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Posey out; offer to Allen?

Posted by Marc J. Spears, Globe Staff June 30, 2008 11:58 AM

James Posey's agent Mark Bartelstien confirmed today that his client is not going to exercise a $3.2 million option and will officially become an unrestricted free agent.

Free agency begins Tuesday. Players can sign with new teams starting on July 8. Posey is expected to get a lot of interest from a lot of teams, but will also be the Celtics' top priority.

The Celtics are trying to decide today whether or not to make a qualifying offer to guard Tony Allen. If the Celtics decline to give him an offer, he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

Posey to opt out today

Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 30, 2008 08:10 AM
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(Jim Davis / Globe Staff)

The Globe's Marc J. Spears writes today that, in a move that shouldn't come as a surprise, James Posey will opt out of the second and final year of his contract with the Celtics.

The move will make Posey an unrestricted free agent, but both the Celtics and Posey have expressed an interest in reuniting during the offseason.

From Spears: Celtics forward James Posey's agent, Mark Bartelstein, said his client will opt out of the second and final year of his contract today. The move will make the versatile Posey an unrestricted free agent, but Bartelstein has also said his client wants to return to Boston. When asked about whether Posey, who averaged 7.4 points per game this season, will be re-signed, Celtics general manager Danny Ainge said Saturday: "I'd hate to say whether or not we will be able to. We'll see what happens." Free agency begins tomorrow.

ESPN's Chad Ford ranks the best available free agents and has Posey at No. 7 among this year's crop of unrestricted free agents. Ford writes: "Posey helped himself with a strong performance against the Lakers in the Finals. He's another player who should get a three- to four-year midlevel deal somewhere."

Early offseason rumblings have the Lakers and Hornets among potential suitors for Posey's services. New Orleans freed up some space when it traded its No. 27 pick in the 2008 NBA Draft to Portland in exchange for $3 million cash.

From the Associated Press:

James Posey recently earned a championship ring with the Boston Celtics. Corey Maggette has indicated he's ready to leave the Los Angeles Clippers to get one.

Either one could help the rising young Hornets contend for an NBA title, so long as New Orleans can afford what those players are asking in free agency.

The Hornets' draft-night maneuvering should help with that.

After falling one victory shy of advancing to the Western Conference finals, the New Orleans Hornets began working out prospective draftees - more than 40 in fact. It soon became clear to general manager Jeff Bower and head coach Byron Scott that what the Hornets really needed to contend for a championship was not an untested rookie but a proven player.

"When we looked at the 27th pick and all the guys we brought in, we tried to look at those guys objectively and think if any of those guys could help us next year, immediately," Scott said. "It was our opinion there really wasn't anybody there that could help us. If we could trade the pick, sell the pick, whatever the case may be, the bigger picture is trying to get a veteran guy who can come in here and help us right away."

To make a run at some of the better players in free agency, which begins July 1, the Hornets needed as much financial flexibility as possible. Hence the decision, made official during Thursday night's NBA draft, to trade their only draft choice, the 27th overall, to the Portland Trail Blazers for about $3 million cash.


What the Celtics did this weekend ...

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 29, 2008 06:15 PM

...took in a fight.

Winchell Campos, a member of Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao’s staff, told the Phillipine Daily Inquirer that 16 tickets were provided for the Celtics for Saturday night's Pacquiao-David Diaz WBC lightweight title fight at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. Pacquiao won the fight.

From the video clip above, the Celtics are apparently big fans of the Filipino ring icon, while Pacquiao is an ardent Celtics fan.

Video profiles: Giddens & Walker

Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 27, 2008 08:43 AM

With an assist to our friends over at NECN, here are video profiles on two of the players acquired by the Celtics during last night's NBA Draft.

With the 30th and final pick of the first round, the Celtics selected New Mexico guard JR Giddens. The team then traded cash considerations to the Wizards in exchange for Bill Walker, Washington's second-round selection (47th overall).

The Celtics wrapped up their night by selecting 7-foot-1 center Semih Erden, who played for Fenerbahce Ulker of Turkey, with the 60th overall pick.

Check out the videos below for more on Giddens and Walker.

Giddens

Walker


Giddens gallery

Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 26, 2008 11:16 PM

Check out a photo gallery of J.R. Giddens -- the Celtics' first-round draft pick (30th overall) from tonight's NBA draft -- in action during his college days at New Mexico.

See the posts below for more information on Giddens.

More on Giddens

Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 26, 2008 10:44 PM
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(AP Photo)

Celtics coach Doc Rivers made a brief appearance on ESPN's NBA Draft telecast and when asked about J.R. Giddens, who the team tabbed with the 30th and final pick of the first round, Rivers disclosed that the team had worked out the 6-foot-5 guard Wednesday, but that he was a player who Executive Director of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge had his eye on for a long time.

As for national perspective, ESPN's Chad Ford writes in his first-round analysis: "A huge surprise here. Giddens might have lottery-type talent, but he had so many off-court issues that his stock tanked. I guess Danny Ainge is willing to roll the dice, given his veteran squad. If Giddens grows up, this will be a great pick. But it's a big if ..."

Ford ranked Giddens at No. 49 on his pre-draft Top 100.

Check out the video below for a look at Giddens in some highlights from his freshman season at Kansas University (where he played two years before transferring to New Mexico for the 2006-07 season).




Celtics select J.R. Giddens

Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff June 26, 2008 10:30 PM

With the 30th pick in the first round the 2008 NBA draft, the Celtics selected 6-foot 5-inch, 205-pound guard J.R. Giddens, a senior from New Mexico. The 2008 Mountain West conference co-player of the year averaged just over 16 points per game with just under nine rebounds last season.

Giddens stats:

© 2008 by STATS LLC.
(2008 by STATS LLC)

Here's a bit more on Giddens from this February 2007 article that appeared in The Albuquerque Tribune: 'Lobo J.R. Giddens seeks to rise above the labels'

Layered in the multicolored personality of J.R. Giddens lies a Steve Urkel.

It started as an 8-year-old out of Oklahoma City, when Giddens masqueraded as the suspender-wearing, buck-toothed TV goof for Halloween or around the house.

Mister Rogers was another favorite of the young Giddens.

"He had on Air Jordans with a Mister Rogers outfit for an elementary school performance," said Charles Giddens, J.R.'s father. "It was so funny. He had the best show in the class. He always knew how to be a fun kid."

Being a "fun kid" has never been the problem for Giddens. The real challenge is trying to define someone who refuses to be defined.

Giddens, a University of New Mexico guard, is both fun-loving and somber. He's a goofy Steve Urkel or a high-flying Steve Francis.

He's flexing muscles to The Pit crowd or running out of The Pit's backdoor refusing interview requests.

He'll shoot 3-of-13 or 10-of-13.


Pierce jokes around on Kimmel

Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 26, 2008 09:02 PM

Paul Pierce engaged in some fun during his appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Wednesday evening.

The Celtics captain had a nurse cart him out in a wheelchair for his interview on the late-night program. Clutching the NBA Finals MVP trophy, Pierce sprang to his feet and threw his hands in the air as he reached the interview dais where Kimmel, a professed Laker fan, smiled from behind his desk.

Pierce kept the trophy on Kimmel's desk during an interview filled with friendly banter. Check out the video above for a clip from the show, or read this article from today's Globe.

To watch the entire interview, hop over to ABC's website, click on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and find the June 25 episode (which also featured "The Love Guru" star Mike Myers).

Scal rides for charity

Posted by Marc J. Spears, Globe Staff June 26, 2008 11:26 AM

Celtics forward Brian Scalabrine will be riding in this weekend's Cape Cod Getway with the EMD Serono team. The avid cyclist is collaborating with with EMD Serono, a leader in the US biopharmaceutical arena that is integrating cutting-edge science with unparalleled patient support systems to improve people's lives with MS. Scalabrine and over 150 EMD Serono employees will join over 2,000 other riders as they head from Quincy to Provincetown on Saturday and Sunday. Look for Scalabrine and the EMD Serono employees in their EMD Serono uniforms throughout the course. To make a donation, please visit www.msnewengland.org and look for the EMD Serono page.

Summer reading

Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 26, 2008 07:51 AM

celtics on si cover

Those Celtic fans looking for some easy reading for their next trip to the beach this summer should stop by the local newsstand where the Green can be found on the cover of two recent Sports Illustrated issues.

The latest issue (June 30) features Bill Russell and Kevin Garnett together with the Larry O'Brien championship trophy and a headline, "The Once and Future Celtics From Russell to KG." Inside, in an article titled, "Seems like Old Times," Jack McCallum writes:

Now it's another magical time in Boston , the anti-Cleveland , the city of Williams and Yaz, of Shore and Orr, of Russell and Cousy , of Manny and Big Papi, of Brady and Belichick. Ainge was born in 1959, three weeks before the Celtics won the second of 11 championships they would earn in a 13-year stretch. Ainge 's shooting and hustle contributed to two of the franchise's three titles in the '80s; he and DJ represent one of the last backcourt combos that didn't need to be differentiated as point and shooting guards. Ainge returned to Boston in 2003 as executive director of basketball operations and general manager, eventually building a championship team for the new millennium, erasing memories of the fallow decade of the '90s with the best single-season turnaround (a 42-win swing) in NBA history.

The Celtics' entire starting 5 adorns the cover of the NBA championship commemorative edition which features the headline, "Return to Glory."

Ainge wants Posey back

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff June 25, 2008 03:39 PM

Danny Ainge said he had a list of 23 different names that could fit into that last draft spot when the Celtics pick tomorrow night.

Who fits best is what he’s not so sure about.

But what he was certain of when he talked to reporters in a teleconference this afternoon was the fact that bringing James Posey back next year was just as much of a priority as the draft.

Posey is likely to pass on the $3.4 million option for the 2008-2009 season and attract offers from any number of teams looking for a gritty defender and timely scorer with championship credentials.

“We want James back,” Ainge said. “That’s my position. We need to come to an agreement, what is a fair agreement with him, that process will start on July 1 when he can go test the free agent market and see what’s available, just weigh his options and choices because I’m sure he’ll have choices.”

In Posey, the Celtics had one of the most instrumental bench players in the league. Posey Average 7.4 points and 4.4 rebounds last season and his 11 points in Game 6 of the NBA Finals sparked the run that buried Los Angeles helped guide Boston to its 17th championship.

Ainge knows that it would be hard to replace that in the draft. He said the 30th pick has a five percent chance of being a starter and doubted if a player taken with the last pick tomorrow has a chance of helping the team.

“We have a deep roster as it is,” he said. “I don’t know. We hope that we can but the odds are we don’t.”

Ainge didn’t rule out the possibility of drafting a player and sending him overseas to develop, saying that a move like that would save a team when it came to the luxury tax as well as cutting the costs of developing the player. “Then when you get them,” he said, “you maximize their value when they do come aboard.”

When asked about PJ Brown’s future with the team, Ainge said Brown was leaning toward retirement.

Brown would be 39 when the 2008-09 season started, and he was all but retired this past season before Ray Allen and Paul Pierce ran into him during the All-Star break in New Orleans and talked him into returning.

“PJ is on the mindset that his career is over, but he hasn’t completely, completely cleared the books.” Ainge said. “But that’s where he is leaning. But we’ll talk as he gets home (Slidell, La.), gets settled and July 1 rolls around. We may have some more discussions.”

Pierce on Kimmel Live!

Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 24, 2008 10:34 PM

Celtics captain and 2008 NBA Finals MVP Paul Pierce will appear on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live! on Wednesday night.

One week after teammates Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman, Pierce will continue the late-night circuit by visiting on a night Kimmel also welcomes "The Love Guru" star Mike Myers and musical guest, The All for Nots.

Before the NBA Finals began, Kimmel joked that he would eat Paul Pierce's headband if the Celtics topped the Lakers. Check out the YouTube video at the bottom of this entry to see Kimmel follow through on his words.

Jimmy Kimmel Live! airs at 12:05 a.m. EDT on WCVB-TV, Channel 5 (which technically means early Thursday morning for Pierce's episode).


One expensive stained shirt

Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 24, 2008 02:08 PM

rivers535.jpg
(Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The Gatorade-stained shirt worn by Celtics coach Doc Rivers during Boston's title-clinching Game 6 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers last week netted $55,000 for The Shamrock Foundation through an auction on sports radio WEEI (850 AM).

An anonymous bidder pledged $35,000 for the shirt and accompanying Gatorade bucket utilized by Celtics captain Paul Pierce (above) during the sneak attack. The Gatorade company donated an addition $10,000, while a second anonymous donor gifted a $10,000 pledge.

The Celtics defeated the Lakers, 131-92, to clinch the franchise's 17th world championship last Tuesday.

The shirt, autographed by both Rivers and Pierce, had a $10,000 bid this morning until former Patriots head coach Bill Parcells, now the vice president of football operations for the Miami Dolphins and a Gatorade endorser, called with a bid of $20,000 on behalf of the sports drink company.

Steve Pagliuca, Celtics managing partner and president of The Shamrock Foundation, pledged an additional $35,000 if the winning bidder will allow the Celtics to display the shirt at various times during the upcoming season. No word yet on whether that offer has been accepted.

Here's the full press release.

FULL ENTRY

Nuggets suspend Anthony

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 23, 2008 07:40 PM

The Denver Nuggets have suspended forward Carmelo Anthony for the first two games of the 2008-09 regular season, Nuggets vice president of basketball operations Mark Warkentien announced today. Anthony was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol on April 14 and is scheduled to appear in court tomorrow.

"We take drinking and driving very seriously," said Warkentien. "Carmelo admits he made a serious lapse in judgment and has expressed his sincere remorse numerous times since to the Nuggets organization, his fans and the Denver community. We will continue to support Carmelo as he strives to live up to the high expectations set by Carmelo himself and the Nuggets organization on and off the court. We will respect the legal process moving forward and continue to handle the matter internally without further comment."

In better news for the young forward, he was named to the 12-man US Olympic roster today.

Perk doing a little home shopping

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 23, 2008 06:09 PM

Celtics center Kendrick Perkins will make a special guest appearance on QVC on Tuesday, June 24 at 11 p.m. The Celtics center will be offering fans the chance to purchase NBA championship memorabilia, including his own autographed basketball.

No Celtics on U.S. team

Posted by Marc J. Spears, Globe Staff June 23, 2008 01:03 PM

USA Basketball will not have any Celtics on its 12-man roster during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. However, Team USA is interested in having Celtics guard Rajon Rondo and center Kendrick Perkins on a young select team that could play against USA in Las Vegas during training in July to help them prepare for the Olympics. By participating, Rondo and Perkins could put themselves in position to play for USA in the future.

Doc's shirt up for auction

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 22, 2008 06:22 PM

Doc Rivers’ Gatorade soaked shirt from Game 6 of the NBA Finals is on the auction block. After appearing on the Dennis and Callahan Show on WEEI last Thursday, the Celtics head coach gave the shirt, which is autographed by Doc and Paul Pierce, to WEEI. Michael Holly started the bidding at $750 and as of this weekend, bidding was up to $9,000. All proceeds will go to The Shamrock Foundation. Bidding will end at 10 AM on Tuesday. Bids will be taken on air throughout the day on WEEI.

C's take victory lap at Fenway

Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 21, 2008 10:02 AM

One day after a rolling rally through the streets of Boston, the world champion Celtics pulled into Fenway Park Friday night, where the team rode another batch of duck boats on a victory lap around the home of the world champion Red Sox.

The rain that passed through the area couldn't put a damper on the Celtics, who enthusiastically waved to the crowd while toting a handful of the 17 Larry O'Brien NBA championship trophies the team boasts.

Check out the video above to see scenes from Friday night, including Paul Pierce's ceremonial first pitch fastball that catcher Jason Varitek couldn't quite snare.

Rally, on demand

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 19, 2008 06:31 PM

Celtics fans who couldn't make it to today's rolling rally in celebration of the 2008 NBA champions, or fans who want to watch it again, can catch it tonight through the end of June on Comcast On Demand.

Starting tonight, in addition to coverage of the Celtics’ victory parade, fans will be able to watch complete pregame and postgame coverage from the playoffs, including the press conferences after the championship-clinching Game 6 of the NBA Finals.

Comcast subscribers should have an On Demand button on their remote, which will allow them access to the extra programming.

Why I'm here

Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 19, 2008 03:37 PM

The Boston Globe's Dina Rudick talked to Celtics fans at today's rolling rally and asked them to answer a simple question: "Why are you here?"


Who's your favorite?

Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 19, 2008 03:35 PM

The Globe's Chona Camomot and Peter Schworm ask fans who their favorite player on the Celtics is:


Finals were a ratings bonanza

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 19, 2008 02:33 PM

The six games of the NBA Finals, which aired on ABC, were the top-rated and most-watched television programs to date for the month of June, according to a press release from the NBA. The ratings are as follows:


Show                                          Rating       Viewers

1. Finals Game 5 (ABC) - June 15 10.2 17.4
2. Finals Game 6 (ABC) - June 17 10.7 16.9
3. Finals Game 3 (ABC) - June 10 9.2 14.5
4. Finals Game 4 (ABC) - June 12 8.7 13.8
5. Finals Game 2 (ABC) - June 8 8.5 13.5
6. Finals Game 1 (ABC) - June 5 8.7 13.4
7. Belmont Stakes (ABC) - June 7 8.2 13.1
8. America's Got Talent (NBC) - June 17 7.8 12.8
9. U.S. Open Golf (NBC) – June 15 7.5 12.0
10. Two and a Half Men (CBS) – June 9 6.9 10.7
11. Million Dollar Password (CBS) - June 1 6.8 10.6
12. 60 Minutes (CBS) - June 1 6.8 10.3
13. NCIS (CBS) – June 10 6.9 10.2
14. Two and a Half Men (CBS) – June 2 6.4 9.8
15. 60 Minutes (CBS) – June 8 6.5 9.8
16. Million Dollar Password (CBS) – June 5 6.3 9.6:
17. CSI (CBS) – June 5 6.5 9.6
18. So You... Dance (FOX) – June 4 6.0 9.6
19. House (FOX) – June 2 6.0 9.4
20. CSI (CBS) – June 12 6.6 9.4


T'd up

Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 19, 2008 02:08 PM

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Maybe it's because we haven't been able to buy one of these types of T-shirts in 20 years, but consider us giddy with delight when we noticed adidas produced a "parade" T-shirt for the Celtics featuring the caricature of the Celtics' final 15-man roster for the 2008 championship season.

Each of the Celtics' players wore the shirt today (though, some, like Paul Pierce removed it in favor of a different brand of shirt for the actual parade, while others like Glen "Big Baby" Davis removed all upper-body apparel entirely).

We're fairly certain we still have the "Green Stuff" T-shirt below featuring the 1986-87 starting 5 (Bird, McHale, Parish, Ainge, and Johnson) along with Darren Daye (a 6-foot-8 forward, who averaged a mere 3.9 points and 2.0 rebounds per game that season and inexplicably landed on this T-shirt).

Around the same time, they also came out with a "Celtics Pride" shirt featuring key players from the Celtics' 16 world championships to that point. Maybe they should update that T-shirt this summer. You know, add that Bird guy to the mix and maybe even sprinkle in some of the new Big 3. And, for giggles, maybe put in Darren Daye as well.

06192008parade2T535.jpg

Parade scenes

Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 19, 2008 01:24 PM

Check out scenes from today's rolling rally in our Boston.com video:

Paul Pierce grooves to the beat: With a cigar in one hand and his MVP trophy in the other, Paul Pierce grooves to the beat during the Celtic's rolling rally. (Produced by Ann Silvio)

Religious Fervor: A throng of fans cheer from the second-story balcony of the historic Park Street Church as Celtics coach Doc Rivers rides by in a duck boat. (Produced by Ann Silvio)

Remembering Red: Paul Pierce lights up a cigar as he prepares to ride the streets of Boston in the Celtics rolling rally. (Produced by Ann Silvio)


Alas, it's over

Posted by Teresa Hanafin June 19, 2008 12:31 PM

The duck boats have passed through Copley Square and the fans are reluctantly heading out, back home, back to work, or to the closest restaurant to continue the celebration. No crowd estimates yet, but don't be surprised if it's a huge number.

Some fans who don't want the party to end are sticking around, cheering the police and the street sweepers who are cleaning up the confetti.

The duck boats are zipping back to the Garden, taking a circuitous route back to the Garden where the players' vehicles are parked.

PJ Brown

Posted by Teresa Hanafin June 19, 2008 12:23 PM

WBZ-TV handed its microphone to reserve forward PJ Brown, who screamed, "World Champions, baby!" over and over. "Electric!" He yelled. "No. 1!"

Brown, who played a key role in the title run after the Celtics lured him out of retirement, is expected to contemplate retirement again.

He's one of six potential free agents, along with guards Eddie House, Sam Cassell, and Tony Allen, center Scot Pollard, and forward James Posey. The most crucial is Posey, 31, who has indicated through his agent, Mark Bartelstein, he will opt out of the two-year deal he signed with Boston, forgoing $3.4 million to hit the open market, the Globe reported. Posey, Boston's best bench player, was a crucial component in the playoffs, especially in the Finals.

Ainge refused comment on the free agents, saying the team will let things settle, but he acknowledged Posey's importance. "James was huge for us. He brings a lot of intangibles to the team. He's been a real spark. He's brought some toughness to the team, and we wouldn't have won a championship without him."

Of the remaining free agents, House would appear to be the best fit.

Regardless of whom Boston re-signs or signs as replacements, Ainge acknowledged to the Globe that the Celtics will be over the luxury tax threshold, as they were this season. The payroll is projected to be at $71 million, including their first-round pick, which at No. 30 will make $797,600 next season.

Point guard Gabe Pruitt could be ready to become Rajon Rondo's backup next season, and forward Glen "Big Baby" Davis is already on the roster.

Rondo

Posted by Teresa Hanafin June 19, 2008 12:21 PM

Starting point guard Rajon Rondo is on the same boat as Big Baby and Eddie House. Rondo rebounded from an injury-plagued, almost wasted trip to Los Angeles with as spectacular a Game 6 as anyone could ask from a 22-year-old: 21 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists, and 6 steals.

Ray Allen

Posted by Teresa Hanafin June 19, 2008 12:19 PM

One of the more heartfelt moments of the Celtics' championship celebration was when Ray Allen had his son Walker with him on stage for the trophy presentation. Allen, who had 26 points and set a Finals record with 22 3-pointers in the series, a record-tying seven in Game 6, easily could have been Finals MVP. But he was a most valuable parent to his son, who was hospitalized Sunday prior to Game 5 and eventually diagnosed with diabetes, the Globe reported.

Allen left Staples Center after Game 5 to be with his son and took him to the hospital upon arriving back in Boston prior to Game 6.

"This is something that is going to be a lifestyle change for all of us," said Allen. "But we made it through the first couple of days."

More of the scene

Posted by Teresa Hanafin June 19, 2008 12:14 PM

It's an amazing scene along the parade route ... confetti is flying everywhere, fans are screaming at the top of their lungs, workers are hanging out of office windows, and the Gino video is playing on one of the Jumbotrons set up along the route.

This has got to be one of the loudest championship parades in Boston history.

Kevin Garnett hasn't let go of the trophy during the entire parade.

Ray Allen is standing up on a ledge on his boat, standing head and shoulders above his boatmates and holding his arms wide in a symbolic and emotional embrace of his fans.

The banner is done

Posted by Teresa Hanafin June 19, 2008 12:07 PM

Co-owner and managing partner Wyc Grousbeck has a Celtics' 2008 championship banner in his grip, hanging it off the back of duck boat No. 8, which he is on with Kevin Garnett and Sam Cassell. It looks like a replica of the larger banner that will be raised to the rafters, likely before the first game of the 2008-2009 season.

Grousbeck is the most visible of the ownership group that bought the Celtics in 2002 and includes his father, Irv, Stephen Pagliuca, and Bob and David Epstein.

When the Celtics led the Lakers, 123-86, with nearly two minutes remaining in Game 6 Tuesday night, Grousbeck was flashed on the screen with a cigar sitting in the corner of his mouth. His nod to Red Auerbach did not go unnoticed.

"Red believed in this ownership group," Grousbeck told the Globe. "He believed in [Doc Rivers], [Danny Ainge], and [Paul Pierce], and those are the makings of this championship. So Red's influence was felt."

Doc's emotions

Posted by Teresa Hanafin June 19, 2008 12:03 PM

Coach Doc Rivers, handed a microphone by WBZ-TV, said he was "shocked" by the size of the crowd packing Boston's streets. "This is very sweet," he said hoarsely as he pointed to people in the crowd and yelled, "Yes, sir! Thank you!"

"I can't believe this," Rivers said. "I am blown away by this."

Unbelievable crowds

Posted by Teresa Hanafin June 19, 2008 11:59 AM

A combination of beautiful weather, many kids who are already out of school, a 22-year drought of Celtics championships, and simple love and admiration for a great team has brought a crush of fans into downtown Boston, easily matching, if not exceeding, the crowd size at every parade held in the past five years for the Sox and Patriots -- with the possible exception of the lovefest for the 2004 Sox. I mean, c'mon, that was 86 years ...

Gino Time!

Posted by Teresa Hanafin June 19, 2008 11:47 AM

Somebody in the crowd at the Garden had a poster of the famous Gino, the hirsute dancer in tight shirt and pants shown on the Garden Jumbotron during games when it's clear the Celtics are going to win.

It's a clip from the popular disco-era dance show "American Bandstand", hosted by the ageless Dick Clark. The Celtics play "You should Be Dancing" as the clip runs. There are lots of dancers in Afros, gyrating and doing the Hustle ... but the bearded white guy dancing with himself in the snug Gino Vannelli top stands out for his smooth moves.

He's become a cult figure among fans, many of whom stand up and try to imitate him -- with decidedly mixed results.

Here's a video about the phenomenon.

Sadly, the Wall Street Journal discovered that the guy in the video died 18 years ago.

The Big Three

Posted by Teresa Hanafin June 19, 2008 11:40 AM

The so-called new Big Three -- captain Paul Pierce, forward Kevin Garnett, and guard Ray Allen -- may be on different duck boats today, but it was their solidarity during the season that helped clinch this championship.

As the Globe's Marc Spears wrote, those three sat side by side during a press conference at TD Banknorth Garden to announce their arrival in Boston July 31. They stood side by side in uniform in front of the Roman Colosseum at the beginning of training camp in October while cameras flashed and surprised tourists looked on. All three were Eastern Conference All-Stars, marking the first time since Larry Bird, Robert Parish, and Kevin McHale in 1991 that a Celtics trio had done it. And as the clock ticked down during Game 6 of the NBA Finals with the Celtics claiming their first title in 22 years Tuesday night, Garnett, Pierce, and Allen were where they had been all along: side by side.

These three embraced each other like brothers. They put their egos aside for the betterment of the team. Coach Doc Rivers let them know that together, not individually, they could be champions, Spears wrote.

Garnett and Allen respected the fact that Pierce had been in Boston for nine years and wanted him to remain the only captain and the last Celtic called during pregame introductions. And while the spotlight shined on the All-Star trio during the entire campaign, they always made their teammates feel like equals.

"It wasn't just about the three of us, and we knew that," Allen said. "Kevin had been in situations where it was always about him; same with myself and Paul. And even with the three of us, we knew it was going to take more than just the three of us, and we had to make our teammates better and allow them to understand the magnitude of what we were facing."

Said Garnett: "We said from Day 1 this is Paul's team. Ray and I had no problem with that. Doc let us know that the three of us were going to have to sacrifice."

One morning last September at about 8, Rivers convened Garnett, Pierce, and Allen for an unexplained meeting in downtown Boston. It took place on a duck boat that gave the three stars their first such tour of the city. As they rode past downtown, Rivers emphasized that they were on the same route the Red Sox and Patriots took during their championship parades and if they jelled, they would have a parade of their own someday.

The result? This All-Star trio of Pierce (17 points in Game 6), Kevin Garnett (26 points, 14 rebounds), and Ray Allen (26 points) won a championship in their first season together.

The Coach and the Exec

Posted by Teresa Hanafin June 19, 2008 11:30 AM

The Globe's Bob Ryan praised this year's team, and in particular team president Danny Ainge and coach Glenn "Doc" Rivers. He pointed out that the team was put together in record time by Ainge, a member of the 1984 and 1986 championship teams, and coached by Rivers, a 13-year NBA veteran who had his heart broken on more than one occasion by some of those aforementioned championship teams.

It was built around the considerable talents of three great veterans - captain Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen, and brilliantly augmented by a beguiling combination of experienced, savvy players and eager, youthful ones.

And according to Ryan, it is one of the great Celtics teams of all-time. In fact, he ranks it second all time, behind only the 1985-86 team of Bird, Parish, McHale, DJ Johnson, and Ainge.

Here’s Ryan’s story, and here’s a photo gallery of those teams.


A shirtless Big Baby

Posted by Teresa Hanafin June 19, 2008 11:25 AM

Glen "Big Baby" Davis has peeled off his shirt and is sitting up on the back of one of the boats, is waving it to the crowd. Also on Big Baby's boat are Eddie House, holding his toddler son, and Rajon Rondo.

There is a sea of green among the spectators, with many waving Celtics flags. The rally has turned from Causeway onto Staniford Street, and soon will turn left onto Cambridge Street, then onto Tremont Street, before turning right onto Boylston Street and ending at Copley Square.

They're off!

Posted by Teresa Hanafin June 19, 2008 11:21 AM

Amid a shower of confetti and the screams of adoring fans, the championship Celtics have started the "rolling rally". Virtually every player is holding or smoking a Red Auerbach cigar. The crowds around the Garden are massive.

The scene at the Garden

Posted by David Lefort, Boston.com Staff June 19, 2008 11:10 AM

Throngs of fans are gathering in Boston this morning for a rolling rally to celebrate the return of the Boston Celtics to championship glory. The tall men will wave to cheering green-clad crowds from duck boats as they proceed from Causeway Street to Copley Square.

At a ceremony inside the TD BankNorth Garden, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino thanked the team for the citizens of Boston, saying, "They've really done a great job, on and off the court."


In the parking lot of the Garden, hundreds of police officers congregated around the duck boats that would carry the team.


A chain link fence separated fans from the lot, but they tried to peer through the fence to catch a glimpse of the team. Hundreds of people chanted anti-Kobe Bryant slurs and occasionally burst into spontaneous cheers.

Several had been there since as early as 6 in the morning. Among them was Joseph Bennett, an 18-year-old high school senior from Methuen who showed up with his girlfriend, Jackie Wilder, 17, and several relatives, including his little sister Maggie, who’s 13.

“You got to be a fan, you got to be here early," he said.

Bennett said he’s loved the Celtics as long as he’s been old enough to watch games and he said he got through the bad years by listening to his mother’s stories of the glory days of the Celtics. He said he’s such a fan he saw Pierce play his first game in Boston.

“You can get through it if you love them that much,” he said of the drought he experienced.

Paulina Barros, 24, of Dorchester was also in the crowd outside the Garden. She wore a shirt that said "Mrs. Rondo" on the back. She said she was hoping to get an engagement offer from player Rajon Rondo.

She said she's been a big fan all her life.

"I still have the vintage Celtics license plate. I was two when they won their last championship," she said.

Janice Sullivan, 55, of Duxbury was wearing a green Celtics shirt and a tophat. "I think it's wonderful for the city. It's brought a lot of cameraderie back," she said.

The Celtics trounced the Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday to win the championship, ending a 22-year championship drought. It was the 17th championship for the storied team, which saw a stunning turnaround from the previous losing season after veteran stars Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett joined Paul Pierce on the team.

It was also the city's sixth championship celebration in seven years because of the successes of the Red Sox and the New England Patriots.

The parade is expected to be a two-hour ride. Boston Celtics players, owners, and staff will board more than a dozen vehicles from Boston Duck Tours. Two flatbed trucks will carry the Celtics dancers, former Celtic greats, and championship trophies from past years.

Previous parades have drawn as many as 1 million people to the downtown, officials say. This year's procession will feature a new array of heroes, from Allen, Garnett, and Pierce to plucky second-year guard Rondo. There will be no stops along the route and no ceremonial speeches. Rather, players will have microphones they can use to address crowds. Two Jumbotrons in Copley Square and the Boston Common will show the parade from beginning to end.

Roads along the route closed at 9:30 a.m. and officials urged fans to take public transportation to the parade, saying the route beginning at the Garden could pose more problems than previous rolling rallies that have started near Fenway Park. Streets around the Garden are major commuter thoroughfares, and Transportation Commissioner Thomas Tinlin said he expects more traffic congestion because of it.

Subway lines will be running near rush-hour service levels throughout the day. There will be some rerouting of buses that would otherwise clash with the parade route.

-- By Globe Staff

Parade about to begin

Posted by Teresa Hanafin June 19, 2008 11:10 AM

Aerial shots from the local TV stations show hundreds of thousands of revelers lining the parade route -- and they are loud!!!

The Celtics players, owners, and staff are on more than a dozen duck boats from Boston Duck Tours. Two flatbed trucks are carrying the Celtics dancers, former Celtic greats, and championship trophies from past years. The parade is expected to last about two hours.

Previous parades have drawn as many as 1 million people to downtown Boston. There will be no stops along the route and no ceremonial speeches. Players will have microphones they can use to address crowds. Two Jumbotrons in Copley Square and the Boston Common will show the parade from beginning to end.

Here's the parade route.

Capturing the moment

Posted by Teresa Hanafin June 19, 2008 11:03 AM

Most of the players have video cameras or still cameras with them to record this special moment for their children and grandchildren. They are signing basketballs and other items that are being held up to them. KG is on Boat No. 8 with managing partner Wyc Grousbeck and Sam Cassell. Dr. Rivers is on Boat No. 6, the lavender boat. Kendrick Perkins is on No. 10, Paul Pierce is on No. 4, a green boat.

Pierce is the star

Posted by Teresa Hanafin June 19, 2008 11:00 AM

Fans lining the streets around the Garden screamed as team captain Paul Pierce emerged; Pierce responded by waving his MVP trophy in their direction. Most players have their wives, children, and girlfriends with them. The crowd has broken out in a chant of "DE-FENSE! DE-FENSE!"

KG and the cops

Posted by Teresa Hanafin June 19, 2008 10:57 AM

Cops assigned to crowd control for the parade yelled and called over Kevin Garnett as he came out of the Garden toting the trophy. He obliged, strolling over, letting the police officers touch the trophy, and then posing for photos. KG also has a stogie hanging out of his mouth in honor of longtime Celtics coach and executive Arnold "Red" Auerbach, who died in October of 2006.

More from the Garden

Posted by Teresa Hanafin June 19, 2008 10:53 AM

All of the players, coaches, and staff are decked out in white NBA Champion T-shirts. Kevin Garnett is carrying the championship trophy and Paul Pierce is cradling his Finals MVP Award. KG, who told the crowd in the Garden that he hasn't slept in 48 hours, is wearing a special Celtics hat that has insignias lining the back representing each of the team's 17 titles.

