Celtics Beat Lakers in Game 5 at TD Garden, Take 3-2 Lead in NBA Finals


Celtics Beat Lakers in Game 5 at TD Garden, Take 3-2 Lead in NBA FinalsFinal: Celtics 92, Lakers 86.
The Celtics are one win away from their 18th NBA championship. Can you believe it?

You'd better start. The C's beat the Lakers on their home floor, 92-86, to take a 3-2 series lead in the NBA Finals. They're now headed
back to Los Angeles with two chances to finish the deal and hoist
banner No. 18, starting with Game 6 on Tuesday night at the Staples
Center.

Paul Pierce was the man for Boston, finishing with 27 points; Kevin Garnett added a double-double, 18 points and 10 rebounds.

Kobe Bryant did everything he could to take the game over, but it
wasn't enough in the end. The Lakers' superstar turned in 38 points,
five rebounds and four assists in a losing effort.

Fourth quarter, 18.4 seconds, Celtics 91-84: Is there anyone you'd rather have at the free-throw line in this spot than Ray Allen?

I think not. Allen hits two shots, and the Celtics are ready to finish the deal.

Fourth quarter, 35.2 seconds, Celtics 89-82: Rajon Rondo comes through.

The Celtics opt to whip the ball downcourt and go for the quick basket, and it works. Pierce heaves it down the floor to KG, KG snaps it to Rondo, and Rondo lays it up and in. The Celtics have a seven-point lead, and they're on the verge of sending the Lakers home packing.

Fourth quarter, 38.9 seconds, Celtics 87-82: Derek Fisher wins
the jump ball with Kevin Garnett, tipping it to Ron Artest and creating
a fast break. Paul Pierce fouls Artest.

In one of the biggest moments of his career, Artest misses consecutive free throws, and Pierce is able to wrestle the ensuing rebound away from Kobe Bryant. What a huge play by Pierce — the Lakers are forced to foul, and the Celtics now have a chance to put this thing away.

The Celtics are on the verge of finishing off the Lakers and taking a 3-2 series lead.

Fourth quarter, 1:05, Celtics 87-82: Ray Allen misses a 3 at the
tail end of the shot-clock, but the Celtics retain possession. It takes
a replay to confirm that Allen's shot hit the rim, so the C's avoid a
24-second violation.

They're only up five, so they have to be careful. Another nice, long possession would be good here — the C's can't afford any mental mistakes at this stage. Hold onto the ball, play smart, get one more bucket to finish this thing.

Fourth quarter, 1:30, Celtics 87-82: Kobe makes all three. Icy cold.

On another note…

This is stating the obvious, but: Throwing things on the court is bush league. The Celtics have some of the world's best fans, but one jerk can ruin it for the other 18,000.

There is no excuse for that garbage.

Fourth quarter, 1:30, Celtics 87-79: Kobe Bryant gets off a
quick 3, and he misses but draws a foul from Ray Allen. It's Ray's
fifth, and these are three of the biggest free throws of Kobe's life.

Fourth quarter, 1:40, Celtics 87-79: Kendrick Perkins gets a chance to put the Lakers away with two free throws, but he misses them both. The Lakers are still alive.

It's an eight-point game with 1:40 left. The Lakers have the ball, courtesy of Pau Gasol's 10th rebound.

They need a quick bucket.

Fourth quarter, 2:55, Celtics 87-75: Celtics by 12 with under three minutes to play. Lakers have two points in the last 4:23. Time to get desperate.

Kobe tried to take over in the third quarter, but he couldn't keep
it up in the fourth. Now it looks like the purple and gold are running
out of steam.

How can the Lakers put up a fight for these last three minutes? Stick with Kobe, or try to get the supporting cast — Gasol, Odom, Derek Fisher — involved?

Nothing's working for them in this fourth quarter. They need a miracle.

Fourth quarter, 4:26, Celtics 85-75: Nice hustle play by Kevin Garnett, diving on a loose ball and forcing a jump with Lamar Odom.

KG is playing with more heart than anyone right now. Win or lose, he's going insane tonight.

