Images from historic matchup of Lakers, Celtics
Paul Pierce, after a shaky first half with six points, led the Celtics back with nine in the third as he and Ray Allen took advantage of the spread out Lakers' defense to drive for layups.
The Celtics got within 73-71 at the end of the quarter and, Holmes, the game was on.
Boston took its first lead on a House jumper with 4:07 left to go up 84-83, Allen hit the first of two driving layups after that, the latter on a beautiful isolation move past Sasha Vujacic through a baffled Lakers defense stuck in cement.
Garnett banged in an eight-footer for an 88-83 lead with 2:10 left, leaving the Lakers to go with their smaller lineup and shooters, who were lead-footed by then and missing badly as Bryant cranked up misses against the smothering help defense.
Posey cashed in the big three from the left corner with 1:13 left after a Bryant driving layup, and when the Lakers cut it to three with a Gasol dunk on a pass from Bryant with 40 seconds left, Allen froze the defense and inexplicably slipped in alone for what was effectively the clinching layup.
"Whine about it tonight," said Bryant. "A lot of wine, a lot of beer, a couple of shots, maybe like 20 of them, digest it, get back to work tomorrow. Nothing you can do."
Nothing really, in retrospect, the Lakers could do about this Boston team which struggled so desperately early in the playoffs.
"We're still a fairly new team," said Allen, who is vying with Pierce for Finals MVP honors. "Coming into these situations, we said just fight."
The Lakers weren’t ready, they seem to have shown. This Boston team came together this season with a short window for a championship, and it seems they'll get it. This Lakers team, seemingly doomed, should be the pick to win the West next season with the expected return of center Andrew Bynum. They haven't been ready for what the Celtics have brought. They've looked too timid and too satisfied to have overcome the trauma of recent seasons.
They couldn't stop the Celtics when they needed to, and the Celtics showed they weren't about to be stopped.
"Going small, spacing the floor, scoring," observed Rivers of the second half comeback. "The whole key was us getting stops. We didn't give up. They had the mental toughness to hang in there."
They Lakers didn't, and now it seems they'll only stop just short of the Celtics victory parade.
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