Kobe Bryant Drops 29 as Lakers Win Game 3 at TD Garden


Kobe Bryant Drops 29 as Lakers Win Game 3 at TD GardenFinal: Lakers 91, Celtics 84.
Two nights ago, the Celtics stole home-court advantage from the Lakers in L.A. Tonight, the Lakers have stolen it right back.

The Lakers have finished off a 91-84 win over the Celtics in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, and the ball's back in their court. They now control their destiny in these NBA Finals. Kobe Bryant is two wins away from his fifth championship ring.

Kobe finishes with 29 points, Derek Fisher adds 16, and the Lakers hold on for a dramatic win in Boston.

Fourth quarter, 23.8 seconds, Lakers 89-82: The P.A. softly plays Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance." For the Celtics, these final minutes have been a bad nightmare.

The Lakers are seconds away from finishing the job.

Fourth quarter, 48.3 seconds, Lakers 87-80: A costly miss from
Ray Allen, and a huge coast-to-coast drive from Derek Fisher for a
basket and a foul. That should just about do it.

Fisher makes the free throw. The Laker lead is back to seven. The Celtics need a miracle.

Either that, or they need a time machine to go back and tell Ray Allen not to shoot 0-for-13.

What a bizarre game for Ray. One night the hero, the next night the goat.

Fourth quarter, 1:29, Lakers 84-80: The Lakers' defense has been airtight down the stretch. The Celtics have a challenge in front of them.

Lamar Odom forces Kevin Garnett out of bounds. The Celtics keep the ball, but they've got 13 seconds to shoot. The pressure's on.

Who do the C's trust with the game on the line? Let's figure it out.

Fourth quarter, 2:17, Lakers 82-78: Ray Allen has gone from one of the best Finals shooting nights ever to one of the worst. He's 0-for-12.

He's been getting good looks all night. If only he'd hit just two or three of them, this game would be dramatically be different. But instead the Celtics are wondering what could have been.

Time's ticking. If Ray can't turn it on, someone else will have to find a way. The Celtics are in need of some late heroics to pull this one out.

Fourth quarter, 4:09, Lakers 78-76: Paul Pierce is back in the game. And the Celtics are back in business.

With an absolutely huge 3 here, the Celtics' captain cuts the lead to two. The C's are almost all the way back. They can taste it.

Fourth quarter, 5:40, Lakers 74-70: Rajon Rondo picks up his fourth foul.
The
Celtics are visibly frustrated at this point — but they've got to
channel their anger at the refs into playing hard against the Lakers.
Sulking will get them nowhere.

The C's have fought hard to get to this point. It would be a shame for them to lose their composure now and blow it. No one wants to see their hard work go to waste. Not in the Finals.

Fourth quarter, 7:32, Lakers 72-69: Kevin Garnett is now 9-of-13 from the field. Be honest — who saw this one coming?

KG's hot as wildfire from the floor. Kobe Bryant couldn't be colder. The Lakers' superstar just keeps jacking up 3s, and he keeps missing. Overall, the Mamba is 9-of-26 from the field. That's not just bad. That's dreadful.

Fourth quarter, 8:57, Lakers 70-67: Don't make Derek Fisher
angry. He'll drive right at you, knock down a shot in your face and
make you sorry you looked at him funny.

Perhaps that's an exaggeration. But Fish makes a huge play here, pushing the Laker lead back to three and putting the Celtics back on their heels for a second.

Fourth quarter, 9:45, Lakers 68-67: Phil Jackson needs a timeout. And perhaps some earplugs. The TD Garden is going absolutely ballistic.

Rajon Rondo gets a driving layup to cut the L.A. lead to one measly point. It was 12 at halftime.

Rondo now has 11 points and seven assists tonight. Even when he's not having a monster night, he still knows how to elevate his game and carry this Celtic team when it matters.

Can he lead them to victory tonight? At halftime, it looked impossible. There's now more than a glimmer of hope.

Fourth quarter, 11:21, Lakers 67-63: The good news? Glen Davis cuts the Laker lead to four. The bad? Paul Pierce now has five fouls, and he's due for a long break.

Ray Allen's now back in the game. The C's will need him to pack some punch offensively in this fourth quarter.

End of third quarter, Lakers 67-61: Considering that Paul Pierce
and Kevin Garnett spent much of that third quarter resting, conserving
their energy and their fouls to give, the Celtics should be happy with
the Laker lead cut to six. It could be much worse.

Now it's time to see if the Celtics can come out in the fourth quarter refreshed and energetic. They've cut L.A.'s lead in half, from 12 to 6, but they can't let up now.

How big can the Big Three be in the fourth quarter? Rondo, T.A. and the rest of the youngsters can't do this alone, not against the mighty Lakers. Boston's veterans have to step up.