Fourth quarter, 6:01, Celtics 81-75: Now Doc Rivers needs a timeout. The Lakers are quietly keeping this thing close.

Lamar Odom has rattled off back-to-back buckets for the Lakers, slicing the Boston lead from 10 to six.

Fourth quarter, 8:25, Celtics 78-69: Kobe's not just dominating on one end — he's guarding Paul Pierce on the other. Talk about a hard day's work.

Kobe
now has 31 points on 12-of-23 shooting. Pierce has 26, shooting
12-of-19. You're watching two of the great competitors of this era
going at it, back and forth. It's a beautiful sight.

The Lakers are still down nine points, but they seem very much alive. Their spirits haven't been crushed yet.

Fourth quarter, 9:54, Celtics 76-69: It's not a one-man team
anymore. Kobe Bryant is still feeling it, but he's enlisted the help of
Pau Gasol now. The two of them are working on a comeback effort
together.

Between
Kobe's incredible jump shooting and Pau's presence inside, it's a lot
to handle. The Celtics have to work hard defensively for 10 minutes
longer.

End of third quarter, Celtics 73-65: Kobe Bryant may have been
the headliner in this third quarter with his 19 points, but Paul Pierce
has been almost as big. The Celtics' captain just rattled off 11 of his
own.

Pierce
now has 26 points tonight on 12-of-18 shooting, and the Celtics have an
eight-point lead over the Lakers with 12 minutes to play in Game 5.

Pierce wants this as badly as anyone.

Step aside, Kobe.

Third quarter, 2:16, Celtics 71-61: Just spotted courtside at
the TD Garden: together in the front row are Mikhail Prokhorov, the
Nets' new owner, and Avery Johnson, their new head coach. Sitting
directly behind Prokhorov were Dwyane Wade and his son.

Make of that what you will, people. Speculate away.

Third quarter, 2:35, Celtics 71-58: The Lakers' offense has become a little bit predictable. It's Kobe Bryant and Kobe Bryant only.

The third quarter has gone 26-19 in the Celtics' favor so far; Kobe has all 19 for the Lakers.

The
Celtics have gone on a 7-2 run over the last three-plus minutes, with
the Lakers' scoring coming only on a pair of Kobe free throws.

Even
Kobe, one of the two or three best players on the planet, isn't good
enough to erase a 13-point deficit in less than 15 minutes. Sorry. Not
seeing it.

Third quarter, 5:06, Celtics 67-56: Kevin Garnett with the basket, the foul and the triple chest-pound in celebration. He is out-of-this-world fired up.

The Celtics have another double-digit lead.

Third quarter, 6:09, Celtics 64-56: Kobe Bryant absolutely cannot be stopped. It is just that simple.

He's
got 17 points in six minutes since halftime. He's hitting insane,
unthinkable, impossible shots. The Celtics are trying everything
against him — even doubling him by throwing Kendrick Perkins at him 30
feet from the basket.

Nothing's working. The guy's going insane.

He just hit a 28-footer, and the Lakers are back to within eight.

Third quarter, 7:37, Celtics 60-49: Not so fast, says Paul Pierce. You've got one superstar? We've got three.

Ray
Allen gets a layup, KG adds a short jumper, and after another Kobe 3
rims in, Pierce answers with a bucket, a stop and another bucket.

Once again, the lead is in double digits.

Once again, Kobe will inevitably go off and try to carry the Lakers all the way back on his own.

The Celtics had better be on their toes.

Third quarter, 9:04, Celtics 54-46: Kobe Bryant just knocked down one of his "you can't guard me, so don't even try" fadeaways. Here we go. Get ready.

Just
in case you've never seen a Lakers game in your life, here's how it
works: The Lakers get down a little bit. Kobe snaps. He starts knocking
down impossible jump shots, his team is invigorated, they come back and
win, they humiliate you.

It's happening.

Be afraid, Celtics fans. Be very afraid.

Third quarter, 11:09, Celtics 50-39: The Celtics come out firing, right out of the locker room.