Pre-rally rally in the Garden

Posted by Teresa Hanafin June 19, 2008 10:49 AM

Mike Gorman and Tommy Heinsohn, the Celtics' broadcasters, are interviewing players in the rally in the Garden. Heinsohn, a forward for the Celts in the 50s and 60s, introduced Rajon Rondo by saying he's one guy he would have loved to have played with because he actually passed the ball instead of thinking shoot first. "I would take guards like you out to dinner," he cracked.

Rally start time delayed

Posted by David Lefort, Boston.com Staff June 19, 2008 10:46 AM

The starting time of the rolling rally has been delayed. The new start time is 11:10 a.m.

The players are currently sitting in folding chairs on the Garden floor, taking part in a brief pre-rally ceremony.

Players introduced

Posted by David Lefort, Boston.com Staff June 19, 2008 10:38 AM

Decked out in championship T-shirts and hats, the Celtics are currently being introduced in front of a small crowd inside the Garden.

Kevin Garnett carried the Larry O'Brien Trophy onto the parquet floor with a cigar in his mouth ...

'The Truth' in the house

Posted by David Lefort, Boston.com Staff June 19, 2008 10:25 AM

Fans are out in force near the Garden in anticipation of the start of the rolling rally at 11 a.m. The players have arrived as well. Paul Pierce carried his Finals MVP trophy and is wearing a shirt that reads "The Truth". Ray Allen, Doc Rivers, Leon Powe, and Rajon Rondo are all confirmed to be in attendance. More in a bit ...

Doc arrives

Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 19, 2008 09:23 AM
Doc arrives

Celtics coach Doc Rivers arrived at the Garden at 9:08 a.m. via cab and, decked out in a cap featuring the Larry O'Brien championship trophy, greeted Boston.com's Steve Silva with a thumbs up.

Silva said there was an early crowd of about 200 people on Causeway St. (where Rajon Rondo drove past a short while ago) and another 100 officers from the Boston Police special operations unit. That crowd has since grown to about 600 spectators as the beginning of the rally nears.

Frank from Gloucester
Frank from Gloucester
Silva also reports that frequent WEEI caller, Frank from Gloucester, was denied admission to the parking lot in front of the Garden. Fans spotted him in his Yankees' jacket and immediately began a "Yankees suck!" chant. Frank has since lobbied with Boston Police commissioner Edward Davis, but still has not gained entry where much of the media is assembled.

Gino time!

Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff June 19, 2008 08:16 AM

Gino signIn the aftermath of Tuesday night's celebration, Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck said that the team would find a way to incorporate "Gino" into today's rolling rally.

At the Garden this morning, Celtics' DJ Dan McCarthy showed off a poster of Gino attached to a stick that will be carried around during the rally.

A friendly reminder that you should enter our Gino tribute contest for a chance to win an iPod Shuffle. Be sure to check out our Gino video to brush up on your dance moves.

We'll be providing live updates from the rolling rally throughout the morning, beginning at around 10:30 a.m.

Duck boats have arrived

Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff June 19, 2008 08:12 AM

Duck boats arrive
The duck boats arrive at the TD Banknorth Garden. (Steve Silva / Boston.com Staff)

The duck boats, 18 of them, that will usher the Celtics on their rolling rally this morning arrived at the TD Banknorth Garden at 8:07 a.m.

Keep it with Boston.com all day for updates throughout the parade.

Kraft congratulates C's

Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 19, 2008 08:03 AM

kraft535.jpg

The Kraft family took out a full-page ad in today's edition of the Boston Globe to congratulate the Boston Celtics on their championship season. The ad, which features the Celtics' logo with 2008 World Champions encircled around it, reads: "Congratulations to the entire Boston Celtics Organization!" and is signed, "The Kraft Family, the New England Patriots and the New England Revolution" with logos for both of those teams at the bottom.

Click HERE to see the ad.

2009 NBA Championship Odds

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 18, 2008 07:56 PM

In case you're curious, here are the current odds for the 2009 NBA championship, courtesty of Bodog:

Boston Celtics 7/2
Los Angeles Lakers 5/1
Detroit Pistons 6/1
San Antonio Spurs 8/1
New Orleans Hornets 11/1
Orlando Magic 14/1
Houston Rockets 15/1
Utah Jazz 15/1
Cleveland Cavaliers 16/1
Chicago Bulls 20/1
Phoenix Suns 20/1
Dallas Mavericks 25/1
Denver Nuggets 25/1
Portland Trailblazers 25/1
Washington Wizards 25/1
Golden State Warriors 40/1
Miami Heat 40/1
Atlanta Hawks 50/1
Charlotte Bobcats 50/1
New Jersey Nets 50/1
New York Knicks 50/1
Philadelphia 76ers 50/1
Toronto Raptors 50/1
Indiana Pacers 75/1
Los Angeles Clippers 100/1
Memphis Grizzlies 100/1
Milwaukee Bucks 100/1
Minnesota Timberwolves 100/1
Sacramento Kings 100/1
Seattle Supersonics 100/1

Smiling on the inside

Posted by Christopher L. Gasper, Globe Staff June 18, 2008 07:49 PM

When it was clear that the Celtics were going to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers to win their 17th NBA title, the Jumbotron at TD Banknorth Garden showed Celtics executive director of basketball operations/general manager Danny Ainge.

Ainge received a rousing ovation from the crowd, but didn't even crack a smile. He had a look that was part poker face, part expectant first-time father.

"There is a time and a place to celebrate," said Ainge today. "There was still a lot of game to be had. Plus, I didn't know I was on the screen. I was watching the game. But I was smiling inside and loving every minute of it. I was excited from the get-go. That was a very well-played game by us."

Allen, KG chat with Letterman

Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 18, 2008 06:36 PM

letterman535.jpg
Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett smile as David Letterman hands them the Larry O'Brien trophy. (CBS Photo / John Paul Filo)

Fresh off their title-clinching victory in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett were guests today on the Late Show with David Letterman. What follows is a sampling of their appearance, which can be seen in its entirety when the show airs tonight at 11:35 p.m. on WBZ-TV (Ch. 4, CBS):

Letterman greeted his guests by saying, "Congratulations to both you guys and thank you very much for being here. I know, I mean, it's crazy that you were in the big celebration and it's still continuing now, isn't it? And you're probably saying to yourselves right now, 'Why are we here?'"

Allen and Garnett said it was an honor to be on the show. "This'll solidify when you've won something, you've got to do Letterman," said Garnett.

Added Allen: "I think in the 80s when you won a championship, you said, 'We're going to Disneyland... In the year 2000, we say, 'We're going to David Letterman."

Letterman asked the pair about coming to Boston and understanding the history of the franchise.

"Well, you notice the difference because when you come into where we've played, myself in Milwaukee and Seattle, and then coming into Boston, you see all those banners and retired numbers up in the rafters and it's almost scary because you have so much to look up to or live up to," said Allen.

Letterman then asked Garnett about meeting past Celtic legends.

"They come into practice," said Garnett. "They watch us practice. They pull us to side, they speak. Before the year started, they came in. They had a big conversation about, you know, Celtic pride and what it means to be a Celtic, so you feel the tradition."

Letterman joked that the new guys probably preferred to be left alone, drawing laughter from the crowd.

"No, no, no, no, I mean, you have to understand they built the foundations for the present and, I mean, I'm just proud that we continue tradition," said Garnett, who went on to talk about his relationship with Bill Russell.

In a second segment with the pair, Allen talked about the family crisis that forced him to depart the Staples Center immediately following the Celtics' Game 5 loss in Los Angeles.

Allen said his 17-month-old son, Walker, had been admitted to the hospital Sunday and bloodwork determined that he was diabetic.

"I didn't know what to think," said Allen. "You know, I have friends that have diabetes, so we just figured it was going to be a lifelong process of just taking care of him and making sure that he ate correctly and lived a thorough life, making sure that he ate the right foods, so at first it was a shock and it hurt us, you know, seeing him in the hospital after the game, seeing him connected to tubes. As a parent, it bothered me tremendously, but you know, now, we're on the right track and we're definitely going to take care of him for the rest of his life."

Added Allen: "That day, I really put it all in perspective, and you know, we're playing in one of the biggest games of our careers, and I thought about him in the hospital and I said, 'Well, where are my priorities at this moment?' And, you know what, I want to be with these guys but you know, the little fella's who I want to be with most."

Bird chimes in

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 18, 2008 04:53 PM

Celtics legend and current Pacers executive Larry Bird released a statement today on his former franchise:

"I'm happy for the Celtics and the city of Boston," said Bird. "I know what it means to win a championship as a Celtic and the place championships hold in the history of the franchise. I'm also pleased for Danny Ainge, Doc Rivers and his staff, knowing where they were last year and then making the decisions to put them in position to win the team’s 17th title."

Garnett, Allen on Letterman tonight

Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff June 18, 2008 03:03 PM

More air time for the world champion Celtics.

Celtics stars Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen will be appearing on the Late Show with David Letterman tonight.

The show airs at 11:35 p.m. on WBZ-TV Ch. 4 (CBS).

Menino: 'Put your green on'

Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff June 18, 2008 12:21 PM

Celtics parade route

By Donovan Slack, Globe Staff

Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino called on Celtics fans across the region to get their green on and show the NBA champions some love Thursday during a victory parade through the streets of Boston (check out the route map).

It will be the fifth sports championship parade in the past five years, and the mayor today could not help bragging.

"We're a city of champions," he said at a City Hall press conference. "We are 'Title Town.'"

Menino outlined plans for the victory parade, which will begin at 11 a.m. Thursday at the TD Banknorth Garden and wind its way to Copley Square in the Back Bay. Streets around the route will be closed to traffic beginning at 9:30 a.m.

The parade will consist of some 16 duck boats carrying Celtics owners, staff and players, and two flatbed trucks with Celtics dancers, former Celtics greats and NBA championship trophies from past years.

At the press conference, the mayor hailed the Celtics' "spectacular" win over the Los Angeles Lakers last night to clinch the championship, the team's first in 22 years.

"This team is a real team," said Menino, who was flanked by public safety officials and Celtics President Rich Gotham.

Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis said city officials expect hundreds of thousands of fans to descend on the city tomorrow and he urged that everyone celebrate responsibly. He said 22 people were arrested last night during post-championship celebrations. Davis said police officers are still reviewing video tapes to identify other people who vandalized storefronts and engaged in other destructive behavior.

Gotham said neither he nor his staff members slept last night.

"It was surreal," he said. "The feeling was just euphoric."

City transportation officials are urging fans to use public transportation Thursday, saying the parade route's beginning at the Garden could pose more problems than previous rolling rallies that have started near Fenway Park. Streets around the Garden are major commuter thoroughfares, and Transportation Commissioner Thomas Tinlin said he expects more traffic congestion because of it.

"The MBTA is your best friend," he said.

Tinlin said the MBTA will be running at rush-hour levels throughout the parade.

Donovan Slack can be reached at dslack@globe.com.

Rolling rally route set

Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff June 18, 2008 10:59 AM

Celtics parade route

By Donovan Slack, Globe Staff

The Celtics victory parade will begin at 11 a.m. on Thursday at the TD Banknorth Garden, with roughly 16 duck boats transporting the NBA champions through Boston in a rolling rally ending at Copley Square (check out the route map). Two flatbed trucks will carry Celtics dancers, former Celtic greats, and NBA champion trophies from past seasons as the city celebrates its 17th basketball crown.

To celebrate the bevy sports championships in recent years, city officials have organized what they call a "rolling rallies" rather than an event at a single location. The parade spreads out crowds and makes it easier for police to control the celebration. The route Thursday will head in the opposition direction of the last rolling rally in October, which honored the Red Sox sweep of the Colorado Rockies in the World Series.

Setting out from the Garden, the duck boats will take Causeway Street and take a left on Staniford Street. The parade will go left on Cambridge Street and pass City Hall Plaza.

The route will follow Tremont Street along Boston Common, taking a right on Boylston Street. The rolling rally will end at Copley Square.

City officials said the duck boats will not stop along the route. There will not be a rally at the start or end of the parade.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino will discuss the plans at a press conference later today at City Hall.

Ryan, Shaughnessy put the victory in perspective

Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 18, 2008 03:33 AM

Boston Globe columnists Bob Ryan and Dan Shaughnessy recap Game 6 of the NBA Finals, a 131-92 triumph by the Boston Celtics over the Los Angeles Lakers that brought the franchise its 17th world championship.

Ryan says the box score is a historical document of the most authoritative clinching game in Finals history, while Shaughnessy suggests a whole new generation of Celtic fans got to enjoy this one.

Ryan:

Shaughnessy:


Pierce has left the building

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 18, 2008 03:23 AM

A crowd of about 40 Celtics fans awaited Paul Pierce as he exited the players' parking lot outside the TD Banknorth Garden around 3:05 a.m. As Pierce pulled away in his Humvee, fans surrounded the car and chanted "M-V-P, M-V-P." Two police officers assisted the vehicle in leaving, but it took a little work.

Your humble blogger was able to bypass any potential trouble and walk home safely. Crowds around the Canal Street bars had fizzled to a handful of patrons by that point.

Thanks, all, for following along with us this season. I hope you had half as much fun following the news as I had bringing it to you. Cheers.

Inside the locker room

Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 18, 2008 02:46 AM

Here's our collection of celebration video from deep inside the Celtics' locker room following Boston's 131-92 dismantling of the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 6 of the NBA Finals:

The Big 3 celebrate: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen celebrate with the Larry O'Brien championship trophy nearby.

KG: "We won!": Kevin Garnett is asked to explain what happened and responds by screaming, "We won!" before enjoying a beer shower from his teammates.

The music starts: The music blares in the locker room, sending the celebration to a whole new level as the Celtics savor winning the NBA championship.

The music continues: As the music continues to blare, the Celtics keep on celebrating the win that brought the franchise its 17th world championship.

Big Baby joins the party: Glen "Big Baby" Davis dances into the middle of the locker room celebration.

Party on: More locker room celebration from NECN.

Party chatter: James Posey, Sam Cassell, and Kendrick Perkins offer reaction inside a raucous locker room as the Celtics celebrate winning the NBA championship.

Taking charge: Back on the court, Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck and managing partner Paul Edgerley talk about constructing a championship team in Boston and keeping Gino dancing until October.


Worth the wait for Pierce

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 18, 2008 02:17 AM

He carried the torch through the lean years. And now, in his 10th year in the league, Paul Pierce gets to carry the torch as MVP of an NBA champion.

"Knowing that you were at rock bottom a year ago today, and to climb all the way to the top, this is a dream come true," a teary-eyed Pierce told reporters minutes after the Celtics captured the 17th championship in the franchise's history.

During an exceptional playoff run in 2008, Pierce transformed his public perception from that of a good player on a bad team to the kind of player that can lead a team to a championship. He averaged 21.8 points per game in the Finals. His 10 assists in Game 6 were a game-high.

"I think Paul was only viewed upon as a scorer," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "And now I think people see him as a complete basketball player. He had eight assists the other night. The game before that he guarded Kobe and did a terrific job. He's, I think, one of the best rebounders at small forward in our league, and he's a lethal scorer, and he did it all."

The Celtics won 24 games last season, and while Pierce's individual numbers were at an all-time high, he couldn't help but shoulder some of the blame for his team's failures. Tommy Heinsohn has called him the greatest offensive player in Celtics history, but the compliment rang hollow until tonight.

There's nothing hollow about it now.

"I'm not living under the shadows of the other greats now," said Pierce. "I'm able to make my own history with my time here, and like I said, this is something that I wanted to do. If I was going to be one of the best Celtics to ever play, I had to put up a banner, and today we did that.

"They don't hang up any other banners but championship ones. And just all the years talking to Bill and John, Cousy, finally just I feel like we've come out of that shadow now and created our own, and now we can stand up and look them eye to eye and say, hey, we accomplished it, too."

Quote of the night

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 18, 2008 02:16 AM

Kevin Garnett had this to say about the city he now calls home.

"Since day one, man, Paul [Pierce] told me that this city is unlike any other city when it comes to sports, and you give them a reason, they will jump on and they will be behind you even when you're losing or even when you're going through tough times. I got to see that.

I thought I played in front of some good crowds, and Boston has a special place. I'll be forever linked to this city, and I'm more than grateful for that."

  • OK, so there were two quotes of the night. Brian Scalabrine, who gave a press conference after the game to some amused media members, on whether it was hard for him not to be able to play in the Finals:

    "Maybe now you could say I didn't play a second, but in five years, you guys are going to forget. In ten years I'll still be a champion. In 20 years I'll tell my kids I probably started, and in 30 years I'll probably tell them I got the MVP. So I'm probably not too worried about it."

  • Kobe's presser

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 18, 2008 02:07 AM

    Here's Kobe Bryant's press conference, provided by the NBA:

    Q. We've seen you do the impossible, 30 points in a quarter, 81 in the game, two game-winners against Phoenix. When did you sort of concede that tonight you guys weren't going to be able to come out of the hole?

    KOBE BRYANT: Not sure. I don't know.

    Q. Is it almost a helpless situation a little bit when you know you're playing a team that's not going to let you get off and you can tell in the second quarter when other guys don't have it to help you alleviate the pressure?

    KOBE BRYANT: Well, I think if we're going to learn anything from this series, we can't expect to win a championship by focusing on the offensive end. I mean, we have to be able to hold people down, as well. We're pretty good at it, but I think we can be much better.

    FULL ENTRY

    Rolling rally

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 18, 2008 02:02 AM

    The Celtics PR staff just announced that a rolling rally to celebrate the Celtics' NBA championship will take place Thursday at 11 a.m.

    Boston mayor Tom Menino will announce the parade plans in detail at 11:30 a.m. today.

    Oh, Phil

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 18, 2008 01:52 AM

    Even in gut-wrenching defeat, Phil Jackson can crack a joke.

    When asked how surprised he was by the final score of tonight's game, Jackson lit up the press room by responding, "I don't know what the final score is. Let me look at it here for you (laughter)."

    He should have looked a little sooner.

    "The last two minutes of the second period buried the team emotionally," said Jackson. "And we went into the locker room at halftime and tried to get our guys back on bearing and really came out in the third quarter and really couldn't turn the momentum around."

    Jackson said Boston's defense, as well as its physicality, were the deciding factors in the series.

    "They took us out of what we like to do, and I think a lot of that was off the dribble, and they were able to establish and squelch pretty much our dribble penetration," he said. "Some of those things we had to change, and we had trouble doing it tonight. [Rajon] Rondo picked us apart because of it. He got the ball off the dribble and steals, and that was kind of indicative of how it went."

    The Big 3 celebrate

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 18, 2008 01:40 AM

    The Big 3 -- Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen -- celebrated in the locker room after the Boston Celtics topped the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 6 of the NBA Finals to capture their 17th World Championship.

    Bring it home, baby make it true...

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 18, 2008 01:38 AM

    It started as a concept. It ended with a 131-92 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 6 of the NBA Finals Tuesday night.

    "I just want to say, other than my kid being born, this has got to be the happiest day of my life right now," a jubilant Kevin Garnett said after the game.

    Garnett finished Game 6 with 26 points and 14 rebounds, but the man who averaged a double-double in the Finals was not the series MVP. Teammate Paul Pierce earned the honor.

    "It feels so great, man," said Pierce. "Just to work so hard and for 10 long years being with the Boston Celtics, just going through my ups and downs, Danny, Doc, ownership, guys sticking with me through tough times, this is what makes those other moments so sweet, knowing that you were at rock bottom a year ago today, and to climb all the way to the top, this is a dream come true, and I'm going to cherish this forever."

    Before the season, questions abounded on whether the Big Three of Pierce, Garnett, and Allen would be able to suppress their egos and play on a championship level. After winning the title, there are no more questions.

    "We said from day one this is Paul's team," said Garnett. "Ray and I had no problem with that. Doc let us know that the three of us were going to have to sacrifice. I know it sounds old fashioned and cliché, but it's just real talk.

    I thought the three of us did that. I thought we made plays for each other, the bench and the guys on the team...It worked, not to say that it was pretty, not to say that it was perfect, but we found a way and we made it work."

    Said Pierce, "It's one thing to talk about it, another thing to go out and do it...We sacrificed so much of what we did throughout our careers to get to this point because we've done everything we've been able to do individually, won all type of awards, but never made it to the mountaintop, and today it's like a breath of fresh air."

    After turmoil, redemption for Allen

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 18, 2008 01:12 AM

    One after another. Rhythm, release, splash. Nothing but net.

    Ray Allen tied an NBA Finals record with 7 3-pointers in Game 6 against the Los Angeles Lakers, each dagger a tug of the rope raising Boston’s 17th NBA championship banner to the rafters at the TD Banknorth Garden. When it was all said and done, Allen joined Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Doc Rivers in a group hug celebrating the accomplishments of the Big Three on the sideline.

    “We just [said] we loved each other,” said Rivers. “They all said, ‘Thank you,’ and I said ‘Thank you’, back.”

    Rivers had to be thankful Allen was able to make the game at all. The shooting guard left the team shortly after the loss to the Lakers in Game 5 to attend to a medical situation with one of his children. He stayed in Los Angeles overnight to be with his family, arriving in Boston around 7 or 8 a.m. Tuesday morning, according to Rivers.

    Allen is routinely the first Celtic on the floor before games, but he didn’t step onto the parquet to do his pregame shooting until 5:50 p.m. With very little rest and matters off the court on his mind, Allen was seen muttering a few encouraging words to himself as the teams lined up during the national anthem.

    “We were thinking about it before [Tuesday] morning, just how much [sleep] he's probably had,” Rivers said before the game. “It can't be much. But he's ready. You can see it.”

    Rivers couldn’t have been more prescient. Allen scored the first 5 points of the game for the Celtics, getting Boston on the board with his first 3-pointer at the 10:18 mark in the first quarter. A pair of three throws on the next possession gave the Celtics their first lead.

    But the resilient Allen was hit with another roadblock early in the game. With 4:20 left in the first, Allen was poked in the eye and sustained a cut on his nose. He tried to stay in the game, but he was eventually subbed for by James Posey and had to be taken back to the locker room. After receiving treatment, Allen returned to the game with 4:44 remaining in the first half but went scoreless before halftime.

    But boy did Allen get it going to again in the second half. He hit his second 3-pointer of the game just over a minute into the second half, then hit another five minutes later. But the fourth quarter is where he really found his groove. Allen hit four treys in an eight-minute span to start the fourth. He finished with 26 points.

    Allen’s performance in the Finals had to be particularly encouraging after a terrible start to the postseason. The low point came when he averaged 9.3 points against Cleveland in the conference semifinals, shooting a dismal 16-percent from beyond the arc. He raised those numbers to 19.2 points and 46 percent in the Finals, and would have garnered serious consideration for MVP without the standout play of Paul Pierce.

    “I just stayed in my preparation,” said Allen. “I didn’t change one thing I did. I know teams were trying to take me out of the offense, but I wanted to make sure that I did everything to make this team better.”

    Allen got to hold the Larry O’Brien Trophy on the podium. But even after the biggest win of his life, Allen didn’t forget his priorities, holding his young son in his arms while his teammates celebrated. After a weekend of turmoil both personally and professionally, the shooting guard finally had a chance to take it all in.

    “It's such a wonderful feeling to be able to do this on this night with all the stuff that has taken place over the weekend,” said Allen. “And to be able to share this with the fans in Boston has been great.”

    Celtics, 131-92 (final)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 11:50 PM

    Now another generation has stories to tell.

    The Celtics ran roughshod over an overmatched Los Angeles Lakers team tonight at the TD Banknorth Garden, winning Game 6 of the NBA Finals, 131-92, to capture the 17th NBA championship in the franchise’s history. Once again, the Boston Celtics are on top of the basketball world.

    After returning from Los Angeles with a 3-2 series lead, the Celtics took advantage of their first opportunity to close out a title at home. They played this one to win.

    Despite 11 first-quarter points from Kobe Bryant, Boston maintained a 24-20 lead after one. But the second quarter was when the Celtics really did their damage, outscoring the Lakers, 34-15, and essentially putting the game away by halftime.

    Boston held Los Angeles to 29 percent shooting in the first half. Meanwhile, the Celtics had 17 assists on 20 field goals, with captain Paul Pierce getting nine by himself. Without Bryant's 14 points (on 4-of-11 shooting), the score (58-35) would have been even more lopsided.

    Needing only not to blow a huge lead, the Celtics actually won the third quarter, 31-25. Rajon Rondo had 10 points and 3 assists in the period, running the team out of any potential trouble.

    Each of the Big Three lived up to his billing in the game. Pierce, who should be a lock to win Finals MVP, had 9 assists in the first half and finished with 17 points, 10 assists, and 3 rebounds.

    Ray Allen, who barely slept for three days to attend to a medical situation with one of his children, hit 7 three-pointers in the game and led all scorers with 26 points. Allen was poked in the eye midway through the first quarter but returned.

    And Kevin Garnett was as usual an unstoppable force at home. The Big Ticket got whatever shot he wanted throughout and finished with 26 points on 10-of-18 shooting.

    Celtics coach Doc Rivers removed Pierce, Allen, and Garnett from the game at the same time, the superstars embracing their coach with 4:01 on the clock and nothing more left to chance.

    There were no bright spots for the Lakers, but if you wanted to find something resembling one, you could pick Bryant’s first quarter. Bryant was 4 of 7 for 11 points in the first, with three of those shots from long range.

    Bryant finished with 22 points on 7-of-22 shooting. On the bench late in the fourth quarter with the game out of reach, fans in section 327 chanted, “Where is Kobe?”

    There are no more games for the Celtics. No more grueling road trips. Just a celebration tonight, and a victory parade later this week.

    The Celtics may be done, but you haven’t scratched the surface of our celebration coverage tonight. Keep it here as we bring you everything, including video, surrounding Boston’s 17th NBA championship.

    C's championship gear on sale

    Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 11:50 PM

    Looking for a Celtics 2008 NBA champions t-shirt to wear around town?

    The following Boston retailers will be selling official Celtics championship gear on Wednesday:

    - Bob's Stores
    - Champs Sports
    - Dick's Sporting Goods
    - JCPenney
    - Modell's
    - Olympia Sports
    - Sears
    - Sports Authority

    Celtics-Lakers series snapshot

    Posted by David Lefort, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 11:49 PM

    Game-by-game results from the NBA Finals series between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, which was won by the Celtics in six games:

    Game 1: Celtics 98, Lakers 88
    Game 2: Celtics 108, Lakers 102
    Game 3: Lakers 87, Celtics 81
    Game 4: Celtics 97, Lakers 91
    Game 5: Lakers 103, Celtics 98
    Game 6: Celtics 131, Lakers 92

    C'mon Danny, smile

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 11:28 PM

    During the latest break in the action, the Jumbotron showed the Celtics' executives and owners (to roaring applause) and the Garden roared loudest when Danny Ainge closed the montage.

    But even with a 30-point advantage, Ainge wasn't ready to smile. We think that'll change in a few minutes.

    Allen on fire

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 11:25 PM

    Ray Allen just knocked down his fifth 3-pointer of the game. It's 101-70, Celtics, with 9:07 left in the game.

    Paul Pierce has checked back in for one last hurrah. The celebration already has begun here.

    Flood gates

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 11:22 PM

    Rajon Rondo took a baseball pass from P.J. Brown at the 10:44 mark, finished the layup, and was fouled flagrantly by Jordan Farmar.

    It's 94-65, Celtics.

    Day at the beach

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 11:15 PM

    There's a basketball-colored beach ball floating bouncing around the loge as we wait for the final quarter to begin.

    The image can't help but make you think forward to what appears to be an upcoming parade through the city of Boston. And after gleefully enduring some very chilly days while paying tribute to the Patriots and Red Sox for their recent championships, let's hope for a sun-splashed afternoon to clap for this group of hoopsters.

    Maybe we'll see some beach balls being bounced around Government Center.

    Celtics, 89-60 (3)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 11:13 PM

    It's the final countdown.

    Needing only not to blow a huge lead, the Celtics actually won the third quarter, 31-25. Rajon Rondo had 10 points and 3 assists in the period, running the team out of any potential trouble.

    Kobe Bryant has 22 points. No one here seems to care. Brace yourselves for this finish.

    "You're not Jordan"

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 11:10 PM

    Serenaded with MVP chants back in Los Angeles, the Celtic faithful showered Kobe Bryant with a "You're not Jordan" refrain while he was at the free throw line late in the third quarter.

    Ouch.

    Two questions

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 11:02 PM

    With the Celtics' lead floating around 30 points late in the third quarter, we only have two questions:

    1. How early do the Celtics' Jumbotron operators start the Gino dance party?

    2. Which five players will coach Doc Rivers have on the floor for the final horn? (The starting 5 would seem like the logical choice, but could we seem a more sentimental choice like having PJ Brown on the floor to soak in his first NBA title?)

    Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section.

    Celtics, 84-57 (2:57, 3rd quarter)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 11:00 PM

    The Lakers look like a beaten team. They're a step slow to every loose ball. And time is running out.

    Rajon Rondo (13 points) and Ray Allen (14 points) have joined Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in double figures as the Celtics are refusing to let the Lakers cut into this lead. Los Angeles is still hovering around 38 percent shooting.

    There's a quiet anticipation in the building.

    Reversal

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 10:43 PM

    After a 3-pointer by Ray Allen, the Celtics have reversed the Lakers' score. It's 63-36, Celtics, with 10:42 left in the third.

    Halftime entertainment

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 10:27 PM

    The Celtics often invite fans onto the court for a game of knockout at halftime of home games.

    Today's game featured an extra-long line of contestants, including two clad in Laker gear. With the help of Lucky, the Celtics' mascot, the two LA supporters were eliminated in due time, but that's when the fun began.

    One of the Laker fans, a male, turned and hurled his ball about 20 rows deep into the crowd. The other, a female in a Pau Gasol jersey, sneaked up behind Lucky and knocked his hat off.

    Comical to some, but not the Garden security, evidently. The on-court officers grabbed the Laker fans and seemed to be giving them some grief about their antics. Last we saw them, the purple-and-yellow clad fans were being taken down the tunnel towards the media areas and they didn't look too pleased.

    Celtics, 58-35 (halftime)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 10:19 PM

    Wow.

    The Celtics are absolutely demolishing the Lakers here at the Garden. Boston is holding Los Angeles to 29 percent shooting. Without Kobe Bryant's 14 points (on 4-of-11 shooting), this would really be a stinker.

    The Celtics, meanwhile, are playing with an incredible fire right now. Kevin Garnett is leading the way with 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting. Paul Pierce has an astounding 9 assists. They've got 17 assists on 20 field goals.

    They're playing to win.

    More to come in the second half.

    Ridiculous

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 10:18 PM

    Kevin Garnett just threw up the most acrobatic, gravity-defying floater over Lamar Odom with 47.3 seconds to play in the first half. He hit the shot and also drew the foul, converting the 3-point play.

    Off the stat sheet

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 10:11 PM

    It's 47-34 Celtics with 3:04 to play in the first half.

    The Celtics are up 13 with Paul Pierce shooting just 2 of 9 from the field. Kevin Garnett is 6 of 9 for 12 points.

    It might be a little late to point this out, but why do the Lakers start Vladimir Radmonovic? He's played 10 minutes, is 0 for 1, has no free throws, no assists, 1 rebound, and 3 fouls. In other words, not much production.

    MVP!

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 10:08 PM

    Paul Pierce drew an MVP chant when he stepped to the free throw line late in the second quarter.

    It begs the question: Do the fans disagree with the idea of Kobe Bryant as the league's regular-season MVP, or are they simply casting a vocal vote for the Finals MVP?

    Beat LA!

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 10:03 PM

    The 3-point shooting of James Posey and Eddie House, which forced the Lakers to call timeout with 5:20 remaining in the second quarter, had the crowd rumbling during the break.

    But the noise segued right into a "Beat LA!" chant that forced the Celtics' sound crew to lower the music in the Garden to let the fans be heard even clearer.

    Posey for 3!!

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 10:02 PM

    James Posey drained another three-pointer at the 5:29 mark to give the Celtics their largest lead of the game at 43-29. That's an 11-0 run for the Celtics.

    Here comes Ray

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 10:00 PM

    Ray Allen just jogged back out of the tunnel. He was poked in the eye in the first quarter. Look for Allen to return to the game soon.

    No one gets a roar like BB

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 09:57 PM

    Bill Belichick just made his first appearance on the Jumbotron with the Celtics up on the Lakers, 38-29, with 6:25 to play in the second quarter.

    The roars are deafening when the Patriots' coach is shown.

    Big-shot Posey

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 09:55 PM

    Every shot James Posey hits is big. This one, a 3-pointer with 6:59 left in the second quarter, put the Celtics ahead by 6. Eddie House followed with a three of his own to make it 38-29 with 6:25 left in the half.

    Timeout, Lakers.

    Allen update

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 09:50 PM

    Ray Allen was poked in left eye around the 8:00 mark in the first quarter. He has a cut on the bridge of his nose, and he is expected to return.

    Big Baby, big cheers

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 09:41 PM

    Glen "Big Baby" Davis, a mere spectator for much of the NBA Finals, got a big roar from the home crowd as he replaced P.J. Brown on the court early in the second quarter.

    Celtics, 24-20 (1)

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 09:36 PM

    Kevin Garnett was 5 of 7 from the field to pace the Celtics with 10 first-quarter points and the hosts lead the Lakers, 24-20, at the end of the first frame.

    Given the team's struggles in Games 4 and 5, this feels like the first time in ages the Celtics have owned a first-quarter advantage (or, at least, haven't trailed by double digits).

    Timeout, Lakers

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 09:27 PM

    So far, so good for Kendrick Perkins and that shoulder. Perkins played 8 minutes, got 3 rebounds, and picked up 2 fouls. Quality minutes are all the Celtics need from Perkins.

    Gets one to go

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 09:18 PM

    After starting the game 0 for 4, Rajon Rondo swished a jumper from the corner at the 5:58 mark in the first quarter to put the Celtics ahead, 12-10.

    Kobe starts hot

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 09:13 PM

    Kobe Bryant is 3 of 3 so far for 8 points. It's 10-7 Lakers with 8:18 remaining in the first quarter.

    Best seats in the house

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 09:11 PM

    Tonight's owner of the Jay-Z seats (dubbed as such by us after Jay-Z and Beyonce were the first big-time celebs spotted in the seats snuggled between the visitor's bench and the scorer's table during the Cavs series) is... Aerosmith's Steven Tyler and a ladyfriend.

    Rockport native Paula Cole did a fine job with the National Anthem, but we're wishing the man whose band will star in a forthcoming edition of Guitar Hero, could have headlined the pregame festivities.

    Whistle-happy

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 09:10 PM

    With 10:05 remaining in the first, the Celtics already have as many fouls as points (3). Ray Allen has handled the scoring for Boston with a shot from long range.

    Early test

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 09:09 PM

    We've played 14 seconds and Kendrick Perkins already has a foul. So much for avoiding contact.

    Here we go ...

