.
But listen, give the Lakers credit. They were terrific.

Q. You seem emotional now ‑‑
DOC RIVERS: I am. We just lost a Game 7, and with a terrific group. I mean, this group, they were awesome.

Q. You just said, "we're not going to be the same team next year." What is it like to reflect on that considering the ride you've been on with these guys over the last three years, pretty much the same group?
DOC RIVERS: Yeah, it's tough. You know, I can't reflect on it right now. Probably in a week or so I'll go hide somewhere for a while. But you know, it was the craziest, most emotional group I've ever coached in my life. I told them, they made me reach to places that I never thought I needed to go, I had to go. But through it all, we were the tightest most emotional crazy group that I've ever been with in my life.
So that's what makes it tough.

Q. Some guys might not be around next year. What are you thinking about you for next year? Because you've talked about it at points throughout the season.
DOC RIVERS: I don't know. I'm going to wait. I'm going to go and watch my kids play AAU basketball, and I'm going to wait for a little bit.

Q. When you just look at the entire season, the adversity from training camp to yesterday to now, just describe, I guess, what you guys went through, and then what is the emotion level in the locker room right now?
DOC RIVERS: Well, there's a lot of crying in our locker room, a lot of people who care. I don't think there was a dry eye. A lot of hugs, a lot of people feeling awful. That's a good thing. You know, that means everybody cared.
I just can't stress enough how crazy close this team was, you know, and that would be the word, crazy close. They're the type of group that they could scream at each other but no one pick on any of them. That's a special group.

Q. Can you just talk about the things you went through all year, just how many different things, just to get to this point.
DOC RIVERS: Well, listen, we had a goal before the year was started, and we didn't say we weren't going to go through some trials and tribulations, we just had a goal to get here, and that was our goal, and to win it. So whatever we had to go through was worth it, the injuries, the chemistry, just everything. It was worth it at the end of the day, and I think every guy would tell you that.

Q. You guys were up by four points when the Lakers called time‑out at about the 9:00 mark. What was going through your thoughts and what were you trying to convey to your team at that time?
DOC RIVERS: Just gather them, gather the team. I thought that was the stretch where they were making a run, and I called that early time‑out. I was just trying to get our guys gathered back. I thought we were coming apart a little bit as far as our execution, and I was just trying to get them to get back to trusting what we were doing on both ends.

Q. Could you just talk a little bit about what you got from Rasheed tonight.
DOC RIVERS: Yeah. He was a warrior. You know, I don't know if Rasheed will ever play again. You know, he's one of them. I think he took that out on the floor with him. I think he is thinking about retiring, and I thought you could see that in his play. He was dying out there. When he got the cramps and the strains, he was just trying to figure out a way of staying on the floor.
We had to keep subbing him for one minute and two minutes, and I thought the reason we got up early was because of Rasheed Wallace. We got it low in the post, he started scoring, and I thought what happened was late in the game he got tired and had the injuries and we couldn't go down anymore, and I think that had a huge impact on how we were playing. We had to go away from the post almost because of fatigue. You know, it's the first time all year that you can actually say at the end of the day we were old at the end of the game because we didn't have a enough bodies. I thought it hurt us.

Q. Can you also talk about what Rondo has meant to the team throughout this time.
DOC RIVERS: He's key. Rondo plays well, we play well. His growth has been amazing. Just happy that as a coach I was part of it. It was amazing.
Thank you, everybody. Appreciate it. Thank you.

Celtics Guard Ray Allen

Q: Thought on this game, the type of game that you really couldn’t pull away in.
Allen: It’s disappointing. This is probably one of the hardest feelings (sic) I’ve felt in my lifetime. We’re scratching and clawing, trying to do everything we could to pull this out. That’s what probably what hurt the most – just having the opportunity to win down the stretch [it] didn’t go our way.

Q: What was the mood in the locker room?
Allen: Tears; a lot of tears.

Q: Would you like to see this group back together [next season]?
Allen: It’s hard to think about playing … you’ve got guys that are veteran players that come in and do their job every night. You know, we’re here for a reason; it’s tough to see it end this way.

Q: Do you think it was just a matter of you guys running out of steam in the fourth quarter?
Allen: I don’t think we ran out of steam, I just think that … lady luck didn’t bounce in our corner.

Q: Talk about the flow of the game and why it was so disjointed early.
Allen: It’s the last game. You win or lose … that’s the ultimate objective when you look at the stat sheet. You don’t look at anything else but that.