A
driving layup from Rajon Rondo, a stop and a beautiful corner 3 from
Paul Pierce make it a quick 5-0 burst to start the second half.

The lead has reached double digits. Can the Celtics keep it there?

Halftime, Celtics 45-39: Yet another huge first-half effort from Paul Pierce. It's almost like he's hungry for another Finals MVP plaque.

Pierce finishes the half with 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Kobe Bryant answers with 10 points, shooting 4-of-12.

If
the Celtics are going to win this game and take a 3-2 series lead back
to L.A., they are going to do it by being the smarter, more efficient
basketball team. They can't beat the Lakers with their size or
strength; no one can. But the Celtics can with this game their way.

Rajon
Rondo has added 10 points for the Celtics; Kevin Garnett has eight, and
seven rebounds. As usual, it's a total team effort.

Second quarter, 2:42, Celtics 41-37: Another miss for Ray Allen, who's now 1-for-3 tonight and looking like he'll once again be a non-factor.

Sad
but true — Ray has been absolutely dreadful ever since that Game 2
performance in which he carried the Celtics. Since then: 0-for-13,
4-for-11, and now tonight. All told, he's shooting 18.5 percent in the
Celtics' three home games in Boston.

Second quarter, 3:29, Celtics 39-37: A fired-up Ron Artest nails a 3. Paul Pierce quickly answers with a 3 of his own.

It
is officially on. These two guys have been going at each other's
throats for the last 12 years, and now they're doing it on the game's
biggest stage.

What's not to love?

Second quarter, 4:42, Celtics 36-32: Quite frankly, that's just inexcusable for Rajon Rondo to come out of nowhere and shove Ron Artest in a moment like that.

Composure, Celtics. Composure.

Second quarter, 5:38, Celtics 32-31: As you had to expect, the Lakers come charging right back. A 3 from Ron Artest elicits a timeout from Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

Artest is now 1-for-5 from the field, 1-for-2 from 3-point range,
for three points. Kobe Bryant is 2-for-6, 1-for-3, five points. Sasha
Vujacic is 1-for-3, 1-for-2, three points. None of them are exactly lighting the world on fire.

Call me crazy, but I don't think the Lakers can win this game by
lighting the Celtics up from outside. They've got to take better
advantage of their size — Gasol, Bynum and Odom all have to make
contributions.

And call me even crazier, but I think the biggest reason that isn't
happening is Rasheed Wallace. Believe it or not, he's playing a
fantastic game tonight defensively.

Second quarter, 8:46, Celtics 30-22: Big possession for the
Celtics — Rasheed Wallace blocks the mid-range jumper from Lamar Odom,
Glen Davis recovers the loose ball, and he finds Tony Allen for the
bucket. The Celtics are rolling. They're now on a 10-2 run, and they've
got the Lakers on their heels.

Still waiting for Kobe Bryant to explode and bring the Lakers back. Really, it should happen any minute now. I'm telling you.

Second quarter, 9:24, Celtics 28-22: I could be wrong, but I think I just saw Nate Robinson step up and hit a shot without going berserk in celebration.

Perhaps
the kid's getting all settled in to this whole Finals thing. Nothing
like a "Shrek and Donkey moment" to break the ice. Nate looks
comfortable in his own shoes tonight.

End of first quarter, Celtics 22-20: This is all you need to
know about the first 12 minutes of this game: The Celtics have shot
11-of-19, or 57.9 percent; the Lakers are 7-of-21, 33.3 percent.

Those
numbers will even out eventually, and the Celtics will have some work
to do. They got a productive first quarter out of their stars — eight
points for Pierce, six each for Garnett and Rondo — but the Lakers'
key guys will turn it on too, in due time. The Celtics have to maintain
the intensity on both ends of the floor.

You can tell Kobe is dying to find a chance to take this game over. The Celtics can't let him.

First quarter, 2:39, Celtics 18-15: Timeout, Lakers. Never thought I'd have to say this, but they need to map out a plan to get their two best players involved.