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 09:07 PM

    Tip-off at 9:07 p.m.

    Man, it's loud in here

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 08:54 PM

    Even during pregame warmups this crowd was louder than we ever heard in LA.

    The fans kept it going straight through the national anthem, when they roared initially for Ray Allen when his face got put on the Jumbotron, then alternated cheers and boos as they posted different players from the Celtics and Lakers.

    The chants of "Beat LA" and "Let's go, Celtics" were quite energetic.

    Allen, Perkins starting

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 08:07 PM

    Celtics coach Doc Rivers just confimed what we already deduced from the pregame warmups: Ray Allen and Kendrick Perkins will start tonight's game.

    "Ray is doing good," said Rivers. "Obviously he's not had a lot of sleep over the last three days, probably -- I don't know. We were thinking about it before this morning, just how much he's probably had. It can't be much. But he's ready. You can see it, he's ready to play."

    Perkins warmed up before the game, got some treatment on the trainer's table, and came out into the locker room minutes ago and told reporters he was ready to play.

    "I'm feeling a whole lot better since Thursday," said Perkins. "We'll see how it goes during the game. Hopefully, I can make it through the game without reinjuring it."

  • Rivers also talked about the Celtics' little ordeal in leaving Los Angeles:

    "[Monday] was a long day, it really was," said Rivers. "I thought the funniest part of it is we get a call, we were supposed to leave at 11:00 and they called us at 9:00 and told us we had to run to the bus because the first plane had broken down, so we were going to get on the other one that was leaving, so we had to unfortunately pull people off that one. And when we get there at the gate, we see the Laker plane taking off, and I was saying, oh, this is nice (laughter).

    "We actually got all the way out to the runway. We jumped on, things were smooth, we get to the runway, and then the pilot comes on and said we're going to have a little delay, and he said it's either going to be 10 minutes or 2-3 hours, and it was more. The only bad part about it was that we couldn't get off the plane for the most part. I bet we sat out there for, I don't know, three, four hours, maybe longer, before we took off."

  • The VIP list

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 08:06 PM

    Courtesy of the Globe's Mark Shanahan, here's a list of the celebs who have RSVP'd for tonight's Game 6 of the NBA Finals at the TD Banknorth Garden. This doesn't necessarily ensure that these people will actually show up, but we'll keep an eye out for them:

    Red Sox: John Henry, Tom Warner, Larry Lucchino, Theo Epstein.

    Celtics alumni: John Havlicek, Jo Jo White; ML Carr, KC Jones.

    Patriots: Bill Belichick, Jonathan Kraft, Vince Wilfork, Wes Welker, Matt Cassell, Larry Izzo, Adalius Thomas, Ben Watson.

    Musicians: Donnie Wahlberg, Ken Casey, Steven Tyler, Joey Kramer, James “Jimmy Jam” Harris.

    Film/TV: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Pompeo, Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly, Lenny Clarke.

    NBA: Dwyane Wade, Ron Artest, Jared Dudley.

    Perkins in uniform

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 07:17 PM

    Celtics center Kendrick Perkins is in uniform and warming up on the parquet. Perkins is taking jump shots over the reach of assistant coach Clifford Ray. He's a righthanded shooter, but his left arm is getting good extension on the jump shots as well. He also blew past Ray for a couple of powerful dunks.

    He said he could barely lift the arm a couple of days ago in Los Angeles.

    The big man is wearing long sleeves, so it's hard to tell if he's wearing any kind of protective gear on his left shoulder. We'll ask him that if he swings through the locker room when it opens at 7:30.

    Here come the bigs ...

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 07:08 PM

    The Celtics big men are out warming up. They include Leon Powe, P.J. Brown, and James Posey. They do not include Kendrick Perkins.

    A Laker ...

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 06:52 PM

    Trevor Ariza just wandered onto the court, so it looks like there's going to be a game tonight. The Celtics big men are usually warming up right now, but we haven't seen them yet. It's very, very quiet in here. Kind of strange.

    Rondo looks good

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 06:35 PM

    Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo shot around sans brace or tape for about 30 minutes before tonight's game. Rondo didn't blame his sprained left ankle for his poor play in Game 5, but it was clear something was off.

    They're passing out "You got Rondo'd" signs in the press room. Maybe the point guard can pull off a couple of moves worthy of the marketing campaign tonight.

  • We've mentioned this before, but it's downright arctic in the arena tonight. So, so cold. If you're coming to tonight's game, bring a parka.

  • Allen's here

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 05:51 PM

    allen535.jpg

    Ray Allen walked onto the parquet floor for pregame warmups at 5:50 p.m., about an hour later than usual. That's not a great sign for someone so used to his routine, but it's a good indication Allen will be playing tonight.

    Welcome to the Garden ...

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 05:50 PM

    Welcome to the Garden, where the Celtics will take on the Lakers in Game 6 of the NBA Finals at 9 p.m. The Celtics lead the best-of-seven series, 3-2.

    We’re being told Ray Allen is in the building, but Paul Pierce was the first Celtic on the court for pregame warmups this evening. Allen stayed behind in Los Angeles to attend to a medical matter with one of his children, and the Celtics shooting guard arrived in Boston this morning around 8, according to Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

    All indications are Allen will play tonight, but the family situation is clearly something that will have an impact, even if it means a change in routine at the very least. And Allen, a creature of habit, is all about routine. His pregame drills are timed to the second and border on obsessive compulsive.

    Pierce is warming up in close proximity to the Celtics dancers, which is good news for him. The good news for Celtics fans is that Pierce is not wearing a brace on his knee. He looks good.

    No one else out on the court right now, but we’ll let you know when players start making their way out. We’re on Allen and Perkins watch, specifically.

    Perkins, Allen expected to play

    Posted by Christopher L. Gasper, Globe Staff June 17, 2008 12:16 PM

    Celtics center Kendrick Perkins, who missed Game 4 of the NBA Finals with a strained left shoulder, said following the team's shootaround today that he planned to play tonight in Game 6 at TD Banknorth Garden. The team also expects to have guard Ray Allen.

    "If feels good," said Perkins. I'm going to give it a shot tonight and see how it goes. I plan on playing tonight and I'll see how it goes."

    Perkins admitted his shoulder probably won't be 100 percent until after the season, but that right now he feels well enough to play.

    Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he expected to have the services of Allen, who has been dealing with a medical situation with his youngest son, Walker. Allen did not fly back to Boston with the team yesterday and was not at shootaround, but he is in the Boston area.

    Rivers said Allen arrived back around 7 or 8 this morning.

    "I do expect him to play. I'm pretty sure. I'm not positive, but I'm pretty sure." said Rivers of Allen.

    Allen has respectfully, through the Celtics, asked the media not to ask him questions about his family situation.

    Referee assignments for Game 6

    Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff June 17, 2008 10:15 AM

    The NBA has posted the referee assignments for tonight's Game 6 of the NBA Finals in Boston tonight.

    Official 1: Joey Crawford

    In April 2007, NBA commissioner David Stern suspended Crawford for his conduct toward the Spurs' Tim Duncan. Crawford ejected Duncan from San Antonio's loss to the Mavericks after calling a second technical foul on the Spurs star while he was laughing on the bench. Duncan contended that Crawford challenged him to a fight.

    The Celtics are 2-2 in '08 postseason games in which Crawford was part of the officiating crew.

    Official 2: Eddie F. Rush

    The Celtics are 4-1 in '08 postseason games in which Rush was part of the officiating crew.

    Official 3: Bennett Salvatore

    Salvatore made a controversial call against Celtics captain Paul Pierce late in the third quarter of Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals, when Pierce pumped faked Rodney Stuckey, leaned in, and hit a long 3-pointer. But Salvatore called a charge on Pierce and a potential 4-point play turned into a Detroit possession.

    The Celtics are 3-3 in '08 postseason games in which Salvatore was part of the officiating crew.

    UPDATE (12:58 p.m.): After learning of the referee assignments, Globe columnist Bob Ryan chimed in with the following commentary: Joey's the best. Great to have him. Bennett's a nice guy who owns a restaurant in Connecticut. Doesn't he have better things to do? Ed F. Rush? The same Ed F. Rush of whom Tom Heinsohn once famously said on the air, "Ed F. Rush? The 'F' stands for fool." Hey, commissioner: No complaints here if Joey works the game alone.

    Stapled shut

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 16, 2008 07:44 PM

    For those Celtic fans left behind in Los Angeles as the NBA Finals shifts back to Boston, you're going to have to find alternative plans if you wanted to catch the remaining games at the Staples Center.

    Despite opening the arena for Games 1 and 2 of the series, the Lakers' management has decided not to host a viewing party for the remaining road games of the series. The decision likely came down, in large part, to the incident that occurred at the Staples Center during Game 2 of the Finals.

    From the Lakers' public relations staff:

    After meeting with law enforcement and city representatives, we have agreed to not open Staples Center for a public showing of any upcoming playoff games from Boston.

    Because of concerns for resources needed to ensure the safety of fans throughout Los Angeles on nights when the games would be played as well as potential financial burdens on various city departments, we came to this decision.

    On behalf of the Los Angeles Lakers, we encourage all of our fans to enjoy the upcoming games with friends and family and celebrate the championship run in a safe, responsible and respectful manner.


    Celtics delayed in LA

    Posted by Marc J. Spears, Globe Staff June 16, 2008 04:37 PM

    As of 4 p.m. EDT today, the Celtics' plane was still on the ground in Los Angeles due to mechanical issues.

    At 5:30 p.m., Celtics radio announcer Cedric Maxwell reported on sports radio WEEI that a 757 had been flown in to take the Celtics back to Boston on a direct flight.

    Celtics guard Ray Allen, who left immediately after last night game due to an illness with one of his children, is expected to play Tuesday night in Boston. His child is expected to be OK.

    As the Celtics waited at LA International Airport for their delayed flight to leave, team spokesman Jeff Twiss told the Associated Press he expected Allen to take a later airplane to Boston. And, Twiss said, "I don't believe" Allen will miss Game 6.

    Rondo wants to see the Garden rocking

    Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff June 16, 2008 03:26 PM

    In an early morning blog entry, Celtics guard Rajon Rondo wrote that he is confident the Celtics will bounce back in Game 6 at the Garden, but unlike his previous updates, he did not divulge the status of his sore ankle.

    "We fought tonight, but in the end, it wasn't enough," Rondo wrote in a blog update after Game 5. "I know I will be breaking down film tomorrow to see where I could have been better. It's going to be a long flight back home, but it will give me plenty of time to reflect. I have confidence in my team, and I'm sure we will bounce back! I'm going to need to see and hear all the fans on Tuesday in the Garden. Like KG says, '...keep that mother#*%!@$ rocking.' Until then, I'll holla!"

    Fans line up for game 6 tickets

    Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff June 16, 2008 03:15 PM

    Ryan Ferrara of Somerville lines up for Celtics tickets

    (George Rizer/Globe Staff)

    Ryan Ferrara of Somerville arrived at the TD Banknorth Garden just after midnight and grabbed the first spot in a line for Celtics tickets for Tuesday night's game

    By Maddy Hanna and Matt Collette, Globe Correspondents

    The line had grown slowly, starting after last night’s loss at Staples Center. This morning, it stretched out further, as fans in Celtics jerseys skipped work hoping for the chance to watch their team clinch the championship.

    Tickets for games 6 and 7 went on sale today at 11 a.m. and sold out within 15 minutes, said Tricia McCorkle, spokeswoman for TD Banknorth Garden. Each person in line was given a numbered wristband -- 840 in total. A lottery then determined who would get the first chance to buy tickets, which McCorkle called “the fairest way for the average fan to get tickets.”

    A limited number of tickets were available, said McCorkle, who said the TD BankNorth Garden staff did not have specific information. Most tickets for the final two games will go to the NBA and season ticket holders, she said.

    Jay Strata, 31, of Chestnut Hill, had season tickets for the last four seasons, but gave them up this year.

    “Sad, right?" he said from the line, painfully aware that if he’d stuck with the Celtics he wouldn't be waiting today. Strata said he was skipping work, but wouldn’t say where he worked, fearing the wrath he’d face if his boss found out where he was.

    Lee Goldstein, 20, got in line at 9:30 this morning, wearing a well-worn Celtics shirt. He was in the crowd during Game 2 and hoped to see the Celtics clinch the championship for the first time in his lifetime.

    "It's like a dream, I'm telling you,'' he said. "This is bigger than the Sox and Pats."

    Game 6, 7 tix on sale at 11 a.m.

    Posted by David Lefort, Boston.com Staff June 16, 2008 08:27 AM

    Fans line up for Celtics tickets

    About 100 Celtics fans were lined up at the Garden this morning in anticipation of the team putting tickets for Games 6 and 7 of the NBA Finals for sale at 11 a.m. As has been the case during the entire playoffs, the C's are not selling tickets on a first-come, first-served basis, but will rather give each fan a number and will hold a lottery to distribute the tickets (Globe Staff Photo / George Rizer). The Celtics e-mailed the following information after last night's game:

    Individual tickets for the NBA Finals (Round 4, Home Games 3 and 4) vs. the Los Angeles Lakers will go on sale Monday, June 16 at 11 a.m. There is a two (2) ticket limit per customer and seats start at just $30 in the Rite-Aid Family Section.

    Home Game 3 and Home Game 4 of the NBA Finals are scheduled to be played at the TD Banknorth Garden on Tuesday, June 17 at 9 p.m. and Thursday, June 19 at 9 p.m. Further schedule details will be announced on Celtics.com.

    Celtics fans will be able to purchase Monday by visiting Celtics.com, by calling 1-800-4NBA-TIX or by visiting the TD Banknorth Garden Box Office or Ticketmaster Outlet. Fans choosing to purchase at the TD Banknorth Garden Box Office will be subject to random distribution numbers. Acceptable forms of payment for tickets are American Express and all other major credit cards and customers may also pay by cash at the TD Banknorth Garden Box Office or Ticketmaster Outlet.

    In the event that Game 7 (Round 4, Home Game 4) is not played, refunds will be done at the point of purchase. Fans purchasing online would be automatically refunded through Ticketmaster.The amount of the refund does not include applicable Ticketmaster fees.

    Back to Boston

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 16, 2008 03:43 AM

    LOS ANGELES -- The Celtics were going back to Boston anyways. But now they've got at least one more game to play.

    Both the Celtics and Lakers were scheduled to fly back to the East Coast late this morning, arriving in Boston sometime this evening. Neither team will practice with Game 6 looming Tuesday night.

    "It's a terrible turnaround," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "It's as tough as you can have. I think going West to East is tougher. Sleep patterns are messed up.

    "But both teams have the same issue, so you know, it could come down to a game of mental toughness, who fights the fatigue mentally better than the other group."

    Celtics captain Paul Pierce said he's trying not to think about the travel.

    "We'll get a nice flight home [Monday], finally get in in the evening and just try to stay on my schedule," said Pierce. "Try to eat when we get in and go to bed at a good time and just try to stay on schedule. That's all you can do."

    While the travel might be bad, the home court is definitely good for the Celtics, who have lost only one game at home this postseason.

    "It's going to be like coming into the amazon, into the jungle," said Celtics forward Kevin Garnett. "I look forward to going home and playing."

    No team has ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals (0-28), but that hasn't stopped the Lakers from thinking they can be the first.

    "We just think about the next game, that's all," said Kobe Bryant. "That's all we do. You can't help but think obviously two, but to put it in more realistic terms, in training camp if you told us we'll give you two games that you have to win to win a world championship, we would have took it in a heartbeat. This is a great opportunity for us."

    Ryan, Shaughnessy recap Game 5

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 16, 2008 02:00 AM

    LOS ANGELES -- Boston Globe columnists Bob Ryan and Dan Shaughnessy recap Game 5 of the NBA Finals on the heels of the the Lakers' 103-98 triumph over the Celtics at the Staples Center.

    Ryan says the Lakers didn't exactly dazzle in Los Angeles, but they did enough to win two of the three games here and send this series back to Boston. Shaughnessy says history will just have to wait as the Celtics missed an opportunity to capture banner No. 17 Sunday.

    Ryan:

    Shaughnessy:


    Kobe: "Go Red Sox"

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 16, 2008 01:59 AM

    LOS ANGELES -- Just a few days after Kobe Bryant responded to Curt Schilling's comments with a simple, "Go Yankees!" reply, the Lakers superstar briefly changed his tune.

    Told David Ortiz had been spotted wearing a Kobe Bryant jersey after a game between the Celtics and Pistons, Bryant first responded in disbelief before adding, "Go Red Sox," which drew laughter from the media during his postgame press conference following Sunday's Game 5 win at the Staples Center.

    Bryant quickly added, "Things change in two days. I'm obviously joking. I'm a die-hard Yankees fan."

    Gasol, Odom bounce back

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 16, 2008 01:34 AM

    After being left for dead by many in the media, Pau Gasol (19 points, 13 rebounds) and Lamar Odom (20 points, 11 rebounds) had standout performances for the Lakers in Game 5.

    "They both did a good job on the boards," said Lakers coach Phil Jackson. "And I thought Pau was aggressive, made some real good plays out there. Lamar had one of those games in which one of our writers here was questioning his ability to rebound and come back after that kind of a -- what kind of game would we have out of Lamar, but Lamar is very resilient and showed that tonight."

    Gasol was integral in getting Celtics forward Kevin Garnett into foul trouble. Garnett, who played only 33 minutes due to foul trouble, said he got caught up in his matchup with Gasol after the game.

    "Playing a good player like Pau, man, I'm competitive," said Garnett. "When I see a chance and opportunities to get the ball, I try to do that. But tonight wasn't that night."

    For his part, Odom says he's feeling more comfortable.

    "I'm really focusing on my jump shot and the way I'm shooting the ball," he said. "I feel really good about letting the ball go from anywhere on the court right now."


    Praise for Pierce

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 16, 2008 01:31 AM

    LOS ANGELES -- Paul Pierce's 38 points were the lone bright spot for the Celtics in a 103-98 loss to the Lakers Sunday night at Staples Center. Pierce was 10-of-22 from the floor and made 16 of 19 free throws.

    "Paul is one of my favorite players in the league," said Lakers guard Kobe Bryant. "He's tough. There's not a lot of players that have a well-rounded offensive game. What I mean by that, he's got a good mid-range game, long ball, pull up to the hoop, pull up left, pull up right. He has the whole package.

    "I enjoy watching him play, I enjoy playing against him, and he's fantastic. As far as tonight, he did what a great player does. He attacked and saw opportunities to keep his team in the ballgame, and that's what he did."

    Pierce offered a simple breakdown of his performance after the game.

    "I notice when I'm aggressive, everybody else is aggressive," said Pierce. "So I just wanted to make plays. I feel like I have an advantage night in and night out. That's all I do, try to get to the rim and take advantage of my opportunities."

    Even one of the best coaches in NBA history says he has a hard time coming up with a scheme to stop Pierce.

    "He's strong," said Lakers coach Phil Jackson. "He's able to make some step-throughs or some pivots that get him by our defenders. He got eight assists on top of us trying to rotate and go to him and help out against him, so he's even making plays and becoming a play-maker. This is something we're going to have to figure out and do a better job of that."


    Statement on Ray Allen

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 16, 2008 01:30 AM

    LOS ANGELES -- The Celtics released the following statement from Doc Rivers on Ray Allen's abrupt departure following Game 5 of the NBA Finals:

    “Ray Allen was forced to leave Staples Center at the conclusion of tonight’s game due to a health issue with one of his children. We ask that you please respect Ray’s privacy at this time, and we’ll keep you up to date as best we can moving forward."

    Quotable

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 16, 2008 01:28 AM

    Lakers forward Pau Gasol, on his team's motivation for winning Game 5:

    “I know I didn't want to see the Celtics celebrating in my home floor with champagne and all that crap,” said Gasol. “I definitely didn't want to see that.”

  • Celtics center Kevin Garnett, on his performance in Game 5:

    "When it comes to reviewing my play tonight, I really felt like it was garbage," said Garnett. "I really felt like I was selfish and being competitive one-on-one with Pau in the match-up instead of actually taking a breath and taking a step back and playing defense from a more sound and mental standpoint.

    "I'm not perfect, I'll try to get better and try to apply the things I didn't do tonight to the next game."

  • Celtics missing the point

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 16, 2008 01:10 AM

    LOS ANGELES -- He started the game with a turnover. He finished it on the bench.

    Rajon Rondo struggled to run the Celtics offense in Game 5 tonight at Staples Center, giving way to a couple of equally ineffective backup point guards in Boston’s 103-98 loss to the Lakers.

    Rondo played just 14 minutes tonight, going1 for 7 from the field and finishing with 3 points, 3 assists, and 2 rebounds.

    “He’s just not playing well right now,” said Rivers. “[The Lakers] are doing a nice job to start games with Kobe [Bryant] guarding him and roaming, and the ball is ending up in his hands. And what we're trying to get him to do is just be aggressive to the basket.”

    Or to do make a sound play once he gets there.

    At one point in the first half, Rondo beat the entire Laker defense to the basket but passed up a wide open layup in favor of giving Paul Pierce a look at a three. Pierce missed, and the Celtics missed out on a golden opportunity.

    “[That’s a shot] that he could have taken, and he's looking to be a passer,” said Rivers. “He's got to look to make more plays.”

    Rondo sat all but two minutes of the second quarter, giving way to little-used reserve guard Tony Allen. Allen was averaging just 3.7 minutes per game in the playoffs before Game 5, but the shooting guard forced into the point guard role actually ran the offense better than Rondo in the second quarter.

    With the Celtics down 13, Allen stole the inbounds pass from Chris Mihm to give the Celtics the ball. On Boston’s ensuing possession, Allen used his speed to free himself for a backdoor lay-up. On the very next possession, Allen swished to cut the lead to single-digits.

    But Allen (one assist) is not a distributor, and the Celtics missed Rondo’s potential to make big plays. Rondo’s other replacement at the point, Eddie House, had 6 points in 13 minutes of play, but House’s assist total equaled his turnover output of two.

    The second-year point guard was matter-of-fact about his performance after the game.

    “I was very disappointed, but we’ve got to move on,” Rondo told reporters. “We’ve got to play another game in Boston…we’ll be glad to get home.”

    Rondo sprained his ankle in the third quarter of Game 3. He returned to that game and eventually started Game 4, finishing with 8 points and 4 assists in that game. He refused to blame the ankle for any part of his performance last night.

    “No it’s not bothering me at all,” he said.

    Rondo played just 11 seconds in the fourth quarter of Game 5, but both he and Rivers denied the playing time had anything to do with Rondo’s health.

    “It’s not a matter of fatigue because it’s the Finals,” said Rondo.

    In a disturbing trend for the second-year point guard, Rondo’s numbers have gone down in each round of the playoffs. After averaging 11 points and 7.3 assists in the first round against the Hawks, Rondo’s numbers dipped to 9.2 points and 6.5 assists in the Conference Finals, and have fallen even further (8.0 points, 7.3 assists) during the Finals.

    Despite the drop off, Rivers said he hasn’t lost confidence in his point guard. He simply needs him to play better.

    “We still believe in him,” said Rivers.

    Game 5: Postgame chatter

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 16, 2008 12:43 AM

    kg535.jpg
    (Barry Chin / Globe Staff)

    LOS ANGELES -- A collection of quotes following the Lakers' 103-98 win over the Celtics in Game 5 of the NBA Finals:

    Doc Rivers

    Q. Talk about Rondo. Is something wrong with him? And also, Jeff just mentioned Ray had to take off?

    "Well, Rondo is just not playing well right now. We still believe in him. They're doing a nice job to start games with Kobe guarding him and roaming, and the ball is ending up in his hands. And what we're trying to get him to do is just be aggressive to the basket.

    I thought early in the game he had a lay-up, I think, that he could have taken, and he's looking to be a passer. He's got to look to make more plays and be aggressive to the basket.

    The Ray thing is a family matter. We should just leave it at that."

    Q. Just talk about just the position now going back home.

    "Well, we wanted to go back home, but we didn't want to play. You know what I mean? But now we have to go play, and we earned that right. That's why the regular season is so important. We fought for it all year. We have Game 6 at home, and that's not a bad place to be."

    Q. It seems like for the first time all series they were the more physical team. How much of that has to do with Perkins, and what do you need to have happen with the possibility of him not being in the play?

    "We have to be more physical. I agree with you. I thought they started out the game more physical. I thought we had our stretches, but overall I thought they were the more physical team, from Gasol on. I thought all of them, they posted when they wanted to post. They caught the ball in the spots that they wanted to catch the ball on. I thought they forced us off of spots offensively. We told them before the game, this was going to be a game of who could invade the other person's space, and I thought they invaded our space."

    Phil Jackson

    Q. Now that you, as you said earlier, this series isn't over, and we know it's not over now. What did you tell the guys in the locker room as you prepare to go to Boston?

    "The same thing I said after Game No. 4, and that's just keep forcing the games and making plays, keep making one play at a time, one quarter at a time. Don't think anything past this next opportunity on Tuesday to play this team again."

    Q. Can you talk about the Kobe steal and just what it gave you, what it did for you guys at that point?

    "Well, it was a breakout basket that he made. We were getting beat on a Pierce-Garnett screen roll that got higher and higher as they got up towards half court. They extended our defense and Pierce was able to break us down, we tried to do something different and this time Kobe was available and capable of getting that steal."

    Q. You guys surrendered a 19-point lead, were able to build it back up into double figures, and also won the third- quarter margin for the first time all series. Talk about being able to be resilient like that.

    "Well, I went in at halftime and said, "thank God we don't have a lead." It's important we don't have something like that because we just don't know what to do with it anyway, and they were able to come out and give it up right off the bat, but scrap back. A big key, Radmanovic hits a three, we get a couple plays that helped us out and got that lead established again and were able to play a little bit more comfortable basketball."

    Lamar Odom

    Q. How much easier did you find it physically with Kendrick Perkins out of the lineup?

    "It's definitely not easier. Those guys are still banging. Of course, this was the close-out game. They wanted to close it out tonight. It's not easy, and I don't expect it to be, not at this point anyway."

    Q. Can you talk about your effort tonight, 20 points, 11 boards, two assists, four blocks?

    "Tried to stay focused throughout the game. I thought last game that I played, I thought I didn't make enough plays down in the fourth quarter. Just wanted to stay focused, make plays throughout the game. You know, I'm really focusing on my jump shot and the way I'm shooting the ball. I feel really good about letting the ball go from anywhere on the court right now. Just taking it game by game."

    Lakers, 103-98 (final)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 16, 2008 12:06 AM

    LOS ANGELES -- This one was about pride.

    Not wanting to witness a celebration on their home court, the Lakers defeated the Celtics 103-98 in Game 5 of the NBA Finals tonight at Staples Center. The teams will play at least one more game, with Game 6 coming Tuesday night in Boston. The Celtics lead the best-of-seven series, 3-2.

    At first, this game looked like it had all the makings of Game 4, when the Lakers blew a 24-point lead and eventually lost. Los Angeles jumped out to a 17-point lead at the end of the first, but the second quarter was a disaster for the Lakers, who were outscored 30-16 in the period.

    After shooting 65 percent in the first quarter, Los Angeles shot 33 percent in the second. The Lakers committed 6 turnovers in the period as the Celtics cut a 17-point deficit to three. Paul Pierce had 16 points by himself in the second.

    Plagued by foul trouble, Kevin Garnett played only 13 seconds in the second, picking up his third foul shortly after checking back into the game.

    The Celtics took their first lead of the game on a Pierce free throw with 9:59 remaining in the third quarter, but the Lakers pushed the lead back up to nine points heading into the final period.

    The fourth was a roller coaster, with the Celtics clawing back to tie the game at 90 with 4:35 to play. But Boston never could reclaim the lead in the final period as time ran out on the Celtics’ hope of clinching a championship on the road.

    Pierce led the Celtics with 38 points and 8 assists. He was joined in double-figures by Ray Allen (16 points) and Kevin Garnett (13 points, 14 rebounds).

    Kobe Bryant (25 points) was his usual self, but he had help from Lamar Odom (20 points) and Pau Gasol (19 points). The Lakers shot 46 percent in the game.

    We’re heading back to Boston, but not before we get some postgame reaction, as well as video, from Game 5. Stay tuned.

    Lakers, 99-95 (24.8, 4th quarter)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 16, 2008 12:00 AM

    Kobe Bryant's steal on Paul Pierce and dunk on the other end has given the Lakers a two-possession lead.

    Trophies ready

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 15, 2008 11:51 PM

    LOS ANGELES -- In the bowels of the Staples Center, there is NBA and stadium personnel ready to storm the court should the Celtics find a way to win this game.

    Two NBA employees are holding two trophies -- the Larry O'Brien championship trophy and the Finals' MVP award (both are covered with teal cloths) -- while a crew with piles of scaffolding on rollers is preparing to come down one of the four alleyways leading to the arena floor.

    Presumably, the champagne is also on ice somewhere near the Celtics' locker room.

    But the C's have work to do if those trophies are going to see the light of day here in Los Angeles.

    (Update): The championship trophies were brought back to holding deep in the recesses of the Staples Center and will make their way East for the NBA Finals, which continue in Boston with Game 6 on Tuesday (a potential Game 7 is set for Thursday).

    Another NBA worker also had a small bag with the league's logo on it and a bunch of gray T-shirts that declared Boston the league's 2007-08 champions. The Celtics are hoping their potential championship garb doesn't end up in Nicaragua, like the Patriots "19-0 " shirts from Super Bowl XLII.

    Foul trouble

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 15, 2008 11:41 PM

    Kevin Garnett just picked up his fifth personal foul, and Paul Pierce picked up his fourth shortly after.

    It's 92-91, Lakers, with 3:31 to play.

    Tie ballgame

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 15, 2008 11:38 PM

    Kevin Garnett tied the game at 90 with a jumper at the 4:35 mark in the fourth.

    Celebrity roll call

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 15, 2008 11:37 PM

    jack535.jpg

    No celebrity montage on the Jumbotron here at the Staples Center yet, though it's bound to come and the guy above will undoubtedly draw the biggest cheers (Jack Nicholson that is, not Lou Adler or the kid in horn-rimmed glasses).

    Other celebs we've spotted so far tonight:

    Singer Ashanti, who sang the National Anthem before the game; LA Galaxy soccer player David Beckham and his son, Brooklyn; actress Penny Marshall; actor David Spade; Red Hot Chili Peppers singer Anthony Kiedis; rapper Sean Combs; actor Chris Tucker; rapper B-Real of Cypress Hill; actor Sylvester Stallone; actors Mark Wahlberg, along with fashion-model girlfriend, Rhea Durham; and actor Matt Damon.

    Lakers, 90-86 (5:28, 4th quarter)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 15, 2008 11:33 PM

    It ain't over.

    Just when the Celtics looked like they were down and out, Boston has made a charge to get back into this game. The big shot once again came from James Posey, who nailed a three pointer to get us to our current score.

    Well, that's not going to make them like him any more

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 15, 2008 11:26 PM

    The crowd showered Sam Cassell with boos after the veteran guard whipped Sasha Vujacic to the ground as the pair tussled over a loose ball.

    Cassell, who's already less than revered in these parts, drew the ire of the Laker faithful.

    He continued to hear it at the other end of the court after he made an old-fashioned, three-point play to make it 88-79 in favor of LA with 8:04 to go.

    Lakers, 84-72 (11:04, 3rd quarter)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 15, 2008 11:18 PM

    Uh oh.

    Lamar Odom nailed a three-pointer at the 11:04 mark to push the Los Angeles lead back to double-digits. The Celtics are running out of time to make their run. Odom has 18 points in the game.

    Lakers, 79-70 (3)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 15, 2008 11:10 PM

    If the Celtics clinch the NBA championsip on the Lakers' home court tonight, it's not going to come easy.

    The Celtics stormed back and took a brief lead early in the third quarter, but Los Angeles answered with a run of their own to push the lead to 9 points as we head into the final period.

    Kobe Bryant is getting plenty of help tonight, as Pau Gasol (17 points), Lamar Odom (15 points), and Derek Fisher (11 points) are in in double-figures. Bryant leads the team with 18 points.

    Already without Kendrick Perkins (shoulder), Boston's big men are in some serious foul trouble. P.J. Brown has five fouls, while Kevin Garnett has four. The Celtics have gone small for most of the game, using either Brown or Garnett at center and bypassing the services of Leon Powe and Glen Davis. If Brown or Garnett foul out, Doc Rivers will be forced to use one of his young big men.

    KG has four

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 15, 2008 11:05 PM

    Kevin Garnett picked up his fourth personal foul trying to block a shot by Pau Gasol with 2:31 left in the third. Garnett remains in the game.

    Do you believe?

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 15, 2008 10:57 PM

    The Laker fans were already going nuts (well, as nuts as an LA crowd appears to go) with this latest run to pull ahead of the Celtics, but a sign appeared on the Jumbotron that read, "Do you believe?" during the latest timeout and that really ignited the crowd.

    For now, anyway.

    Lakers not folding

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 15, 2008 10:55 PM

    Unlike in Game 4, the Lakers have withstood a charge by the Celtics and have fought back to reclaim the lead.

    Trailing for the first time, Pau Gasol made a turnaround jump shot to tie the game. Gasol then converted on a three-point play, and Derek Fisher followed with a three-point play of his own.

    The 9-2 run was capped by a three-pointer from Vladimir Radmonovic. It's 71-64 Lakers with five minutes to play in the third.

    Crisis averted

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 15, 2008 10:46 PM

    Kevin Garnett was almost called for his fourth personal foul on a bucket by Pau Gasol, but the foul was charged to P.J. Brown instead.

    First lead

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 15, 2008 10:41 PM

    The Celtics took their first lead of the game on a Paul Pierce free throw with 9:59 remaining in the third quarter. It's 58-57, Celtics.

    Ocean's 17?

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 15, 2008 10:18 PM
    damon225.jpg
    LOS ANGELES -- While the crowd here is dominated by Laker-loving celebrities, the Celtics do have one famous supporter in attendance: Matt Damon.

    Sitting courtside in a Celtics' hat and matching green kicks, Damon had to like the second-quarter effort put forth by his hometown squad.

    For more on the scene here in LA, check out our Game 5 scene photo gallery.

    Lakers, 55-52 (half)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 15, 2008 10:14 PM

    It's Game 4 all over again.

    The Celtics cut a 17-point lead at the start of the second quarter to three points at the break as the Lakers lead, 55-52. And they've done it with defense, limiting Los Angeles to 16 points in the second quarter.

    Kobe Bryant broke out for 15 points in the first quarter, but he was held scoreless in the second. The Lakers hit 5 of 8 threes in the first quarter, and just 1 of 7 in the second.

    Paul Pierce is leading the way for the Celtics with 18 points. The Celtics have gotten their shooting back up near 50 percent.

    It's amazing how quiet it is in here. Fans seem like they're just expecting the Lakers to blow this game. That can't be helping the team much.

