Game-Winner in Boston Gives Kobe Bryant Sense of Revenge for Finals Loss in 2008

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Game-Winner in Boston Gives Kobe Bryant Sense of Revenge for Finals Loss in 2008 Remember the Doc Rivers Gatorade shower? Kevin Garnett screaming "Top of the world!" at the top of his lungs? A slew of old Celtics legends flooding the court to give hugs to new ones?

Kobe Bryant does. And that's why the smile on his face Sunday night went from ear to ear.

"This is special for me, personally," Bryant said after he hit a jumper with 7.3 seconds left, lifting his Lakers past the Celtics 90-89. "I had a chance to win a game [in Boston] last year and I didn't do it."

Although Los Angeles did win here last season, Bryant has longed to deliver a dagger to Boston since the Celtics beat the Lakers in the 2008 NBA Finals, posting a rout in a deciding Game 6 that saw the Green whooping it up for much of the second half.

The shot in Ray Allen's face Sunday did just that, giving the Lakers three straight wins in the series and handing slumping Boston its third straight loss overall.

Essentially, it was a stark reminder of just how much has changed since the green and white confetti fell to the floor at TD Garden two springs ago.

"It is fun to come in here and win," Bryant said.

For much of Sunday afternoon, however, it didn't seem so fun for the Lakers superstar.

From the get-go, Boston suffocated Bryant, who has been hobbled by a left ankle injury. He had just nine points and three turnovers at halftime and only 13 points with nine minutes left in the game and the Celtics leading by 11.

But a Bryant runner with 7:16 to go trimmed the Lakers' deficit to 81-76. His two free throws with 1:20 remaining pulled L.A. within one. And then, after an offensive foul on Paul Pierce gave Bryant an opportunity to make amends, he ensured there were no issues in the Lakers' huddle.

"I didn't say, 'Give me one more chance,' [to coach Phil Jackson], I said, 'Give me the damn ball,'" Bryant recalled. "I really didn't give him much of a choice. … I thought about being here last year and having a chance to win it at the end of regulation and having to go into overtime and do it. So I kind of wanted to redeem myself for that."

Mission accomplished. And with it, further proof that the memories of 2008 are no longer painful to Kobe Bryant. You can tell by his smile.

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