Q: What were you thinking heading into the fourth quarter?
Allen: I just wanted to try to get some defensive momentum and … continue to be aggressive on both ends.

Q: How proud are you of this group and how you battled all year long?
Allen: I’m extremely proud. We’re a group of guys that stay within ourselves and do what we’re capable of. We fought the good fight all the time. When people didn’t believe in us, we stayed [true] to ourselves and made sure we came in and did our jobs every day. We don’t win this final game, but we still have a lot to hold our heads high for.

Q: How bad do you want to be back [with the Celtics]?
Allen: I’ll deal with that when the time comes, but it’s obvious that I don’t want to be anywhere else.

Celtics Guard Rajon

Q: Did Doc tell you anything about his future; what was his message to you?
Rondo: No, he didn’t say anything. There wasn’t much to say after the game.

Q: What was the mood in the locker room after the game?
Rondo: Nobody really said much. We love each other and there wasn’t much to say. We lost.

Q: Has the lost sunk in yet or will it take a while?
Rondo: I don’t know. It’s sunk in to me …

Q: Are you kicking yourself for things you could have done?
Rondo: I don’t think anybody has any regrets. Give them credit: they beat us. I gave everything I can give [and left it all] out on the floor.

Celtics Forward Kevin Garnett

Q: How much did the rebounds and second-chance points hurt you?
Garnett: It was pretty bad … we looked at the numbers and what they shot … but it was enough to beat us.

Q: How emotional is it thinking that some of you might not be here next season?
Garnett: It’s a difficult time right now.

Q: Are you proud of how you fought through this season?
Garnett: I’m proud of everyone that stepped out there and gave everything they had.

Q: How tough was it just coming in here after the game was over?
Garnett: It’s hard. It’s hard; I think everyone is not only physically fatigued, but mentally fatigued. You rely on a group of guys … you prepare together so much that you grow to enjoy each other and at the same time you get tired of each other. You’re going to call that guy your brother for life …

Q: What were your feelings going into the fourth?
Garnett: It was very positive. We’re not a group that’s going to get down [on ourselves]; we’re not a group that thinks negatively. We figure a lot of times that we have the situation in hand and it’s up to us to get it done – point blank. Tonight was no different.

Q: You talk about how valuable your teammates are; how valuable is Doc to this team?
Garnett: Doc’s everything. Everything …

Q: He said he’s going to take a few weeks to think about what he’s going to do now …
Garnett: It’s going to be a rough one.

Q: How badly do you want him back?
Garnett: I think everyone wants him back; that’s not even an issue. It’s just a matter of whether Doc wants to come back and whatever decision he sees fit [to make] for himself and his family.

Q: How do you see the situation with Rasheed Wallace now that he’s played his last game?
Garnett: Not a good one … I see a lot myself in him and we have a lot of the same ties and a lot of the same characteristics. Both class of ’95 … so for him to come in and give his thanks and his regards after a loss like this … it was a difficult night.

Q: What are your thoughts on the importance of bringing the core back next season?
Garnett: It would be great to have everybody back here.

Celtics Forward Glen Davis

Q: [Inaudible]
Davis: Close is not enough. You got to win it. This is the way it is, someone has to lose and it sucks. It’s how you look at it. It’s how you bounce back. I don’t know what’s going on with who’s coming back, but I’ll be ready when training camp comes around.

Q: The shooting night that Kobe had, you would have taken a 20-point game.
Davis: Most definitely. If you would have said Kobe shot the way he shot, I would have taken that. Kobe didn’t beat us, it was the rebounding. The first half they got a lot of rebounds.

Q: What impact did Ron Artest have tonight?
Davis: Artest was the difference in the game. He wanted it. He took it from us.

Q: What was the emotion in the locker room after the game?
Davis: It’s tough. It’s going to be a long summer because of this. But, like I said, somebody has to lose and you have to take the approach in a positive way and look forward to next year.

Q: Talk about the way you competed tonight, with Kevin Garnett diving in to the first row.
Davis: That was all good and dandy, but it wasn’t enough.

Q: Was it a matter of the offense giving up?
Davis: A little bit, but we try to keep a positive mind. When I came up with the foul and Kobe hit the free throws the momentum started to change, the ball stopped moving. We didn’t make the adjustments, we didn’t make the extra pass, we didn’t do a lot of the things like we did in the first half. First half we moved the ball, everyone was getting shots and layups.