Third quarter, 1:41, Lakers 62-57: A Tony Allen baseline drive
for a layup cuts the lead to five, and the TD Garden crowd goes into
hysterics. A stupid Rasheed Wallace foul simmers them down again.

The Celtics are making strides forward, but they've still got to keep their composure. There's a lot of work left to be done.

Third quarter, 3:04, Lakers 62-54: The Celtics are hoping their
second unit can bring them all the way back. And with all due respect
to the Celtics' second unit, that's a little ambitious.

Doc Rivers is counting on Rasheed Wallace, Glen Davis and Tony Allen to carry the offense here in the third quarter. That's nice, but it won't be enough.

A shot here or there isn't going to cut it. The C's need Paul Pierce and Ray Allen to wake up in a huge way, burying big shots and ensuring that this game goes down to the wire. There's no glory in staying within eight points all night. Play to win.

Third quarter, 4:45, Lakers 58-51: Two huge free throws from Kendrick Perkins, and the Celtics are within seven for the first time in a while.

The Celtics are making their push. It's time to find out whether the Lakers respond, or they let the C's come all the way back. Boston has the weapons to get hot down the stretch and keep this thing close.

Third quarter, 6:09, Lakers 58-49: You've got to hand it to Pau
Gasol and Kevin Garnett: They know how to go to war. Neither one is
soft, and both have plenty of explosiveness. Who were we kidding?

KG and Pau are going back and forth at a fever pitch in the third quarter. They both have plenty to prove in this series, and they're doing everything they can to prove it.

Third quarter, 7:36, Lakers 58-49: The Lakers have made 14 of 16
attempts from the free-throw line. Put a veteran like Kobe Bryant or
Derek Fisher at the stripe, and he knows how to come through.

The fouls are starting to add up for Boston — Paul Pierce has four, while Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo each have three. The C's need to be careful going forward.

Third quarter, 9:42, Lakers 54-45: Paul Pierce for 3. That's exactly what the Celtics need — a couple of big shots from their big stars.

Kobe Bryant's been the master of getting inside and drawing contact, but when you make him into a jump shooter, he's mortal. The Black Mamba is just 5-of-15 from the field.

If he keeps missing and the Celtics' shooters get hot, we could have ourselves a game.

Halftime, Lakers 52-40: So far, Game 3 of these NBA Finals is shaping up to be everything Game 2 wasn't.

Kevin Garnett was a non-factor two nights ago; now he's on fire. Ray Allen couldn't miss; how he can't buy a basket. The Celtics had a solid lead at halftime on Sunday; halfway through this one, they're trailing by 12.

Kobe Bryant is playing like a man possessed. He's got 16 points, six rebounds and three assists. You can tell how desperately he wants this one.

Second quarter, 3:27, Lakers 41-31: The crowd at the TD Garden
sure doesn't like it, but that's a good call. Ray Allen charged into
Derek Fisher, and the Celtics blow a chance at a transition bucket and
a single-digit deficit at the hands of the Lakers.

The C's are still down 10, but we're seeing encouraging signs now. This team is running, gunning and using its energy to make things happen. If they can string together a few stops over these last three-plus minutes before halftime, they can put a dent in this Laker lead.

Second quarter, 5:55, Lakers 37-26: Tom Brady is in the house.
Maybe he could teach another pro sports team in Boston to play like
champions. Right now, the Celtics don't like like they're up to it.

The Lakers are outshooting the Celtics in Game 3, 48.1 percent to 37.5. They're outrebounding them, too, 19 to 16. They're beating them in the paint, in transition, in the halfcourt.

It's been a pretty thorough thrashing for the Celtics so far. Three C's starters — Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kendrick Perkins — are still scoreless.

Kobe has 10 for the Lakers, and Lamar Odom has eight off the bench.

Second quarter, 7:14, Lakers 37-24: When Rajon Rondo is in the
game, long defensive rebounds for the Celtics become transition
baskets. When he sits? They're worthless.

You can't beat the Lakers in the NBA Finals by spending entire possessions dribbling around the perimeter, looking for an option, finding nothing and settling for a Nate Robinson 25-footer.

Not to single Nate out, though. The whole team is a mess offensively — the Celtics are shooting just 11-of-30 from the field so far tonight, and they're 1-of-9 from long range, with Nate's 3 being their only one to date. Ray Allen, who made his first seven attempts from downtown on Sunday night, has missed his first three tonight.

The Lakers remain in front by double digits. The Celtics need to rediscover the energy that won them Game 2.

Second quarter, 9:41, Lakers 35-20: With Ray Allen off the
floor, the Celtics will look to Nate Robinson to fire them up with some
big shots. He makes one, a 3 from the top of the key, but that's just
about all he's got.

The Celtics look really flat offensively. They need someone to step up and give them a jolt — but who?

