End of game, Lakers win 88-87: The Lakers come out victorious in a dogfight of a game. Pierce got a difficult but makeable shot against World Peace. The shot was short, and although Allen was there for the offensive rebound Rondo did not block out Gasol and Gasol was able to block Allen's putback attempt.
Overtime, :06.1, Lakers 88-87: Both teams dodged a few bullets defensively and the Celtics will get another opportunity to win it. This time we're assuming Rivers will draw up a play that allows the C's to get a quality shot.
Overtime, 1:01, Lakers 88-87: Well, this game was over. Better start to file for the exits with the Celtics down four points in overtime.
That made sense, except Pierce didn't want to go home yet. He fought through a Garnett pick to hit a jumper and then hit a 3 to give the Celtics a 87-86 lead.
Bynum, who has tormented Boston all night with seven offensive rebounds, put back a Bryant miss to give the Lakers the lead.
Overtime, 2:42, Lakers 86-82: Gotta love the fans who cheered for KG's throwaway jumper 10 seconds after the play had been blown dead.
First NBA game, folks?
Overtime, 2:53, Lakers 86-82: Bryant hit a jumper to give the Lakers a 84-82 lead. OK, anyone would buy that.
Steve Blake hit a long jumper to give L.A. an 86-82 lead.
End of regulation, 82-82: Well, that was anticlimactic. Pierce dribbled the ball at the top of the key but was never able to get it to Allen curling along the 3-point arc, which appeared to be the first option on the play. The buzzer sounded with Pietrus taking a 30-foot fallaway that never had a chance.
Fourth quarter, :09.8, game tied 82-82: Is it 2010 again?
The Celtics appeared to have the game in hand after Allen hit a 3 and the C's forced a defensive stop. But Garnett missed a long jump shot with 30 seconds to go, and after a messy offensive possession, Gasol tipped in a miss by Bryant to tie it up with less than 10 seconds left.
Fourth quarter, 1:24, Celtics 80-79: Rondo is a wizard with the ball, but the Lakers have seen him enough over the years to know the book on stopping him.
The Lakers essentially didn't cover Rondo in the fourth quarter unless he dribbled below the free throw line. The move took the Celtics out of their offense, as Pierce, Garnett and Allen could not get any room in a packed halfcourt.
This is where it becomes puzzling as to why Rondo has never bothered to add at least a halfway reliable jumpshot. The lack of respect other teams give him hurts the Celtics immeasurably.
Fourth quarter, 3:08, Celtics 79-77: Can these two teams play every night? It would cut down on travel costs and guarantee some consistently good basketball.
The Lakers won for the entire fourth quarter until Pietrus nailed a corner 3 to give Boston a 77-75 lead. Kobe responded with a tough J over Pietrus, then a Rondo floater put the C's ahead again.
Fourth quarter, 5:40, Lakers 75-74: With Garnett and Allen on the bench for a mid-fourth quarter rest, Pierce looked up and realized World Peace wasn't holding him back. Instead, the man who was guarding him was Barnes.
Pierce scored twice against Barnes, although the Lakers role player came back by hitting one of two free throws to snap a 74-74 tie.
Barnes has 11 points and is the only Lakers bench player with more than three points. The Celtics bench has gotten eight points from Bass and six from Pietrus.
Fourth quarter, 9:33, Lakers 71-70: As Pierce and Garnett heated up, the Celtics continued to do a good job of bottling up the Lakers' stars. But while Bryant and Gasol didn't go off in the opening minutes of the fourth, the role players stepped up.
It's rare that Troy Murphy or Matt Barnes' names come up in big games, but each contributed a big jumper to keep L.A. ahead. Garnett scored two long jumpers to help the Celtics keep pace, and that pace picked up.
Garnett and Bryant look like they're having a lot of fun, which tells you everything you need to know about the intensity of this game and about their personalities.
