Lakers Come Back to Beat Celtics, Win 16th NBA Championship

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June 17, 2010


Lakers Come Back to Beat Celtics, Win 16th NBA ChampionshipFinal: Lakers 83, Celtics 79.
For Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher, it's one for the thumb.

Bryant and Fisher are now five-time NBA champions, beating the Celtics 83-79 at the Staples Center in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Yet another title to add to the dynastic history of the Laker franchise.

The Lakers fall behind early, trailing by as much as 13 in the third quarter, but they come back and win with incredible mental toughness and clutch shooting.

Kobe shoots poorly, but he finishes with 23 points and 15 rebounds in one of the most important games of his career. Pau Gasol adds 19 points and 18 boards.

For the Celtics, it's been an incredible postseason run, but it comes to an end here. The Lakers are champions.

Fourth quarter, 11.7 seconds, Lakers 83-79: Vujacic comes through. The Lakers are knocking on history's door. Banner No. 16 is almost theirs.

The Celtics will have to get desperate.

Fourth quarter, 11.7 seconds, Lakers 81-79: The Celtics opt to foul Sasha Vujacic. Can the Machine crank out a couple of game-winning free throws?

Fourth quarter, 13.0 seconds, Lakers 81-79: Rondo makes a huge 3
to keep the Celtics alive, and he forces the ball out of bounds to
derail the Lakers. Now the C's need to foul and get the ball back
quickly.

They're not dead yet. Game 7 is going to come down to the final possession, it appears.

Can the C's pull off the upset?

Fourth quarter, 25.7 seconds, Lakers 81-76: He makes them both. All is redeemed for the Black Mamba, who comes through when it matters most.

Timeout called by Doc Rivers. He's going to have to get creative now.

Fourth quarter, 25.7 seconds, Lakers 79-76: You want to cement your legacy, Kobe? Make these free throws.

Sheed hacks Kobe — it's his sixth foul, and he's done. Bryant has a chance to ice the Lakers' win.

Fourth quarter, 51.3 seconds, Lakers 79-76: Dueling 3-pointers. First Sheed, then Ron Artest. Now Ray Allen strikes back for Boston.

Unbelievable. Do the Celtics still have a chance in this thing?

Fourth quarter, 1:23, Lakers 76-73: Rasheed Wallace for 3. This one's not over yet.

Fourth quarter, 1:30, Lakers 76-70: Rasheed gives a Larry
Bird-like effort to dive into the crowd for a loose ball, sacrificing
his body. But he can't come up with the big play.

The
Lakers capitalize and score — Pau Gasol finishes at the rim. He's got
19 points and 16 boards, coming up huge in arguably the most important
game of his life.

L.A. is inching closer to finishing this thing.

Fourth quarter, 2:20, Lakers 73-68: More fouls piling up for the Celtics. That's four on Paul Pierce, and two more freebies for L.A.

You can't give the Lakers this many easy points. They'll bury you every time.

This is all starting to unravel now.

Fourth quarter, 2:47, Lakers 71-68: Kevin Garnett joins Rasheed Wallace in the five-foul club.

If the Celtics aren't able to be aggressive inside in these final minutes, that's a huge blow to their chances.

Beating the Lakers is hard enough. Beating foul trouble is even tougher.

Fourth quarter, 3:21, Lakers 71-66: Kobe knocks down a free throw. Lead back to five.

The clock's ticking, Boston.

Fourth quarter, 4:38, Lakers 70-64: Pau Gasol knocks down two free throws. The Lakers have a six-point lead for the first time tonight.

The Lakers' defense has become tough as nails, and Kobe and Pau are
doing a lot more than just scoring — they're grabbing every rebound in
the world.

The Lakers are hungry for their 16th banner.

Fourth quarter, 5:21, Lakers 68-64: Uh oh. Here comes Kobe.

It's a 7-0 L.A. run, including four points from Bryant, who's been
shooting miserably all night. He's had to work incredibly hard for it,
but he's managed to pile up 20 points and 13 rebounds. Even when he's
terrible, he's great.

Kobe is often called the game's greatest closer. Can he prove it by closing this one out? It would be one heck of a story.

Fourth quarter, 6:13, 64-64: Derek Fisher for 3. What a beautiful shot, and what a huge moment for the Lakers.

Once again, we're all tied up.

Six
minutes to go in the NBA season. Can the Celtics show the resolve they
need to pull this one out? NBA history is hanging in the balance.

Fourth quarter, 6:49, Celtics 62-61: Five fouls for Rasheed Wallace. That's bad news in any game — but in Game 7, and without Kendrick Perkins to back you up?

Sheed's sitting out for the time being, and Big Baby is back in to take his place. He'd better get comfortable.

Fourth quarter, 7:29, 61-61: Ron Artest with the three-point play to tie the game. Anyone else having trouble breathing?

