Home / Sports / News Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read | Comment
Celtics survive Lakers' late rally
Adjust font size:

The Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce goes to the basket between the Los Angeles Lakers' Pau Gasol (left) and Sasha Vujacic during the fourth quarter in Game 2 of the NBA Finals in Boston on Sunday. Reuters

After nearly squandering a 24-point lead, the Boston Celtics edged the Los Angeles Lakers 108-102 on Sunday to move two games from their first National Basketball Association title since 1986.

Paul Pierce scored 28 points and reserve Leon Powe had 21 for the Celtics, who lead the NBA Finals 2-0 as the best-of-seven series shifts to Los Angeles, where the Lakers have eight playoff wins in a row, for Game 3 Tuesday.

"Our mindset is to get Game 3, take away their confidence and try to get the series in LA," Pierce said. "We're not sitting on a 2-0 lead. We can break their back with another win."

Three days after being carried off the court with a sprained right knee in Boston's Game 1 victory, Pierce showed no signs of injury, hitting 9-of-16 from the field - including all four 3-point attempts, and adding eight assists.

"I'm not feeling any pain once I'm out on the floor," Pierce said.

Boston pulled ahead 95-71 with 7:40 remaining but as the Celtics eased back, Los Angeles refused to quit and the hosts collapsed.

The Lakers made a 31-9 run over seven minutes, matching a Finals record with seven 3-pointers in a quarter, to pull within 104-102 with 38 seconds to play.

"We got complacent with the lead. We didn't maintain our composure," Pierce said. "We're happy because we won but at the same time we definitely learned a valuable lesson in the fourth quarter."

Pierce and James Posey each sank two free throws in the final seconds to secure a narrow victory that had once appeared destined to be a blowout.

"I had a chance to ice the game at the line," Pierce said. "I wanted to make sure I knocked them down."

NBA Most Valuable Player Kobe Bryant scored 30 points, leading the comeback after managing only nine points in the first half, while Spanish center Pau Gasol added 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Lakers.

"It's something we can take from absolutely," Bryant said. "We played harder. We played with a sense of desperation and more aggression. That's something for us to take home and learn from."

Only three times in NBA Finals history has a team rallied to win after losing the first two games. The Lakers are 0-5 in the Finals when losing the first two games and 3-11 when opponents own the home-court edge as Boston does.

"It's not the end of the world," Bryant said. "We've come too far to really sweat being down 2-0."

Boston's Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, in their first NBA Finals like Pierce, each scored 17 points. Garnett had 14 rebounds. Rajon Rondo added 16 assists for the Celtics.

"We weren't happy with how we ended the game," Garnett said. "We've got to be a lot more aggressive come fourth quarter. It's a live-and-learn thing. We will apply what we learned and take it on the road."

Boston seized a 54-42 half-time edge but the Lakers pulled within 68-59 late in the third quarter. The Celtics finished the quarter with a 15-2 run capped by two slam dunks and a drop-in from Powe.

"He was terrific," Celtics coach Ray Allen said. "We made a point of trying to get him the ball."

Powe, averaging only 4.6 points a game in the playoffs, produced a career playoff scoring high and a spectacular driving slam dunk that set the stage for Boston's late collapse.

Boston made 27-of-38 free throws while the Lakers made only 10 trips to the line, hitting them all. But with Powe alone sinking 9-of-13 free throws, the disparity in foul calls irked the Lakers, particularly coach Phil Jackson.

"I'm more struck at the fact that Leon Powe gets more foul shots in 14 minutes of play than our whole team does," Jackson said. "That's ridiculous."

The Celtics are trying to extend their all-time record of 16 NBA crowns while the Lakers, second on the all-time list with 14, look for their first title since winning three in a row from 2000 to 2002.

Boston defeated the Lakers in their first eight NBA Finals meetings before Los Angeles snapped the skid in 1985 and repeated the feat in 1987, their most recent playoff matchup before this latest revival of the NBA's top rivalry.

(AFP via China Daily June 10, 2008)

Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read

Pet Name
China Archives
Related >>
- NBA boss talks of Oct games in China to aid quake victims
- Celtics beat Lakers 98-88 in Game 1
- Celtics and Lakers square off in league's top rivalry
- NBA stars to play hoops in Macao, Shanghai
Most Viewed >>
- Italian soccer team training session interrupted by beauties 
- Portugal, Czech score wins on first day of Euro 2008
- Liu Xiang disqualified for false start in hurdles
- Space-age suits race into uncharted waters
- Ronaldo awarded English player of the year