Images from historic matchup of Lakers, Celtics
BOSTON - Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers ran out of time Sunday night.
Perhaps their amazing fourth-quarter comeback was enough to give them hope in a most difficult situation.
Bryant scored 13 of his 30 points in the last 7:40 as the Lakers erased all but two points of a 24-point deficit before losing to the Boston Celtics 108-102 in Game 2 of the NBA finals.
“We noticed some things in the fourth quarter that we can do that we’ll look at and see if we can’t use them at Staples,” he said. “We just had to make a stand a little bit. We’ve got to make a stand, but at the same time, you’ve still got to play.
“What we have to do is get to those loose balls. We’ve got to get timely rebounds, and we have to stop them in transition, knocking down those 3’s, and we’ll be fine. A free throw or two wouldn’t hurt.”
Only three teams have ever recovered from the 2-0 deficit Los Angeles faces to win the finals, but the teams play the next three games at Staples Center, where the Lakers are 8-0 in the postseason and have won 14 straight since last losing March 28.
“We’ve come too far to really sweat being down 2-0,” Bryant said. “We’re going to go home and handle our business.”
Bryant, who shot 9-for-26 and scored 24 points in a 98-88 loss in Game 1, shot 11-for-23 Sunday night, and also had five of his eight assists in the final period.
The Lakers had only themselves to blame for falling so far behind. They were within nine points before being outscored 27-12 to finish the third quarter and start the fourth, mainly because of a sieve-like defense. It was never more flagrant than when unheralded Leon Powe, who scored a career playoff high 21 points in less than 15 minutes, cruised down the lane for a dunk early in the fourth quarter. There was simply no resistance.
Bryant appeared animated at times during timeouts. When asked what he was telling his teammates, the MVP replied: “It was beep, beep, beep, ’Eddie Murphy Raw’ times 10.”
The Lakers were plagued by foul problems all night, and it was reflected at the foul line, where the Celtics shot 27-for-38 while the Lakers were just 10-for-10.
“I didn’t notice,” Bryant said sarcastically with a slight smile.
The Lakers’ bench was abysmal at times, but came alive to score 16 points in the final period including six each by Jordan Farmar and Sasha Vujacic.
“I think we played together more (down the stretch),” Farmar said. “We made the passes we were supposed to make and hit some shots.”
Vujacic had a chance to bring the Lakers within one point with about 15 seconds left, but his 3-pointer was blocked by Paul Pierce.
“I had an open look, he kind of jumped out of nowhere,” said Vujacic, who made two 3-pointers earlier in the fourth quarter. “I took the shot, I felt good about it. He blocked it. It could have gone in or gone out. He blocked it.”
Pau Gasol disappeared offensively in the second half for the second straight game, scoring only four of his 17 points. He had just three of his 15 after halftime in the opener.
“Sometimes I just can’t control where the ball goes,” he said. “All I do is try too play hard, and when I get the ball, try to be aggressive and help my team. In the second half, things didn’t go that well, especially in the third quarter. Like I said, I don’t make the calls.”
Lamar Odom picked up his fifth foul in the final seconds of the third quarter. He scored eight of his 10 points in the first half and didn’t play in the final period.
“I guess we’ve got to play a little less physical,” he said dryly, a reference to those who said the Lakers needed to be more physical after being outrebounded 46-33 in Game 1 as well as the foul situation.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson said he was more struck by Powe shooting more foul shots than his entire team in limited minutes than he was about the difficulty his team had in scoring points in the first three quarters or its fourth-quarter rally.
“I’ve never seen a game like that in all these years I’ve coach in the finals. Unbelievable,” Jackson said.
When asked how many of his five fouls were fouls, Odom paused before replying: “Obviously all of them, because I couldn’t get back in the game.
“That’s the way it is, that’s the way the game was called,” Odom added. “(The officials) did their jobs and we did ours. They’re a tough team. That’s what we expected. We expected tough games, not the losses. We expect the next game to be tough.”
Trevor Ariza entered the game in the first 2 minutes when Vladimir Radmanovic picked up two early fouls and played his first meaningful minutes since breaking his right foot in practice Jan. 20. He wound up going scoreless in 7 minutes.
Indiana lost Game 1 in OT on a LeBron James layup at the buzzer. Game 2 offers a chance to even the series.
PBT: Pacers coach Frank Vogel said that the Heat have a more effective plan of attack against Roy Hibbert than the Knicks.
Video: NBA from NBC Sports
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