Kobe, Fisher Help Lakers Roll Through Celtics in Game 3
Pierce still might be right about not going back to Los Angeles, but he could be really, really wrong about why.
It's the Lakers now who could finish the series in Boston.
The Lakers took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series with a 91-84 victory over the Celtics, taking them another step closer to winning their second consecutive championship.
They may have looked uninspired when they lost Game 2 in Los Angeles, but they regained the home-court edge and every bit of their focus Tuesday. Game 4 is set for Thursday night in Boston.
Kobe Bryant led the charge with a game-high 29 points, giving the Lakers a lead early that they never lost, holding off a final charge by the Celtics.
Hero of the Day
Lakers point guard Derek Fisher, who had just 15 points combined in the first two games, had 16 points Tuesday, getting 11 in the fourth quarter when the rest of the Lakers started to wilt. Fisher had a huge 3-point play in the final minute, giving the Lakers a 87-80 lead that the Celtics could not erase.
Throughout the first two games of the Finals, it was Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo who was getting all the accolades while leaving Fisher to take the blame for the struggles of the Lakers. On Tuesday, Fisher was big when it counted down the stretch.
Although the Lakers never trailed after the first quarter, the Celtics made their charge midway in the fourth, erasing the earlier, 17-point deficit. They closed the gap to 70-69 with 8:04 remaining when Kevin Garnett hit a 20-foot jumper, and the crowd at the TD Garden was roaring.
The Lakers regained the momentum first with a basket by Odom, and three consecutive baskets by Fisher. Odom then hit another driving layup for an 80-76 lead.
The Lakers got a break when officials reversed a ruling -- permitted with the help of instant replay in the final two minutes -- and Fisher scored again on a 3-point play.
Outside the Box
Celtics shooter Ray Allen was brilliant in the Game 2 victory, but he was equally bad in Game 3, shooting the Celtics out of the game. He had 32 points and hit 8 of 11 3's in Game 2, yet he missed all 13 shots -- including eight from 3-point range -- in Game 3. The contrast was startling, but it continued the up-and-down trend he has shown throughout the playoffs.
Key Coaching Decision
When Lakers starter Ron Artest got two fouls in the first three minutes, Phil Jackson went with little-used Luke Walton and saved sixth man Lamar Odom for later in the game. Walton, who combined for five minutes in the first two games, got 13 minutes Tuesday. Odom, after a pep talk from Jackson on Monday, rebounded with a good game of his own, getting 12 points and five rebounds. Jackson also changed the way the Lakers defended Allen, and it contributed to Allen's poor shooting.
You Had to be There, Part 1
It doesn't matter where you sit at the TD Garden, it's still more than impressive to look up and see all the championship banners hanging from the structural beams. The Celtics have 17 of them, proclaiming themselves as "World Champions.'' The Boston Bruins have five touting themselves as Stanley Cup champions. The Bruins, who still control the best dates at the Garden, haven't won one since 1972.
You Had to Be There, Part 2
Former Celtic and Hall of Famer Bill Walton was grinning from ear to ear as he walked through the tunnel toward the locker rooms before the game because the crowd was cheering for him, but he looked puzzled when those cheers suddenly turned to jeers when he stopped to acknowledge a few people. What he didn't realize, until he turned around, was the reception changed dramatically because Lakers forward Pau Gasol had jogged up behind him on his way to the locker room.