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Lakers notebook

Artest off his game

Search continues for consistency

By Monique Walker
Globe Staff / June 14, 2010

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Not much went Ron Artest’s way last night. He missed two critical free throws late, and didn’t have much offensive success overall (2 for 9, 7 points). And his defensive assignment, Paul Pierce, had his best game of the series with 27 points.

Artest had a chance to make it a one-possession game with 43.3 seconds to go, but missed a pair of free throws. He hit 1 of 4 from the line on the night.

“It’s tough,’’ he said. “You want those to go down.’’

Pierce scored 15 of his points in the first half.

“Defensively, I was not consistent for the whole game,’’ Artest said. “I don’t know if Pierce hit tough shots or if it was bad defense. It was one of those two and that will change in LA.’’

Artest has been waiting to find his shot throughout the series. He has reached double figures only once (15 points in Game 1), but Artest insists he is not concerned with scoring. In fact, he scored just 2 points in Game 3, but the Lakers won.

“I still feel we have a chance to win,’’ Artest said. “It’s not about me. It’s about us and how we play as a team. You never know what can happen when you play as a team.’’

Big trouble
The Lakers were supposed to have the advantage in the paint with the combination of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, but the Celtics more than held their own last night.

The Celtics finished with 35 rebounds compared with 34 for the Lakers. But in the paint, the Celtics outscored the Lakers, 46-32.

Gasol finished with 12 points, but just 2 in first half, hitting 1 of 4 attempts. He did manage a game-high 12 rebounds while playing 38 minutes.

Meanwhile, Bynum played 32 minutes after getting his troublesome right knee drained for the second time this series. Bynum had 6 points, but just one rebound.

“More than anything else, Andrew was out of rhythm in the game,’’ said coach Phil Jackson. “I think he’ll feel much more comfortable getting back and playing. He’s really only played limited minutes since Tuesday night, so we anticipate that he’ll have some opportunity to get himself out there, shoot the ball a little bit, and give us more than just a big body in the sixth game.’’

Order on their court?
The series shifts back to Los Angeles, where the Lakers will face their first elimination game of the postseason. The Lakers beat Oklahoma City in six, swept Utah in four, and beat Phoenix in six.

“They’ve come home and carried the 3-2 lead back,’’ Jackson said. “It’s basically home court, home court. Now we’re going back to out home court to win it. That’s the way it’s supposed to be, isn’t it? Unfortunately, we couldn’t get this win here, but we got the one to count to bring us back home.’’

Since the Lakers moved into Staples Center for the 1999-2000 season, they have won 84 percent of their home playoff games (72-14). Before the Celtics captured Game 2, the Lakers had won 12 straight home playoff games dating to the 2009 Western Conference finals.

Free thinkers
The Lakers converted 17 of 26 free throws, getting twice as many chances as the Celtics (9 for 13) . . . Lakers forward Adam Morrison was active for the first time in the series, but did not play. Center DJ Mbenga was moved to the inactive list.

Monique Walker can be reached at mwalker@globe.com.

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