Kobe Bryant finishes with 30 points, Pau Gasol adds 23 and 14 rebounds, and the Lakers cruise to victory in Game 1.
They’re 47-0 under Phil Jackson in playoff series that they open with a win.
Paul Pierce gives the Celtics 24 points, nine boards and a whole lot of heart on both ends of the floor, but it’s not nearly enough. The C’s drop Game 1, and they’re in trouble in these NBA Finals.
Fourth quarter, 2:15, Lakers 95-82: In the mismatch of the century, Pau Gasol easily wins a jump ball over Glen Davis. Tip to Kobe, Kobe puts up a shot, he draws the foul.
A couple free throws here might be enough to consider this game over.
Fourth quarter, 4:10, Lakers 93-82: Paul Pierce refuses to die quietly. With two more free throws here, he pushes the L.A. lead back to 11.
The Celtics’ captain now has 19 points and eight rebounds. No Willis Reed moment in Game 1 of the Finals this year — just solid, consistent effort on both ends of the floor. No drama required.
But the Celtics still trail by double digits, and time is ticking away.
Fourth quarter, 6:20, Lakers 91-76: The Celtics sneak back to within 13, but a blocked Glen Davis shot leads to a Laker fast break and a Pau Gasol dunk. The lead is 15 again.
The Celtics are moving the ball well, which is both a blessing and a curse. They’re getting good open shots for the most part, but they’re also burning valuable seconds off the clock. Facing a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter, the C’s don’t have much time to mess around.
Fourth quarter, 8:56, Lakers 85-72: With a quick 6-0 run, the Celtics have sent a message. They’re not done yet.
Nate Robinson has gotten plenty of hype in the past week as an electrifying shooter, but he surprises the Lakers here with back-to-back assists. One entry pass to Glen Davis for a layup, then a pitch to Kevin Garnett for a good look at a 20-footer.
Boston has sliced the L.A. lead from 19 points back down to 13. They’re still a long shot, but they’re alive.
End of third quarter, Lakers 84-64: Foul trouble, both personal and technical, has added insult to injury for the Celtics.
Ray Allen now has five personal fouls, which will keep him off the floor for the time being in favor of Tony Allen. Rasheed now has a technical, his fifth of the postseason. Remember, seven in the playoffs is a suspension — who gets there first? Perk with six, or Sheed with five? Close call.
The Lakers lead by 20 for the first time tonight, courtesy of a Ron Artest 3. This one’s all but over.
Third quarter, 2:10, Lakers 75-62: That alley-oop from Fisher to Kobe is a dagger through the Celtics’ hearts. The Lakers are running, gunning and pumping their lead back up to 13.
Kobe now has 12 points in the third quarter alone. He’s got 24 for the game on 9-of-16 shooting.
He’s not just beating Tony Allen — he’s humiliating him.
Third quarter, 4:11, Lakers 69-58: The Lakers are now outrebounding the Celtics by a ridiculous margin, 29 to 15. It’s a miracle they’re only up by 11 right now.
The Celtics have yet to score a single second-chance point. Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum are beating the Celtics’ bigs to every single rebound. Pau already has 17 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks. You call him soft? I call him a beast. He’s proving himself tonight.
Third quarter, 6:10, Lakers 65-52: Kobe takes off in transition for an easy dunk. Count it. He’s got 20, and the Lakers have their biggest lead of the night.
The Celtics just look dead out there. Too slow, too sloppy, too passive. You’ve got to bring more effort than this to the NBA Finals.
Third quarter, 9:48, Lakers 57-45: We can all forget about Andrew Bynum being slowed down by his knee injury. The big fella’s got 10 points and six boards.
The Lakers are absolutely owning the inside game tonight. If KG and Perk can’t take their game to another level soon, the Celtics will be in serious trouble.
Halftime, Lakers 50-41: What can you say? Kobe’s being Kobe.
Twelve points, four assists, three rebounds, and a nine-point lead for his team in Game 1 at the Staples Center. Pau Gasol has chipped in 11 points and seven boards, a near double-double already.
If not for outstanding first-half performances from Rondo and Pierce, the Celtics would be dead in the water.
It would be nice if their teammates carried a little bit of the load in the second half.
Second quarter, 2:56, Lakers 39-35: Rajon Rondo is making great decisions in transition, getting the offense moving and hitting guys for open shots. But the shots aren’t falling.
One beautiful look at a 3 from the top of the key for Paul Pierce. Brick. Another for Ray Allen on the wing. Rimmed out.
Rondo’s finding his shooters in the right spots, but the Staples Center rims haven’t been friendly.
L.A. still leads, but if a couple of these shots fall, it’s a whole new ballgame. The Lakers had better stay on their toes.
Second quarter, 4:56, Lakers 37-35: Boston can exhale. Both KG and Ray have begun to turn it on offensively. The Celtics are a complete team again.
The biggest surprise for the Celtics so far has been Doc Rivers’ willingness to use Nate Robinson for extended minutes. Nate poured in 13 points in the second quarter of Game 6 against Orlando; Doc was clearly hoping he had another huge second quarter in him tonight, but it hasn’t shaken out that way. “Mighty Mouse” has attempted and missed two shots, including a wide-open 3 in transition.
