Celtics 97 Lakers 91 – What a sick game. LA took control of this game early by being aggressive, especially in driving the ball to the hole. Lamar Odom led the charge scoring 13 points in the first quarter; almost outscoring Boston on his own. The Celtics would manage mini-runs in the second, but those were always thwarted by the Lakers. The game had to be over after Jordan Farmar made a running 3-pointer to end the half. But with the veteran leadership of the C’s, they wouldn’t give up that easily.
At halftime Paul Pierce asked to be put on Kobe Bryant. That would effectively make Kobe expend a little more energy, especially if he wanted to post up. Work and work it did. Boston held LA to 33 points on 33% shooting in the second half, forcing the Lakers to work for every shot. Once the defense got tougher and LA’s shots weren’t falling. the ball movement stopped. The ball would stay stagnant and each possession seemed like it was a one on one game. Credit the Celtics defense as it does win titles.
Boston used a smaller lineup to ignite a rally that turned a eighteen point deficit to two at the end of the third (21-3 run to end the quarter). Using a 1-4 set, with Kevin Garnett as their only big man, they ran the ball through KG and Pierce. Whether the ball went to Garnett in the post or “The Truth” would drive the lane, the Lakers were reluctant to help out knowing there were shooters on the outside in Allen, Posey, and House. Without Rajon Rondo in the game, Kobe was unable to roam freely knowing they had guys who were capable of making jumpers.
Playing the smaller lineup meant the Celtics would be at a disadvantage on the glass. But everyone did their job boxing out, especially Ray Allen who ended up with nine rebounds for the game. Ray has been the most consistent Celtic this series. And he was just tremendous on the play that eventually sealed the game. With Pierce exhausted, Doc Rivers called a high screen for Allen from Garnett. Seeing that Sasha Vujacic was playing him alone, he waved KG off. He then drove passed “The Machine” like he was Denzel in “He Got Game” and made the lefty layup off the glass putting Boston up 5. The Lakers will be hard pressed to win three games in a row, especially with two coming in Boston. But stranger things have happened. The Celtics will look to close out the series on Sunday.