End of third quarter, Lakers 67-64: The Lakers led for all of 18 seconds in this game before Bryant's jumper with 1:35 left in the third gave them a 66-64 lead. Bynum knocked down one of two free throws to give L.A. a three-point lead heading into the fourth.
The Celtics again did not have a single free throw attempt in the third quarter. They are stuck on 5-for-5 from the line in the game, with three attempts by Pierce and two by Allen. The Lakers are 12-for-15.
Third quarter, 2:40, Celtics 64-62: The Celtics have played good defense in the third quarter, and it's a good thing for them because the Lakers have been nearly as good on offense.
Bryant muscled into the lane against physical defense by Allen to score a short jumper, shortly before Gasol battled for an and-one jumper against Wilcox (although on replays it appeared Wilcox defended him cleanly).
Third quarter, 7:18, Celtics 57-53: Bryant indeed heated up right after halftime, but Allen kept coming to keep the Celtics ahead.
Allen scored twice the first 2:06 before Bryant scored four straight to knot the score at 53-53. Bryant's finish on a lob pass from Gasol was the third assist of the game for the Spanish forward.
After the oop, O'Neal responded with a left-handed hammer dunk over Gasol. Rondo surprised everyone in a gold uniform by bypassing Allen and Pierce on a break and finishing himself.
Halftime, Celtics 47-45: Allen did half the job by forcing Bryant to miss a difficult jumper with a few seconds left in the second quarter. O'Neal failed to box out Bynum, however, and even fouled the Lakers big man to giftwrap a three-point play.
Neither team shot particularly well, especially from 3-point range. The teams were a comined 3-for-14 behind the arc in the first half, with the Celtics slightly better of the two at 2-for-8.
Here's a look at the good, the bad and the so-so.
The Good: Ray Allen was not hesitant. He seldom is against the Lakers because he senses how intense the rivalry is. Allen took 11 shots in the first half, hitting five, although he missed both of his 3-point attempts. He finished the half with a team-high 12 points. … If Dwight Howard is the undisputed best center in the NBA, Andrew Bynum is a pretty fairly undisputed No. 2. Bynum had nine points and nine rebounds, including three offensive, and two blocked shots in 19 minutes of work. He was only 4-for-11 from the field, though, against solid defense by Garnett and O'Neal. … Pau Gasol showed off his complete repertoire by scoring, passing and rebounding. He has 12 points on 6-for-11 shooting, three rebounds and two nifty assists. Kevin Garnett wasn't quite as efficient, but he also showed veteran big man savvy with eight points (on 4-for-10 shooting) and four rebounds.
The Bad: Steve Blake and Derek Fisher have not looked capable of helping the Lakers win another championship all season, and Rajon Rondo is putting an exclamation point on that. They have combined for three points and three fouls in 25 minutes.
The So-so: It's getting more and more difficult to classify any of Pierce's games as "bad." Even when he shoots only 2-for-6, as he did in the first half, he finds other ways to impact the game. Pierce grabbed seven rebounds and handed out three assists in the first half. … Beware of Kobe Bryant in the second half. He was relatively silent in the first half with just six shot attempts and 11 points, but don't bet on the Black Mamba laying low for another two quarters.
Second quarter, :14.4, Celtics 47-42: Whenever Chris Wilcox makes a play on offense, it seems to have an impact on the Celtics in other areas.
Wilcox' putback dunk on a Garnett miss sparked a 6-2 Celtics run that pushed Boston's lead back to five points shortly before halftime.
Second quarter, 2:17, Celtics 41-38: Rondo may not admit any offense to being left off the All-Star team, but he's played like a player who expected a trip to Florida and isn't happy not to get it.
Rondo's six points and three assists weren't anything special, but he pushed the pace, particularly in the second quarter. He had a running bank shot and fed Bass for a jumper, but it was his "hockey" assists that showed his value. He made at least two passes that led to passes that led to baskets, and those plays were the biggest reason the Celtics held a slim lead.
Gasol hit a short bank shot at the 3:37 mark to give the Lakers their first lead of the game, but Pierce hit a jumper to take care of that quickly.