But
hey — you had to think this one would go down to the wire. Lakers,
Celtics, Game 7 — could you possible expect anything less?

You're
watching one of the all-time classics unfold between your very eyes.
Whether you're from L.A., Boston or Neptune, you'd better enjoy this.

Fourth quarter, 7:45, Celtics 61-58: Glen Davis never ceases to
amaze with the energy he brings to the fourth quarter of every single
game. Of course, Game 7 is no exception.

Fourth quarter, 9:04, Celtics 59-55: Another beautiful entry
pass from Rajon Rondo to Kevin Garnett. Eight assists now for Rondo,
and 15 points for Garnett on 7-of-12 shooting.

The
Lakers continue to nip at the Celtics' heels, but the Celtics are in
control of this game. Their effort has been stronger, their execution
has been better, and their shots have been falling.

As for Kobe,
he's got a double-double (13 points, 11 rebounds), but he's shooting
5-of-21 and he's put up just one assist versus four turnovers.

Talk about a stinker. And this is a legacy game for him?

Fourth quarter, 9:54, Celtics 57-55: Kobe can't do anything right. That's a turnover and a failed attempt at stopping Ray Allen in transition. Three fouls for him.

Fourth quarter, 11:38, Celtics 57-55: Kobe Bryant starts the fourth quarter on the bench, but Pau Gasol starts the fourth quarter on the warpath.

Now it's a two-point Boston lead. Too close for comfort, Boston fans.

End of third quarter, Celtics 57-53: What did you expect? The Lakers are refusing to die quietly.

The
Lakers close the quarter with a 6-1 push, trimming the Boston lead from
nine to four. The Laker bigs have got it going — Pau Gasol and Lamar
Odom have given a stellar effort offensively in the third quarter, and
this game may well go down to the wire.

It's amazing that the
Lakers have survived this long getting nothing from Kobe Bryant, who's
shooting an absolutely pathetic 5-for-20.

If he turns it on in
the fourth quarter, the Lakers have a real shot at this thing. But the
Celtics' defense has been airtight all night along, and they're not
about to let up now.

Third quarter, 2:37, Celtics 56-51: Pau Gasol may be having a
dreadful shooting night, but he's still got himself a double-double
again. Ten points and 10 boards exactly.

Meanwhile,
Derek Fisher has retreated back down the tunnel to the Lakers' locker
room. Not sure what exactly is wrong with him — it might be some kind
of groin pull, as he tripped and landed funny a minute ago.

Third quarter, 4:21, Celtics 54-45: Rasheed Wallace is getting every rebound in sight, bad back be damned. What a performance.

If
I told you a few months ago that Rasheed would start, grab eight
boards, and propel the C's to a second-half lead in Game 7 of the
Finals, would you have had me committed?

Yeah, probably. But with this Celtics team, you just never know what will happen.

Third quarter, 5:38, Celtics 49-43: Lamar Odom just got an
offensive rebound and an emphatic putback. Nice play, but why is Lamar
celebrating like he just won the Finals?

The
Lakers have chopped the Celtics' lead back down to six. But they can't
let up now — Rondo and Garnett have such a good rhythm offensively,
there's no way they're giving this game up without a fight.

Doc
Rivers has called for a timeout. He knows how to keep his guys
motivated. Shouldn't take much — this is Game 7, for crying out loud.

Third quarter, 7:13, Celtics 49-39: Pierce is back in. Didn't take long.

This is no time for nursing minor injuries. The Celtics are 19 minutes away from their 18th world championship.

The summer is long, and Pierce can have all the rest he wants. Starting tomorrow.

Third quarter, 8:15, Celtics 49-36: Looks like another shoulder stinger for Paul Pierce, who's had a history of shoulder pains this season. That can't be good.

But
the Celtics are up 13, and Rajon Rondo continues to push the ball and
make aggressive plays to keep the offense flowing for Boston.

Will Pierce still be effective the rest of the night? And if he doesn't, can the Celtics still hold on?

The tension is thicker than Big Baby's thighs.

Third quarter, 9:45, Celtics 47-36: The Celtics have a double-digit lead for the first time tonight. Phil Jackson has a headache.

The
Lakers need a timeout. They're missing every shot in sight, and they're
letting the Celtics have everything they want on their end.

Rajon Rondo's baby sky hook was reminiscent of Magic Johnson circa 1987.

The Celtics are playing like champions.

Third quarter, 10:25, Celtics 45-36: Ladies and gentlemen, meet Vintage KG.

Garnett takes in the entry pass from Rondo, gets to the rim, finishes, and draws the foul from Pau Gasol.

It's a three-point play, widening the Boston lead to nine.

KG is fired up in a way we haven't seen since two years ago.

Halftime, Celtics 40-34: What's that expression again? Defense … wins … something?

