An NBA blog from Newsday's Bobby Bonett
Flashback: Lakers, Celtics, Game 7
Day 29 of our 30-team NBA playoff flashback profiles the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers franchise has 16 NBA titles, and has 18 playoff appearances since the 1991-92 season.
Date: June 17, 2010
Situation: The No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers and the No. 4 Boston Celtics are tied, 3-3, heading to Game 7 of the NBA Finals
Context: Under the Zen Master, Phil Jackson, the Lakers took home the NBA title in 2009, the franchise’s first championship since 2002. Despite several injuries — Kobe Bryant missed nine regular season games and Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol each missed 15 — L.A. was in contention to repeat, finishing the regular season with the NBA’s third-best record at 57-25. The road to the Finals didn’t present much of a problem for Bryant and Co., with L.A. losing just four games combined in the first round, semifinals and conference finals, setting up a rematch of the 2008 NBA Finals with the Celtics — a Finals that the Lakers lost in six games. Boston stole home court advantage from the Lakers with a 103-94 Game 2 win at the Staples Center, but bounced back in Game 3 to take a 2-1 series lead. The Celtics followed up the loss with back-to-back wins, putting the Lakers on the brink; Game 6 was a blood bath, though, as the Lakers held Boston to 33.3 percent from the floor on the way to a 22-point win. With the win, the Lakers forced a Finals Game 7 for the first time since 2005.
Recap: Boston’s defense stifled the Lakers in the first quarter, holding Los Angeles to just 14 points. The Celts then finished the second quarter on an 11-5 run to take a 40-34 lead into the break. But after the Celtics extended the lead to 12, 49-37, on a Rajon Rondo layup with 8:23 to go in the third, the Lakers began to claw back. The lead was cut to four, 57-53, heading to the fourth, and a pair of Kobe Bryant free throws with under six minutes left put L.A. up, 66-64. The Lakers’ lead was up to five when Rasheed Wallace nailed a three-pointer with 1:23 left, closing the gap to three, 76-73. On the opposite end of the court, though, an unlikely hero came up big: Ron Artest. Artest hit a trey with 1:01 to go, extending the lead to six. The Lakers wouldn’t look back, beating the Celtics in a Game 7 for the first time in franchise history. Los Angeles won, 83-79.
Top players: Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 23 points, and grabbed 15 rebounds. Pau Gasol added a double-double with 19 points and 18 rebounds. Ron Artest scored 20 points. The Lakers shot just 32.5 percent from the floor and 20 percent from three. All five of the Celtics’ starters scored in double digits. However, Boston’s bench managed just six points — all by Glen Davis.
After the game: The 2011 NBA title seemed like it was the Lakers’ for the taking. Phil Jackson had announced that the 2010-11 season would be his final as L.A.’s head coach; what better way to go out than get Kobe Bryant his fifth NBA title? After winning the Pacific Division and beating the Hornets in six games in the first round of the playoffs, though, the Lakers were steamrolled by the Mavericks, swept out of the playoffs in the Western semis. After the season, Jackson retired, and super sixth man Lamar Odom was traded to the Mavericks.
Check back tomorrow for the Celtics.
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