Second quarter, 5:42, Celtics 35-32: Every Celtics fan seems to love Rondo's ability to play the passing lanes and he spent a few possessions in the first quarter checking Bryant one-on-one. Sometimes, though, he makes some unforgiveable mistakes off the ball on defense. His attention just seems to wane.
Rondo was oblivious when Pau curled off a foul line screen, failing to help and leading to Gasol getting an easy dunk. Those little things make a difference in the playoffs.
Second quarter, 8:09, Celtics 30-28: The Lakers bench hasn't made much of an impact this season, but Matt Barnes (not the guy the Red Sox drafted last June) made the L.A. bench mob look pretty good in the early moments of the second quarter.
Barnes went on a personal 6-0 run with four free throws and a putback to pull the game even at 28-28. Allen, who leads the Celtics with seven points of 3-for-6 shooting, gave the Celtics the lead back with a floater.
The Lakers have never led in this game despite outrebounding the Celtics 17-14 and committing only two turnovers.
End of first quarter, Celtics 26-22: Bryant did not attempt a shot for the first 9 minutes, 5 seconds of this game. Once he got a look though, he opened up as only Kobe can.
Bryant canned a jumper to cut the Celtics' lead to 17-14, but committed a three-second violation on the very next play. Mickael Pietrus knocked down a 3-pointer and Rondo smoked Steve Blake with a nifty inside-out dribble on the break to push the Celtics' lead to 23-14. The nine-point margin was their widest lead of the game.
Bryant responded with four straight points, however, and Pietrus and Blake canceled out each other with 3's to end the frame.
Derek Fisher and Blake will struggle against the Celtics guards. Rondo and then E'Twaun Moore were able to race around the veteran point guards at will in the first quarter, and neither Lakers guard has the size to deal with Allen or Pietrus.
First quarter, 3:56, Celtics 15-10: A little bit of mobility in the frontcourt can give both of these teams trouble, and Brandon Bass was example A. Gasol looked more than a step slow on two straight possessions, allowing Bass to beat him down the floor on a break for a fastbreak dunk off a bounce pass from Rondo. Then Bass snuck behind a screen and dropped a free throw line jumper on a pass from Pierce.
First quarter, 6:01, Celtics 11-10: Pau Gasol gets a lot of grief, even from Lakers fans. A lot of the time it's deserved, like when he missed an open fastbreak layup on a nice football pass from Metta World Peace.
But Gasol showed why the Lakers are still a title contender, and it's not solely because Kobe Bryant can drop 30 points a game. Gasol found Andrew Bynum for an alley-oop dunk and then connected with Bynum again, although the basket was waved off due to a foul by Rondo before the shot.
The Celtics led by as many as five early by going to a mismatch between Ray Allen and Derek Fisher, but Bynum and Pau helped bring the Lakers back.
First quarter, 11:14, 0-0: Black and green unis for the Celtics, for what that's worth. Hideous.
7:45 p.m.: Fresh off learning that he will not be making a trip to the All-Star Game, Rajon Rondo will direct the Celtics Thursday against the rival Lakers.
There will likely be much hand-wringing in the near future over Rondo's exclusion, but for now the task at hand is the actual game.
The projected starting lineups are below.
Metta World Peace
8 a.m.: The last two weeks have been a time of celebration for the Celtics, who have won nine of their last 10 games and on Tuesday saw forward Paul Pierce move into second place on the franchise's career scoring list.
Life isn't as pleasant for the Lakers, who have to deal with being overshadowed in their own building by the Clippers. More importantly, the Lakers have lost their last two games and are in the middle of a six-game, 10-night road trip that began in Denver on Friday and ends Sunday in Toronto.
Kobe Bryant remains a dangerous scorer with 29.3 points per game, and told the Orange County Register on Wednesday that the torn ligament in his shooting wrist that has hampered him all season has fully healed.
Get updates and analysis right here during the game, which is set for an 8 p.m. tip-off.