Artest distinguished in debut
LOS ANGELES — Ron Artest had one block last night, but it came at a key moment in the fourth quarter.
Artest reached up and blocked Glen Davis’s shot, which sent the Lakers on a run. The ball was passed to Pau Gasol at the other end and he went up for the slam to give the Lakers a 91-76 lead with 6:20 to go in the game.
The first Finals appearance for Artest was a complete one as he played 32 minutes 53 seconds, scoring 15 points, hitting 3 of 5 3-pointers, and grabbing 4 rebounds.
Artest said he didn’t get a chance to really cherish the moment, but hopes that will come with the celebration of a championship.
Artest bought two courtside tickets that were given away in a drawing Wednesday to a pair of lucky Lakers fans because he wanted to give them a unique experience.
Artest gave them an interesting show.
In the game’s opening seconds, Artest and Paul Pierce got tangled up and crashed to the court.
They both received technicals for the incident.
Artest continued to make life difficult for Pierce. Although the Celtics’ captain finished with 24 points, through the first three quarters he only had 11 and his team was down 20 (84-64).
The early foul was something that Lakers coach Phil Jackson said the team wanted him to limit.
“We tried to talk him into not getting gambling fouls out there, little consequential things that cost him a foul early in the ballgame,’’ Jackson said.
“He had to go sit down for a while. But he came back and I thought solidified our defense for quite a period of time.’’
Keeping an eye on Pierce is nothing new for Artest, who is in the midst of his 11th season.
“We been there before, both of us,’’ Artest said. “We’ve had a lot of battles.’’
“[The two days off before Game 2 is] going to help me a lot,’’ Bynum said. “I’m definitely grateful for that with the scheduling. It’s going to be harder in Boston because it’s Tuesday-Thursday, so for me, I’m just going to try to do as much as I can.’’
Bynum pulled down six rebounds and scored 10 points, giving the Lakers quality minutes. “I was particularly happy about Drew being able to play the minutes he was able to play [last night] and support us because of the foul trouble that Lamar [Odom] got in,’’ said Jackson.
Still, the statistic doesn’t give Jackson any relief.
“I wish I felt that way,’’ Jackson said. “I wish I had put it in the bank, so to speak. We’ve got to play this out, and we know this is a team that’s got a multitude of changes, lineups, activities, capabilities. . . . So we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, but it’s nice to know that that’s on our side.’’
“Kevin McHale gave them Kevin Garnett,’’ Jackson said. “I mean, why not? Geez. That’s somebody calling the kettle black.’’ The pregame moment generated a few laughs.