Q: What are the emotions you are going through right now?
Davis: I don’t know. I feel like I wanted to cry. I feel like I wanted to be mad. I’m just trying to get in a positive mind and think it’s going to help me as a player. I’m blessed. Most guys don’t have the chance that I’ve had being able to play in the Finals twice in three years. Hopefully next year we can be that same team and go back.

Q: What has Doc Rivers meant to you?
Davis: He means a lot. He’s a player’s-coach. He’s a friend, he’s a coach, he’s a father figure. He’s a lot in one.

Lakers-Celtics Preview

By GREG BEACHAM, AP Sports Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP)—Even when Lamar Odom was a kid with limitless imagination growing up on New York’s playground courts, he thinks he might have dismissed Thursday’s season finale as a bit too extravagant.

When the Los Angeles Lakers take on the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the NBA finals, Odom realizes it’s a fantasy come true for any basketball player with the audacity to dream this big.

“It’s historic, especially when you talk about these teams and what they stand for, the pride,” the Lakers forward said Wednesday. “This is what you envision when you’re a kid in your backyard. Counting down, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…”

Another memorable chapter in the NBA’s best rivalry will end with a coronation at Staples Center, where the defending champion Lakers will try to earn their 16th banner while denying Boston its unprecedented 18th title in the clubs’ second finals meeting in three years.

For the fifth time in their 12 finals meetings, Boston and Los Angeles need all seven games to decide it. Each previous time it went to Game 7, the Celtics won—but when the current Lakers and Celtics take the court for the NBA finals’ first Game 7 since 2005 and just its second in the past 16 years, most will try awfully hard not to think about the history and pressure heaped on their shoulders.

It’s fine for kids and historians to savor this scenario, but Kobe Bryant knows it’s not a good idea for players to get caught up in it.

“It’s got nothing to do with me,” said Bryant, the series’ leading scorer with 29.5 points per game. “(When) I look back, years from now, or even when I was a kid, (if) you’d talk about being in this situation, I’d be really excited. But when I’m in the moment right now, I’ve got to play. I’ve got to focus on that. I can’t focus on the hype about it.”

Although Boston has the rivalry’s Game 7 history on its side, the Celtics have plenty stacked against them after an embarrassing 89-67 loss in Game 6 Tuesday night. Most glaringly, Boston won’t have starting centerKendrick Perkins, who sprained multiple ligaments in his right knee in the first quarter.

The Celtics’ starting five has never lost a playoff series, but that five must change for Game 7. Although Perkins is a role player next to Boston’s Big Three and point guard Rajon Rondo, the Celtics must hope veteranRasheed Wallace and youngster Glen Davis can make up for Perkins’ inside defense and rebounding.

No visiting team has won an NBA championship in Game 7 since the Washington Bullets did it in 1978, yet the Celtics are a whole lot more worried about the Lakers than the Hollywood crowd.

“I just love the pressure,” said Paul Pierce, who leads the Celtics with 18 points per game. “I love the fact that I get to play against the Los Angeles Lakers in a Game 7 on the road. I love the fact that if I don’t win multiple championships that I probably won’t be mentioned amongst the other guys in Celtic history that have done it before. That type of stuff motivates me. That’s what the challenge is for me, every time I put on this Celtic uniform.”

Pierce is usually the only player in this series who embraces its history, yet it’s too soon to say where these finals will fit in the rivalry’s annals. Although the games had been uniformly competitive before the Lakers’ blowout win in Game 6, they haven’t been spectacularly played, with gritty defense trumping offense in most of the major moments.

Ray Allen’s historic 3-point shooting barrage in Game 2, the Celtics’ gritty victories in games 4 and 5, the Lakers’ blowout win in Game 6—all will be dwarfed by what happens in the deciding game.

“I guess it’s going to be another decade that people look back and see the formation of this rivalry again,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “The ’90s was missed, and the ’70s was missed, but the ’60s and the ’80s were big decades. It seems to skip a decade, doesn’t it?”

The Celtics have more experience in seventh games than the Lakers over the past three years, playing in two deciding games in 2008 and two more last year. Boston coach Doc Rivers thinks his club’s big-game toughness mostly grew from those high stakes.

“It’s the ultimate players’ game,” said Rivers, a New York guard when the Knicks lost Game 7 of the 1994 finals in Houston. “Unfortunately, I’ve coached in a lot of them over the last few years—or fortunately. All the things you’ve worked on all year, you have to do it, and execute it, and trust and play.”