The Celtics close the first half strong, and they've held the Lakers
to just 26.5 percent shooting in this Game 7, and only 18.2 percent from 3-point range.

Kobe is 3-for-14. Pau is 3-for-12. The Lakers are shooting absolutely dreadfully, and they've got to turn that around.

Paul Pierce has 11 points and six rebounds to lead the way for
Boston; Ron Artest has 12 points and three boards for the Lakers. Those
two guys are going at it in more ways than one.

In 24 short minutes, one of them will be a champion.

Second quarter, 2:48, Celtics 31-29: What a defensive battle we've got on our hands in this one.

Paul Pierce draws a foul from Derek Fisher, his second. Pierce will head to the line for two shots after the timeout.

We're looking at one of the lowest-scoring games in Finals history
if this keeps up. But hey — that's just the way the Celtics like it.
Even without Kendrick Perkins as the big man in the middle, this is a
defensive team.

Second quarter, 3:58, 29-29: What's that, you say? Ron Artest just stepped up and hit a shot?

Apparently
so. Ron-Ron knocks down a 3 from the corner to tie the game at 29; the
Lakers continue to fight back despite the shooting woes of their two
starts, Bryant and Gasol.

Artest is 4-for-9 from the field in this game; he's been huge for the Celtics, to the tune of nine points and three rebounds.

Second quarter, 5:59, 25-25: Ray Allen has taken five shots in this game, all of them 3-pointers. He's made just one.

Whatever happened to the Ray Allen that lit the world on fire in Game 2 of these Finals, right here at the Staples Center?

If that guy comes back, the Celtics have a mighty good chance of
winning this thing. Unfortunately for them, they have no idea when that
might happen.

Second quarter, 8:22, 23-23: The Celtics have missed eight
straight shots. When you can't score, and you can't close out
possessions with defensive rebounds, it's awfully hard to win.

It's now a 9-0 run for the Lakers to open the quarter. The Celtics just can't do anything right.

Second quarter, 10:05, Celtics 23-19: The Lakers have opened the second quarter on a 5-0 run, and Doc Rivers has scrambled for a timeout.

The
team that's won the first quarter has won every single game of these
Finals. The Celtics really don't want to buck that trend in Game 7.

They've
got to sustain that aggression offensively. In the first quarter, they
were attacking the basket; in the second, they've gone soft, settling
for elbow jumpers.

When you make them, you're brilliant. But when you miss? It's a little worrisome.

End of first quarter, Celtics 23-14: We've got a long way to go, but the Celtics must be tremendously happy with their Game 7 performance so far.

The
C's close the quarter on a 13-3 run, as their stifling defense holds
Kobe Bryant to 1-of-7 shooting. The Lakers go without a field goal in
their final 3:35 of the first quarter, and the Celtics run up a
nine-point lead.

Six points for Glen Davis off the bench lead all scorers. Kevin Garnett, Rasheed Wallace and Rajon Rondo each add four.

The Celtics need a team effort to win the NBA Finals. So far, they're getting it.

First quarter, 1:38, Celtics 21-14: The great thing about Game 7 of the Finals? Both teams know it's their last game, so everyone goes hard for all 48 minutes.

That
means tight rotations. Both coaches have been slow to dip into their
benches, with only a sixth man (Glen Davis. Lamar Odom) taking the
floor so far.

Makes perfect sense. This is one game for all the marbles — no one's holding anything back.

First quarter, 3:06, Celtics 17-13: Glen Davis is so undersized, he can't stare Andrew Bynum in the eye. More like the shoulder.

But
he's out there in the first quarter of Game 7, and he's playing with
all the heart in the world. This might sound crazy, but he seems to
want this title more than anyone.

He must really want to be on the duck boats with his shirt off for another parade. But don't we all?

First quarter, 4:50, Lakers 11-10: Who's more worried right now — the Celtics, being outrebounded 14-4, or Kobe Bryant, shooting 0-for-4?

Both
numbers will even out over time, no doubt. But the Celtics have to do a
better job crashing the boards. That's an effort thing, and the C's
have to work at it.

Kobe's shooting? That's a lot of luck. He'll turn it on in due time.

First quarter, 5:54, Celtics 10-9: Zero points so far tonight for Kobe Bryant; zero for Paul Pierce.

The
supporting casts are getting the wheels turning early. Sheed is doing
his thing for the Celtics, while Pau Gasol and Derek Fisher have got it
going for L.A.

So when does Kobe flip the switch? It's only a matter of time, right?

First quarter, 8:04, Lakers 7-6: Who needs Kendrick Perkins as an agitator when you've got Sheed?

Sheed's
setting the tone early for the physicality of this game, throwing Kobe
Bryant to the ground as he goes after a defensive rebound.

Kobe's
not going to win this game with finesse plays. The Celtics are letting
him know that if he wants to take over tonight, he'll have to get down
in the trenches and fight.