Every
single Laker point so far has come from Derek Fisher or Andrew Bynum.
Kobe Bryant is scoreless, 0-for-2 from the field; Pau Gasol is
scoreless and 0-for-1. Ron Artest has missed four attempts tonight, one
of them a 3.

What a bizarre first quarter. Either the Celtics are
just playing magnificent defense, or Kobe is just waiting until later
tonight to turn it on.

First quarter, 4:58, Celtics 14-12: Paul Pierce throws a little
bit of a temper tantrum for the three-shot foul called against him on a
Derek Fisher longball. He's fired up, and that's both a good and a bad
thing.

After
the timeout, Fisher will have a chance to hit three freebies and put
the Lakers back in front. The Celtics have to keep their composure,
even if they're already a bit miffed at the officiating through the
first seven minutes.

First quarter, 6:01, 10-10: The
Celtics' defense has come to life. First Paul Pierce gets aggressive
and forces a jump-ball with Andrew Bynum; then the C's stifle Pau Gasol
and force the Lakers into a shot-clock violation.

This is what you've got to expect from the Celtics in a game of this
magnitude. Big-time effort, especially on the defensive end, and
tremendous teamwork to get the job done.

First quarter, 8:05, Lakers 8-6: The Lakers rattle off eight straight points, and fast. Four from Andrew Bynum and four from Derek Fisher.

No offense to Fish, who's a veteran player and lives for big games
like this one. But the Celtics should not be allowing him to get
offensive rebounds and turn them into second-chance points. Boston's defense is too good and too physical to let that happen.

Also, Paul Pierce might want to start hitting a shot or two.

First quarter, 10:02, Celtics 6-0: We're underway, and the Celtics are rolling. The C's have scored three times already, and the Lakers are 0-for-5 from the field.

Rajon Rondo and the Celtics are playing their game early — getting
stops, getting defensive rebounds, and turning them into buckets on the
fast break.

That might keep up. The Lakers' miserable shooting? Not so much. The
C's have to expect Kobe Bryant to turn it on soon. There's too much at
stake for him not to.

7:58 p.m.: Let's get ready for tipoff. The TD Garden is packed, it's rocking, and it's booing Kobe Bryant like there's no tomorrow.

It's
a packed house in Boston for the last time this year, and all 18.624
are ready to "Beat L.A." Let's see if the five guys on the court can
make it happen.

7:30 p.m.: Different day, same storyline. Both the Celtics and Lakers are downplaying the injury of Andrew Bynum.

When
asked about Bynum's status for tonight, Lakers coach Phil Jackson said
his starting center was here and ready to play. When asked if he'd
considered sending Bynum home to L.A. to skip Game 5, see his doctors
and get some rest, Jackson replied flatly, "No, never considered it."

As
for Doc Rivers, the Celtics' coach refuses to acknowledge that the game
plan changes based on whether or not Bynum is at full strength. You'd
think his presence would make a big difference — when the elite
shot-blocker is off the court, that opens things up more for undersized
players like Glen Davis to drive and score. But Doc's not buying it.
"We're going to play the same," he says.

6:07 p.m.: Welcome to the TD Garden for the last time this
season. No matter what happens, this series is heading back to L.A. for
Game 6. Time to find out who has a happy cross-country flight tomorrow.

Updates
to come later on the status of Andrew Bynum, the rise of the Celtics'
bench, and any adjustments to look for in Game 5 as the Celtics take on
the L.A. Lakers in Boston.

9:39 a.m.: The last time the Celtics beat the Lakers at the TD
Garden, there was a little less fourth-quarter tension and a whole lot
more postgame confetti.

On
June 17, 2008, the Celtics blew the Lakers away in Game 6 of the NBA
Finals, winning 131-92 behind a combined 69 points from their Big Three
of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce.

Then on Thursday,
the C's won again, beating the Lakers in Boston for the first time in
two years. This time, the show had a different cast, as Glen Davis and
Nate Robinson ruled the fourth quarter for the Celtics in Game 4.

Can the C's win in Boston one more time? If so, they're headed back to L.A. with two chances to finish these NBA Finals.

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