Los Angeles is in just its second Game 7 of the past three seasons, but that’s because the Lakers have been better at avoiding trouble while winning 10 playoff series since Pau Gasol joined them in 2008. When faced with elimination Tuesday for the first time in these playoffs, the Lakers responded with determination at least partially born from fear, according to Gasol.

“I think about how bad and how much it would hurt if we don’t come out as winners,” Gasol said. “I keep that thought in my mind sometimes, just to understand that I have to do everything possible out there to help my team in any way I can. You want to leave everything you have out there, and compete as hard as you’ve ever competed.”

Los Angeles has won three more titles since Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal returned the club to NBA prominence by winning the 2000 championship, but the Lakers clinched all three of those crowns on the road. They haven’t celebrated at home since beating the Indiana Pacers a decade ago.

The Lakers weren’t discussing the prospect of a party on Figueroa Street during their light workout Wednesday, and the Celtics weren’t making plans for a raucous plane ride back to Boston. Given the weight of history and the intensity of this rivalry, both teams thought it best not to think beyond Thursday night.

“It’s all-out,” Boston’s Kevin Garnett said. “It’s for the marbles, it’s for everything, all-out. You save nothing. You leave nothing.”

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


Lakers-Celtics Scouting Report

8 preseason games, 82 regular season games, and now our 23rd playoff game….The NBA season is a grind but the chance to win a World Championship on our court is a special opportunity. The fact that it could come against the hated Boston Celtics is the icing on the cake. In order to accomplish this we must continue to be the aggressor as we were in game six. All six games in this series have been won by the team who plays harder and wins the battle in the trenches. This is proven by the rebound numbers. We out rebounded the Celtics by 13 in game six and we must continue to attack the boards.

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.

Kendrick Perkins (sprained right knee) is out.

Lakers-Celtics Game Notes

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.

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.

With their Game 6 victory over the Celtics, the Lakers are now 42-41 in postseason elimination games (games in which a loss would end a Lakers playoff run), going 33-35 since moving to Los Angeles and 10-6 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 19 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, 2010 NBA Finals - leading his teams to victory in 11 of those games (11-8).

Leading their Western Conference Finals series 3-2 entering Game 6 at Phoenix, the Lakers defeated the Suns 111-103 to advance to their third consecutive NBA Finals. With the victory, the Lakers closed out their third opponent on the first try of the 2010 Playoffs, previously taking Game 6 of the First Round 95-94 at Oklahoma City and Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals 111-96 at Utah. With their series win over Phoenix, the Lakers closed out an opponent on the FIRST attempt for the 9th time in their last 10 opportunities. Last postseason, the Lakers closed out the Jazz, Nuggets and the Magic on the FIRST opportunity but needed two attempts to eliminate the Rockets from the Conference Semifinals. The Lakers Game 6 loss at Houston was just the 3rd time since 2001 that they have failed to close out an opponent when first given the chance (5/14/09 @ HOU, 5/2/06 @ PHX, 5/29/04 @ MIN). The Lakers have closed out an opponent on the FIRST try 20 times in their last 23 opportunities dating back to 2001. Under head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers have closed out their opponent on the first attempt 20 times in 27 overall opportunities.

Overall, under head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers are 26-11 in close-out games. The Lakers have won 31 of their last 32 series when holding the opportunity to close- out at any point. Their last series loss when having a close-out game came in 2006 when the Lakers squandered a 3-1 series lead against the Phoenix Suns. Prior to that, the Lakers had not lost a series when having a close-out game since the 1993 First Round vs. Phoenix in which they led 2-0 before losing the next three.

In the Lakers Game 6 victory over Boston, Los Angeles held the Celtics to 67 points on .333 shooting from the field. The 67 points scored by the Celtics were two more than the Lakers franchise opponent playoff-low 65 points scored by Phoenix in May of 2000. Boston’s 67-point output was their lowest point total ever in an NBA Finals game, the second lowest shot-clock era total ever in a Finals game and just one point above their all-time shot clock era playoff-low 66 points (5/10/02 vs. DET). Additionally, Boston’s 31-point first half was just one off the shot clock era Finals record for fewest points in a half (30).

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.*

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.*

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.*

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.

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/48), Michael Jordan (3rd/42) and Derek Fisher (4th/41)). Furthermore, Bryant (263) and Fisher (210) rank 1st and 2nd respectively for the playoff franchise record in three-point field goals made. Bryant’s total of 263 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/248).


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