    Double-techs

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 15, 2008 10:12 PM

    Ray Allen and Derek Fisher got into it with each other, both players earning technical fouls at the 1:57 mark.

    It's hard to find two nicer guys to give technicals to.

    T'd up

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 15, 2008 10:08 PM

    Vladimir Radmonovic picked up a techical foul for arguing at the 3:31 mark. Not a great decision on his part.

    Lakers look lost

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 15, 2008 09:56 PM

    Los Angeles has scored only four points in more than six minutes of play here in the second quarter. The Celtics, meanwhile, have scored 17 points in the period. It's 43-39 Lakers with 5:44 left in the second quarter.

    The miraculous thing about this particular comeback is that Kevin Garnett has played no part in it. Garnett was on the bench during the first part of it, then picked up his third personal foul just seconds after coming into the game.

    Tony Allen has been a nice spark off the bench for the Celtics. He has 4 points.

    KG has three

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 15, 2008 09:54 PM

    Seconds after he checked in, Kevin Garnett picked up his third personal foul with 7:37 left in the first half. Garnett went to the bench.

    This could be trouble for the Celtics.

    He does it all

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 15, 2008 09:52 PM

    James Posey stepped in to take a charge on Ronny Turiaf at the 8:11 mark. Posey always seems to be in the right spot.

    In more sobering news, P.J. Brown just picked up his third personal foul. He is out of the game.

    If you had...

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 15, 2008 09:48 PM

    Lionel Richie in the celebrity Jumbotron pool ... you win!

    Richie was the first celebrity featured on the Jumbotron with 9:14 to go in the second quarter. The singer waved as his song, All Night Long played in the arena.

    Richie's daughter, Nicole, is among the celebs spotted so far tonight.


    Tony Allen sighting

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 15, 2008 09:46 PM

    Tony Allen stole the inbounds pass to earn the Celtics an extra possession, then dunked the ball on a pass from Paul Pierce. It's 43-32, Lakers with 9:14 remaining in the first half.

    Timeout, Los Angeles.

    Lakers, 39-22 (1)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 15, 2008 09:35 PM

    The Celtics need to find their defense.

    Los Angeles torched the Boston defense for 39 points on 65 percent shooting in the first quarter. The Lakers are 5 of 8 from beyond the arc.

    The Celtics, meanwhile, had only 8 field goals in the quarter. They haven't found a passable solution at center without Kendrick Perkins. And they've forced just one Los Angeles turnover.

    Wheelchair!

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 15, 2008 09:35 PM

    LOS ANGELES -- Laker fans serenaded Paul Pierce with a "Wheelchair" chant while the Celtics' captain was at the free throw line at the end of the first quarter.

    KG has 2

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 15, 2008 09:32 PM

    Kevin Garnett fouled Pau Gasol at the 1:08 mark in the first. He's coming out of the game.

    Lakers, 31-15 (2:04, 1st quarter)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 15, 2008 09:27 PM

    The Celtics are doing their part to imitate the first half of Game 4. They've already dug themselves a 16-point deficit.

    Three-pointers have been the story so far. The Lakers are 5 of 7, while the Celtics have made just two. Kobe Bryant has 15 points already, equaling the production of the entire Celtics team.

    Leon Powe is out of the game at Center, but his replacement, P.J. Brown, hasn't fared much better. The pair has combined for 2 points.

    C's fans heard

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 15, 2008 09:24 PM

    LOS ANGELES -- While the Laker fans have been loud and vocal throughout the team's quick start, there's -- as probably could have been expected -- a solid Boston presence in the crowd this evening with the Green one win away from clinching the NBA championship.

    The Laker fans started their typical "MVP" chant with Kobe Bryant at the free throw line late in the first quarter and a Celtic fan in the balcony responded with an "overrated" chant.

    While the Los Angeles fans are enjoying this start, it's clear they're not getting too boisterous given what transpired in Game 4. Not yet, anyway.

    Three-point barrage

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 15, 2008 09:23 PM

    Kobe Bryant has made 3 three-pointers, and Derek Fisher has added another here early. The Lakers are shooting 80 percent from distance.

    It's 24-10, Lakers at the 4:55 mark.

    Lakers, 18-5 (6:36, 1st quarter)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 15, 2008 09:18 PM

    Just like in Game 4, the Celtics are off to a slow start here tonight.

    The Lakers have made 7 of 12 field goals, including a trio of threes, to jump out to an early lead. Kevin Garnett has two mid-range jumpers for the Celtics, which constitutes as their only scoring from the field.

    The Celtics are 2 of 9.

    It’s clear Boston misses Kendrick Perkins. Pau Gasol just went over the top of Leon Powe for an offensive putback. Powe is giving up a ton of height to Gasol.

    A rowdy Celtics fan up in the balcony just yelled that she’d gladly give the Lakers 24 points, seeing as they came back from that deficit last game. Her suggestion was not appreciated.

    And we're off ...

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 15, 2008 09:07 PM

    LOS ANGELES -- Tip-off occurred at 9:07, EDT.

    "Not in our house"

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 15, 2008 08:56 PM

    LOS ANGELES -- The Lakers' pregame video on the screens that fall from the Jumbotron featured the message, "A journey only takes you as far as you want to go. For these brothers their destination lay within."

    It closed with: "Not in our house."

    And, as we wait for tip-off, the Lakers played another snippet of Randy Newman's, "I Love L.A."

    Perkins out, Powe to start

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 15, 2008 07:33 PM

    LOS ANGELES --It's official: Kendrick Perkins will not play tonight and Leon Powe will start. Perkins spoke to us in the Celtics locker room just moments ago and said the pain was too much to overcome.

    "If somebody bumped me right now, there's a lot of pain in there," said Perkins. "So I knew I couldn't go tonight. I felt that yesterday. But hopefully we can close it out."

    Perkins said he thinks he could play in a potential Game 6.

    "I will play on Tuesday if it goes that far," he said. "Hopefully we close it out tonight. That's the biggest thing. I'm focused right now for the guys."

    Celtics coach Doc Rivers said his team would not change much with Perkins out of the lineup.

    "The only thing that this really changes is with Perk on the floor, it allows you to do certain things with Kevin as far as being a roamer, and it basically takes him out of that role," said Rivers. "So that's a tough blow. But other than that, we've had injuries all year at certain times, and the other guys have pitched in. So we're fine."

    Powe said he found out he was starting this morning. He said he wasn't worried about his new role.

    “It’s not too different,” said Powe. “Coming off the bench you get to see the flow of the game. As a starter you don’t have to do that. But nothing changes for me. I still have to go out there and be aggressive on the rebounding and defensive end. If I get a scoring opportunity I have to be aggressive with that, too.”

    Powe said the Celtics would miss Perkins tonight.

    “He anchors our defense,” said Powe. “He’s the one that gets everybody going on the defensive end. He’s the one who blocks shots…it’s my job to fill in that role.”

  • Celtics assistant coach Tom Thibodeau talked X’s and O’s with his former boss in Houston, current television analyst and former Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy, in the hallway between the locker rooms. The two even illustrated a couple of plays by drawing them out on the cinder block wall.

  • Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck flew his family out to LA for tonight's game. Grousbeck's son Campbell, who is blind, wished Celtics players luck and shook their hands in the locker room before the game (there's a great story on Campbell here). Grousbeck and his family moved to Boston partly to give Campbell a world-class education at the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown.

  • Quote of the afternoon came from Lakers coach Phil Jackson. When asked whether his team could come back from a 3-1 deficit, Jackson replied, "We're young enough and dumb enough to be able to do this."

  • Scalabrine warming up

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 15, 2008 07:25 PM

    Brian Scalabrine is going through extended warm-ups, in uniform. What this means for Kendrick Perkins isn't clear just yet. At this point, it is possible Scalabrine will be active for tonight's game. That would mean that someone else, possibly Perkins, is inactive.

    Still no sign of Perkins, and the other big men have just come out for warm-ups. This is usually Perkins's time to get loose.

    More to come.

    Rondo looks good

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 15, 2008 06:38 PM

    Rajon Rondo , who is still not 100 percent because of ankle woes, took to the floor this evening to warm up without any tape on his ankles. He'll most likely tape for the game, but that has to be a good sign for how he's feeling tonight.

    As for Kendrick Perkins, we're still not sure. No sign of the big man yet. This is not unusual, but it prevents us from the instant satisfaction our society craves.

    Brian Scalabrine is out warming up in game shorts. Whether that's posturing by the Celtics, a sign of Perkins' health, or a completely meaningless detail, is not clear.

  • Ashanti, who is performing tonight's national anthem, tested her vocal chords at mid-court while players from both teams warmed up. If the run-through is any indication, tonight's anthem should be great.

  • Welcome to Staples Center ...

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 15, 2008 06:28 PM

    LOS ANGELES -- Welcome to Staples Center, where the Boston Celtics will take on the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5 of the NBA Finals tonight at 9 p.m.. The Celtics lead the best-of-seven series, 3-1.

    Like clockwork.

    Ray Allen and Glen Davis are out early warming up. Same routine as usual, Allen working up a sweat stroking that smooth jumper, Davis getting physical with some post moves. A 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals is no time to change what works.

    We're on Kendrick Perkins watch this evening. The Celtics center yesterday put his chances of starting at 50-50. No sign of the big man in the building so far, but he usually comes out a little later. If Perkins doesn't go, look for P.J. Brown to start.

    We'll have an update on Perkins as soon as possible.

    It's very early for fans to be arriving, but several Celtics jerseys were spotted on the way in. With tonight being a potential championship-clinching game, we expect lucky Celtics fans to snatch up a few more tickets at Staples this evening.

    We'll cover every angle tonight, so stay tuned.

    UPDATE (6:28 p.m. EDT): Leon Powe, Eddie House, P.J. Brown, Brian Scalabrine, and James Posey just walked into the arena. That means the team bus is here. An update on Perkins can't be far behind.

    Sonny California

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 15, 2008 12:40 PM

    sonny535.jpg

    SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- On the advice of our commenters, we made the trek out to Sonny McLean's in Santa Monica Saturday night to check out what everyone has described as the Boston bar in Southern California.

    Indeed, the Wilshire Blvd.-based pub lives up to the hype as it comes off as a little slice of New England in a land of palm trees. An illuminated Celtics logo greets you near the front door, and one of the exterior walls features a mural with a shamrock that includes the logos of Boston's four pro sports squads.

    Inside, you'll find the standard fare of sports memorabilia and there's plenty of games (pool, hoop shoot, air hockey, Golden Tee) to keep you busy. Think Sullivan's Tap, but 3,000 miles west.

    We're told the place is usually packed wall to wall with Boston fans for Sox games. Likewise, the pool room is converted into a sitting area for fans to watch Patriots games on Sundays in the fall. The specials Saturday night included fresh Maine lobsters. They had karaoke as well, and, though we didn't stick around, we're fairly confident "Sweet Caroline" was sung at least once.

    sonny225.jpg
    The menu includes tributes to a handful of local athletes. There's the Big Papi's Bangers and Mash (described as, "It's what David Ortiz does to every ball hung over the plate. Imported British sausage served with breaded cabbage, mashed potatoes, steamed vegetables and brown gravy. $10.25); the Larry Bird ("Grilled chicken topped with sauteed peppers, onions, mushrooms, and melted mozarella. Servred on a sesame seed roll. Mustache not included. $8.50); and the Tedy Bruschi Burger ("A whopping 1/2 pound beef patties with choice of cheese. You'll be hitting something hard too after you tackle this thing. $9.25).

    No word yet if the staff plans to tinker with the name of the House Penne or the House Chicken Breasts in honor of Celtics guard Eddie House.

    Sonny's even serves Dunkin' Donuts coffee (both hot and cold varieties, with one free refill) for those transplanted New Englanders who yearn for the joe of choice back home.

    For Celtics' flavor, the bar staff included workers in Ray Allen and Brian Scalabrine jerseys. Sonny's was also holding a $10 raffle to win tickets to today's Game 5 and they also sold their own "Beat LA" T-shirts for $20.

    As we hopped in our rental car to go explore the rest of Santa Monica (the pier is okay, the 3rd St. Promenade is better), we were greeted with the sounds of "You Should Be Dancing" by the Bee Gees on radio station 104.3. Yes, the celebratory track for Boston's dancing man, Gino. Take it for what it's worth, but we wouldn't be surprised to hear the song emanating from Sonny's if the Celtics capture the NBA title Sunday night in Los Angeles.

    4 Quarters: Hollywood edition

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 15, 2008 12:39 PM

    HOLLYWOOD -- Boston.com's Chris Forsberg and Gary Dzen played four quarters from the Hollywood Bowl Friday. Among the topics discussed: The Celtics' Game 4 comeback; the mood in L.A.; and who is the finals MVP?


    Celts will stay in LA if they win

    Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff June 15, 2008 12:36 PM

    Former Celtics forward and current radio commentator Cedric Maxwell said today that if the Celtics win the championship tonight with a victory in Game 5, the team will stay in Los Angeles overnight and fly back to Boston on Monday. If the Celtics lose, they will fly back to Boston immediately after the game.

    "The Celtics are saying right now, if the Celtics win the game, they will stay in LA," Maxwell said this morning on Ch. 38's Celtics TV show. "If they lose the game, we get on the plane and come back home right away."

    ---

    Referee assignments for tonight's Game 5:

    Official 1: Dick Bavetta
    Official 2: Scott Foster
    Official 3: Ken Mauer

    Saturday's leftovers

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 15, 2008 12:20 PM

    EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- A handful of leftover videos from Saturday's practice:

    The Rajon Rondo Story: PJ Brown interviews Rajon Rondo during Saturday's practice and asks him who he would chose to play himself in a fictional movie about Rondo's life.

    Perkins at practice: Celtics center Kendrick Perkins shoots around at practice Saturday. Perkins listed his status as 50/50 for Sunday's Game 5.

    Rondo's ready: Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo deems himself healthy and ready to go for Game 5 of the NBA Finals during Saturday's practice.

    Ryan previews Game 5

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 14, 2008 08:14 PM

    EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan previews Game 5 of the NBA Finals and calls Danny Ainge the secret hero of this year's team.

    Practice chatter

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 14, 2008 06:40 PM

    EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- A collection of quotes from today's practice sessions for the Celtics and Lakers at the Toyota Sports Center:

    Doc Rivers

    (On his team's health): "I think everybody's good, you know. We held him out of practice today, but he looks good. He's moving his arms and shoulders pretty well, so again, we won't know until tomorrow, but right now I think everything looks good."

    (On a report that Paul Pierce might needs off-season surgery): "I didn't read the report, so I don't know. I don't know enough about it. I stay out of that part of it. So you know, we've noted that it's not 100 percent, and that's about all I'll say about it."

    (On the Lakers being desperate): " You gotta try to think about it a little bit, obviously, but you just gotta do you know, we have to play better as well. We won that game, but we didn't have a great game. We didn't play well in our mind, and we didn't play well in Game 3 as well, so we have some things we have to fix to get better, and the key is us being as desperate as them."

    (On a potential MVP): "I'm not going to get into the whole MVP thing. I think to date our team, all the guys, so but I mean so far that was the toughest game clearly. But each game has been very it's amazing how looking at the film and that's what we do as coaches. You look at each game over and over again, how each game has been so different from the other, and then you know, there's stretches that they return back to where we both thought the series or the games would be. It's not been a great game of flow, a great series of flow. And that's kind of been surprising."

    Rajon Rondo

    (On not being overconfident): "We’ve been humble all year. I don’t think we’ll be too confident or overconfident. We know they’re a great team, they’ve put us in tough situations in a lot of games in this series, so we definitely respect this team. We’re going to go out there and try to have more energy. As long as we keep our energy up I think we can get another win."

    (On the comeback): "No, not at all. That lineup is one of the toughest lineups to guard I think – especially with E-House and Pose, who can guard a bigger player like Lamar Odom and space the floor. You have Ray and Paul, they’re great isolation players, and Kevin is one of the best post players we’ve got in this league. So, that lineup is definitely tough to try to trap and dictate and make them take tough shots."

    (On the Lakers being desperate): "I think they are, but we’re desperate too. Only two guys have won a championship on this team and the big three haven’t won at all, so I’m sure they’re very desperate and the young guys, myself, we’re desperate, so both teams we’ll be desperate in Game 5."

    Eddie House

    (On not being overconfident): "We know we have to come in more desperate than they’re going to come in. We know they’re going to hit us with everything they have. Their back is against is against the wall. So, they’re going to come out fighting. We just have to match their fight and actually exceed it."

    (On not looking ahead): "You have to play the game. You can’t just think you’re going to get the trophy without playing the game. So, you have to go out and give everything you have. Leave it all on the court and let the chips fall where they may."

    (On how hungry this team is): "We’re starving. You wait your whole life for a moment like this. We’re very close. It’s in our grasp. We just have to go and get it. It’s up to us, collectively, from top to bottom, to go out and do everything we can to get it."

    Phil Jackson

    (On a 3-1 deficit): "This is new territory for me even, this type of thing, and so we're talking about the most basic thing that we always talk about, which is you have to do what's right in front of you. You have to be right here in the moment and take care of what's right in front of you in basketball. You can't think about the ifs and whats and what could have been."

    (On Boston's injuries in Game 4): "That turned out to be a benefit for them. Whether there's a window or not, it turned out to be something that we weren't as adept at defending as we felt we could defend the other way around. And we should have been ready for it. We saw some of it in the third game and we just didn't make that adjustment individually staying attached to some of the shooters that came in the game as opposed to some of the power players they had in before."

    (On the Game 4 collapse): "No, there really isn't. You know, the problem was is the energy that we didn't come out to meet with on the court. It was a team thing. And I think that was the problem. We didn't come out we let them get rolling on the floor offensively, and that energy, you know, carried over to the defensive end, and they had four completions right off the bat. I think that's where we've always come back with the emphasis is you've got to come out and play.

    "And I know there's a lot of subscribe, too, Kobe hasn't gotten the scoring done or whatnot, that we're going to go there, but in watching the tape, we have pretty balanced attack for the first six, seven minutes of the third quarter. So I felt like we did the right thing when we came out on the floor."

    Kobe Bryant

    (On rebounding from the collapse): "Well, I mean, the night that we lost, it was tough obviously. I think the next day it became a matter of what are we going to do going forward because we've got to make a series out of this. We've got to take care of business on Sunday. So what are we going to do? How am I going to get my teammates in the right frame of mind, make sure they're energetic, and that's what it's been all about."

    (On Doc Rivers calling him a "scary player): "Every time I look in the mirror I scare the (expletive) out of myself. I don't know. Honestly, I just go out there and play. I have a great time. I have fun and I think when I hear comments like that it's a tremendous honor, and it's a big sign of respect. So I just kind of just take it all in stride really."

    (On a potential player's-only practice Friday): "I borrowed Phil's peace pipe. We had a big kumbaya meeting. No, everybody's fine. Everybody is in the same mood that I am. Everybody's ready to go. We're excited about the opportunity.

    If we start the season in training camp and you come to me and say we're going to give you three cracks to win the championship, I'm going to take that. So I'm excited about this. This is not something we're down and out. This is still the series. We've got a big game tomorrow. We're going to be ready to play that, and then we're going to go from there. Look at it as college basketball. It's March Madness. It's the Elite Eight now. So we're ready to go."

    Lamar Odom

    (On the Lakers' confidence being shaken): "Not at all. Of course the game we should have won. It was a game we thought we had. Of course we lost it. It’s in back of us now we just take it game by game."

    (On a potential choke): "That’s arguable. They might have a point. But, I know we are going to come out and play a lot better on Sunday."

    (On being a desperate team): "3-1 and it’s a seven game series, of course. Every possession is important. It’s a must that we have every loose ball, every rebound, defend as hard as possible. Every play is going to be a hustle play. "

    Will Perkins start Game 5?

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 14, 2008 05:14 PM

    EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Will Kendrick Perkins start Game 5 of the NBA Finals Sunday?

    Depends on who you ask.

    Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who's fond of reminding media members that the name "Doc" is just a nickname, not his specialty, told the media Saturday that both Perkins and point guard Rajon Rondo would play tomorrow. What's more, he answered "yes" when asked if both players would start.

    On the court before practice, Rondo confirmed his status as healthy, but Perkins didn't sound nearly as optimistic about the injured left shoulder that forced him to depart Game 4.

    A player with a reputation for his toughness, Perkins suggested he would be a game-time decision at best (stating his status as 50/50, meaning he's giving himself about a 50-percent chance of playing). Asked if he could play if Game 5 were today, Perkins said, "Probably not."

    Furthermore, Perkins was limited during the portion of practice open to the media Saturday.

    The Celtics' center shot some one-handed jumpers around the hoop, but never used his left hand for support. Picture someone carrying a stack of books under their left arm and only using their right side to shoot. That was Perkins during the approximately half-hour of practice open to the media.

    Perkins did not participate in the stretching and conditioning drills the rest of the team (minus Scott Pollard, who worked on an exercise bike) participated in before launching into the full practice session.

    In one other bit of injury news, Paul Pierce shot down reports that he'll need offseason surgery on his injured knee, saying he's still unsure what the plan of attack will be.

    "Man, you get the news faster than I do," said Pierce when asked about the report. "Well, it's still the same from the time I hurt it. You know, I guess I have a sprain, kind of aggravated in the game before. Like I said, I really don't know how bad it is. I won't know until we end this thing, and that's why I hope I don't get hurt and we end it on Sunday, and then we'll see. But it hasn't gotten any -- too much worse than it already is, but it hasn't gotten any better either."

    Perk still 50/50; Rondo ready

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 14, 2008 04:15 PM

    EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- A few quick notes as the Celtics meet with the media here at the Toyota Sports Center before their afternoon practice:

    • Perk still 50/50: Celtics center Kendrick Perkins said he's still 50/50 with the injured left shoulder that forced him out of Thursday's Game 4. Perkins told the media he hadn't had an MRI, but would be a game-time decision Sunday as the doctors are being extra careful with him. Perkins noted that there's always potential Games 6 and 7 to think about if the Celtics decide to play it safe with him Sunday.

      Asked if he could play if Game 5 was today, Perkins admitted he wouldn't likely play.

    • Rondo: "I'm good": Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo continued to show no signs of a limp on that left ankle he injured during Game 3 Tuesday. Rondo pronounced himself in fine health and said the ankle would not be a factor Sunday.

    • They're desperate, too: The Celtics suggest that they might be just as desperate as the Lakers as Game 5 approaches. Rondo noted that many of the team's players have yet to win a championship and they remain hungry to finish off this series and secure that elusive crown.

    Back with more notes and quotes in a bit.

    Lakers: "One game at a time"

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 14, 2008 03:39 PM

    EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- With their backs against the wall on the heels of a devastating Game 4 collapse that saw the Celtics open a commanding 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals, the Lakers leaned on all the typical cliches as they met with the media following their Saturday practice at the Toyota Sports Center.

    The catchprhase of the day, not surprisingly, is, "One game at a time."

    "You can't be thinking about Game 6 or Game 7," said Pau Gasol. "We've got home court (Sunday) and we need to take care of that, then go from there. We can't get too far ahead of ourselves and we can't get down on ourselves. That won't play into our favor."

    Echoed Jordan Farmar: "It's gotta be one game at a time. That's all that matters. If you don't win now, there's no other games. All of our focus has to be on Sunday."

    The Lakers need three straight wins, including two on the road in Boston, to come from behind in this series. By putting the focus on Sunday's game, the task seems a bit less daunting.

    But then there's the mental hurdle of overcoming Thursday's epic collapse in which the Celtics erased a 24-point deficit -- the biggest in Finals history -- to win Game 4, 97-91, at the Staples Center.

    Can the Lakers move forward from that?

    "It's already behind us," said Sasha Vujacic. "We gotta be ready (for Sunday). We put that game behind us. We studied the tape, we know what we did wrong. We have to go out and stick with our game plan for 48 minutes."

    So how exactly did the Celtics' storm back Thursday?

    "They played hard and slowly cut the lead until it was manageable," said Farmar. "They played a great game from there... You want to forget it and not dwell on it, but you also want to learn from it."

    The Lakers say they'll be ready for Sunday.

    "We're down 3-1, we have to show our character," said Vujacic. "We have to show our heart. I think we're ready for that."

    Perkins 50-50 'at best' for Game 5; other Celtics aching, too

    Posted by David Lefort, Boston.com Staff June 13, 2008 07:17 PM

    From the Associated Press

    EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Boston Celtics bench has been a reliable contributor during the NBA finals, so far.

    And it's about to get even more important.

    With starters Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo both unable to finish Game 4, and Paul Pierce also injured, the Celtics will be relying on their reserves when they try to close out the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5 on Sunday night.

    "We're not in great physical shape, there's no doubt about that," coach Doc Rivers said Friday, when he gave his players a day off to celebrate their rally from a 24-point deficit to beat the Lakers 97-91 and move within one victory of the NBA title.

    "I think our guys are mostly gamers," Rivers said at the Lakers' practice facility. "It's amazing going through this. That's part of it. It's a lot of physical and mental things that you have to go through, and we're going through it."

    Perkins left the game on Thursday night, clutching his left shoulder after slamming into Lakers forward Lamar Odom early in the third quarter. The Celtics said Perkins had a strained left shoulder, and he didn't return to the game.

    Rivers said Friday that Perkins has a 50-50 chance "at best" of playing in Game 5 on Sunday night.

    "When I first saw it, I didn't like what I saw," Rivers said. "Obviously the injury he had last night could be significant, and we don't know the results yet. But that's clearly not looking great right now."

    Rondo bruised a bone in his left ankle in Game 3 and didn't practice before the fourth game. He started Thursday, but played only 17 minutes before going to the bench for good with 7:06 left in the third quarter.

    "The fact that Rajon tried to go last night, again, was phenomenal," Rivers said.

    But the fact that he finished with only five points and two assists meant that Rivers had to rely upon Eddie House, who as the third-stringer behind Rondo and Sam Cassell had played minimal minutes since Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.

    House played 25 minutes on Thursday night -- his most in more than two months -- and his 11 points included a pair of 3-pointers and some key baskets as the Celtics staged the biggest NBA finals comeback since the league began keeping such records in 1971.

    Rivers said House was his choice because the Lakers were forced to guard him at the perimeter, meaning they couldn't double-team Kevin Garnett down low.

    "It was terrific," Rivers said. "We would have gone with Eddie or Sam, honestly. We just needed a guard that they had to stay with so they couldn't help."

    James Posey had 18 points in just 25 minutes off the bench, P.J. Brown had a big dunk down the stretch, and Leon Powe had three points and five rebounds in nine minutes as Celtics reserves outscored the Lakers' backups 35-15.

    In all, the Celtics' bench has outscored the Lakers' 108-82 in the series and held a 48-35 rebounding edge.

    "A lot of these guys, when they decide to just have one single mind, sacrifice for the team and stop thinking about individual stuff, they become pretty good basketball players," Rivers said.

    Pierce, who sprained his right knee in Game 1, went to the floor late in the game while trying to keep Kobe Bryant from spoiling the Celtics' comeback. Pierce said he "tweaked" his knee, but spokesman Jeff Twiss said the Celtics captain rolled his ankle.

    "I'm feeling kind of sore," Pierce said Thursday night. "Rajon is hurting, Perk hurt his shoulder, so I think these two days will be great for us to recuperate from our minor injuries and try to suck it up on Sunday and end this thing before things get worse."

    Lakers cancel practice

    Posted by David Lefort, Boston.com Staff June 13, 2008 07:15 PM

    From the Associated Press

    EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- A day after the Lakers' colossal collapse in Game 4 of the NBA finals, coach Phil Jackson canceled practice.

    For psychological reasons.

    "You know, just in the checking out of how the guys were and how they felt, I just felt it was a good idea," Jackson explained Friday at the team's practice facility. "We have two days to work on the things we need to work on.

    "We have guys that are well-conditioned at this time, and we need rest and recuperation in this situation, probably more psychologically than we do physically."

    Jackson said he sent the players home after a brief get-together that included watching some of Thursday night's debacle against the Boston Celtics.

    "I told them that the series is not over and we want to force the action," said Jackson, whose opportunity for an NBA-record 10th championship ring as a head coach appears to be slipping away -- at least for now.

    "We watched some tape, we looked at the first half. Obviously we were successful in the first half and did some things that got a lead for us, and I wanted to explain to them that they were the same ballclub, the same personnel that went out there in the second half, and if they can get that kind of a lead, they can maintain that kind of a game if they really put their minds to it."

    As Jackson said, the Lakers played a terrific first half Thursday night, and that extended halfway through the third quarter, when they held a 70-50 lead. A second straight victory seemed assured, and the Lakers would have all the momentum heading into Game 5.

    Suddenly, the Celtics turned the game around, an especially shocking development since the Lakers were playing at Staples Center, where they had a 9-0 record in the postseason and hadn't lost since March 28.

    The Celtics outscored the Lakers 47-21 to finish the game for a 97-91 victory and a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. That's an obstacle no team has overcome in the finals.

    Now what? Apparently no lineup or rotation changes.

    "No, not at this point," Jackson said. "But we're likely to do -- pull out everything as this series goes along."

    No telling how long that will be. The Lakers need a win Sunday night at Staples Center and two more in Boston to win their 15th championship and enable Jackson to surpass former Celtics coach Red Auerbach, who also had nine championship rings as a head coach. Auerbach died in October 2006.

    Jackson said he's counting on the resilience of the players to help them bounce back from the biggest collapse in finals history since the Elias Sports Bureau began keeping detailed records in the 1970-71 season. The Lakers led by as many as 24 points, 45-21, in the second quarter.

    "I don't think there's any doubt that if we had to play this morning, we probably wouldn't feel that great about playing this morning, but fortunately, we're not playing until Sunday, and we'll be back ready to go by Sunday," Jackson said. "I just told them as a team, they had their hearts ripped out. It's tough to recover from that, but they will."

    Jackson also said he told his players that everybody involved probably feels they have some responsibility, including equipment manager Rudy Garciduenas, who "probably thought he put the wrong Tide in the uniforms."

    "That's what you mull as a coach over in your mind at 1 or 5 in the morning after a situation like that, what could have we done differently," Jackson said. "But the other aspect is that you've got to give credit where credit is due."

    Jackson said some little things jumped out when he watched the game tape.

    "Pau (Gasol) had a situation where he had a dunk and it came out, or it was blocked or there was a foul; there's action in that situation," the coach said. "He didn't go perhaps hard enough to the basket in one of those situations. But that turned out to be a critical play. That's right where we could have gone from 12 to 14 and instead we go from 12 to 10."

    "There's some little key plays right there at the end of the third quarter that changed the energy that they were able to bring, the hope that they were able to bring. Any team that's down that deep says, `Let's just get it back to 10 points, let's not try to make it up all in a row or in a hurry.' Not only were they able to get it back to 10 points, they were able to get it back almost entirely by the end of the third quarter. Those are the things that inspired their team."

    The Celtics outscored the Lakers 21-3 in the last 6 minutes of the third period to draw within two points, and weren't behind by more than four after that. An 11-2 run gave Boston a five-point lead with 2:10 remaining, and the Lakers weren't closer than two after that.

    "It's a humbling experience, to be putting the pressure on them and then to be sitting in here thinking about how we're going to come back from 3-1," Lamar Odom said after the game in a hushed Lakers' dressing room. "They beat us in the second half with their second effort, every way you can basically lose a game."

    Today's Doc Rivers media Q&A

    Posted by David Lefort, Boston.com Staff June 13, 2008 05:19 PM

    Celtics coach Doc Rivers spoke briefly with reporters today at the Lakers' practice facility in El Segundo, Calif. today. Below is a partial transcript.

    I know you've talked a lot this year about how much Ray has had to sacrifice his game for the other guys, probably more than anyone else. But can you talk about how much he has been able to change what he does, maybe recognize things in his game that he didn't necessarily know existed as much?

    Doc Rivers: Yeah. I mean, he's been great all year. You know, like I said before, I thought Kevin you can put in any system. He's just such a versatile player. And Paul had basically been in a system. So Ray was a guy that really had to sacrifice the most. I think really he's learned a lot through this year.

    He had been a player at times that, in Seattle especially, when the ball touched his hands, it basically stopped and he got to decide from that point on what happened. You know, it's just not how we've ever played or I've ever coached, and I just thought the ball movement is the key to winning.

    You know, to his credit, he's done it. He's struggled with it at times, but he's done it. You know, now he's learning through the offense how to get the catch and shoot shots, how to move the ball and get it back and get into pick and rolls. So he's been fantastic in that.

    Even at this stage of his career that he's been able to do that and sacrifice to be able to do that has been tremendous. And then on the other end I think he's been more impressive. He's never been known as a defender, and he's been fantastic in this series guarding Kobe, even though guarding Kobe is tough, and throughout the playoffs. So yeah, I'm very happy for him.

    Ray Allen said last night after the game that it meant a lot to him when he heard Paul Pierce say that he wanted to guard Kobe, really said a lot about Paul, and will we see that match up again tomorrow?

    Doc Rivers: Well, you'll see everybody on Kobe, just like it's been. I don't think one guy can guard Kobe throughout one entire game. I'm sure Ray was extremely happy when Paul said that because that meant that he didn't have to guard him for a while (laughter). You know, truth be told, it probably is the reason Ray was able to play 48 minutes.

    You know, if he had stayed on Kobe throughout the game, I don't think he would have been able to get through the entire game.

    The fact that Ray had strength at the end of the game, I thought, had a lot to do with Paul guarding Kobe, and that allowed Ray to get some rest.

    Two questions: One, can you tell us the story behind the story of taking the big three out on the duck tour, the parade route before the season began? That, and do you realize that the coaching job you did last night was one of the greatest coaching jobs of all time?

    Doc Rivers: I can answer the second one. I don't realize that and I don't know if that's true. The way I look at coaching is the players make the shots at the end of the day.

    But the duck tour was just you know, hell, I had been sitting in that apartment watching the freaking duck tours where the Red Sox go on them and Patriots have been on them, and I just thought it was important for the Celtics, those three guys, because through them you can sell it to the team. I just thought it was important that they saw the route. Paul knew about it. Paul has been in Boston for so long, but Kevin and Ray, I think they thought we were going on a historic trip of Boston. I don't think they really got it at first until we explained to them what we were doing.

    It was a fun trip. I'm glad we did it.

    I know you don't want to look forward, but if you'd please indulge us here with kind of an eye on history, might you coach this next game with a cigar in your jacket pocket?

    Doc Rivers: No (laughing), I will not. I do I mean, Red is always on our mind, obviously. But no, I won't do that. As far as we are concerned, we have to win a game, and the next game is our focus.

    You know, it's very important for us that when you look at this series, any of the games besides probably Game 2, even though they came back, could have gone either way. So this is a close series in our minds.

    We have to just focus on that process. We can't look at anything more than that. I think it's very important for our team.

    To go back to my dad, he's just very important in my life. It's still very difficult for me to talk about because I haven't had a lot of time, really, to reflect on it. You know, it happened during the season unexpectedly. It's very, very difficult. But I do think about it. I think about it a lot.