I've got no answers. Looks like Doc Rivers has none either.

Second quarter, 10:42, Lakers 31-17: You can map out all the X's and O's you want, but when Kobe Bryant really gets in the zone, there's just no stopping him.

Kobe's really feeling it now. He's got 10 points and four boards, and he's getting to the line seemingly every time he touches the ball. Give Tony Allen credit for his effort, but there's just no way to shut down the Black Mamba when he's playing like this.

End of first quarter, Lakers 26-17: Not a good final 10 seconds of the first quarter for Rasheed Wallace. And that's putting it lightly.

First he screens Derek Fisher off of Nate Robinson, rolls to the top of the key and rips off a 3-point attempt — clang. Then when the Lakers corral the rebound, he takes off in transition to keep Lamar Odom out of the paint in the final seconds; not only does Odom score anyway, but he draws a foul from Sheed on the way up and finishes the three-point play.

For those of you keeping score at home, that's a six-point swing in the matter of seconds.

The Celtics are in big trouble early. They're down by nine.

Maybe now's the time for Nate Robinson to give these guys a shot in the arm?

First quarter, 2:10, Lakers 20-16: Kobe Bryant's been around the
block a few times. This isn't the first time he's heard an obscene
chant directed his way while shooting free throws.

Truth be told, the guy doesn't seem to notice or care. He remains icy cold from the line, hitting all of his five attempts from the line tonight without breaking a sweat.

First quarter, 2:59, Lakers 18-16: Besides KG, the other guy
who's showing a renewed level of effort tonight: Lamar Odom. It's about
time the Candy Man gave the Lakers something.

Lamar knocks down a 25-foot dagger here to put the Lakers back out in front.

As Doc Rivers always says, in any series, there's eventually a game where everyone plays well and the best team steps up and wins. With KG and Lamar both looking strong tonight, this could be that game. So tonight's the night we really find out — do these Celtics have what it takes?

First quarter, 4:56, Celtics 14-13: The Celtics needed a bucket to snap the Lakers' 8-0 run here midway through the first quarter. Kevin Garnett gives them one.

There's a good chance that KG heard all the talk this week about his age, about his deteriorating skills, about his lost explosiveness. He's come out hard tonight, exploding every time up the floor.

He's got eight points already, and he's the reason the Celtics are back out in front.

First quarter, 5:55, Celtics 12-9: Kendrick Perkins might not be
happy about the ticky-tack foul called on him away from the ball, but
you have to admire his resolve not to put up a fight with the
officials, still staving off that seventh technical.

Composure is key. And right now, Perk is showing a lot of it. But he's showing it from the bench, as Rasheed Wallace takes over as the man in the middle for Boston.

First quarter, 7:41, Celtics 12-5: Rajon Rondo brought both his
shiny green shoes and his deadly jump shot to the Garden for Game 3.
The Lakers are in trouble now.

Rondo has piled up six points in a hurry, KG has his six, and neither Kobe Bryant nor Pau Gasol has made a peep yet for L.A. Let's see how long that can keep up, shall we?

The Celtics look very happy to be back on their home floor.

First quarter, 10:44, Celtics 6-0: Wake up, Lakers. Kevin Garnett came to play tonight.

The Celtics win the opening tip, and Rajon Rondo's first dribble of the night is an emphatic one. He gets the ball inside quickly to KG, and KG makes a nice move to fake out Pau Gasol and get to the basket. 2-0 Boston.

The first two Lakers possessions each end the same way: a missed 3-pointer, a Boston rebound and a transition bucket for KG. The Big Ticket has six points, and the Lakers are in a big hole early.

8:55 p.m.: Just about ready for tipoff at the TD Garden.

Kevin Garnett has given the Garden crowd his primal scream, Paul Pierce has commanded, "Let me hear it," and boy, have they ever. This is the loudest this building has been all year. The Celtics and their fans are ready to rumble.

7:15 p.m.: Welcome to the TD Garden for the NBA Finals. Never thought you'd read those words this year, would you?

And according to Paul Pierce, the Finals are here in Boston to stay. The Celtics' captain told the Lakers fans Sunday after Game 2 that his team "ain’t coming back to L.A." — it's time to see if the Truth can follow through on his word.

We're now less than two hours away from tipoff at the Garden.

7:35 a.m.: How do you feel about the Celtics' chances now?

Probably depends how much you stock you put in "stealing home court."

But let's face the facts: To win the NBA Finals and raise their 18th championship banner, all the Celtics need to do is with three out of five games. And their next three are now at home, within the friendly confines of the TD Garden.

Are the Celtics now the favorites? You never want to count out Kobe Bryant or Phil Jackson. But at this point, after a well-played Game 2 and a nice flight home, the C's have to be feeling pretty good.

Let's see if it can translate to another win.

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