Kobe Bryant now leads the Lakers with 10 points. He’s fired up. He doesn’t want to let the Celtics back into this game.
Second quarter, 7:11, Lakers 32-31: Still zero points for Kevin Garnett in this game. One for Kendrick Perkins. Two for Ray Allen.
When you can keep things close with the defending champions despite half your rotation being asleep at the wheel, it’s a moral victory. But the Celtics shouldn’t bank on this keeping up.
Rondo and Pierce have had stellar first halves. But two guys can’t beat the Lakers alone.
Second quarter, 10:14, Lakers 28-26: After two misses from Paul Pierce, Rasheed Wallace hits the first Boston 3-pointer of the Finals.
It’s a good thing, too. With how well Pau Gasol (and off the bench, Lamar Odom) are playing, the Celtics still aren’t getting any looks inside. The C’s points tonight are going to come two ways — from the line, and from beyond the arc. That’s about it.
End of first quarter, Lakers 26-21: It’s not just Ron Artest that’s playing physical against Paul Pierce — it’s all the Laker wings. And Pierce is getting the calls.
The Lakers have a five-point lead at the first intermission, but Artest, Kobe and Fisher are all in early foul trouble with two personals each. And Pierce is getting the job done — he’s 2-for-3 from the field and 5-for-6 from the free-throw line for nine points, a game high.
If he keeps it up, and Kevin Garnett wakes up at any point tonight, the Celtics will have a shot.
First quarter, 3:24, Lakers 18-13: It’s already clear that the Lakers aren’t afraid to use Kobe Bryant on Rajon Rondo. It’s also clear that Rondo isn’t afraid to drive and score anyway.
Rondo’s got an early six points on 3-of-5 shooting. With Kobe and Pau playing as well as they are, Rondo’s the only reason the Celtics are in this thing at all.
The Celtics’ bigs — Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett, Rasheed Wallace — are having no luck getting inside and scoring. Either the C’s need to toughen up against these Laker bigs, or their shooters need to have a really lucky night.
Hats off to the Lakers. They’ve started very, very strong in Game 1.
First quarter, 5:30, Lakers 16-10: If Pau Gasol can’t miss, then the Lakers are going to be really tough to beat.
Watching Gasol work is a thing of beauty — the Laker big man may catch a lot of flak in Boston for being “soft,” but he’s such a skilled post scorer, rebounder and defender — and in a more underrated aspect of his game, he also knows how and when to pass the ball back out of the post. When the Lakers can play effective inside-out basketball, they’re a scary team.
First quarter, 7:48, Lakers 10-6: Each of the Lakers’ five starters has exactly two points. There’s a box score you don’t see every day.
The Celtics have a great team defense, but the Lakers are a flexible, versatile unselfish offensive team when they want to be. It’s not all going to be Kobe Bryant isos — these guys can share the ball.
First quarter, 9:44, Lakers 4-2: The good news for the Lakers is they’ve taken the lead; the bad news is early foul trouble for Derek Fisher.
Fish picks up two quick ones, and that forces Phil Jackson to dip into his bench early, getting Sasha Vujacic to jump into the fray.
The Lakers’ bench is not very deep and not very good compared to Boston’s. The more Jackson is forced to use it, the better off the Celtics will be.
First quarter, 11:33, Celtics 2-0: It takes just 27 seconds for Paul Pierce and Ron Artest nearly to come to blows.
The two of them get tangled up under the basket trying to box each other out for a rebound, and Artest ends up (inadvertently, it would appear) pulling Pierce to the ground. Pierce jumps up immediately, grabbing Artest’s from behind, and that’s when Kevin Garnett and Derek Fisher immediately step in to break things up.
Pierce should be happy with the double technical. Seeing as his contact looked a lot more intentional that Artest’s, it could have easily been just the one tech for Pierce.
Well, we knew this series would be physical. Sure didn’t take long.
8:30 p.m.: All news is good news from the Celtics prior to the start of Game 1.
Doc Rivers has informed the media that everyone on his roster feels “healthy, good, rested and ready to play” in Game 1. The only serious injury for the C’s at the moment is Marquis Daniels, who remains out with a concussion, but Doc has inserted the once-inactive Brian Scalabrine into Daniels’ roster spot. He’s got a complete, healthy 12-man roster for Game 1.
Rasheed Wallace has suffered from back pain this week, Rajon Rondo has battled muscle spasms, and Glen Davis is on the mend after a concussion. But all are ready for Game 1. The C’s are ready to roll.
8 a.m.: In January, when the Celtics were banged up and down in the dumps, we had no idea this would day would come.
In April, when they closed out the regular season losing seven of their last 10 games, we had more than a few doubts.
Even last week, when they started to cough up a 3-0 series lead over Orlando in the East finals, there was cause for concern.
But every time the world doubted them, the Celtics fought back, and they’re now taking the floor for Game 1 of the NBA Finals because of it. The C’s and the defending champion Lakers are all ready to go at the Staples Center.
We never thought we’d see the day, but it’s here. The Celtics are taking the game’s biggest stage.