    Getting back to Ray, when he went through that slump there in the second round, especially against Cleveland and Game 1 against Detroit, people were wondering what happened to him, what happened to his shot. How did he handle that, how did he get through that, and talk about his attitude and the way he's now playing?

    Doc Rivers: I thought he was great. I thought Ray was you know, it's difficult for a great player to struggle at all, and especially to struggle on a big stage and hear about that he doesn't have it and all that. You know, I just kept telling Ray, just do what the team needs and don't try to get yourself off. Try to just keep making plays for the team, and it's going to come; it's going to happen, it's going to break for you. And it did, and so I'm very happy for him.

    A lot of players I don't think could have done that, and Ray saw the bigger picture than the picture of him, so it was great for him. He's a great shooter. You don't forget how to shoot, and you knew that. He needed a couple to go down for him, and they started going down. Once they started going down, you felt really good about it.

    You played against and coached against Michael. And you know that Kobe always gets compared. He takes three shots three points the first half, no baskets last night, you know that. He winds up getting criticized by some people for not taking over the game. From your perspective as an opponent and an observer, what do you expect out of a guy like that and how fair is it for him to have to carry that kind a burden?

    Doc Rivers: It's not fair. I said it before the series started. I've never seen a guy this talented get criticized as much as he does. It's just completely unfair. He's a great basketball player, the greatest player right now in our league and probably top three or five in the history of the game in a lot of ways.

    He is, he's just a criticized player. When you look at the shots he made down the stretch of the game last night, he only does it every night. He's just a terrific player. He's driven like no other, and I think his drive Will Perdue is back there. I know at times Michael got on his teammates, too, and that's what all the great ones do. But when they do it and things don't work, they're usually the guy criticized for it.

    I don't know. I love him as a player. I don't know Kobe very well as a person, but when I've been around him, I've loved him that way, too.

    When people made their predictions for this series, were a lot of us too guilty in looking at what happened in the first two rounds of the playoffs and maybe forgetting about the whole body of work, what you guys looked like for the five months previously?

    Doc Rivers: Well, we caused it. We didn't play well in the first two series. I thought it was great for us in the long run, I really do. I said that at the time.

    We really hadn't been through anything as a team. We kind of went through the season, we had a little blip right at the All Star break on the West Coast trip. Other than that, we hadn't really had anything to fight through.

    That Game 5 against Atlanta and Game 7 against Atlanta, the Game 5 against Cleveland and Game 7 against Cleveland was great for us, now that we won those games. But I did think it helped our team, and it helped me see how guys reacted in those situations, as well. So if they come up again, you're better equipped to get through it.

    The Lakers are a fantastic team, so we didn't find that as a slap that people, most picked the other team. That didn't bother us.

    In the past or last year, your coaching ability was questioned. Now there's whispers and statements that you're out coaching Phil Jackson. How do you feel about that?

    Doc Rivers: I don't think it's true. I mean, Phil to me is the best coach, at least of my generation, to coach, him and Pat Riley and Gregg Popovich are the three best. I'm not in that class and don't deserve to be in that class. I ignore it.

    But last year was a tough year. It was a tough year for me as a coach. It was a tough year for our players as players, and hell, I'm thankful that Danny hung in there with me more than anything.

    On a different note, is there any concern, if this series does continue, about your team breaking down? We saw Perkins, Rondo obviously and even Pierce with his knee.

    Doc Rivers: Well, we're not in great physical shape, there's no doubt about that. You know, but that's what it is, and there's nothing you can do about that. I think our guys are mostly gamers. The fact that Rajon tried to go last night, again, was phenomenal. Perk, obviously the injury he had last night could be significant, and we don't know the results yet. But that's clearly not looking great right now.

    Paul tweaked his ankle and his knee again, so it's amazing going through this. That's part of it. It's a lot of physical and mental things that you have to go through, and we're going through it.

    From someone who never got a chance to win a championship as a player, I wonder if you could put into perspective the unique opportunity Paul has here to win a championship in his hometown.

    Doc Rivers: Well, you know, as a player, I had one shot and I was injured. With the Knicks, I was sitting on the bench, and I watched us lose Games 6 and 7 in street clothes. That was very difficult. We lost to the Bulls thank you, Will Perdue, when we were up 2 0 against them and they came back and won the Eastern Conference Finals against us. So to be able to do it against a hometeam, where you grew up, would be sensational.

    I had that opportunity in some ways because I thought we were going to knock off Chicago, but we didn't. So I'm sure Paul feels that way.

    But really, I'm hoping that Paul is not even thinking about any of that. We've got to just focus on the process of basketball, and once we do that, then everything else will take care of itself.

    Just curious, could you go through your relationship with Paul since you've been in Boston, and especially over the last year and how his leadership role has kind of changed over that time?

    Doc Rivers: Well, obviously when we first started it wasn't great because I asked him to change his game. You ask an All Star to change your game, it's probably not the smartest thing for a coach to do. But I thought it was the right thing for the team, and I thought it was the right thing for Paul. And he didn't at the time, but he did early even in that year he did, and the credit goes to Paul for doing it. I mean, that's a hell of a chance to take. You're an All Star and I'm telling you you have to change your game in some ways, and he did that, as far as just the ball movement part of it and where he was getting his shots from.

    Since then he's been very good. He's been frustrated at times over the last two years, not towards the coach, just towards the losses. You know, we've had a lot of private conversations over that, just hanging in there. But like I said before the series or one of these series they all blend together I don't think Paul got enough due for re upping with us when he clearly could have waited and been a free agent. He whispered it at times, but for the most part he wanted to stay here and be a Celtic and not leave and see this through.

    We're in a generation now that whenever your team is bad, the players want to leave. They want to jump ship. They want to go somewhere else. I think Paul never did that. He wanted to stay.

    Considering what you've been through, though, how does this validate you now as a coach?

    Doc Rivers: I don't know. I don't care, honestly. I love coaching. I honestly love coaching. I love what I do as a profession. It's very difficult family wise because even if you're with them, you're not. Even when you're there, you're not. It consumes you 24 hours. That's actually what I like about it.

    You know, I just enjoy what I'm doing, and I'll leave it at that.

    Today's Phil Jackson media Q&A

    Posted by David Lefort, Boston.com Staff June 13, 2008 05:18 PM

    Lakers coach Phil Jackson spoke briefly with reporters today at the Lakers' practice facility in El Segundo, Calif. today. Below is a partial transcript.

    Are you considering any lineup changes or rotation changes for the next game?

    Phil Jackson: No, not at this point. But we're likely to do pull out everything as this series goes along.

    When did you decide to cancel practice today, and why?

    Phil Jackson: You know, just in the checking out how the guys were and how they felt, I just felt it was a good idea. We have to two days to work on things we need to work on. We have guys that are well conditioned at this time, and we need rest and recuperation in this situation, probably more psychologically than we do physically.

    I think Kobe said that you didn't say much to them last night after the game in terms of getting them up for the next game, and I assume you've had no communication with them today. What are you thinking in terms of getting them up? Are you getting them up or are they supposed to get themselves up?

    Phil Jackson: Well, these young men are really resilient. That's one of the things I think I mentioned last night. I don't think there's any doubt that if we had to play this morning, we probably wouldn't feel that great about playing this morning, but fortunately we're not playing until Sunday, and we'll be back ready to go on Sunday.

    I just told them as a team, they had their heart ripped out. It's tough to recover from that, but they will. This thing is not over, and we want to force the action, want to continue to force the play.

    Kareem had said out in the parking lot that the players did come in and you talked to them this morning; is that correct?

    Phil Jackson: That's right.

    Can you maybe relay a little bit of the overall message and how they were feeling, that sort of stuff?

    Phil Jackson: I told them that the series is not over and we want to force the action (laughter).

    In hindsight looking back at last night, anything you think you could have done differently? How much responsibility do you take for what happened last night?

    Phil Jackson: Well, expanding on what I told the team, I said, I think everybody who has a part of this, from Rudy Garciduenas, who's our equipment manager, probably thought he put the wrong Tide in the uniforms. Everybody that feels like they did something they could have done to help the team and weren't able to help the team has to consider that. That's what you mull as a coach over in your mind at 1:00 or 5:00 in the morning after a situation like that, what could have we done differently.

    But the other aspect is that you've got to give credit when credit is due.

    After the game Kobe obviously was probably joking with the self medication, a few beers, some wine. Any concern about that with their hearts being ripped out?

    Phil Jackson: No, I think that they looked clear eyed today for the most part. They looked relatively clear eyed. We watched some tape, we looked at the first half.

    Obviously we were successful in the first half and did some things that got a lead for us, and I wanted to explain to them that they were the same ballclub, the same personnel that went out there in the second half, and if they can get that kind of a lead, they can maintain that kind of a game if they really put their minds to it.

    Knowing Kobe as a competitor, the report is that Pierce wanted to guard Kobe in the second half. When that information gets back to him, what do you expect out of Kobe coming into Sunday, if anything, different?

    Phil Jackson: I think more or less that's not going to be as much of an interest point to him as probably what Garnett said, and that'll probably weigh strongly with Kobe, than that aspect, that Pierce wanted to guard him.

    It was sort of a chess match as far as Doc deciding to move Paul onto Kobe after Ray was there. Is there a way you can sort of look at video and decide there's a better way to get Kobe some better looks? Is there something you can do?

    Phil Jackson: You know, I think they've had many match ups over the course of the years. There's nothing unusual. All Paul did was try to deny him the basketball and use his length to deny the ball to him. It wasn't particularly that action.

    Kobe didn't score the first half and we had an 18 point lead. He didn't score a basket the first half. We wanted to reiterate that, that we can still win this ballgame if we play the way we did the first half. That's something that's important for us as a team to understand.

    In looking at the game film, what jumps out at you in that second half, maybe two or three things?

    Phil Jackson: Well, there's some little things that jump out. I mentioned last night that Pau had a situation where he had a dunk and it came out or it was blocked or there was a foul; there's action in that situation. He didn't go perhaps hard enough to the basket in one of those situations. But that turned out to be a critical play. That's right where we could have gone from 12 to 14 and instead we go from 12 to 10, or 14 to 16, and it went back to 14 to 12.

    There's some little key plays right there at the end of the third quarter that changed the energy that they were able to bring, the hope that they were able to bring. Any team that's down that deep says, let's just get it back to 10 points, let's not try to make it up all in a row or in a hurry. Not only were they able to get it back to 10 points, they were able to get it back almost entirely by the end of the third quarter.

    Those are the things that inspired their team, and we have to look at that as a critical element. It was still a 10 point lead with 2:02 left in the third quarter, I think. Those are the points of the game that are really important to us.

    Catch the comeback again

    Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff June 13, 2008 03:13 PM

    In case you missed it, and many of you did, the Celtics comeback in the second half of last night's game will be on TV again this weekend.

    Game 4 of the NBA Finals between the Celtics and Lakers will be rebroadcast in its entirety on ESPN Classic at 8 p.m. on Saturday night.

    Garnett most popular jersey

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 13, 2008 02:37 PM
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    LOS ANGELES -- The NBA sent out a press release this morning saying that Kevin Garnett is the most popular selling jersey at the NBA Store in New York City and online for the 2007-08 season.

    What's more, the Celtics are the top-selling team for NBA apparel.

    After the jump, check out the full release, which includes the top 15 player jerseys and the top 10 for team apparel.

    FULL ENTRY

    Day-after Q&A with Bob Ryan

    Posted by David Lefort, Boston.com Staff June 13, 2008 02:15 PM

    Boston Globe columnist and basketball Hall of Famer Bob Ryan checked in earlier from Los Angeles to discuss last night's historic Celtics win, which he ranks among the top 5 games in team history. Here's a transcript of the Q&A ...

    Al: Bob, if Perkins & Rondo are slowed by injuries, will this have any serious impact on the series at this point?

    Bob Ryan: You want the team to be at full strength. You want Doc to have all his available weapons. This is the secret story of the Finals: Unlike most teams, whether temporary or historic, the Boston Celtics really do have 13 NBA quality players at Doc's disposal, which of course, includes Brian Scalabrine. Doc exercised one option in Game 4 by using Eddie House and James Posey to spread the floor in answer to a desperate team need. NBA games play out differently. The next game might cry for the particular skills of Rondo and Perkins.

    MW: Is the Celtics Defense really that good? Or is Kobe correct in saying that the Lakers played poorly?

    Bob Ryan: It is to be expected that a proud, vanquished foe would put the blame on himself and his teammates. But facts are facts. 1. The Celtics have consistently proven from Game 1 that they are the most efficient defensive team in the league. 2. Kobe has played 6 games this season against the Boston Celtics. The league MVP has had one game in which he has been his MVP self. Case closed.

    FrankRizzo: If the Celtics win Sunday and we get the same performance out of the big three we did yesterday does Ray Allen get the MVP?

    Bob Ryan: Ray Allen is my MVP through Game 4 of the Finals. I know there is sentiment for Paul Pierce, but I would not call for a Ralph Nader investigation if he were to win the prize. But, no Celtic has been more consistently brilliant in every phase of his game than the quiet, dignified, Ray Allen, who has yet to pound his chest, not even once.

    Ed: Two questions - where does last night rank among the franchise's all time great games, and does this series come back to Boston?

    Bob Ryan: 1. It clearly ranks somewhere in the Top 5. I honestly need more time to reflect and research. It is dangerous to rely solely on memory. But I have been watching the Celtics intensely since 1964, and I can think of no game in any finals remotely like it. They simply haven't needed major comebacks. The natural reference is Game 3 of the 2002 Eastern Conf. Finals against the Nets when they came from 21 back in the fourth to win. But that was a fluky team in every respect, and they never won another game in that series. This is a far superior basketball team.... I am a percentage chance guy. I say there is an 80 percent chance the parade will be on Tuesday. And 19 1/2 of that 20 percent assumes Koby scores 40.

    Doc_Rivers: Hey Bob, Thanks for finally coughing up some dough and paying the refs in the second half. Can you believe how many calls we DIDN'T get in the 1st half, I was going crazy, what do you think?

    Bob Ryan: I think I'm tired of talking about the officials.

    Shanghaisox: Doc's getting a lot of credit for pushing the right button with House in the 2nd half. Is it fair to say he was the only one up until that point who didn't realize how much House helped matchups with the Lakers?

    Bob Ryan: That may be a bit extreme, but I, too, have been crying for more Eddie House. The one disturbing note in Doc's postgame interview was when he said in reference to Eddie's shooting exploits, "yeah, it was terrific. We would have gone with Eddie or Sam, honestly. We just needed a guard that they had to stay with so they couldn't help." Sam? Doc, it's time to buy a new house, move away, and forget to give Sam the forwarding address.

    Woody: So if the Lakers were figured by all the "experts" to be a better team than the Celts...and let's just say Pierce gets MVP after a successful finals...then is Paul Pierce better than Michael Jordan?

    Bob Ryan: For the sake of Kobe, let's declare a national moratorium on Kobe-Michael references. As Sparky Anderson said, with Thurman Munson standing in the wings waiting for his own interview, "Don't embarrass anyone by comparing him to Johnny Bench." What? You were comparing Paul Pierce to Michael Jordan? Sorry, my mind could not wrap itself around that ludicrous concept. Sorry.

    MW: Are the Fakers' bench a fraud?

    Bob Ryan: The Fakers bench got them here. Absent a 20 point Sasha outburst in Game 3, the Lakers bench would have thrown a complete goose egg up against Bostons. It is one of the big stories of the finals.

    Drumahh: Is that Whitey Bulger sitting next to Jack Nicholson?

    Bob Ryan: No. It's record producer Lou Adler who has been Jack's faithful Tonto as these games for more than 20 years.

    Madara: Bob, what do you think led Doc to leave Ray Allen in for every minute of the game... Opposing match-up? Ray hitting on all cylinders?

    Bob Ryan: Great question. I'm going to ask him, was there any discussion among the coaches? Did anyone even notice? It's so rare in this day and age for anyone to pull a Havlicek, but if any of the Celtics were capable of doing so based on conditioning, you knew it would be Ray Allen.

    Drumahh: Do you think KG gets more time in the low post next game? All the commentators are saying, "Just get the ball to Kevin in the low post and things will take care of themselves."

    Bob Ryan: : We've been asking Kevin Garnett to be more of a frequent visitor to the low box for 13 years, and Mr. Garnett has politely refused. It ain't gonna change now. He came into our life as a 7 foot forward. That's how he has framed his game. That's who he wants to be. And that, by the way, got him the $26 million contract. So be it. ... one last point on Ray Allen, I didn't even know he had gone 48 until I was reading the box score over my IN-AND-OUT double-burger two hours after the game.

    Jon_Biss_10: Will Doc start Game 5 with Ray Allen defending Kobe, or will he put that load on Pierce's shoulders?

    Bob Ryan: My guess if Ray Allen will start the game on Kobe, and they will give him different looks. Remember, the tipping point for Doc's agreeing to let Pierce guard him in the 3rd quarter was Pierce's reminder that he had no personal fouls entering the second half. It was circumstantial. And it was beneficial.

    AJS: What about Doc out-coaching the great Zen Master? Is Phil Jackson overrated?

    Bob Ryan: I generally detest simplistic comparisons of coaches in any short term situation. Let's just say that Doc has done more things right for his team than Phil apparently has for the Lakers. I remind you once again, the Celtics are the better, deeper, more versatile team. Doc is exploiting his weapons.

    southie: Do the shooting percentages and overall games compare to those in the '80s or is this an overall ugly series to watch?

    Bob Ryan: I'm always amused when people reveal themselves to have no personal institutional memories. The 1984 Boston Celtics -- no make that the 1984, 85, 86, and 87 Boston Celtics -- were all capable of winning games while shooting less than 40 percent. If the only way to win on that day was assaulting the offensive glass, that's what they did. So, what I'm saying is, nothing new either way. We have great reverence for those storied names of the '80s, but what really distinguished them was the ability to get down and dirty when necessary. This team clearly has the same mentality.

    Wojo15: Bob, first...what a game! With David Stern and the NBA trying to make Kobe look like a "good" person, what do you think about his postgame comments about taking "20 shots or so" and drinking a lot of wine to get over the loss...not the kind of comments I want my kids hearing from the so-called best player in the NBA. Thoughts? Should Stern just give up on him?

    Bob Ryan: I, too, cringed when I heard that coming out of Kobe's mouth. He was trying to be cool. It didn't work. Some people chose to quote him, some didn't. I was one of the latter. I chose to make an attempt to save Kobe from himself.

    The_other_JD: Bob, How did the Lakers get by the Spurs and their defense so easily? Aren't they being exposed as soft?

    Bob Ryan: The Spurs revealed themselves to be old and a team that has to be discussed in the past tense. I felt all along the Celtics would hammer the Spurs, so the Spurs are not the barometer they once were.

    Jmac: The '80s seemed to be all about rebounding. You don't hear that now as much. No?

    Bob Ryan: Apparently you haven't been listening to many coaches lately. If you want to run, you must rebound. If you want to consider yourself a good defensive team, you must get the defensive rebound, or else a good defensive possession could be wasted. People talk about rebounding as much as they ever did.

    Stu: How big was James Posey last night?? And will he be back next year?

    Bob Ryan: James Posey has been magnificent of late. Had the Celtics found a way to win Game 3, which was certainly in their grasp, we would have written posies about Posey. In Game 4 he was everything Pat Riley told the Boston media earlier this season he would be in the playoffs. If there is even the slightest hint of James Posey heading for another destination next year, we should set up road blocks as every major artery leading in and out of Boston, plus put a 24-hour guard at Logan. Have I made myself clear? Thanks folks, gotta run. BR.

    How it's playing in LaLa Land

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 13, 2008 12:30 PM

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    LOS ANGELES -- It probably goes without saying, but it's practically a day of mourning out here in Los Angeles.

    On a day where the morning smog seemed to burn off a little earlier than usual, there's little sunshine on Laker fans following a devastating Game 4 collapse that allowed the Celtics to steal a 97-91 victory and take a commanding 3-1 series lead.

    The LA Times' front page led with a simple, "Lakers Fall Apart" headline and Bill Plaschke's column suggests the Lakers didn't choke, they simply blew the NBA Finals.

    From Plaschke:

    They didn't choke.

    By definition, when one chokes, there is noise, movement, desperation.

    The Lakers didn't choke.

    They blew the NBA Finals without making a sound.

    They botched their entire season while standing still.

    They lost a 24-point lead -- the biggest collapse in the NBA Finals in at least 37 years -- by staring dreamily into the hardened eyes of a Boston Celtics team that angrily shoved them into next fall.

    Choke? On Thursday night in front of a Staples Center crowd whose early cheers lapsed into a stunned and horrified silence, the Celtics' 97-91 victory was more like a smote.

    The LA Daily News splashed with a wittier, "Purple and Fold" headline. Columnist Steve Dilbeck says this one will linger with the Lakers for a long time.

    From Bilbeck:

    A game that will haunt forever.

    That will come back in the Lakers' nightmares to their dying days, which right about now is something they should feel painfully close to.

    The team with the bigger heart, the greater poise, won Thursday night, the Celtics overcoming a 24-point second-quarter deficit to stun, humble and even embarrass the Lakers 97-91 in Game 4 at Staples Center.

    And make no mistake, it's over. These Finals are all over. Only the final date on the death certificate awaits.

    The Celtics ripped the Lakers' hearts out Thursday. Left them cursing into the night, staggering off the floor, wondering how it could have possibly all slipped away.

    Boston leads the series 3-1 and is secure in knowing this: No team in NBA history has every blown a 3-1 Finals lead. Not in the previous 61 years.

    "It's not over," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "This series is not over."

    Only numerically. Otherwise, the Celtics won their title Thursday with their trip back from death. With a gutsy performance that will enter the ranks of some of their historic greats.

    The Orange County Register's front page returned a "Page Not Found" error this morning. That's probably best for the sanity of Laker fans.

    Where's the party?

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 13, 2008 12:07 PM

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    LOS ANGELES -- As Celtics Nation rejoices from coast to coast following the amazing come-from-behind victory in Game 4 of the NBA Finals last night, we're wondering where Boston supporters are partying in California this weekend.

    Earlier this week, we popped out to Fat Face Fenner's Fishack on the pier in Hermosa Beach. We were immediately greeted with the sights of Globe 10.0 on the bar's TV screens, but we didn't see a lot of C's jerseys in the thin crowd.

    And while we'd been told that it was a Boston bar, we think the folks there might want to update the sign outside to include a little something about the other pro sports team on the brink of banner No. 17.

    So, as you Celtics fans rejoice today, let us know where we can find some Boston fans out here so we can check out the revelry. Use the comments section on this entry to leave your thoughts.

    Ryan looks ahead to Game 5

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 13, 2008 10:00 AM

    LOS ANGELES -- With the Celtics on the brink of capturing the 17th NBA title in franchise history, Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan says the feat would be the "most amazing sports story of the 21st century."

    For Bob's complete Game 4 recap, along with analysis from fellow Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy, check out the entry below.

    Bob Ryan and Dan Shaughnessy
    recap Game 4 of the Finals

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 13, 2008 02:30 AM

    LOS ANGELES -- Boston Globe columnists Bob Ryan and Dan Shaughnessy recap Game 4 of the NBA Finals on the heels of the Boston Celtics' 97-91 triumph over the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center.

    Ryan points to the contributions of James Posey and Eddie House as two reasons the Celtics came from 24 points down to top the Lakers, while Shaughnessy says he's not sure if he believes what he saw after the biggest Finals comeback in NBA history.

    Ryan:

    Shaughnessy:

    House on Game 4 victory

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 13, 2008 02:29 AM

    LOS ANGELES -- Boston Celtics guard Eddie House talks about Boston's come-from-behind victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 4 of the NBA Finals.


    How close?

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 13, 2008 01:52 AM

    LOS ANGELES -- Even for a team with a one-game-at-a-time attitude, it's hard to ignore the elephant in the room: The Celtics are one win away from an NBA championship.

    "Yeah, I can taste it," said Celtics forward Kevin Garnett. "A little bit. We know we're 3-1, but the job isn't finished. But yeah, we seem a little closer, a little closer to the goal."

    Down 20 points with 7:08 remaining in the third quarter, an NBA title didn't seem close at all for Boston. What seemed inevitable was a 2-2 series, two agonizing off days, and endless questions about whether the Celtics were going to blow it.

    Instead, the Celtics' only worry is getting too confident with a 3-1 lead.

    "Right now I'm waiting to exhale," said Celtics captain Paul Pierce. "I want to go out there to try to win Game 5 on Father's Day, and then I'll be able to breathe...I don't want to get over-excited right now over one win."

    James Posey and Sam Cassell are the only two players on the Celtics roster that have won a title, and Pierce and Garnett are listening to their advice.

    "Those guys have won championships," said Pierce. "They said the close- out game is the hardest game. You thought this game was hard. So hey, I don't want to get overjoyed."

    The Celtics need only one more win, but they'll need focus to pull it off.

    "I don't feel it yet," said Doc Rivers. "Let's win one first, then I'll let you know."

    The comeback

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 13, 2008 01:45 AM

    LOS ANGELES -- Best regular-season record. Check. Win a playoff game on the road. Check. Come back from the largest first-quarter deficit in Finals history to hand the Lakers their first home loss of the playoffs.

    The Celtics can add another notch to their belt.

    "We've learned a lot about ourselves," Celtics guard Ray Allen said after the game. "And we're still a fairly new team, and coming into these situations, we just said, just fight. No matter what's going to happen, just fight, do what you can do, play as hard as you can play, and we'll see how we end up. But nobody is ever going to quit."

    The deficits were daunting. It was 26-7 with 3:15 remaining in the first quarter. It was 45-31 with 3:28 remaining in the second. Late in the third quarter, the Lakers still maintained a 68-48 lead.

    "We said coming out of the third quarter that regardless of what the score is, we're not going to look at the score, we're just going to go out and play and compete," said Paul Pierce. "If we go out there for the next 24 minutes and compete and not worry about the score and play like our lives depended on it, we'll have a chance and we can be happy about our effort at the end of the day."

    Down 13 with 3:30 left in the third, Allen and Pierce drove for lay-ups, and Eddie House knocked down a three to cut the lead to 6 points. After a pair of Allen free throws, the Celtics ran down the clock and found P.J. Brown for a dunk to cut the lead to 2 as the game headed to the fourth.

    "Maybe I shouldn't have talked about it at halftime, but I mentioned it to them at halftime that we had to come out and win that third quarter," said Lakers coach Phil Jackson. "They caught us in a situation where we didn't execute very well."

    Leon Powe actually tied the game with 10:03 left, but the teams continued to go back and forth. The Celtics didn't have their first lead until Eddie House nailed a corner jumper with 4:07 left to play.

    Pierce made some clutch free throws down the stretch, and the Celtics left the Staples Center crowd in a state of stunned silence.

    "We let a huge opportunity slip away," said Lakers guard Kobe Bryant. "So I'm upset, hurt, disappointed. It's a huge loss, no doubt about it."

    Said Pierce, "We just went out there and played as hard as we could, and we believed and we stuck together and was able to pull off this win. Incredible."

    Kobe's presser

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 13, 2008 01:43 AM

    Q. What's your feeling right now? Stunned, deflated? Certainly more than just disappointed.

    KOBE BRYANT: I mean, we let a huge opportunity slip away, so I'm upset, hurt, disappointed. It's a huge loss, no doubt about it. We'll just get back to work tomorrow.

    Q. Two things: Realistically on paper it's going to be tough to beat this team three straight. Talk about your thoughts on that, and also what the hell happened out there?

    KOBE BRYANT: I'm not thinking about beating them three straight. We're thinking about beating them on Sunday. Then you move on from there. Take one swing at a time to chop down a tree. We gave them a lot of fast-break points, allowed them to get back in the game with free throws and three-point opportunities. That's a deadly combination.

    Q. Is it almost hard to believe?

    KOBE BRYANT: No, I'm a realist. It happened. It is what it is. At the same time there's a lot of positive things that we did. We've got to take the good things that we did well in this game, understand what we did wrong in the third quarter and move on from there. We'll take care of business on Sunday.

    Q. The third quarter has been a problem throughout the series for you. How much has shot selection played a factor in that?

    KOBE BRYANT: Well, I think they did a good job forcing us to take difficult shots. I think their defense picked up, but all in all, we did a much better job in the first half getting back on defense. We've got to do a better job of cutting back on those easy opportunities and not putting them to the free-throw line and giving them timely three-point opportunities.

    Q. Was it a matter of what the Celtics did to you or what you did to yourselves that allowed them to come back from such a big deficit?

    KOBE BRYANT: I think it's a combination of both, always. It's a combination of their defense, a combination of our poor execution. But it's time for us to get back to the basics, understand what we did right and try to impose our will next game.

    Q. Ray Allen was on you at the beginning of the game. They switched up with Ray Allen. Talk about the difference and the different personnel on you.

    KOBE BRYANT: There was no difference. They were determined to not let me beat them tonight. I saw three, four bodies every time I touched the ball.

    Q. Have you said anything to the team yet? I mean, as the leader have you had a talk with any of your teammates yet?

    KOBE BRYANT: No, not right now. Right now I think it's normal for everybody to be a little disappointed, a little pissed off. It's human nature. But tomorrow you've just got to get back to work.

    Q. Did Phil say anything to them after the game or did he just kind of let it sit?

    KOBE BRYANT: He let it sit.

    Q. As a scorer, how difficult is it when you don't make a basket in that first half to get into that offensive rhythm you need to be in in the second half?

    KOBE BRYANT: You just need to kind of read the flow of the game. Like I said, I saw three, four bodies all night. It was about making a pass and trying to get guys open opportunities. If they don't have open opportunities, then move the ball. But in terms of my personal rhythm, it's a little bit more difficult to get going when you've got three, four guys running at you.

    But I think we did some positive things, and we'll look to go back to that the next game.


    Q. 48 minutes left, man. 48 minutes. Every game is unique and singular in its own way, you know that. Third quarter, though, opportunity to go for the jugular, up 18 at the half. What prevented it, prevented the scoring from really going to the next level emotionally and going for the kill?

    KOBE BRYANT: Nothing. We just wet the bed. A nice big one, too, one of the ones you can't put a towel over. It was terrible.

    Nothing you can do about it. They played great in the third quarter, we played like crap. They pulled out a great win, now it's time to move on to the next one, period.

    Pierce performs at both ends

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 13, 2008 01:02 AM

    LOS ANGELES – With his team down 18 points, Paul Pierce had a message for his coach at halftime.

    “I’m going to guard Kobe [Bryant]’,” Pierce told Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “Let me guard him.”

    Rivers obliged, and Pierce’s defense on the league’s MVP helped the Celtics pull off one of the most remarkable comebacks in NBA playoff history, a 97-91 victory over the Lakers Thursday night at the Staples Center. The Celtics lead the best-of-seven series with Los Angles, 3-1.

    “Right now I’m waiting to exhale,” Pierce said after the game.

    He didn’t give Bryant much breathing room either. The Lakers captain had six assists before halftime, helping to orchestrate an offense that the Celtics had no answer for. Los Angeles shot 50 percent in the first half, largely a byproduct of Bryant’s playmaking.

    With Pierce guarding him in the third, Bryant finally connected for his first two field goals, but he had just one assist. The Celtics cut an 18-point lead to two points during that stretch. By the end of the third quarter, Bryant had just 7 points on 2 of 11 shooting.

    “It’s hard to stop a player like Kobe Bryant,” Pierce said after the game. “He’s the MVP. If you can go out there and make him work for everything, you give yourselves a chance.”

    Pierce didn’t completely shut down Bryant (he finished with 17 points), but he did make him work. And the remarkable thing about Pierce’s defensive work on Bryant was that he did most of it without fouling. Bryant got to the line just 6 times in Game 4, compared to 18 trips in Game 3. Pierce finished with four fouls.

    “He knows [Bryant] very well, and he was between him and the basket the whole time,” said Celtics veteran P.J. Brown. “He just played great defense.”

    Pierce said all he was trying to do was compete.

    “I felt I could be a little more physical on him, not let him drive,” said Pierce. “I’m a little bit taller than Ray [Allen], so I can get a hand up, challenge him a bit more.”

    Pierce’s work didn’t stop on the defensive end of the floor. The Celtics captain was efficient on offense, scoring 20 points on 6 of 13 shooting. He was also 8 of 9 from the line, including two clutch free throws with 46.8 seconds left to put his team up five. He added 7 assists and 4 rebounds in the game, doing it all while guarding Bryant.

    “I think people will look at his offense, but I think we won the game because Paul was a better defensive player tonight,” said Rivers.

    The performance had to be particularly sweet for Pierce after a not-so impressive homecoming in Los Angeles. The Inglewood native had a terrible Game 3, netting just 6 points on 2 of 14 shooting. He was also roundly booed by the Staples Center crowd throughout the first two games here, with Lakers fans seemingly taking exception to Pierce’s rapid comeback from a knee injury in Game 1.

    “You could just see he went up another level in competition tonight,” said Celtics guard Ray Allen. “He was guarding the Lakers’ best player, and he was taking it to the basket on offense.”

    Allen was perfectly happy to give Pierce that plum assignment.

    “I knew what he was trying to do, but it took Paul to say, ‘Let me guard him,’” said Allen. “I said, ‘Let’s do it’…it just woke him up.”

    Pierce is wide awake now. And he’s enjoying the moment. After 10 years in the league, he’s one win away from his first NBA championship.

    “It’s a dream if I can come out and win it on Sunday,” said Pierce. “I’ll be able to enjoy it even more once it’s all over.”

    Postgame reaction

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 13, 2008 12:30 AM
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    LOS ANGELES -- A collection of reaction following the Boston Celtics' 97-91 come-from-behind triumph over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 4 of the NBA Finals.

    Doc Rivers

    (On the deficit): "Well, I really thought the fact that we had made a couple runs in the first half, you know, got to within 13 a couple times and then they got it right back up, it let us know that we were capable of making runs.

    "So the whole key was us getting stops. They came out in the first quarter, scored every time down. I thought we actually had great shots. I think I counted three or four lay ups and three or four wide open jump shots and then they came down and scored. So I just think going small, spacing the floor, scoring, but getting stops. The whole key was that they just didn't give up, and that comes from them. Nothing I did. They just had enough mental toughness to hang in there long enough, and I'm really proud of them in that fact."

    (On Paul Pierce's defense): "Paul came to me at halftime and said, "I want to guard Kobe. Let me guard him." I'm foulless. I can commit some fouls, be physical with him. It would take him off the post, so we went with it and it was terrific. I think people will look at his offense, but I thought we won the game because Paul was a tremendous defensive player tonight."

    Paul Pierce

    (On the defensive intensity): "We said coming out of the third quarter that regardless of what the score is, we're not going to look at the score, we're just going to go out and play and compete. I just thought they did a better job of competing, getting to all the loose balls, outrunning us, rebounds. If we go out there for the next 24 minutes and compete and not worry about the score and play like our lives defended on it, we'll have a chance and we can be happy about our effort at the end of the day. That's all I said.

