One win from number 18

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One win from number 18

Post  junkman on Mon Jun 14, 2010 8:38 am

BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics played like it was 2008. The Lakers' outing was circa 2006.

And for anyone who fails to remember which team was better: Boston 92, Lakers 86 in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night at a joyous TD Garden.

In what was the Celtics' final home game win or lose, they gave the home crowd of 18,624 an inspired performance to remember to take a 3-2 series lead. They now head back to Los Angeles with a chance to win a title in six games just as they did two years ago while Kobe Bryant and the Lakers have one off-day to figure out why they took the wrong kind of trip back in time.

Bryant was at-times sensational in scoring 38 points, but he became a one-man show as he had so often earlier in his career. He took 27 shots (converting 13), with the nearest Laker in terms of attempts being forward Pau Gasol (5 of 12 from the field for 12 points.

The Celtics were nearly unstoppable offensively against a porous Lakers defense, hitting 56.3 percent of their shots (41 of 71) while being led by Paul Pierce's 27 points and 18 points apiece from Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo.



Share34 Hero of the Day

For all the talk of Kobe Bryant and his much-anticipated breakout game, Paul Pierce was the one who exploded while managing to stay within the team game.

CELTICS 3, LAKERS 2

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Game 5: Celtics 92, Lakers 86 | Box Score
Povtak: C's Have Best Team, Not Best Players
Tomasson: Kobe Can't Carry Lakers
Bynum Ineffective After Promising Start
George: Dumb Mistakes Doom Lakers
SI.com's Mannix: Game 5 Report Card

More: NBA Finals Pictures
Game 6: Tues., June 15 | Finals Schedule

The Celtics small forward had 27 points on 12 of 21 shooting, although he had just one point in the fourth quarter on 0 of 3 shooting. Still, Pierce helped Boston keep Bryant at bay in the third quarter, when the Lakers shooting guard's 19 points in the period was his career-high in one quarter during a Finals game. Bryant finished with 38 points, but his shady shot selection and frustration with his teammates didn't help matters.

Pierce had scored 20-plus points in just one of the four Finals games coming in, and his 27 points was his most since he had 31 points against Orlando in the deciding game of the Eastern Conference Finals on May 28.

Turning Point

Celtics turnovers and an abundance of second-chance points had somehow kept the Lakers close midway through the fourth quarter, when Lamar Odom's 10-footer from the left baseline cut Boston's lead to 81-75.

But Boston broke it open in championship form from there. Garnett went middle to bury a jumper in the lane over Odom, then Ray Allen dove out of bounds baseline to corral a Bryant turnover and flipped it ahead to a dashing Rondo for a layup on the break. Rondo kept the momentum turning from there, cutting off a Derek Fisher passing lane for a steal that -- after a Garnett miss, Garnett steal, and Garnett-won jumpball -- eventually led to Rondo's high-flying tip-in off a missed Pierce three-pointer. With the "Beat LA" chants reaching their climax, the Celtics led 87-75 with 3:54 to go.

Outside the Box

Ron Artest said when the Lakers signed him last summer that he would take the blame if his new team didn't repeat as champions.

Well with the way things are going, he'll have to get in line with a growing contingent of Lakers faithful who are surely raising their pointed fingers. Once again, Artest was a non-factor offensively while hitting just 2 of 7 shots. But after a postseason in which his worth was so often gauged by his defense, neither he nor any of his teammates could slow Pierce.

You Had to be There, Part 1

If Artest was going to get in a shoving match with anyone, you figured it would have to be Pierce. The two have battled for years, with no incident more memorable than Artest's Pierce pants-ing when he was with Indiana.

But midway through the second quarter, none other than 6-foot-one, 171-pound Rajon Rondo shoved the 6-7, 260-pound Artest toward the baseline in defense of teammate Kevin Garnett. As both sides scrambled for an airborne ball, the Celtics forward had hit the deck after a shove from Artest that could easily have been deemed a flagrant foul.

Instead, Rondo was called for a technical and Artest somehow managed to avoid the temptation to pummel the Celtics point guard into the parquet floor.

He retaliated with his game instead, hitting a 3-pointer moments later to put the Lakers up 36-35.

You Had to Be There, Part 2

Speaking of strife, there was some amongst teammates as well. The ill-timed moment came at the end of the first half, when Pierce pouted because Rondo didn't get him the ball in the final seconds. The only problem? There were a few seconds left when Pierce walked toward the Celtics bench, and Rondo nearly passed the ball at his teammate's turned back as they ticked away. So Rondo drove the lane and missed a floater at the buzzer, then headed straight for Pierce to discuss the matter as they walked off the floor.

No one could blame Pierce for wanting the ball, as he was 7 of 10 from the field with a game-high 15 points in the first half. Rondo wasn't far behind, hitting 5 of 8 for 10 points.
Read More: Celtics Lakers NBA Playoffs NBA Finals Derek+Fisher, Kobe+Bryant, Lamar+Odom, NBA+Finals+2010, Pau+Gasol, Paul+Pierce, Rajon+Rondo, Ray+Allen, Ron+Artest

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