First quarter, 9:40, Lakers 5-4: We're underway, and it's already a war between Pau Gasol and Rasheed Wallace. Didn't take long.

Neither
side wants to give up any ground in the middle. Gasol is pushing, and
Rasheed is pushing back. It's a slugfest for every rebound.

This is the way a Game 7 should be.

9:00 p.m.: Ball don't lie, as Rasheed Wallace famously once
said. And after all's said and done, Game 7 won't lie, either. The best
team will win.

We're just about ready to tip things off at the Staples Center. In just a few short minutes, basketball history will be made.

8:45 p.m.: Something to keep in mind: The Lakers' big man corps isn't exactly at full strength, either.

Phil
Jackson said prior to Game 7 that Andrew Bynum will start for the
Lakers, but he'll be limited to 10 minutes of action per half. That
means a whole lot of Lamar Odom, people.

Both sides are banged up
after 100-plus games this season, but after one last game, it's all
over. They'll leave it all on the floor in Game 7.

8:15 p.m.: Doc Rivers has finally made a decision on his
starting lineup, and he's willing to joke about it, too. Here's why
he's going with Rasheed Wallace:

"He's old," Rivers said before the game. "I figured I'd go with the oldest guys."

He
then went on to explain his real reasons — Wallace is a better fit in
the Celtics' offense considering Rajon Rondo. With his outside shooting
and the way it spaces the floor, Rivers is hoping he can get Rondo some
driving lanes to carry the offense early.

But also, yeah. He's old. That's important too.

7:30 p.m.: Here's a crazy fast fact from the Finals history
books: Both Doc Rivers and Phil Jackson have been to a Finals Game 7.
But neither has played one, and neither has coached one, either.

Rivers
was sitting out the Knicks' loss to Houston in '94 with a knee injury;
Jackson was a 24-year-old bench player in 1970 when the Knicks beat the
Lakers in the deciding game of the Finals. He, too, was out with an
injury.

Both men will have a much bigger impact tonight. Which one will win?

6:30 p.m.: Still two-plus hours to go, and Twitter is already broken. Good lord, how much more buildup can we get?

Really makes you wonder — this is the biggest game in NBA history since … Since when? It's really hard to say.

We've
only seen two Finals Game 7s in the last two decades: Spurs-Pistons in
2005 (which Rasheed Wallace played), and Rockets-Knicks in 1994 (which
Doc Rivers sat out on the Knicks' bench, injured). Did either of those
games have the cache of this one — the rivalry, the big names with
legacies on the line, the back-and-forth dramatic nature of this series?

In
terms of the anticipation for one single game, this might be the
biggest game we've seen since the 1984 Bird-Magic Game 7. We're talking
about a once-in-a-generation basketball game.

5:30 p.m.: Less than four hours to game time, and we still don't have a definitive answer — who's starting for the Celtics?

We do have educated guesses, though. A tweet Wednesday from ESPN's Ric Bucher says a source told him to expect Rasheed Wallace in the Celtics' starting five.

Buch
later clarified that Kevin Garnett would be positioned at center,
defensively, while Sheed would be the de facto power forward.

Works
for me. Sheed has been a beastly defender in this series against Pau
Gasol, and KG will enjoy a nice "bad knees vs. bad knees" matchup
against Andrew Bynum.

As for Glen Davis, he's always been great
off the bench, giving the Celtics an energy boost as a sixth man. No
reason that should change tonight.

4:20 p.m.: If you're looking for some stats to explain the significance of the Perk injury, then I'd recommend looking here, courtesy of ESPN. Take a look at what he does defensively:

With
Perk on the floor, the Lakers' big man tandem of Andrew Bynum and Pau
Gasol has shot 5-of-14 in post-up situations in these Finals. Overall
in this postseason, the two are 55-of-109 with Perk out of the picture
— that's a mighty big gap between 35.7 percent and 50.5.

Kendrick
Perkins doesn't have to block shots to be effective defensively. His
mere presence scares opposing big men away from being too aggressive
offensively, and when they miss, he keeps them off the offensive glass.

Without Perk on the floor, a lot of things will change tonight for the Celtics.

10:44 a.m.: For Knute Rockne's Fighting Irish, there was "Win one for the Gipper." For Doc Rivers' Celtics, it's "Win one for Perk."

The
C's are one victory away from winning the NBA Finals and capturing the
18th championship in their history, but if they're going to get it
done, they'll have to do it without Kendrick Perkins. The Boston center
went down Tuesday night with two torn ligaments in his knee, and the
Celtics will have to find a way to win Game 7 without him.

They're
coming off a miserable loss in Game 6, an 89-67 drubbing in which the
Lakers dominated the war inside and sustained a 20-point lead for the
whole second half.

But they've got to put that behind them now,
as they take the floor at the Staples Center one last time. One last
chance at all the marbles.

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