    "We just went out there and played as hard as we could, and we believed and we stuck together and was able to pull off this win. Incredible."

    (On being on the verge of a title): "You know, I'm happy for the win, but the guys are excited. But after that, Sam, Pose, you know, those guys have won championships. They said, hey, the close out game is the hardest game. You thought this game was hard. So hey, I don't want to get overjoyed, I want to go out there to try to win Game 5 on Father's Day and then I'll be able to breathe. Right now I'm waiting to exhale."

    Phil Jackson

    (On the comeback): "Some turnaround in that ballgame. The air went out of that building. You've got to give them credit. Their defense was up to the task in the third quarter and changed some momentum of the game."

    (On the loss): "Well, it's not over. This is not over. The series is not over."

    (On the Lakers' locker room): "Oh, they're very depressed about that. With the kind of momentum they carried into the locker room at halftime and having a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter, it's very difficult right now."

    Celtics, 97-91 (final)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 11:54 PM

    LOS ANGELES – Absolutely stunning.

    The Celtics pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in NBA playoff history tonight at the Staples Center, stunning the Lakers 97-91 in Game 4 of the 2008 NBA Finals. The Celtics now have a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series and are one win away from clinching the franchise’s 17th championship.

    Winning this game was a pipe dream for the Celtics in the first half. The Lakers jumped out to a 24-7 lead early, seemingly putting the game out of reach right after it started.

    The Celtics played a dismal first half, shooting 35 percent and digging themselves an 18-point hole. The Celtics found themselves down by as many as 24 points just a few minutes before halftime. Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol each reached double-figures in the first half.

    But Boston made a furious comeback at the end of the third quarter. Down 13 with 3:30 left in the period, the Celtics closed the quarter with a 12-1 run to get within 73-71.

    The teams went back-and-forth in the final quarter, but the Celtics took their first lead of the game, 84-83, with 3:48 to play. The Lakers gave it one more push, but the Celtics were too tough down the stretch.

    James Posey made a huge contribution for Boston off the bench. The do-everything forward had 10 points by halftime and finished with 18.

    It was a strange night for Kobe Bryant, who was out-played on both ends by Los Angeles native Paul Pierce. The NBA’s MVP had just 7 points by the end of the third quarter. He finished with 17 points and 10 assists but was just 6 of 19 from the floor.

    Pierce finished with 20 points, 7 assists, and 4 rebounds. He was 6 of 13 from the field and 8 of 9 from the line.

    Kendrick Perkins came out of the game at the 9:35 mark in the third quarter. He did not return.

    We’ll have plenty of coverage from this stunning win here at the Staples Center. Stay tuned.

    The silence is deafening

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 11:50 PM

    Save for a handful of Boston fans bouncing deliriously through the aisles after this amazing comeback, the Laker fans stood in unison and walked silently towards the exit following the Celtics' 97-91 triumph in Game 4 of the NBA Finals.

    Boston fans congregated behind the Celtics' bench after the final horn and cheered the team to the locker room.

    Gino time!

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 11:50 PM

    LOS ANGELES -- Okay, so they're not playing Gino on the Jumbotron here in LA (we're spared Randy Newman, at the very least), but Celtics fans should feel free to dance after watching Boston overcome a 24-point deficit to top the Lakers, 97-91, in Game 4 of the NBA Finals at the Staples Center.

    The Celtics now boast a commanding 3-1 advantage in this best-of-seven series with a chance to land banner No. 17 here Sunday in Game 5.

    Check out our Gino video if you need a refresher on your dance moves. Remember to record yourself and send us your Gino-like videos to win an iPod Shuffle.

    Celtics, 92-89 (46.8, 4th quarter)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 11:43 PM

    James Posey nailed a clutch three-pointer to put the Celtics up five, but Derek Fisher answered back with jumper to keep this a one-possession game.

    Celtics, 88-83 (2:10, 4th quarter)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 11:35 PM

    Kevin Garnett just dropped in a half-hook to give the Celtics their largest lead of the game. It is soooo quiet in here.

    Hey, a blooper reel!

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 11:35 PM

    Nothing puts a smile on your face after your team blows a 24-point lead in Game 4 of the NBA Finals like a blooper reel. Who's working this Jumbotron, a Boston fan?

    It's frighteningly quiet in here as some zany NBA highlights play.

    Play of the Game

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 11:32 PM

    The Jumbotron just showed the Kragen Auto Part Play of the Game with the Celtics up, 84-83, and 3:48 to go. (It was Jordan Farmar's buzzer-beating 3-pointer to close out the first half, incidentally).

    They might have wanted to wait a bit on that one.

    First lead for Boston

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 11:31 PM

    Eddie House nailed a jumper from the corner to give the Celtics their first lead of the game. It's 84-83 Boston with 3:48 to play here.

    Lakers, 81-77 (5:47, 3rd quarter)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 11:25 PM

    Kobe Bryant has the Lakers back up by four and has the crowd back into it here.

    Tied, 75-75 (8:47, 4th quarter)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 11:17 PM

    Kobe Bryant drove the lane and layed it in, but Paul Pierce answered right back with a step-back jumper.

    There's a timeout on the floor, and this game is tied heading down the final stretch.

    Tie ballgame

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 11:15 PM

    Leon Powe ties the game with 10:12 left in the fourth. It's 73-73.

    Not so loud in here

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 11:07 PM

    The Celtics have pressed mute on this crowd.

    The Laker supporters initially seemed angry as Boston made its run (you could hear groans bouncing off the walls in here), and now they're just absolutely silent as the "Kiss Me" camera circles the arena during the break before the fourth quarter.

    Nothing says awkward like an angry Laker die-hard sweating nervously and then getting put on a Jumbotron while his girl waits for a smooch.

    As we start the fourth quarter, the fans have come to life (thanks to a "Noise" message on the Jumbotron. There's a "Let's go, Lakers" chant going around.

    Lakers, 73-71 (3)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 11:06 PM

    The Celtics cut a lead of more than 20 to just two points with a furious third-quarter run. The crowd here is more than a bit stunned.

    Down 13 with 3:30 left in the quarter, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce drove for lay-ups, and Eddie House knocked down a three to cut the lead to 6 points. After a pair of Allen free throws, the Celtics ran down the clock and found P.J. Brown for a dunk to cut the lead to 2 as we head to the fourth.

    House for 3!

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 11:04 PM

    Eddie House nailed a three-pointer and the Celtics are within six, 73-67, with a little more than minute to play in the third.

    Posey has 5

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 11:01 PM

    James Posey picked up his fifth personal foul reaching in on Pau Gasol with 2:15 left in the third quarter. It's a big loss for the Celtics. Posey has 12 points, and the team is plus-7 with him on the floor.

    Tony Allen has checked into the game.

    Came 4 celebrity montage

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 10:59 PM

    Not, surprisingly, Jack Nicholson got the loudest ovation from the LA crowd during a celebrity montage during a recent timeout.

    But second place? How about former Celtic/Laker Rick Fox.

    Yup, somehow Fox got a bigger ovation than Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Will Smith, and Justin Timberlake. David Beckham did get a fairly large roar, but couldn't top Fox.

    Other celebs spotted so far: Tobey McGuire, Spike Lee, Andy Garcia, Mark Wahlberg (wearing a blazer over a Paul Pierce jersey), and Penny Marshall (who's sitting next to Wahlberg in a Lakers' hat and tinted shades).


    Celtics fight back again

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 10:55 PM

    Another run by the Celtics.

    After getting down by 20 points, the Celtics have clawed back into the game and find themselves down 72-61 with 2:58 left in the third quarter.

    Kobe Bryant is having a strange game. He's got only 7 points and 7 assists, but his team has been up big all game.

    Lakers, 68-48 (7:06, 3rd quarter)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 10:46 PM

    The Celtics scored on their first four possessions of the third quarter to cut the lead to 12, but the Lakers have withstood the run and countered with a run of their own.

    Boston hasn't scored since a Kevin Garnett jump shot at the 9:55 mark. In that time, Lamar Odom, Vladimir Radmonovic, Kobe Bryant, and Derek Fisher scored consecutive buckets for the Lakers.

    Now it feels like Boston

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 10:19 PM

    It wouldn't be a Celtics game at the Garden (or a Sox game at Fenway, for that matter) if you didn't walk to your favorite T stop being serenaded by someone drumming on empty buckets.

    Well, in LA, that's the halftime entertainment. A guy named Peter Rabbit is sitting at midcourt with an "I Love L.A." T-shirt on pounding the skins, err, buckets.

    Lakers, 58-40 (half)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 10:13 PM

    It's been that kind of half.

    Jordan Farmar drove the length of the court and banked in a three-pointer at the end of the half to send the crowd into a frenzy and put another dagger into the hearts of Celtics fans. If the Celtics can take any solace, their teamfound themselves down by as many as 24 points in the first half, but they've inched a little closer here before the break.

    What's going wrong for Boston? Thirty-five percent shooting is a good place to start. Rajon Rondo has been fairly ineffective, and his backups, Sam Cassell and Eddie House, played a combined 12 minutes and didn't have an assist between them.

    Lamar Odom is having his best (some might say his only) game of the series. He's leading all scorers with 15 points. Pau Gasol has 10. Kobe Bryant has 3 points, but he has 6 assists.

    The one bright spot is that James Posey has been fantastic for the Celtics. He has 10 points.

    So much for that

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 10:09 PM

    A three-point play by Derek Fisher and a bucket by Lamar Odom have the Lakers back up by 17.

    If you had Will Smith in the celebrity Jumbotron pool...

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 10:06 PM
    smith300.jpg
    ... you win!

    Smith, who's attending tonight's game with wife Jada Pinkett-Smith, was just shown on the Jumbotron after a preview from his new movie, "Hancock" aired during a recent timeout.

    With "Getting Jiggy With It" playing, Smith chair-danced some of his famous moves from that video.

    timberlake200.jpg
    Not to be outdone, Justin Timberlake got some Jumbotron time shortly after and, with "Sexy Back" blaring, left his seat to groove.

    Posey bringing C's back

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 10:03 PM

    James Posey drove to the hoop to earn a couple of free throws, then hit a three-pointer on the next possession that quited the crowd . Paul Pierce hit a jumper on Boston's next trip to make it 45-33 with 2:58 left in the half.

    Cars in LA are naked tonight

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 10:01 PM

    LOS ANGELES -- Many Laker fans seem to have taken their Laker car flags and brought them to the game tonight.

    They've got these things in purple, yellow, white, and black and the Jumbotron encourages fans to wave them at various times during the game.

    Lakers, 45-26 (4:06, 2nd quarter)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 10:00 PM

    Well, it's a start.

    Kevin Garnett hit a turnaround, and Ray Allen hit a three to get the lead under 20.

    Lakers, 45-21 (5:26, 2nd quarter)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 09:55 PM

    The latest Sam Cassell miss highlights it: The Celtics can't buy one from beyond the arc. Boston is 1 of 8. The Lakers, meanwhile, are 5 of 9.

    Rajon Rondo will check back into the game after the timeout.

    Lakers, 40-19 (8:13, 2nd quarter)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 09:47 PM

    It's not getting much better. Kevin Garnett scored a couple of buckets, but the Lakers still lead big. It's a totally different crowd in here tonight. They're actually -- into the game. They've certainly had plenty to cheer about so far.

    A positive for Celtics fans with a spare $97,300

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 09:45 PM

    We've already seen the Lakers storm back from what seemed like an insurmountable deficit at the end of Game 4, but we'll go ahead and assume this one might have already slipped away from the Celtics.

    On the positive side, for those with tickets to Game 6 at least, there will be a minimum of one more home game to check out.

    A quick glance at StubHub.com reveals you can get tix for Tuesday's games for anywhere from $594 to $48,650 apiece.

    Balcony seats are selling for $594 up to $5,000 each. Two seats courtside in section 13 (will the description of "Courtside front row on the wood DEAD CENTER") are going for $48,650 apiece.

    That's a mere $97,300 for three hours of hoops.

    Let's try Sam

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 09:45 PM

    Sam Cassell is the third Celtics point guard of the night. He checked in to start the second quarter.

    Lakers, 35-14 (1)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 09:38 PM

    If the Celtics were playing against Lamar Odom (13 points), they’d only be down by one point.

    But they’re playing the Lakers, and LA is killing them right now. The 21-point deficit after one quarter is the largest in NBA history.

    The Celtics don’t have an assist out of a point guard. Rajon Rondo played 6 minutes and made one shot without setting up any shots for his teammates. Eddie House also played 6 minutes and made one shot, also without setting up any baskets for his teammates.

    Boston is 6 of 22 from the field, while Los Angeles is 11 of 17. Kevin Garnett has not scored in the game.

    Serenading Sasha

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 09:37 PM

    LOS ANGELES -- Lakers reserve Sasha Vujacic drew a loud ovation as he checked into the game late in the first quarter. Scary to think what the Lakers did in the first quarter without the help of their Game 3 hero.

    Lakers, 24-7 (3:20, 1st quarter)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 09:28 PM

    It’s getting ugly.

    Nothing is dropping for the Celtics. They’ve made just 3 of their first 15 shots. Kevin Garnett is out of the game with 2 fouls. Rajon Rondo is either injured or ineffective (or both), so he is out of the game. Eddie House is in, but House is 0 for 2.

    The Lakers have made 9 of 13 shots. Lamar Odom finally showed up for the Finals. He has 11 points.

    Q&A with David Stern

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 09:22 PM

    LOS ANGELES -- NBA commissioner David Stern met with a throng of media just before Game 4 of the NBA Finals to discuss Tim Donaghy and the referee scandal surrounding the league.

    Below is Stern's opening statement. Follow the jump to read the full Q&A with the commissioner.

    David Stern: Good evening. I'm sorry to interfere with your pregame preparations, but we had received so many media requests for responses from me that I thought it was best to do it here and allow as many questions as possible, given the time constraints.

    I just want to say that as part of the investigation by the independent investigator, Larry Pedowitz, that every NBA official has been interviewed and asked the question whether they have made any calls other than on the merits of the calls, and that investigation with respect to all of our officials has been completed, although the report itself is not ready to be issued because it was always contemplated that it would be done after Mr. Donaghy was sentenced and against the hope that the request made several months ago from Mr. Donaghy's lawyer that he meet with Mr. Pedowitz would be responded to in a positive way, and that has been denied.

    Second of all, I, in light of that, and the interviews of our officials, and really on behalf of our officials, didn't think it was fair for them to have to respond or anyone to have to respond for them against the allegations by an admitted felon that somehow all or a large swath of NBA officials had engaged in illegal conduct. But I would just say, in light of the media coverage here, we will go back and prospectively ask the questions of officials in effect again with respect of specific acts, even though they've all been interviewed, so that I could sit here in front of you, really on behalf of our officials, who don't engage with you on a regular basis, to say no, no, a thousand times no, and I don't know how else to give them, I think, the protection to which they're entitled.

    This is a subject that I've been quite interested in for years. It's the subject of officiating. It's something that we decided five years ago that we would track literally every call in order to help develop our officials and make them better, and they really effectively are the most measured and metricized group of employees in the world.

    That said, they get about 90 percent or so of the calls correct. Given the size of the players, the speed of the game, the position they find themselves, and as a result, there are always games, some of which are refereed, quote, better, with a higher percentage of correct calls than others. But that's the extent of it.

    I think that's all I have to say, other than that I find it to be less than fair that our officials now have to defend themselves from allegations by one of their fallen brethren. But that seems to be what the media is demanding of me on their behalf, and I think that their attempt to do the best officiating job in the world under the most difficult circumstances, in an arena setting where the cameras are as close as they possibly could be to any action requires no less. I'm happy to answer any of your questions.

    FULL ENTRY

    KG has 2

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 09:20 PM

    Less than six minutes into the game Kevin Garnett has two fouls. Lamar Odom drew the second at the 6:05 mark, faking KG into the air and getting to the line.

    Lakers, 16-6 (6:31, 1st quarter)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 09:18 PM

    Bad start for the Celtics.

    Boston has started 3 of 10 from the floor, and the Lakers are jumping all over them. LA is 6 of 9. Lamar Odom has 8 points, which is more than he had all of Game 3.

    Kobe Bryant is guarding Rajon Rondo, but he’s really just floating around the court to help defend whoever has the ball. Rondo hit a jumper early, but LA is clearly daring him to shoot. He looks a little tentative on that sprained left ankle.

    Doc T'd up

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 09:12 PM

    Celtics coach Doc Rivers was hit with a technical foul at the 9:30 mark. He was arguing a no-call on the previous possession, when Kevin Garnett had the ball taken away.

    And we're off

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 09:07 PM

    LOS ANGELES -- Tip-off occurred at 6:07 local time.

    Louder crowd

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 08:59 PM

    LOS ANGELES -- The crowd here at the Staples Center sure seemed to be more vocal during pregame warm-ups and lineup introductions. Let's see if it carries over to the game.

    If nothing else, this crowd is on time. Not a terrible amount lot of black chairbacks visible as game time approaches.

    Gasol's reputation

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 08:22 PM

    LOS ANGELES -- Fair or not, Lakers forward Pau Gasol has been given the dreaded "soft" label by some fans and media members.

    Lakers coach Phil Jackson addressed that label before tonight's Game 4.

    "I think that that would be a reputation that Pau came to us with," said Jackson. "I think that's one of the reasons perhaps we were fortunate enough to get him in the draft situation is that perhaps that had been carried with him, that perhaps he was not a center, he was more of a forward type of player. He wasn't tough enough or powerful enough to be a center. But he's constantly risen to the occasion in every series that we've gone through this year. I find it remarkable how well he's played. I mean, he's really taken the challenge and played very well.

    "The last game obviously was not a great game for him (9 points), but we believe that he's going to have another real good game for us. I won't touch the soft, though (smiling)."

    Rondo jokes around

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 08:01 PM

    LOS ANGELES -- Rajon Rondo had a little fun with reporters in the Celtics locker room before the game.

    When asked to rate the status of his injured left ankle, he said at first it was at about 85 percent. A few minutes later, he said it was 87.2 percent. Then, 89.4 percent.

    ”It just went up,” said Rondo, drawing laughter. “Hopefully [I’ll be about] 98 percent by game time…I’m sure once my adrenaline gets going, I’ll be fine.”

    Rondo’s left foot will be taped extra heavily, but he won’t wear a brace. He did reveal that he has not done any running since he injured his ankle in Game 3. He caught a lob pass yesterday but missed the layup.

    Despite the fact that his point guard has not tested the ankle, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he wasn’t worried.

    “He’s ready,” said Rivers. “It’s a non-factor.”

    Rondo warming up

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 06:55 PM

    LOS ANGELES -- Rajon Rondo walked onto the Staples Center floor at 6:27 p.m., EDT. He had both ankles taped, his injured left ankle no more heavily wrapped than his right.

    The Celtics point guard did some light shooting. He got good elevation on his jump shot. He was relaxed and joked with his ball boys.

    Sitting right next to the court, I saw no hitches in Rondo's warm-up. He looked good.

    One thing we never saw Rondo do -- cut. He strictly took jump shots. This is not unusual, however. He never works up a big sweat before games. In other words, he stuck to his usual routine, which is a good sign.

    Rondo walked off the Staples Center court shortly after 6:45 p.m. EST. He didn't seem to have any problems with his left ankle during the entire session. We'll try to catch Rondo when the locker rooms open to see if he's still feeling good.

    Eddie House, who could see time if Rondo struggles, is warming right now. House's workout is a little more vigorous -- he's doing some ball handling and coming off picks before pulling up for jumpers. He's breaking a sweat under Staples' bright lights.

    They'll be a lot brighter later tonight if House sees significant minutes in Game 4.

    Welcome to the Staples Center ...

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 06:17 PM

    LOS ANGELES -- Welcome to the Staples Center, where the Boston Celtics will take on the Los Angeles Lakers at 9 p.m. EDT. The Celtics lead the best-of-seven NBA Finals, 2-1.

    Ray Allen was out shooting even earlier than usual, wrapping up his pregame workout around 6:10 p.m. That's a full three hours before tonight's tip. He had been here at least an hour before.

    Glen "Big Baby" Davis is working on his post moves at the other end of the floor. Davis was a DNP in Game 3, but with Leon Powe a non-factor in that game, it's possible Davis gets a shot tonight.

    The big story is Rajon Rondo, and as we reported earlier, the Celtics point guard arrived at the arena without a limp a short time ago. He's presumably getting treatment right now before he makes his way out to the court. We'll hit you over the head with more Rondo updates when we have them.

    The scene outside Staples is a lot more lively than it was before Game 3. Lakers fans lined the sidewalk hoping for tickets, and even a couple of Celtics fans joined the group. One C's fan wore a Larry Bird No. 33 Indiana State jersey.

    It's strange being inside the arena for a game well before it gets dark. It's even stranger for a basketball game to start at 6 p.m. local time. Hard to get used to.

    Chris Forsberg and I are here all night, so stay tuned.

    Rondo: 'I expect to play'

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 05:59 PM

    LOS ANGELES -- We caught Celtics guard Rajon Rondo walking into the arena just moments ago. Rondo showed no signs of a limp and said he'll play this evening.

    "I expect to play," said Rondo, who said he felt better than he did yesterday. "There's no swelling... It's a little sore."

    The "it" Rondo was referring to is his sprained left ankle. Rondo did some limited practicing with the team yesterday but didn't do any running.

    Rondo is usually one of the first Celtics players out on the court. We'll let you know how he is moving during warm-ups.

    Gary Dzen contributed to this report

    Ryan on Donaghy, Game 4

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 02:37 PM

    LOS ANGELES -- Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan checks in from the Staples Center with thoughts on the Tim Donaghy referee scandal and some keys for the Celtics in Game 4 of the NBA Finals.


    Gasper on Rondo

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 02:24 PM

    LOS ANGELES -- Boston Globe writer Chris Gasper talks about the health of Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo and what it means to the team as Game 4 approaches.


    Gameday Q&A with Spears and Dzen

    Posted by David Lefort, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 02:03 PM

    Boston Globe Celtics beat writer Marc J. Spears and Boston.com Celtics blogger Gary Dzen checked in from Los Angeles earlier today to answer your questions about tonight's Game 4 of the NBA Finals. Below is a transcript of the Q&A session ...

    browerpowr: how is Rondo's ankle feeling, is he good to go for game 4?

    Gary Dzen: Rondo said the ankle was pretty sore yesterday, so sore that it made him almost fall out of bed when he woke up. He did some light practicing on it yesterday, though during the media-access portion of practice, Rondo stood on the sidelines during the drills that required a lot of running. The team will not practice today. Rondo said he'll play tonight, and it looks like the team will give him a chance.

    Celts2008: If Rondo is not 100% on his ankle do you think it is even worth having him in the game if he doesnt have 100% of his speed and quickness which he depends so much on for defense and to creat shots for others.

    Marc J. Spears: If he's not 100 percent, I don't think Doc will play him. That's based on how things were in the regular-season. But... This is the Finals.

    bad_ankle: do you think the Cs consider this a must win game tonight?

    Gary Dzen: Absolutely not. They would like to win one game out here, but they also love their home court advantage. If you ask any Celtics player, they'll tell you they earned home court for a reason. Going home down 3-2 wouldn't be a big deal for this team.

    can_thandlethetruth: how important is it for he C's to take one in LA?

    Marc J. Spears: I think they not only need to take one in LA, but they need to take one tonight. By losing tonight, the whole dynamics of the series changes and the Lakers are back in it. And with the world's greatest scorer in Kobe, you don't want to do that if you're the Cs. Remember, there is still another game here in LA.

    Lou__Argentina_: Rested team and focus tema tonight is what is needed besides a healthy Rondo. What have you seen being upfront with the team. Are the Celtics determined and focused for tonight? Or too many distractions?

    Marc J. Spears: I definitely see a much more focused team tonight. I know the Game 3 loss is really bothering them. The big question, however, is how healthy Rondo is.

    Nevsky: What is key to preventing Sasha Vujavic to easily get a 3pt shot?

    Gary Dzen: Just cleaner rotations. The Celtics play a help defense, meaning they're sometimes leaving shooters open for brief moments to collapse on penetration. If the defense works well, someone else rotates over to the shooter to prevent an easy shot. But if someone misses an assignment, guys like Vujacic are left open. I talked to Vujacic yesterday and he seemed to revel in the role of shotmaker.

    brent: Gary, will Garnett have a big game tonight? It sounds like he's taking the advice of everyone and acknowledging that ne needs to be more agressive inside

    Gary Dzen: I think KG will have a big game. His poor play in Game 3 was largely his fault, as well as the fault of his teammates. He was catching the ball too far outside the paint to make any effective post moves. Garnett can score against the Los Angeles defense. Like Kobe Bryant on the other side, the Lakers don't have a guy who can match up with KG one-on-one. So it's up to Garnett to have a good game, and I think he will.

    maxwell: What do you think about all the 20+ft jumpers Garnett has been taking?

    Marc J. Spears: As a former college big man, it drives me a little crazy. But on the other hand, I couldn't shoot like him either. Against the physical likes of Detroit and Cleveland, I didn't mind. But against the finesse and very less physical Lakers, he can have a field day in the post.

    Dr_Doogan: Which Kevin Garnett shows up tonight?

    Marc J. Spears: I definitely expect a more aggressive, more intense KG. I'm sure he's been beating himself up for not having a great series and he seems to play pretty well when people challenge him. Criticism usually brings a more fiery Garnett and I think he'll shine near Hollywood tonight.

    bostonthreeparty: What do you think we can do to get Garnett to post up more, or is it just not going to happen?

    Marc J. Spears: I think what you need to do has already been done because he talked about it two days in a row. I definiely expect to see Garnett take the ball to the basket much more aggressively. Keep an eye on Garnett's post position. I think it'll be interesting to see where he gets the ball in the post. If he gets it in the low post, which shouldn't be a problem against the less-physical Lakers, he can score at will.

    mg: Hey Gary, Question about how the two coaches have reacted towards the officiating. Phil Jackson openly complained about Game 2, while Game 3 was the exact opposite, in favor of the Lakers this time. Doc Rives did not complain at all, saying it was Boston's lack of aggression. do you feel that the Doc's lack of complaining will put his team in jeopardy of not getting the calls again in Game 4? Or will the refs "appreciate" doc's candor. Thanks

    Gary Dzen: Great question. Phil Jackson is that kind of coach. He plays games with officials and with his players in the media. Whether that helps him or not is hard to say. Jackson's witty asides certainly draw a lot of attention and earn him both fans and detractors. On the other side, everybody likes Doc Rivers. He's personable. He has great connections in the league. So I think he gets what he wants simply be being nice. Two different strategies. Rivers did take a jab at Jackson after Game 3. When asked what he thought of Jackson calling KG "gassed" at the end, Rivers said "At least he wasn't complaining about the fouls this time." That statement, without complaining directly, could earn the Celtics some calls in Game 4.

    enggass: Do you think that because of the latest NBA ref fiasco, the Cs have a 'fairer' chance being the away team?

    Gary Dzen: That's a big can of worms, there. Logic will tell you that the league doesn't want to appear biased, especially right now. So maybe they do something to prevent that. But the very action of doing something to prevent appearing biased is in itself unnatural. If the calls all of a sudden went Boston's way on the road, people would question that, too. So I think things will stay pretty much the same.

    BostonHoosier: To what extent do you think league officials direct refs regarding how to call specific situations?

    Marc J. Spears: After spending some time with referees in recent years, the answer to me is none. It's just human nature than humans are going to be skeptical of zebras.

    Robo84: Is it possibly that the officiating controversy will influence the current NBA Finals officials and help the Celtics in the long run (i.e. Kobe won't get all those phantom calls)?

    Marc J. Spears: Do you actually believe Tim Donaghy? If the referees saw him in dark back alley one day, I would doubt he'd come out alive.

    Lou__Argentina_: In past game early foul trouble has caused Paul to not get into his game. Will this be another factor tonight (early foul calling)? And is Garnet again not resting enough (are the stories true that he just doe not sleep during these games)? Do the Celtics treat Garnet's Insomnia as they would treat the other injuries such as sprain ankles? This should be looked at and treated if it's true.

    Marc J. Spears: I think a combination of the travel and PP and KG being amped to play in LA was the reason why they played poorly. As you know, Paul is from Inglewood and KG actually has a home in Malibu. So they are both playing at home. After getting the nerves and jet lag out there way, I think they will be back to their normal selves tonight.

    celtic_fanatic: what are the chances that Doc if rondo is hurting goes with a Posey, Allen, Pierce, Garnett and Perk (with Allen running the point) lineup to force L.A. into harder matchups?

    Marc J. Spears: I can't see that lineup happening unless the point guard play is terrible. I believe the Celtics did that in the home regular-season loss to Detroit. But because of the Lakers finesse style, I see the Cs going small instead of big first.

    doobie: Marc, do you believe we've seen the last of Sam Cassell? Not to say he won't play again, but that Doc will likely turn to House now over him when going to the bench?

    Marc J. Spears: Thought it was interesting that Doc didn't mention him yesterday when we asked about how his team would respond if Rondo doesn't play. Cassell also wasn't mentioned as a potential starter. I think the problem is Sam needs to be more of a point guard and less trying to get points.

    Dan_NU: Kobe couldn't miss. Paul couldn't hit. They happened to fall on the same day. The Celts only lost by 6! Unlikely that it will happen again. The C's will win the next two. Thoughts?

    Marc J. Spears: I like your theory. Actually think such will be the case tonight, although I do think Kobe will play well the rest of the series. Game 3, however, did show that the Cs can win when Kobe is on.

    The_Fix_Is_In: So, we have the ref assignments and DeRosa and Washington are the #1 and #4 "homer" refs as labeled by vegas. Surprised?

    Marc J. Spears: Wow. Interesting. What web site is that? I actually don't have a problem with either guy.

    Bruinsfan: Why didn't Doc play Powe in Game 3? I know nothing about basketball stratagies, but that seemed odd to me.

    Marc J. Spears: It seems that Powe plays based a lot on what he shows early. If Doc thinks he is on, he keeps him in. If he starts slow, he usually will just stick with PJ.

    kevin: Best chance winning the title is by sitting Pierce and Rondo for game 4 to allow a much healthier team for game 5 and put Tony Allen to guard Bryant. And have Ray Allen be point guard. If we lose no biggie in my oppinion I might even keep perkins out and put leon and big baby in to punish the Lakers on the inside big time. The FAKERS ARE SOFT!!! Any thoughts?

    Marc J. Spears: I think that's an easy loss for the Cs. No way you can sit those two guys, especially if they can play. I undertand your point, but Rondo and Pierce are way too important to rest in a cautious fashion.

    TM: why is the spread at 7 1/2?

    Marc J. Spears: you didn't say who its in favor of. I don't keep up with that stuff.

    goGreeN_: But dear friend Marc! Tell me when will Big Baby get in there! kids a winner!

    Marc J. Spears: Right now the way it's looking, only when it's a blowout. I think his lack of experience is keeping him on the bench.

    Matt_P: Do fans in LA truly like Kobe or simply respect his game? He seems to be a pretty unlikable guy.

    Marc J. Spears: HAHA. Well, they love him in LA for the most part. Kobe's an interesting dude, interesting. We've had our ups and downs. I'll just say I really respect him as a player.

    RL_Burnside: What is your scoop on the Celtics for tonight? Is KG gonna come up big?

    Marc J. Spears: I think Pierce and Garnett are back and they get a big win tonight. Also, see the Cs tough defense coming back.

    Duff_Man: With Rondo injured (to some degree), wouldn't it make sense to let Pierce bring the ball up? I just don't trust the ball handling skills of T. Allen, E. House, or even Ray. What do you think?

    Marc J. Spears: Since they haven't been doing that all season, think it would be tough to do it now. Not sure how Pierce would handle being pressed either. Quietly, one guy that has point guard experience that the Cs never run at point is James Posey. He played some point with Denver and Memphis.

    Mike_G_: Marc, I like the Celtics chances of winning this evening. I think a little more Eddie House would be ideal since the Lakers do not present the same kind of harrassing D that Detroit threw his way. Rondo has been good but scoring and the x factor hustle could be the key this road game. Please share your thoughts.

    Marc J. Spears: Once Eddie gets his chance, he has to knock down his shots to become a real asset. But I do give him credit for his hustle plays in Game 3.

    Rondo blogs again

    Posted by David Lefort, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 08:22 AM

    Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo checked in on his blog again last night, writing about his ankle injury:

    I just wanted to give yall an update on things. I got some treatment on my ankle this morning. After that, I went to practice. I took it rather easy in practice today. Since then, I've just been resting and icing my ankle. I'm about to go get a massage in a minute. I won't be doing much else for the rest of the night...just chillin and icing for me. I will check in with yall before the game tomorrow. I'll holla!

    Referee assignments for tonight

    Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff June 12, 2008 08:15 AM

    The NBA has posted the referee assignments for tonight's Game 4 of the NBA Finals in Los Angeles.

    Official 1: Steve Javie, No. 29

    From Referee magazine, May 2008:

    Javie arrived in the NBA in 1986 with a self-described “quick trigger finger.” He had a game in 1991 in which he even ejected the Bullets mascot. He also had a now public run-in with Miami Heat Coach Pat Riley in which Javie was fined $1,000 by the league in February 2003. Riley was fined $50,000 for his comments. Yet 21 seasons and more than 1,300 regular season games later, he’s still doing what he loves. And the league has taken notice, as Javie has officiated in the NBA Finals for 13 consecutive seasons. Fellow NBA referee Bob Delaney has worked with Javie and developed a relationship off the court. “It’s comical how announcers refer to him as tough or hard-nosed,” says Delaney. “Confrontation and handling problems is what we do, and Steve is one of the best at it. He is an all-time great partner, on and off the court. Steve is a gentleman and a class act.” “Steve is misunderstood in the way he disciplines and takes care of his games,” says Ken Mauer, friend and fellow official who entered the NBA the same year as Javie. “Saying he holds a grudge for a player or coach mischaracterizes him. While the average fan or coach may say, ‘He’s out to get us,’ the reality is Steve’s right most of the time, and those are the types of guys working the NBA Finals.”

    The Celtics are 1-2 in '08 postseason games in which Javie was part of the officiating crew. For the season, home teams went 43-34 when Javie was on the crew.

    Official 2: Joe DeRosa, No. 14

    The Celtics are 2-1 in '08 postseason games in which DeRosa was part of the officiating crew. For the season, home teams went 51-29 when DeRosa was on the crew.

    Official 3: Tom Washington, No. 49

    The Celtics are 0-2 in '08 postseason games in which Washington was part of the officiating crew. For the season, home teams went 53-27 when Washington was on the crew.

    Practice chatter

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 11, 2008 05:11 PM

    LOS ANGELES -- During the Celtics' media availability Wednesday: James Posey talks about a close call in Game 3; Leon Powe praises Sasha Vujacic; Ray Allen discusses Kobe Bryant's night; and Sam Cassell says Kevin Garnett had an awful game.

