(Noah Graham/Getty Images)
Lakers History: Game 7 Revenge Over the Celtics
It had been two years since Kobe Bryant left the parquet floor of TD Garden in tears after his Lakers failed to beat the hated Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals.
Now in 2010, Bryant and co. faced a similar dilemma on their home court. Game 7 against the Celtics: get revenge or fall short again.
It was far from a pretty game, but it was an absolutely gritty one.
And for a moment it looked like the Lakers were cursed to repeat history, as they trailed by 13 in the third quarter.
Boston was determined to prevent Bryant from beating them on his own, sending constant double-teams at the Lakers’ star. While he scored a game-high 23 points, he shot just 6-of-24 from the field.
But the Lakers dominated the battle for possession, getting extra chances by scrapping for offensive rebounds and turnovers.
This fighting spirit was perhaps best embodied by Pau Gasol, who racked up 19 points and 18 rebounds (half of which were on the offensive glass).
Derek Fisher’s 3-pointer tied the game at 64 and sparked an 11-0 Lakers run. Gasol himself added a clutch bucket in the post over three Celtics (see above).
But the lasting image of the night came from the man who coach Phil Jackson called the most valuable player of the night.
Ron Artest (now Metta World Peace) was only six years removed from the infamous “Malice in the Palace” brawl that left him suspended for an entire season.
But through tireless work on his own mental health, Artest had rehabilitated his image and become a valuable member of the Lakers’ playoff run.
And when Bryant was met by a double-team with just 1:01 remaining in the biggest game of his life, he trusted Artest to make the biggest shot of his.
Artest jab-stepped at Paul Pierce before draining a 3-pointer, inflating the Lakers’ one-possession lead to six points.
“He never passes me the ball, and he passed me the ball!” Artest laughed at his now-legendary press conference. “Kobe passed me the ball, and I shot a 3!”
After Artest — who had 20 points and five steals — gave the Lakers that extra buffer, Bryant and Sasha Vujacic sealed an 83-79 victory by hitting all four of their free throws down the stretch.
It was, at times, excruciating for the Lakers, who shot just 32.5 percent from the field and led for only nine minutes.
And it was especially difficult for Bryant, who had more shot attempts than points.
Nonetheless, Kobe was the unquestioned leader of the championship campaign, earning Finals MVP honors after averaging 28.6 points in the series and grabbing 15 rebounds in Game 7.
And so it was Bryant who stood on the scorer’s table before his celebrating fans, champion for a fifth and final time.
Recent Stories on Lakers.com