|Kobe Bryant (left) and Andrew Bynum catch Kendrick Perkins in a Lakers sandwich. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff)|
Defense makes a stand
The Lakers appeared to have learned from the final minutes of Game 2. After turnovers and missed shots cleared the path for the Celtics to win Sunday, the Lakers didn’t leave much in the hands of the Celtics’ offense.
The Lakers relied on their defense. Derek Fisher played a key part in shutting down Celtics’ guard Ray Allen, who didn’t have a single field goal (0 for 13) after shooting an NBA Finals-record eight 3-pointers. Lakers forward Ron Artest clamped down on Glen Davis in the fourth quarter to force a turnover that resulted in 2 more points for the Lakers. And Paul Pierce was 5 of 12 from the field as he ended the night with 15 points.
“Well, defensively it was a good game, and this is a team, Boston Celtics, that has so many guys that can contribute, [Kendrick]Perkins — [Kevin]Garnett stepped it up and got his game going, and obviously Pierce was in foul trouble,’’ said Lakers coach Phil Jackson. “He only played 33 minutes, 34 seconds. And the job that [Fisher] did on [Allen] was terrific.’’
Bynum came back in with 9:45 left in the game and the Lakers protecting a 68-67 lead. But about four minutes later, Bynum came out and did not return. Jackson said the move was not because of Bynum’s knee but for strategic reasons.
“That was a lineup decision at that time,’’ Jackson said. “He tweaked his knee a little bit in that third quarter and came out, and I wanted to shorten his time. But that particular moment I thought it would be best to have Lamar in.’’
Before the game, Jackson said the team would be judicious in its use of Bynum, considering the travel and one day off. Bynum chipped in 9 points and tied with Pau Gasol for a team-high 10 rebounds.
Bynum, who had some swelling in the knee before Game 2, put together impressive performances in the first two games. In Game 1, he played 28 minutes 9 seconds and collected 10 points and six rebounds in the winning effort. He came back after two days’ rest to play 39 minutes, collecting 21 points, 7 blocked shots, and 6 rebounds.
Odom, who struggled in the first two games of the series, led the group with his 12 points and added five rebounds in 28 minutes. He scored a total of 8 points in the first two games. As a group, the bench scored a total of 22 points. He accounted for half of the bench’s 16 points in the first half last night and equaled the total output of the Celtics bench in that span.
Monique Walker can be reached at email@example.com.