    During the Lakers' media availability Wednesday: Sasha Vujacic says there's still work to be done in Game 4; Jordan Farmar likes the way the bench played; Lamar Odom says there's more he can do when his shots won't fall; and Kobe Bryant talks about the Lakers' offense.


    Rondo says he will play

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 11, 2008 04:06 PM

    LOS ANGELES -- With a brace on his left foot, Celtics guard Rajon Rondo walked gingerly to the podium on the floor of the Staples Center to update the media on the status of his sprained ankle. Rondo said definitely he expects to play in Game 4 against the Lakers tomorrow night.

    "Nobody in this league is 100 percent, but I'm sure I'll play tomorrow night," he said. "It hurts a lot...it's very sore."

    Rondo said he will do some light practicing today but probably won't do much running. He had treatment on the ankle this morning and said he will keep icing it and keeping it elevated. X-Rays on his ankle were negative.

    "It was sore when I first woke up this morning," he said. "I almost fell out of bed. But the more time I put weight on it today, the better it got."

    The Celtics point guard said he's glad he has 24 hours to rest before the next game. Though he returned to the game last night in the fourth quarter, he said that was more a product of adrenaline than him suddenly healing.

    If Rondo can't play, Eddie House and Sam Cassell would be the logical choices to take his minutes.

    "We'll see tomorrow," said Cassell. "If I have to play extended minutes, I'll play. I'm looking forward to it, but I don't want him [to be hurt]. Who knows."

    UPDATE (4:54 p.m. EST): Rondo did some light conditioning work with the team, then stood on the sideline while the rest of the players did some more vigorous running. Rondo did participate in a couple of offensive drills, however, running the offense without an opposing defense.

  • P.J. Brown explained his little spat with Jordan Farmar in the second quarter of last night's game. Both Brown and Farmar were given technical fouls after scuffling during the rebounding action.

    "It wasn't that big of a deal," said Brown. "Just a little emotion, elbows here and there. I just walked away. I told [the official] that the technicals weren't warranted. That weren't that of a deal."

    Brown is as mild mannered as they come, but he explained that sometimes he has to mix it up.

    "It gets rough out there," said Brown. "You can't be a softie. If it gets a little nasty, it gets a little nasty."

  • Lakers coach Phil Jackson ended his team's practice at the Staples Center this morning with his trademark whistle. On cue, Lakers players walked to midcourt (which is now covered in an LA Sparks logo for tonight's WNBA game) and huddled quickly before splitting off for interviews.

    Farmar and Sasha Vujacic were the two Lakers players that logged the most minutes off the bench last night. Both players say they know their roles off the bench, knowing Jackson could call on them at anytime.

    "Every time, somebody is going to come up big like that," said Vujacic. "Yesterday I had the opportunity to fill it up more than other players...when the whole team is involved, good things will happen."

    Vujacic jumped off the stat sheet with 20 points, but Los Angeles was plus-9 in the 20 minutes that Farmar was on the floor.

    “We just have to come in and contribute," said Farmar. "It just happened to be [Vujacic] at the end of the extra pass, and he was knocking down his shots. That's what makes our team difficult to guard. We have so many guys who can do so many different things."

  • The morning after

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 11, 2008 02:23 PM

    LOS ANGELES -- It's fairly quiet around the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles this morning.

    As we walked to the arena, we spotted a few more Laker flags than usual hanging from the back windows of cars driving around downtown. With the Lakers emerging with an 87-81 triumph over the Celtics in Game 3 of the NBA Finals last night, we're assuming some fans are hopping back on the local bandwagon.

    There's not a lot of activity outside the Team L.A. pro shop at the Staples Center. in fact, a couple of youngsters were tossing around a Laker Frisbee near the main entrance moments ago. No one tried to shoo them away, because there weren't a whole lot of customers for them to distract.

    If the Lakers are going to release extra tickets for Thursday's Game 4, it won't happen until tomorrow, so there's no line forming quite yet outside the box office. Some die-hard fans (and opportunistic scalpers) will likely camp out starting later tonight for a chance to snare some extra tix.

    Both the Celtics and Lakers have practice here this afternoon and we'll have updates after availability (3:30-4:30 EST).

    The arena plays host to a WNBA showdown this evening as the Los Angeles Sparks (with Lisa Leslie and Candace Parker) host the Detroit Shock. A banner depicting the superstar duo, along with head coach Michael Cooper, hangs above the main entrance with the words, "It's Showtime" in the background.

    Back with more this afternoon.

    Ryan looks ahead to Game 4

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 11, 2008 02:03 PM

    LOS ANGELES -- Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan says, upon further review, Game 3 was still a very ugly basketball game, but that the Celtics can turn things around in Thursday's Game 4.


    Shaughnessy on KG

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 11, 2008 02:00 PM

    LOS ANGELES -- Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy talks about the need, once again, for Kevin Garnett to step up on the big stage and lead the Celtics to an NBA championship.


    Rondo blogs about his ankle injury

    Posted by David Lefort, Boston.com Staff June 11, 2008 12:07 PM

    Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo wrote late last night on his blog that his ankle sprain sustained in the third quarter of last night's Game 3 of the NBA Finals was a "different feeling than I've ever had" and that when he returned the game in the fourth quarter he was at about 50 percent. Here's more from Rondo:

    I've injured my ankle before but this one is unlike the others. The pain is on the inside of my foot. All the other ankle sprains have been on the outside. I will be getting a lot of treatment tonight, tomorrow, Thursday to try to get it ready to go for game 4. I did try to go again in the fourth quarter, but I really couldn't make any hard cuts. No one is 100% at this point, but I was probably 50%.

    We should find out more about Rondo's ankle later this afternoon (around 4:30 p.m. ET). Keep it here for updates from Gary Dzen and Chris Forsberg in Los Angeles.

    Ryan, Shaughnessy recap Game 3

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 11, 2008 03:37 AM

    Boston Globe columnists Bob Ryan and Dan Shaughnessy recap Game 3 of the NBA Finals on the heels of the the Lakers' 87-81 triumph over the Celtics. Ryan admits it wasn't a very pretty game for either side, while Shaughnessy says Boston missed a golden opportunity to essentially put this series away.

    Ryan:

    Shaughnessy:


    Four quarters: Recapping Game 3

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 11, 2008 03:36 AM

    Boston.com's Chris Forsberg and Gary Dzen play four quarters while recapping the Lakers' 87-81 triumph over the Celtics in Game 3 of the NBA Finals:


    Rondo injures ankle

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 11, 2008 01:33 AM

    LOS ANGELES -- Rajon Rondo turned his ankle at the start of the third quarter and left the game to a smattering of boos from Lakers fans. He returned to the game, but he was largely ineffective. He said afterwards he has pain on the inside of his ankle, which is a "different feeling" than he's ever felt before.

    "It's difficult to go down in that situation and not be able to get back up," said Rondo. "But I couldn't bring the pressure, so I didn't want to hurt my team by going out there and not being able to contribute."

    When asked if he thought the ankle would be a problem later in the series, Rondo gave an answer not likely to please Celtics fans.

    "I don't think it will be a big problem," he said. "We'll still be able to get the ball up the court, whether Eddie [House] brings it up or Paul [Pierce] or Ray [Allen], so I don't think it will be a problem at all."

    Whether this means Rondo's time will be limited with the injury is yet to be determined. We'll have an update on Rondo's injury at the team's shootaround tomorrow afternoon.

    Pierce, Garnett struggle

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 11, 2008 01:31 AM

    LOS ANGELES -- Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce picked a bad time to become invisible.

    Two-thirds of the Celtics' Big Three, Garnett and Pierce combined to shoot 8 of 35 in a loss to the Lakers tonight in Game 3. Garnett actually finished with a double-double (13 points, 12 rebounds), but his misses were louder than his makes.

    "I think at times I was rushing shots, hyped about the game" a seemingly shaken Garnett said afterward. "I don't make any kind of excuses for bad games. You know, I think for the most part shooting-wise, I had a pretty awful game."

    He wasn't the only one. Pierce struggled mightily, going just 2 of 14 from the field. Before the game, Pierce heard a smattering of cheers in his return to his hometown, but he didn't give his supporters much to cheer about after introductions.

    For one of the first times in the playoffs, the Celtics captain did not appear on the podium for postgame interviews. Instead, he answered a few questions in the locker room.

    "By no means does it break my confidence," said Pierce. "Because when I look back, I look at some of the shots I took that are good shots for me. They just didn't fall."

    One of the main problems for Pierce may have been his defender. Instead of Vladimir Radmonovic, Pierce was guarded by the venerable Kobe Bryant.

    "Putting Kobe on Pierce was the difference in tonight's game," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "It was more difficult for him to work to get free. He still had, I thought, some instrumental plays down the stretch. But it made a difference for us tonight."

    Jackson has an opinion on everything, and it was no surprise he had one on Garnett as well. He even used KG's favorite "gas" analogy.

    "I just think that Kevin kind of ran out of gas," said Jackson. "It looked like he was gassed sometime in the fourth quarter."

    Sorry, Phil, but it happened way before that. And if the Celtics want to win a game in LA, they better get their Big Two back on track.

    MVP for a reason

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 11, 2008 01:22 AM

    Kobe Bryant was Kobe Bryant tonight. It really can't be said any more clearly than that.

    Bryant had 36 points on 12 of 20 shooting. He got to the line 18 times. He was, simply, the MVP.

    "I think undoubtedly it's the leadership of Kobe Bryant out there that won the game]," said Lakers coach Phil Jackson. "He was aggressive right from the start. You know, put, I think, the defense on their heels -- obviously they caught up and went by us, but we stayed aggressive out there and Kobe was very instrumental in that."

    For his part, Bryant said he just took what the defense gave him.

    "I just went, took it to them," he said. "I just went and just had the confidence that once I get in there I'll be able to make the right play and hopefully some of the whistles will go our way a little bit tonight, get to the free-throw line. If they collapse, I'll hit my shooters. They did a great job in Boston of just zoning and not having to help too much. That's something I wanted to put their defense in jeopardy a little bit more than we did in Boston."

    Only Allen comes through

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 11, 2008 01:08 AM

    LOS ANGELES -- The results may vary, but Ray Allen never wavers.

    On a night when the other two members of the Big Three struggled, Allen’s shooting kept the Celtics in a game they seemingly had no right to win. The silky shooting guard went 5 of 7 from beyond the arc to lead the Celtics with 25 points. No other Celtic scored more than 13.

    “I thought Ray was fantastic tonight,” said coach Doc Rivers. “Guarding Kobe [Bryant] is no easy task, and having the strength to play defense or to score was big.”

    The other Celtic in double figures was Kevin Garnett, though the Big Ticket’s 13 points on 6-of-21 shooting hardly qualified as a dominant game. Only Allen brought his best game to Los Angeles.

    And one player by himself does not win a game in the NBA Finals.

    “I was just trying to keep the team in it,” said Allen of his solo-scoring barrage. “The ball came my way and I was just trying to carry the team a little bit….I just think it was all about energy tonight, and our energy wasn’t right.”

    It’s no secret Allen is one of the best-prepared players in the league. Allen took a cab to the arena for Game 3 because the team bus wouldn’t get him there early enough. He was the first player on the court from either team, putting up his typical 150-plus jump shots more than three hours before the game.

    And when he was finished, he sat by his locker and patiently answered questions from a mob of reporters because he said he knows everyone else in the arena has a job to do, too.

    “I think we conquer any fear and any nervousness by preparing and just knowing everything like the back of your hand,” Allen said in the locker room before the game. “If we do that, this stage is no different than any other.

    At times, it seemed like Allen was the only one putting on the play. The Celtics shot only 32 percent in the first half, but Allen had a third of the team’s points, helping to keep the Los Angeles lead to 6 points at the break.

    Allen started the scoring for the Celtics in the third quarter, taking a handoff from Garnett and driving for a baseline for a layup. After another driving layup, Allen went back to the perimeter. His 3-pointer at the 3:45 mark in the third quarter put the Celtics up 4, quieted the crowd, and gave the Celtics life.

    He added an unconventional 3-point play toward the end of the third, drawing a foul on Bryant while attempting a three. His fifth and final three came at the start of the fourth. It gave the Celtics one of their final leads of the game. Allen’s 25 points were 9 more than his playoff average, and his scoring was needed on a night when Garnett and Paul Pierce combined for just 19 points. Still it wasn’t enough to get the Celtics over the hump.

    But don’t expect Allen to panic. And don’t expect him to change his habits. He’ll be here on Thursday, at least three hours before Game 4. And he’ll do what he always does.

    “There’s always room for improvement,” Allen said. “And I think that’s why we’re here today, because we never rested on what we did well. We’ll just continue to improve on what we do.”

    Postgame chatter

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 11, 2008 12:33 AM

    Some notable quotes following the Lakers' Game 3 victory over the Celtics:

    Sasha Vujacic:

    (On the biggest difference in Game 3): "Well, it was great to be at home finally and playing in front of our home crowd. I think they gave us a little bit more confidence than usual. We just played with heart. We didn't play a great game. We didn't play, not even good. We were just fighting, and that was the key.

    (On his big fourth-quarter 3-pointer): "That's what I love the most, and that's what I live for, those kind of games. My shot went in, and the most important thing was the way we played on defense.We didn't let them get a big lead, and we stayed in the game. And that was a team win tonight."

    Doc Rivers:

    (On Lakers' defense against Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett): "I just thought they were more aggressive. I thought they ran more, Kobe was really live off of Rondo. Something they did in the last game, as well. But he was more aggressive of it. You know, I think we moved the ball great. I thought Paul and Kevin for the most part had some decent shots, but give them credit. I thought they were the more aggressive team all night for the most part. So to me that was the reason."

    (On Sasha Vujacic): "He was huge. I thought he was the biggest part -- Kobe was fantastic, but I thought Vujacic was the key to the game. I've said (it) before, we're going to have to win a game when Kobe Bryant plays well. That's just -- we know that. But when that happens, we have to shut off the other avenues. I thought we did a great job with (Pau) Gasol, thought we did a great job on (Lamar) Odom, but Vujacic, he was aggressive, and he deserved what he got. I thought, again, he was more aggressive than the guys guarding him."

    Phil Jackson:

    (On comeback): "I think, undoubtedly, it's the leadership of Kobe Bryant out there. He was aggressive right from the start. You know, put, I think, the defense on the heels -- obviously they caught up and went by us, but we stayed aggressive out there and Kobe was very instrumental in that."

    (On Sasha Vujacic): "Well, Sasha was an awfully tough bench. The open shots he got he made. His defense was good for us tonight , and we couldn't have won the game without his help."

    (On Vujacic's fourth-quarter heroics): "Well, he's a little bit of a rockhead. That's what we call him. He believes in himself very sincerely that he's going to make the next one, and you have to be that way if you're going to have the guts to go out there and do it. Sasha is always going to make the next shot. That one might have been off, but the next one is going in."

    Ray Allen:

    (On Game 3): "We definitely had opportunities. There was a point where Eddie House had a shot to tie the game, and then they go down and (Sasha) Vujacic shoots a 3 and they go up seven. That was a big swing. That's the fourth quarter, and I don't know how much time was left, but it was two or three minutes left in the fourth quarter."

    (On his performance): "I was just trying to keep the team in it, just trying to put as much energy as I could out there. I don't know, it just seemed like, offensively, I was just trying to give us a boost of adrenaline out there. The ball came my way and I was just trying to carry the team for a little bit there, but, defensively, you know, it was just -- I think it was all about energy tonight, and I think our energy wasn't right."

    (On Sasha Vujacic): "Well, he was one of the guy sin the scouting report that we were planning for. Kobe is so tough, we went to similar situations in dealing with Cleveland, making sure that they didn't let their 3-point shooters get off and paying so much attention to LeBron. That was as similar situation here, like heavily watching Kobe all night the first two games, and the importance is on the other guys. We can't allow Sasha Radmanovic and these other guys, their shooters, to get great shots where we're not getting out and contesting those shots. I think there were a couple times we got the ball and we dared them to shoot the ball and I think that's something we relied on all year is not to dare their shooters to get shots up and just run them off of it... I think tonight we didn't do a good job of that."

    Lakers, 87-81 (final)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 11:55 PM

    It’s going to take a better effort than this for the Celtics to win a game in Los Angeles.

    Boston’s offense was dismal, the free throw disparity was as expected, and Kobe Bryant was Kobe Bryant as the Lakers beat the Celtics, 87-81, in Game 3 of the NBA Finals at the Staples Center. Boston leads the best-of-seven series, 2-1.

    Despite disastrous shooting (2 of 16) from Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in the first half, the Celtics stayed within 6 at halftime. In the third quarter, Garnett regained his shooting form, and Ray Allen stepped up to give the Celtics the lead, 62-60, heading into the fourth quarter. Despite shooting 37 percent to that point, the Celtics were still very much in the game.

    It was a minor miracle.

    But the Celtics reverted back to their first-half ways in the fourth quarter. They scored 6 points in the first six-plus minutes of the fourth and found themselves trailing, 73-68, with 6:05 remaining in the fourth.

    Garnett cut that lead to 2 on a hook shot with 2:41 remaining, but Sasha Vujacic answered with a 3-pointer to give LA some breathing room. The Lakers got a big contribution from Vujacic off the bench, as the energetic guard had 15 points in 17 minutes.

    Then came the Kobe Bryant show. Sandwiched between a 3-pointer by Eddie House, Bryant drove the lane and pulled up for a jumper with 1:06 left, then did almost the same thing on LA’s next possession, putting the Lakers ahead, 87-81, with 38 seconds to play.

    And that, as they say, was that.

    Bryant finished with 36 points and 7 rebounds. He heard chants of “M-V-P” every time he stepped to the line.

    On a night when the Celtics starters were shaky at best, the Boston bench provided little relief. James Posey was solid with 9 points, but Sam Cassell and Eddie House split 18 fairly unimpressive minutes at the point. The bigs were just as bad: P.J. Brown had just 3 points, while Leon Powe had 20 points fewer than he did in Game 2, when he shocked everyone by dropping 21.

    As expected, the Lakers went to the line more often than the Celtics. Los Angeles took 34 free throws to Boston’s 22.

    The Celtics and Lakers aren’t going anywhere. Game 4 will take place at the Staples Center Thursday night.

    We’re headed off to the locker rooms. We’ll have plenty of postgame analysis, as well as video, shortly.

    Randy Newman time

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 11:54 PM

    Boston has Gino. The Lakers have Randy Newman.

    Newman's "I Love L.A." is the celebration anthem of choice for the Lakers, who rallied past the Celtics for an 87-81 triumph tonight in Game 3 of the NBA Finals.

    Boston leads the series, 2-1, with Game 4 scheduled for Thursday night back here at the Staples Center.

    Yellow and purple confetti rained from the rafters following the Lakers' victory. What's more, the Laker fans roared when it was announced that, with the win, everyone had won two free tacos from Jack in the Box.


    Lakers in control

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 11:49 PM

    Kevin Garnett cut that lead to 2 on a hook shot with 2:41 remaining in the game, but Sasha Vujacic answered with a 3-pointer to give LA some breathing room. Derek Fisher added a pair of free throws, and it's 83-76 Lakers with 1:33 left.

    Pierce has five

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 11:30 PM

    Terrible game for Paul Pierce. He just picked up his fifth personal, offensive, at the 8:56 mark in the fourth. He's 1 of 10 from the floor in the game and has just 2 points.

    MVP! MVP! (Groan)

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 11:19 PM

    Laker fans serenade Kobe Bryant with an MVP chant each time he steps to the free-throw line. But his struggles at the charity stripe have left the chant cut short by groans each time he misses the front end of two attempts.

    Bryant is 9 of 16 from the stripe thus far (he's the same from the floor overall).

    Celtics, 62-60 (3)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 11:13 PM

    The Celtics were never really out of this game, but all of a sudden they’re leading it. If that makes any sense.

    Boston was never down big in points, but the Celtics needed to shape up their play to have any chance in this game.

    They did that in the third quarter.

    Ray Allen has carried the Celtics. He has 22 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Collectively, the Celtics are shooting 37 percent.

    Kevin Garnett, 1 of 9 in the first half, was 3 of 6 in the third quarter. That doesn’t sound like much, but he tied the game and then gave the Celtics the lead on consecutive shots midway through the period. Two big, big shots.

    The Lakers are still being led by Kobe Bryant, who has 26 points.

    Kiss me

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 11:13 PM

    Much like the "Kiss Cam" at the Garden, the Lakers broke out the "Kiss Me" promo during the break before the fourth quarter. It had all the staples: Couples ignoring the camera, one guy hiding his head to avoid being kissed, and an older couple locking lips.

    But it closed with something Boston simply can't match: Hugh Hefner. With Sixpence None the Richer playing, the Playboy mogul smooched a Bunny to each side to close the segment.

    Celebrity montage

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 10:59 PM

    LOS ANGELES -- Looking to ignite their crowd (if that's even possible), the Lakers just showed a celebrity montage on the Jumbotron during the most recent timeout.

    The stars getting the biggest applause? Hilary Duff and Eddie Murphy got solid cheers, while Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea got a big roar. The largest ovation, of course, was saved for Jack Nicholson, who pumped his fists to the crowd's approval.

    Ray from downtown

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 10:56 PM

    And boom goes the dynamite.

    Kevin Garnett twice found the bottom of the net, and Ray Allen nailed a 3-pointer on Boston's next possession as the Celtics took a 54-50 lead with 4:43 left in the third.

    Allen has 19 points on 7 of 10 shooting. He came to play.

    Celtics...lead?!?

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 10:54 PM

    Kevin Garnett tied the game on a hook shot with 5:50 left in the third, then hit a jumper the next time down to put the Celtics up 51-49. It's astonishing the Celtics are in this game.

    Wait, the fans have thundersticks

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 10:52 PM

    Not sure if we simply missed this in the first half, but the fans behind the basket near the Lakers' bench have thundersticks and they were just banging them together with Kevin Garnett at the free-throw line.

    That might have been the most noise we've heard tonight.

    The crowd certainly isn't making much noise now as the Celtics (somehow) have pulled ahead, 51-49, with less than five minutes to play in the third quarter.

    Perk has 4

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 10:47 PM

    Kendrick Perkins just picked up his fourth foul trying to help on Kobe Bryant. It's 47-43, Lakers, with 8:11 left in the third.

    Give the Celtics credit for hanging around in this game. If they can get it together and play solid basketball, they're still very much in it.

    Now it's loud

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 10:41 PM

    The Laker fans probably got the loudest they've been all night when Celtics guard Rajon Rondo went to the floor with a leg injury just 44 seconds into the second half.

    Clearly, after Paul Pierce's comeback during Game 1, these Lakers fans suspect the Celtics of diving.

    Rondo limping

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 10:41 PM

    Rajon Rondo just limped off the court with an injury at the 11:16 mark. He was replaced by Eddie House, not Sam Cassell.

    More on Rondo's injury when we get word.

    UPDATE: Rondo returned to the game in the fourth quarter.

    Quick change

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 10:28 PM

    Wondering what you missed at halftime here at the Staples Center?

    A married couple dubbed, Quick Change performed their act at midcourt. In a nutshell, the duo changes outfits in the blink of an eye in a magic-type act that includes a bit of dancing.

    In Boston, the couple was roundly booed following the act. Here, some kind applause. It's just two different worlds.

    Lakers, 43-37 (half)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 10:18 PM

    It’s never good when Sasha Vujacic has three times as many points as your two perennial All-Stars.

    Vujacic had a huge half off the bench for the Lakers, scoring 12 points. Meanwhile, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce combined to go 2 of 16 for Boston.

    The Celtics look completely inept on offense. They’re shooting 32 percent for the game. Ray Allen (12 points) is the only Celtic who looks like he has an idea of how to attack the Laker defense.

    Kobe Bryant is being Kobe Bryant. He’s got 19. The Lakers have been to the line 22 times, compared to just 7 times for the Celtics.

    With all that being said, the Celtics are only down 6. Remarkable.

  • Eddie House made an appearance with 6.3 seconds left in the quarter. With the offense so stagnant, we may see more House in the second half.

  • Eerily quiet

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 10:18 PM

    We don't mean to harp on the point, but, man, is it quiet in here.

    While it wasn't the most exciting end to the first half (Kobe Bryant missed a pair of free throw attempts and Rajon Rondo couldn't connect on a floater at the buzzer), the home crowd didn't even give its squad even the slightest bit of applause as it left the court with a 6-point advantage at the intermission.

    Maybe Laker fans realize their squad should be up by a little more at this point.

    T on Kobe

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 10:09 PM

    Kobe Bryant picked up a technical foul for arguing at the 2:18 mark. The crowd isn't happy.

    Three on Pierce

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 10:05 PM

    Paul Pierce came over to help on Pau Gasol and picked up his third foul when he tried to slap the ball away at the 2:43 mark. Pierce and his 1-of-7 shooting are on the bench.

    Just to be clear, Pierce and Kevin Garnett are 2 of 16 so far.

    Too many jumpers

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 10:00 PM

    With a miss on a turnaround jumper at the 5:15 mark, Kevin Garnett is now 1 of 9.

    Make some noise

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 09:56 PM

    The crowd at the Staples Center simply doesn't make much noise.

    You'd hardly know the Lakers were winning by double digits in the second quarter with the low murmurs of the fans. To be sure, these people get loud at times (particularly 3-pointers and any time Kobe Bryant drives to the basket).

    But runs don't elicit that "roof's going to pop off" feel like they do in Boston.


    C's coming unglued

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 09:55 PM

    The Celtics have just 5 points halfway through the second quarter as the Lakers have opened up a 34-25 lead.

    After going 5 of 18 in the first quarter, the Lakers are 5 of 9 here in the second. The Celtics are just 2 of 9 in the period.

    The LA bench is coming up big, with Sasha Vujacic (6 points) and Jordan Farmar (5 points) making an impact. Bench play could end up being a major storyline tonight.

    Brown mixing it up

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 09:48 PM

    Celtics forward P.J. Brown was charged with a technical foul after mixing it up with Lakers guard Jordan Farmar during the rebounding action at the 8:50 mark. Farmar got the rebound, but Brown took exception to something, staying up to harass Farmar instead of running back on defense. Kind of a surprise to see the mild-mannered Brown get chippy.

    Farmar was also given a T.

    Tied, 20-20 (1)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 09:37 PM

    This is bad basketball.

    The Celtics are shooting 32 percent, while the Lakers are at 27 percent. The teams combined for 12 fouls. Vladimir Radmonovic already has three, while Paul Pierce is saddled with two.

    There’s more ugly. Pierce and Kevin Garnett have yet to score for Boston. Lamar Odom’s got zilch for LA. Pau Gasol has a single point.

    Kobe Bryant is going to take a lot of shots tonight. He’s 3 of 7 so far for 11 points.

    It seems like both teams are trying to get used to playing here. The crowd is providing zero energy in the building, and the players really do seem rattled by it. It's not even great defense so far that's keeping the score low. It really is bad offense.

    They know his name now

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 09:36 PM

    Leon Powe got a chorus of boos when he entered late in the first quarter. Phil Jackson might have struggled with his surname after Game 2, but the fans clearly recognize No. 0 now.

    Sam in

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 09:34 PM

    Sam Cassell checked into the game at the 1:39 mark. Doc Rivers said before the game he would give Cassell (sprained wrist) a shot and see how it went.

    Three's trouble

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 09:28 PM

    Vladimir Radmonovic picked up his third personal foul at the 2:29 mark. This may actually help the Lakers.

    Celtics in the penalty

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 09:24 PM

    Ray Allen just reached in on Kobe Bryant and drew a foul at the 4:59 mark. The Celtics are already in the penalty, meaning free throws for the Lakers.

    Two Lakers with 2

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 09:23 PM

    Vladimir Radmonovic picked up his second foul at the 5:16 mark in the first. He joins Lamar Odom on the list of Lakers with two fouls.

    Not the Oscars

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 09:21 PM

    LOS ANGELES -- Sign of the night so far from a Laker fan: "Hey Paul Pierce, this is the NBA Finals, not the Oscars."

    Kobe misses both

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 09:20 PM

    Kobe Bryant just missed a pair of free throws, making him 3 of 6 from the line on the night.

    Jack's here

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 09:17 PM
    jack300.jpg
    Jack Nicholson and daugther, Lorraine. (Jim Davis / Globe Staff)

    LOS ANGELES -- Just in case you were wondering, Jack Nicholson is indeed in attendance this evening at the Staples Center.

    He's sitting with daughter, Lorraine, for Game 3.

    Lakers, 9-2 (7:32, 1st quarter)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 09:16 PM

    The Celtics are out of sorts here early. They are 1 of 7 from the floor, have three turnovers, and are being outrebounded 9 to 5. Basically, they're not doing anything well so far.

    After all the fuss about free throws in Game 2, Kobe Bryant has been to the line four times already. The Celtics have four fouls to LA's two.

    Slow start

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 09:11 PM

    The Celtics are 1 of 6 from the floor as the Lakers have a 6-2 lead at the 9:00 mark in the first quarter.

    Here we go ...

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 09:08 PM

    Tip-off took place at 6:05, PST.

    Introductions

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 08:55 PM

    LOS ANGELES -- Sometimes you don't know how spoiled you are until you go on the road.

    The Lakers pregame introductions featured white curtains falling from the Jumbotron and highlights from the Lakers-Celtics rivalry aired with text graphics like, "Epic battles" and "Impassioned heroes" appearing between clips.

    But when players were introduced, there were no pyrotechnics, no body-moving hip-hop beats, and no laser-light show. Kobe Bryant doesn't offer a primal scream and Pau Gasol doesn't implore the crowd to, "Let me hear it!"

    Check out the Celtics' pregame introductions, HERE.

    Just a very plain introduction. Cleveland and Detroit brought jazzy pregame packages. These Lakers? Not so much.

    An organ-aided "Let's go, Lakers!" chant bounced briefly between these walls as tipoff neared, followed by a "Boston sucks" refrain that was quickly drowned out by the aforementioned organ.

    Doc's presser

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 08:51 PM

    With Leon Powe netting 21 points in Game 2, Celtics coach Doc Rivers was asked if he saw an increased role for Powe the rest of the series.

    "No," said Rivers. "He plays the role that he plays, and we would prefer him to play it in that order that he played in the last game. But we don't want him trying to do more. Obviously we'll take what he gave us.

    "The thing I like about Leon, he does what he does. He's not going to go outside of that for the most part. And what I was most happy about was our guys were looking for him. It was battle cry all game, quite honestly. I just didn't think overall we got it done there a lot. Our numbers weren't bad, but I still thought there were more opportunities that presented themselves, and we did it with Leon, which was nice."

    Rivers was also asked what his first Finals experience as a coach was like.

    "It's just basketball at the end of the day," he said. "My workload hasn't changed. I'm still doing the same interviews, it's just more people listening. But the time part of that hasn't changed. Our practices haven't changed. More people get to watch. The games haven't changed; more people are watching. Other than that, we're just playing basketball. Like I tell the players, I have to tell myself, just stay focused on the process. You can't get caught up in anything else."

    Two-minute warning?

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 08:49 PM

    LOS ANGELES -- The Staples Center PA announcer here just told the crowd to, "Please find your seat, we are two minutes away from tipoff."

    By our count, this game is at least 15 minutes away from tipoff. But who's splitting hairs?

    Jackson's presser

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 08:40 PM

    Lakers coach Phil Jackson spent most of his pregame press conference talking about the Tim Donaghy referee scandal, but he did touch a bit on the current NBA Finals.

    Jackson called out one of his own players, saying Lamar Odom has to step up.

    "I've given him a little bit of information, you know, some video work to do and to think about," said Jackson. "No doubt about it. We need Lamar to play the type of game he can give us, a 10-, 12-rebound game and six or eight assists."

    Jackson also responded to some comments from Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, who was sitting next to the Lakers bench for Game 2. Schilling criticized the way Kobe Bryant interacted with his teammates during the game.

    Jackson defended Bryant.

    "One of the things that Kobe does is he's a very -- he's an inspiring captain," said Jackson. "You know, I saw that in the tape and I got some comments from people that saw it in the video that he pocketed Radmanovic on the leg after he made like three possessions in a row, rather strange. That's the type of thing that as a coach I'm OK with it. Sometimes Vladi needs even more than that [laughter]. He needs a dose of reality to get him back in where he's got to go.

    "So I think Kobe does a good job on that. After the game he was very vocal with his teammates about let's go back to LA and put it in perspective, win at home and get this thing back here to win on the road."

    As for Schilling, Jackson said he didn't much care for his comments.

    "I've been against that for as long as I've been coaching," he said. "Those people don't belong there, somebody is going to get hurt. But that becomes part of what the NBA is about, being close to the action and close to the scene. We have to suffer the consequences because of it."

    Right here and now

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 08:36 PM

    LOS ANGELES -- With the tinkling of Van Halen's "RIght Now" playing softly through a near-empty Staples Center, the Lakers gathered outside their locker room before taking the court for warmups moments ago.

    As the team began shooting around, the track flipped to Jay-Z's "Roc Boys (And the Winner Is)".

    It didn't last long. A PSA telling fans how to exit the building in case of emergency soon took over the Jumbotron.

    If the electricity in Boston is so thick before games that you can cut it with a knife, you could drown out the buzz in this arena with a whisper.

    Boo!

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 08:34 PM

    LOS ANGELES -- The Celtics just took the floor for warmups to a chorus of boos from the six Laker fans in attendance as tipoff nears.

    OK, there's more than six people here, but the arena is approximately 15 percent full with less than a half hour to tipoff.

    Not exactly dispelling the idea that fans are late arrivals on the West Coast.

    Locker room chatter

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 08:18 PM

    LOS ANGELES -- During pregame access before Game 3 of the NBA Finals, Ray Allen talks about the nerves of playing in his first championship series, while Leon Powe discusses building off his fine performance in Game 2 against the Lakers.


    Sam is a go

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 07:28 PM

    LOS ANGELES -- Sam Cassell just told colleague Marc Spears that he is able to play tonight.

    Etc.

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 07:17 PM

    LOS ANGELES -- The locker rooms were fairly quiet during the media access portion before tonight's game. The Celtics locker room is impossibly small, with players stretching on the floor in between crowds of reporters trying to get interviews. Ray Allen talked, and we'll post a video of that shortly.

    Paul Pierce is back in his hometown, but he rarely speaks pregame, and tonight was no exception. He had ice bags taped around both knees, though he didn't appear to be limping when he walked.

  • Celtics veteran P.J. Brown worked closely with Leon Powe on the court before the game. Powe had the big game in Game 2, but Brown is clearly his calming influence.

    On the other end, Derek Fisher came out alone to do some shooting for the Lakers. Still haven't seen any of LA's other starters on the floor.

  • The pregame music played on the PA system here at the Staples Center is not nearly as loud as it is at the TD Banknorth Garden.

  • There's a reporter here covering the game for "Access Hollywood". That in itself is not unusual, except he's wearing a Pau Gasol shirt.

  • American Idol winner David Cook will perform tonight's national anthem. Heard him warming up before the game, and it was so-so at best.

    The locker rooms are opening soon. We'll talk to some players and get back to you in a bit.

  • Cassell warming up

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 07:13 PM

    LOS ANGELES -- Celtics guard Sam Cassell, who has been day to day with a sprained right wrist, is out on the court taking jumpers. His wrist is wrapped in athletic tape, but he's not wearing any kind of brace. His right hand is his shooting hand, and Cassell's shot did not appear to be hampered after a few minutes of warmups.

    Speaking of walking wounded, Kendrick Perkins (left ankle) looks just fine warming up. Perkins is taking short jumpers with assistant coach Clifford Ray. Hard to tell if he's wearing a brace over his thick black socks.

    Welcome to the Staples Center ...

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 06:13 PM

    LOS ANGELES -- Welcome to the Staples Center, where the Celtics will take on the Lakers in Game 3 of the NBA Finals at 9 p.m. EST. The Celtics lead the best-of-seven series, 2-0.

    As usual, Ray Allen was the first player out on the floor before the game. Allen takes about 150 jump shots before every game, and it's truly a joy to watch him shoot.

    The Celtics shooting guard spent a few minutes getting used to the arena, pointing up at a couple of lights that were particularly bright and made it tough for him to see the basket clearly. The lighting in here is a little different than at the TD Banknorth Garden. The court is extremely well lit (to the point where it's hard for me to type this without getting some serious glare on my laptop), but the stands are in the shadows.

    Other than that the arenas are pretty similar. There's a gigantic NBA Finals logo plastered onto center court here, just like in Boston. There are the same plush seats at coutside. And there are quite a few championship banners hanging from the rafters.

    Glen 'Big Baby' Davis is also out shooting for the Celtics. He's usually the second or third player out. We still haven't seen Inglewood's own Paul Pierce, who surely got some home cooking last night.

    Doc Rivers and Phil Jackson are scheduled to give press conferences before the game. After that, the locker rooms will open.

    Chris Forsberg and I have made the trek to LA, and we'll be bringing you updates from the Staples Center all night. Stay tuned.

    Ryan previews Game 3

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 03:40 PM

    LOS ANGELES -- Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan shares his thoughts on what the Celtics must do to win Game 3 of the NBA Finals tonight in Los Angeles.


    Spears on Laker fans

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 02:24 PM

    LOS ANGELES -- Boston Globe NBA writer Marc Spears talks about Laker fans -- including introducing us to his friend, Jeff Logan, a former Inglewood High basketball star, who played professionally in Spain -- outside the Staples Center as Game 3 of the NBA Finals approaches.


    The jersey

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 02:14 PM

    LOS ANGELES -- The Lakers opened up the Staples Center for Games 1 and 2 of the NBA Finals (played in Boston), selling tickets to fans here to view the game on the arena’s big screens. A YouTube clip (see embedded video below) that’s been floating around shows a Celtics fan getting roughed up by Laker fans during Game 2.

    The Lakers fans waiting outside the arena today claim to have found the shirt the fan was wearing in a garbage can on the corner of S. Figueroa Street and Chick Hearn Court, right outside the Staples Center. They had the tattered Paul Pierce jersey with them as they waited in line for tickets this morning.

    “I heard that guy [wearing the Celtics jersey] was a little too loud,” said one of the fans. “Maybe he ended up in the hospital.”

    Check out our video at the top of this entry as Laker fan Ark Sardarov relays how the Celtics fan got into a scuffle with purple and gold supporters and how a remnant remains on the sidewalk outside the arena.


    The Finals start now

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 02:11 PM

    LOS ANGELES -- The Finals start now, baby.

    They do, at least, according to one Lakers fan in a white Kobe Bryant jersey, who yelled the phrase to no one in particular (and loudly) outside of the Staples Center this morning.

    The Lakers' home arena was a ghost town last night, but it's bustling with activity this morning. Crews are still putting the finishing touches on the arena, but actual basketball fans have also shown up for tonight's Game 3 against the Celtics.

    A line of about 25 people, clad mostly in Lakers' gear, snaked around the side of the arena near the entrance to the ticket window. The team often releases a limited number of tickets on game days, according to the fans and confirmed by a Staples Center employee working the ticket window.

    Several fans said they had been here since 10 p.m. Monday evening, while others said they arrived at 6 a.m. this morning. All said they were optimistic about getting tickets and optimistic about the Lakers' chances in the series.

    "It's going seven," said Ark Sardarov, a Lakers fan from Burbank who thinks the Lakers will win all three games in Los Angeles. "Although if they lose tonight, it's definitely over."

    "Now your referees can't help you," said another fan, who declined to give his name but said he is from Inglewood and claimed to know Paul Pierce when Pierce was growing up. Check out his video at the bottom of this entry.

    The fan was a little wary of Boston reporters, but he wasn't wary of hometown boy Pierce's affiliation with a Boston team.

    "He still comes back here," the fan said. "He came from Inglewood. We can't be mad at him. He's got a job to do. But we know he's a Laker at heart."

  • We ventured over to Barry's Tickets, located inside the Holiday Inn across the street from the arena, to see how much seats were going for tonight. A pair of balcony seats will cost you $360 a pop, while a single seat in the lower level is going for $1350.

  • The smog was thick in the downtown this morning, but the skies have cleared in the noontime hour. It's another beautiful day here.



  • Referee assignments for tonight

    Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 08:03 AM

    The NBA has posted the referee assignments for tonight's Game 3 of the NBA Finals in Los Angeles.

    Official 1: Joey Crawford

    In April 2007, NBA commissioner David Stern suspended Crawford for his conduct toward the Spurs' Tim Duncan. Crawford ejected Duncan from San Antonio's loss to the Mavericks after calling a second technical foul on the Spurs star while he was laughing on the bench. Duncan contended that Crawford challenged him to a fight.

    The Celtics are 2-1 in '08 postseason games in which Crawford was part of the officiating crew.

    Official 2: Bennett Salvatore

    Salvatore made a controversial call against Celtics captain Paul Pierce late in the third quarter of Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals, when Pierce pumped faked Rodney Stuckey, leaned in, and hit a long three-pointer. But Salvatore called a charge on Pierce and a potential four-point play turned into a Detroit possession.

    The Celtics are 3-2 in '08 postseason games in which Salvatore was part of the officiating crew.

    Official 3: Mark Wunderlich

    Wunderlich, along with Crawford and Joe Forte, was part of the three-man crew that did not call of foul on Lakers guard Derek Fisher for banging into San Antonio's Brent Barry on the final play of the Spurs’ 93-91 loss in Game of Game 4 in the Western Conference finals. The NBA later admitted that it appears a foul should have been called on Fisher.

    The Celtics are 1-2 in '08 postseason games in which Wunderlich was part of the officiating crew.

    It's too quiet

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 12:32 AM
    staples535.jpg
    Final preparations are made Monday in LA (John Blanding / Globe Staff)
    LOS ANGELES -- Hey LA, it’s the Finals.

    It was not an exhaustive search, to be sure, but we spotted only one Lakers fan along S. Figueroa Street, the street the Staples Center is located on, during a two-hour walk this afternoon. The fan was pedaling a bike and moving too fast for us to ask where his friends were.

    The area around the Lakers’ home arena is more business oriented than social, but even so, the lack of anything Lakers-Celtics related was striking.

    The Holiday Inn across from the Staples Center is still offering fans packages for “Kings, Clippers, and Lakers games” on a sign out front. In Boston, that sign would read something like, “Stay here. Beat LA.”

    VIP Tickets, a ticket brokerage agency a block up from the arena, was closed before 6 p.m. The Staples Center ticket office was also shut.

    Not that throngs of Lakers fans were milling about looking for tickets, but they wouldn’t have been able to had they wanted to.

    Even the Staples Center itself lacked a Finals flair. Workers outside were still hanging a giant Kobe Bryant banner the building. The pro shop was closed. And inside, “NBA Finals” decals were still being rolled into the floor of the fan entrances to the building.

    sign215.jpg
    A rare Lakers' sign in downtown LA
    And let’s not even talk about the giant Larry O'Brien trophy out front, which was still being put together. The trophy outside the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston has become a pilgrimage site for Celtics fans, but not a single Lakers fan posed for pictures with the trophy here.

    Let’s hope things get a little more exciting here on Tuesday.

    Shamrock foundation

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 10, 2008 12:31 AM
    shamrock300.jpg
    A parking lot operated by Shamrock Parking, Inc.

    LOS ANGELES -- Those Celtics' fans looking for a bit of home cooking in Los Angeles have an ideal place to park their rental cars for this week's games.

    There's a giant lot adjacent to the Staples Center on South Figueroa St. operated by Shamrock Parking, Inc. If the name doesn't make Lakers' fans cringe, the sight of a gigantic green sign with a white shamrock logo surely must give them the sweats.

    Imagine a giant parking lot on Causeway St. opposite the Garden with the name Purple & Gold Parking or Lakers' Lot. That parking unit would be renamed before you could say, "Larry Bird." But no one seems to notice or care out here.

    Welcome to Los Angeles

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 9, 2008 08:20 PM

    We made it.

    Colleague Chris Forsberg and I arrived in Los Angeles and checked into our downtown hotel this afternoon. We’ll be here all week covering Games 3, 4, and 5 (if necessary) of the NBA Finals. We’re in walking distance of the Staples Center, so we’re sure to get a good sense of the scene here.

    What’s it like here in LA? Absolutely gorgeous (temps in the mid-70’s). We haven’t been over to the arena yet, but there wasn’t much NBA Finals flavor at the airport in Long Beach (some 20 minutes away), and there isn’t much at the hotel. The woman who checked us in asked if we were Celtics fans, then told us the Lakers would be winning Game 3.

    We'll see.

    The flight out was filled with Boston media members and also a few Lakers fans. A couple of the fans we talked to were optimistic the Lakers could win a game or two out here, but their optimism for the series wasn’t high.

    No media access to the teams today, as both the Celtics and Lakers were flying out here themselves. So not much game-related substance to report at this hour.

    Again, we’ll be coming at you all week with updates galore. Stay tuned.

    Bad omen for Odom?

    Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff June 9, 2008 06:17 PM

    Odom's t-shirts went on sale Saturday | Undefeated Photo

    Lakers forward Lamar Odom has a message for Boston that may come back to bite him. And it could turn into some good bulletin board material for the Celtics.

    Odom, whose Lakers team trails the Celtics two games to none in the NBA Finals, has teamed up with the Los Angeles high-end sneaker store, Undefeated, to produce a T-shirt featuring the message "Boston Sucks."

    The T-shirt, printed in the Lakers's colors, has the words "Boston Sucks Since 1946" printed on the front with a "U-Man" image . The back of the shirt has "Team Odom 7" printed on it.

    Undefeated store photo

    About 200 shirts went on sale at Undefeated's South La Brea Avenue store in Los Angeles on Saturday, but an employee at the store today said the anti-Boston shirts are currently sold out, but we should check back on Wednesday after Game 3, so don't expect to see the inner rim of the Staples Center draped with these purple-and-gold shirts tomorrow night.

    The Team Odom shirt sells for $20 and part of the proceeds go to Odom's charity foundation, Cathy's Kids.

    The shirts could be taking a backlash on Odom already. Lakers coach Phil Jackson last night said the Lakers forward looked confused at times.

    "(There were) situations that got him into foul trouble and little offensive sequences that, rather than taking a shot or making the right play (it) looked like he was a confused player out there," the coach said. "We'll try and get that straightened out."

    When informed his coach said he seemed confused, Odom replied: "We disagree totally on that one."

    About not playing in the final period, Odom said: "It's not about me right now. I'm a team player. It was fun to watch. We realize if we play the right way, we can beat this team. We have to play 48 minutes the right way."

    ---

    More Celtics-Lakers tidbits:

  • The LA Times gives us an early look at a story running in tomorrow's paper on Paul Pierce and his early days in Los Angeles, growing up a Lakers fan. "When you look at it, it was kind of nasty because you went to class all sweaty at the time," Pierce said in the article about waking up at 5:30 a.m. to go to the gym. "But hey, that's what you had to do back then to get to this point."

  • ESPN's Bill Simmons, based in Los Angeles, chimed in today about his trip back home to Boston and how much the city and its team have changed since he left town. "Everyone is wandering around a rejuvenated city with hoarse voices, talking about the game and trying to figure out what will happen in Game 3," Simmons writes. "There is nowhere I would rather be. The Celtics are back."

  • Former Lakers and Basketball Hall of Famer Jerry West arrived in Los Angeles with the Larry O'Brien championship trophy today.

    This could be a good omen for Boston.

    Don't count out Kobe Bryant and the Lakers yet, West advises.

    "Everyone wants to look at him, 'Well, he's not shooting very well.' Boston is limiting his opportunities, has done a heck of a job on him," West said. "They're making people shoot that they probably want to shoot. But this series is not over, by any stretch of the imagination.

    "He provides everything for the Lakers. He provides the energy, the toughness, the heart and soul of this team. He's carried the team this far. I wouldn't be surprised to see him take it upon himself maybe to try to get the ball to the basket a little bit better."

    AP Photo

  • Cassell day to day

    Posted by Marc J. Spears, Globe Staff June 9, 2008 03:13 PM

    Celtics backup point guard Sam Cassell is day to day after spraining his right wrist in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night. He has been doing some occasional icing.

    Cassell is averaging 4 points and 1 assist in 19.1 minutes per game during the first two games of the Finals. If Cassell can’t play, the Celtics have veteran guard Eddie House, who has not played in the Finals. Boston rookie point guard Gabe Pruitt has not played in any postseason games.

    Schilling on Kobe, KG

    Posted by David Lefort, Boston.com Staff June 9, 2008 10:44 AM

    Curt Schilling at Game 2. Getty Images Photo / Elsa

    Red Sox starting pitcher Curt Schilling, who watched last night's Game 2 from courtside seats at the Garden, today blogged some interesting thoughts on Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett.

    "Who doesn't know Kobe Bryant right?," asks Schilling. "I only know what I have heard, starting awhile back with the entire Shaq debacle. I don't really have an opinion one way or the other on or about him other than to know that people feel he might be one of the 4-5 greatest players to ever lace it up. What I do know is what I got to see up close and hear, was unexpected. From the first tip until about 4 minutes left in the game I saw and heard this guy bitch at his teammates. Every TO he came to the bench pissed, and a few of them he went to other guys and yelled about something they weren't doing, or something they did wrong. No dialog about 'hey let's go, let's get after it' or whatever. He spent the better part of 3.5 quarters pissed off and ranting at the non-execution or lack of, of his team. Then when they made what almost was a historic run in the 4th, during a TO, he got down on the floor and basically said 'Let's f'ing go, right now, right here' or something to that affect.

    Kobe Bryant during Game 2. Reuters photo

    "I am not making this observation in a good or bad way, I have no idea how the guys in the NBA play or do things like this, but I thought it was a fascinating bit of insight for me to watch someone in another sport who is in the position of a team leader and how he interacted with his team and teammates. Watching the other 11 guys, every time out it was high fives and 'Hey nice work, let's get after it' or something to that affect. He walked off the floor, obligatory skin contact on the high five, and sat on the bench stone faced or pissed off, the whole game. Just weird to see another sport and how it all works. I would assume that's his style and how he plays and what works for him because when I saw the leader board for scoring in the post season his name sat up top at 31+ a game, can't argue with that. But as a fan I was watching the whole thing, Kobe, his teammates and then the after effects of conversations. He'd yell at someone, make a point, or send a message, turn and walk away, and more than once the person on the other end would roll eyes or give a 'whatever dude' look."

    Observing the Celtics' efforts, Schilling was clearly impressed with Kevin Garnett and how he handles himself on the court. "His eyes are on the floor, or the ball, all game," writes Schilling. "What an incredible pleasure it is to watch and be a fan of. I am blown away in that he came out of high school, something that can be a huge disadvantage, and has ALWAYS maintained who he was purported to be ...

    "Last night KG goes to the line, Lamar Odom (who I became a fan of last night) is saying 'Hey KG why don't you help on the ball down here?' Pointing to the paint, and I am guess referencing the fact that KG wasn't down in the paint mixing it up. He says it again, loudly, KG doesn't even acknowledge him, and sinks both. Impressive, total focus."

    Ryan previews Game 3

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 9, 2008 09:45 AM

    Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan previews Game 3 of the NBA Finals and says that you might have to concede this one to Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, but that the Celtics just need one win in Los Angeles.


    4 Quarters: Recapping Game 2

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 9, 2008 09:33 AM

    Boston.com's Chris Forsberg and Gary Dzen play four quarters while recapping the Celtics' 108-102 triumph over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 2 of the NBA Finals Sunday night at the TD Banknorth Garden.


    This week's chat schedule

    Posted by David Lefort, Boston.com Staff June 9, 2008 08:40 AM

    If you can't get enough Celtics talk, make sure to keep it here on Boston.com all week for daily chats from Los Angeles. Here's our schedule through Thursday. Go to the Celtics page at the designated time to participate ...

    TUESDAY: Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy chats at 2 p.m. ET
    WEDNESDAY: Boston.com's Gary Dzen chats at 12:30 p.m. ET
    THURSDAY: The Globe's Marc J. Spears chats at 12:30 p.m. ET

    Ryan, Shaughnessy recap Game 2

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 9, 2008 02:00 AM

    Boston Globe columnists Bob Ryan and Dan Shaughnessy recap Game 2 of the NBA Finals on the heels of the Boston Celtics' 108-102 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. Ryan says not to dwell on the Lakers' late-game comeback, while Shaughnessy suggests it was a very strange night at the Garden.

    Ryan:

    Shaughnessy:


    Praise not lost on Powe

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 9, 2008 01:24 AM

    Leon Powe is as humble as NBA player can possibly be. He’s the kind of player that lights up when a reporter actually wants to talk to him in the locker room. To be invited up to the podium following a 21-point performance in the NBA Finals is something he certainly hadn’t planned on.

    And when Phil Jackson’s mispronounces his name in a press conference minutes earlier, you can believe Powe when he says it doesn’t bother him.

    “It doesn't really matter to me,” said Powe. “I've got a job to do for this team, and like I said, whenever Doc calls on me, it's my job to go out there and produce, be a constant professional. Even if he doesn't call on me that day, get in the gym and see what's going on out there on the floor. I'm not worried about people not pronouncing my name right. I ain't tripping off that.”

    Opponents might not know who he is, but Powe’s teammates certainly do.

    “Leon is a scrappy guy,” said Kevin Garnett. “I thought Leon was really aggressive to begin with. For a moment, like Paul said, we flowed off him.”

    A 15-year veteran, Celtics forward P.J. Brown has taken Powe under his wing. Powe and Brown are sharing something very special this week: It’s the first trip to the NBA Finals for both of them.

    “I was very excited for him,” said Brown. “Leon's minutes fluctuated a lot during the playoffs and there's been some DNPs he's got, but he's always prepared. He's a consummate professional, and to see him have the type of game he had tonight, I was definitely happy for him and was just flying high with him. It was a game of all games, and it will be a game to remember. He deserves it. He's a good man, and I'm sure he's got a few more left in him.”

    Eight minutes

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 9, 2008 01:05 AM

    The Celtics played outstanding basketball for 40 minutes in Game 2. But the doubters will focus on eight minutes of bad basketball. If it’s possible to ignore a 2-0 series lead, Boston’s critics certainly will.

    “It’s just one of those playoff things,” said Lakers coach Phil Jackson. “Home-court advantage, they held serve, and we go home and do what we have to do on our home court. That's what it's about.”

    Up 95-71 with 7:55 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Celtics got careless, allowing Los Angeles to climb right back into the game. While Boston was trying to run out the clock, Kobe Bryant was leading his team back into the game. Bryant had 13 points and 5 assists in the fourth, cutting Boston’s lead to two points on a pair of free throws with 38.4 seconds to play.

    Nevermind that the Celtics held on for the win and a commanding 2-0 lead in the series. The postgame press conferences were all about that eight-minute stretch.

    “I thought we got cute when we got the lead,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “We started trying to make sensational plays instead of keeping it simple, and when you play a team like that, that has the arsenal, they made a lot of shots…We had a chance not to allow them to get comfortable and we did.”

    The comeback doesn’t change the status of the series, but it seemed to inspire Bryant.

    “We played with a sense of desperation and more aggression, and I think that's something for us to take home and learn from,” said Bryant. “They took care of business at home, and we've got to go home and try to do the same thing. It's not the end of the world. We've come too far to really sweat being down 2-0. We're going to go home and handle our business.”

    For their part, the Celtics can learn a little something from those eight minutes as well.

    “Obviously we've got to be a lot more aggressive come fourth quarter,” said Kevin Garnett. “I don't think we did some of the same things that got us the lead, and it's a live-and-learn-type thing. Hopefully we can apply -- not hopefully, but we will apply what we learned tonight and take it on the road.”

    The not-so-big four

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 9, 2008 12:46 AM

    The names don’t exactly boost the Nielsen ratings. But the Celtics bench of Leon Powe, James Posey, Sam Cassell, and P.J. Brown had a huge impact tonight in Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

    The Celtics bench quartet combined for 35 points and 8 rebounds in 63 minutes of play tonight. For the second straight game, a group that was supposed to be inferior outplayed their Laker counterparts (23 points, 4 rebounds).

    “Well, [the Celtics bench players] heard how bad they were,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “They have pride, too. You know, I just think overall they're aggressive and that's what we've stressed. But to me they're just playing within themselves, they're keeping the game simple. I thought in some ways our bench played better in stretches because they just kept the game simple. They didn't try to do anything fancy.”

    This minimalist style of play is epitomized by Powe. The second-year forward out of Cal does two things: rebound and dunk. He added a third asset, getting to the free throw line, and finished with 21 points.

    “Our bench has been pretty much overlooked all year,” said Celtics captain Paul Pierce. “We know what the Laker bench can bring, but we feel like we have the best bench in this series, and Leon went out there and proved it tonight…He had a mismatch, they tried to put a small guy on him. We feel like we can go to the guy. He's proven throughout the course of the year once he posts up, get him the ball. And we've developed confidence that he can get the job done.”

    What does 2-0 mean?

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 9, 2008 12:35 AM

    With a 108-102 triumph over the Lakers Sunday, the Boston Celtics will carry a 2-0 series advantage to Los Angeles for three potential games in this best-of-seven series.

    So what exactly does that advantage mean to the players and coaches involved in the NBA Finals?

    PAUL PIERCE: "We did our job, we held home court, and now we can break it back with another win in Game 3. We're not settling on a 2 0 lead. We want to go out there and win two games in LA. That's our focus, and that's what we want to go out there and try to do."

    KEVIN GARNETT: "As Paul said, all year long we've been taking each game a game at a time, and LA will be no different from that."

    DOC RIVERS: "Well, it's nice to be up 2 0. We've done what we should do. We took care of home, and that's what we should have done. Now we have to go on the road for us to keep attacking. I thought we were the team driving in the paint and that's why we shot 38 free throws. If you attack off the dribble, if you play through the post, if you're the more aggressive team, you can get to the foul line, I thought we did that. But we can't go on the road and not do that."

    KOBE BRYANT: "It is what it is. They took care of business at home, and we've got to go home and try to do the same thing. It's not the end of the world. We've come too far to really sweat being down 2-0. We're going to go home and handle our business."

    PHIL JACKSON: "Just one of those playoff things. Home-court advantage, they held serve, and we go home and do what we have to do on our home court. That's what it's about."

    Jackson's transcript

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 9, 2008 12:25 AM

    Phil Jackson is a master of the mic, and the Lakers coach had a couple of zingers during his press conference tonight. The presser was so good, we're posting the entire transcript:

    JACKSON: I have no statement to make. I'll just take questions.

    Q. What are you most struck by, your rally at the end or your difficulty scoring points on them the first three quarters?

    JACKSON: (Laughing) I'm more struck at the fact that Leon Powe gets more foul shots than our whole team does in 14 minutes of play. That's ridiculous. You can't play from a deficit like that that we had in that half, 19 to 2 in the first half in situations like that. I've never seen a game like that in all these years I've coached in The Finals. Unbelievable.

    Q. What do you tell your team now about being down 0-2 in The Finals? How do you get them to stay confident?

    JACKSON: Just one of those playoff things. Home-court advantage, they held serve, and we go home and do what we have to do on our home court. That's what it's about.

    Q. There was a point early in the fourth quarter where Leon Powe kind of just went right down Main Street and dunked. At that point I was wondering, is there a point at which the Lakers are going to become more physical and take control of the game in that regard, because it seemed as if there was a lot of opening up and all momentum and physicality seemed to be going their way?

    JACKSON: Yes. That play was a situation where Vladdy did a trap in the backcourt and opened it up, and Gasol was afraid to leave Garnett for an easy basket. But it was a poor play, an awful play. I kept telling the team, we played as poorly as we could possibly play for two and a half quarters in the middle of the third quarter. We just can't play any worse than this.

    But that was an example of even a situation where we were even more at ease -- at dis-ease, I guess, in our defensive end. But from that point on, I thought that we rallied in the game.

    Q. Do you have a theory on why the foul shot disparity was so pronounced in this game?

    JACKSON: You know, I think that reporter hit it right in the head, the aggressiveness swayed the effective calls. They were aggressive. They went to the basket. We didn't take charges in situations that we had charges to take, and the first half the contacts subsequently ended up being a foul shot. I thought that that was what we tried to focus on when we came in at halftime is we have to stop the penetration and get that accomplished, but they got off to another big jump in the third quarter and put us back on our heels again.

    FULL ENTRY

    Celtics, 108-102 (final)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 11:53 PM

    Leon Powe picked the biggest stage of his basketball career to play the role of leading man.

    Thrust into action after playing a reserve role for much of the season, Powe sparked the Celtics with 21 points off the bench, leading Boston to a 108-102 win in Game 2 of the NBA Finals tonight at the TD Banknorth Garden. The Celtics lead the best-of-seven series, 2-0, with Game 3 coming Tuesday night when the series shifts to Los Angeles.

    The Lakers made this one much closer than it should have been, cutting a 20-plus point lead to a two-point deficit with 38 seconds left. The Garden crowd, which was expecting a blowout victory, held its collective breath.

    With the game in the balance, Paul Pierce knocked down a critical pair of free throws with 22.8 seconds left. On LA’s next possession, the Celtics got a huge stop, and James Posey came away with the rebound. Posey hit both free throws to preserve the win.

    But back to Powe. The second-year forward from Cal was sensational, shooting 6 of 7 from the field and 9 of 12 from the line. The fan-favorite has no other gear except hustle, and he did all of his damage in the paint. With the Lakers defense focused on the Celtics’ Big Three of Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett, Powe was able to have his way.

    Pierce’s health was a legitimate concern coming into tonight’s game, but the Celtics captain put any doubts about the condition of his right knee to rest when he dropped 16 points in the first half. Pierce was 5 of 9 from the field in the first half and 3 of 3 from beyond the arc. He finished with 28 points and 8 assists.

    Allen (17 points) and Garnett (17 points, 14 rebounds) also had big games for Boston. Rajon Rondo had 16 assists in the game.

    They said it couldn’t happen, but Kobe Bryant had his second straight sub-par shooting game for the Lakers. Bryant went 11 for 23 in Game 2. At one point late in the fourth quarter Bryant had fewer points than Powe, and Bryant was the team’s leading scorer. He eventually finished with 30 points, though many of them came in the furious comeback that fell short.

    Conspiracy theorists will have a field day with this one, but the Celtics attempted 38 free throws in the game, while the Lakers took just 10. Whatever the reason for the discrepancy, Boston’s ability to get to the line was a huge difference in the game.

    Kendrick Perkins, the other member of Boston’s walking wounded, didn’t need to be at 100 percent to make a contribution. His sprained left ankle didn’t limit his mobility to the point where it hurt the team. Perkins finished with 7 points and 3 rebounds.

    The series now shifts to Los Angeles for Game 3 Tuesday night. In this 2-3-2 format, the next three games will be played at the Staples Center (Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday). Games 6 and 7 would be in Boston, if necessary.

    We’ll have plenty of postgame reaction and analysis, as well as video, as soon as possible.

    Gino time!

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 11:49 PM

    So much for seeing Gino early.

    The Celtics nearly squandered the 22-point advantage it carried into the fourth quarter, but emerged with a 108-102 triumph over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

    Hold your horses

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 11:42 PM

    It's not over yet. It's 104-100, Celtics, with 1:03 remaining. The Celtics have been holding the ball, waiting for the clock to run down, and the Lakers have pounced.

    It's pretty tense in here.

    Waiting to exhale

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 11:37 PM

    The Celtics' 22-point advantage entering the fourth quarter has been sliced in half thanks to a blizzard of 3-pointers by a Lakers squad that has put up 30 points this frame to make it 102-91 with 2:34 to go.

    This one would seem to be in the bag, but fans can't quite exhale until the Lakers miss a couple trifectas.

    They're chanting his name...

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 11:23 PM

    A "Leon Powe" chant just reverberated through the Garden with the Celtics' big man at the free throw line.

    We've seen Powe show flashes of brilliance during his career, but did anyone expect this from Powe? During the NBA Finals? Powe has been an absolute monster tonight.

    Leon...more than Kobe

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 11:15 PM

    With a pair of free throws at the 10:08 mark, Leon Powe (18 points) has more points than Kobe Bryant (17). Bryant is LA's leading scorer in the game.

    Garden party (Part II)

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 11:08 PM

    It's hard to put into the words the pure bliss that's bouncing from wall to wall here in the Garden.

    Leon Powe closed out the third quarter looking like Shaq in his prime, the Celtics lead the Lakers by 22 heading to the final quarter and the only question seems to be will we finally see Gino before the final buzzer?

    The crowd rocked out to "Shout" during the third-quarter break and "I'm Shipping Up to Boston" has the crowd stomping into the final frame.

    Leon ... again (83-61, Celtics, end of 3rd)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 11:07 PM

    Leon Powe just keeps making plays.

    First, Powe delivered a throwdown on a partial fast break with 35.3 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Then he completed two-handed stuff with 0.8 seconds left to close out the quarter. Powe has 14 points, which is more than every Laker except Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant, who each have 17.

    The Celtics answered an LA run and have turned this game into a laugher.

    Odom has 5

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 11:06 PM

    Lamar Odom picked up his fifth foul at the 1:07 mark and was taken out of the game.

    Garden party

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 11:02 PM

    The roof feels like it's about to blow off this place after the Celtics' latest spurt put the hosts out front of the Lakers , 79-59, with 1:20 to go in the third quarter.

    Gary Glitter's "Rock 'N Roll Part II" has the crowd clapping through this stoppage. The entire Celtics bench seemingly rushed to midcourt for a series of enthusiastic chestbumps after the Lakers called for a timeout to try and stop this bleeding.

    Celtics pulling away

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 11:00 PM

    A couple of lay-ups by Paul Pierce and a lay-up by P.J. Brown gave the Celtics a 74-59 lead and got the crowd back into the game with 2:31 left in the quarter. In between, an air ball by Kobe Bryant charged up the fans even more.

    Then came the onslaught: a three-pointer by Ray Allen and a bucket by Leon Powe have the Celtics up 79-59 with 1:20 left in the third.

    It's absolutely crazy in here. Timeout, Lakers.

    Celtics, 68-59 (4:29, 3rd quarter)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 10:55 PM

    The Lakers are making a run here in the third quarter. Kobe Bryant has 8 points in the period, while Pau Gasil has chipped in with 4. More importantly, the Lakers have taken the crowd out of the game a little bit.

    Lamar Odom now has four fouls for Los Angeles. Kendrick Perkins has four fouls for the Celtics.

    Papi's here, too

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 10:50 PM

    I'm not certain he's been shown on the Jumbotron (and it's hard to imagine missing him), but Red Sox slugger David Ortiz is also here.

    Sporting a Kevin Garnett jersey, matching Celtics hat, and a large white cast on his left arm, Big Papi is sandwiched between Antoine Walker and Kevin Millar along one of the baselines. That row also includes Vince Wilfork and Richard Seymour, so there's a lot of Boston sports talent in that one section.

    T for Kobe

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 10:43 PM

    Kobe Bryant picked up a technical foul after gesturing toward an official following a driving lay-up at the 8:59 mark. It looks like Bryant was begging for a call. He got one, just not the one he wanted.

    Celtics, 54-42 (half)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 10:15 PM

    What a finish to the first half for the Celtics.

    Kevin Garnett found Rajon Rondo for a fast-break dunk with under a minute to go to send the crowd into a frenzy. The Celtics outscored the Lakers, 34-20, in the period.

    Los Angeles is shooting 46 percent, but 10 turnovers have killed them. The Celtics are shooting 52 percent.

    The biggest difference in the game? The Lakers have attempted only two free throws, while the Celtics have attempted 19.

    Seemingly unfazed by his injury, Paul Pierce has 16 points for Boston. Ray Allen has nine, and Garnett and Leon Powe each have eight.

    More bad news for the Lakers? Kobe Bryant has three fouls.

    Kooooooobe Kooooooobe

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 10:13 PM

    In the spirit of the chant needling Detroit's Rasheed Wallace, Celtics' fans gave it to Kobe Bryant by screaming his name after the Lakers superstar picked up his third foul late in the second quarter.

    Three on Kobe

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 10:12 PM

    Kobe Bryant picked up this third personal foul trying to fight through a screen at the 1:53 mark. That's big for the Celtics, as Bryant should be sitting for the rest of the half.

    Daggers

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 10:11 PM

    Just when the Lakers were getting close, back-to-back threes from Paul Pierce and Ray Allen have opened the lead back up to 10, 47-37, with 2:52 remaining in the first half.

    Lakers hanging around

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 10:06 PM

    Los Angeles is not letting this game get away from them in the first half.

    After being down by as much as 10 points, a three-point play by Pau Gasol has the Lakers within four, 41-37, with 3:56 remaining in the first half.

    Troubling for the Celtics is the fact that the Lakers are shooting 50 percent in this game. If not for their 9 turnovers, LA would be in the driver's seat.

    Lester = Hero Among Us

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 10:00 PM

    The Celtics honor a "Hero Among Us" during the second quarter of every home game. Most of the time it's average Joes getting a moment in the spotlight, but the C's tonight honored Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester and the crowd roared in approval of Boston's no-hitter-throwing cancer survivor as he accepted his award at midcourt.

    Standing O for Powe ... again

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 09:56 PM

    Leon Powe got serenaded with another standing ovation as he left the court with about six minutes to play in the first half.

    Powe has 8 points in seven minutes of action (hitting 6 of 9 free throws thus far as part of a workman-like effort under the basket).

    Powe again

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 09:53 PM

    A three-point play by Leon Powe has given the Celtics a 36-26 lead with 7:43 remaining in the second quarter. The Lakers have scored only four points in the first four-plus minutes of the quarter.

    Powe has 8 points in the game.

    Celtics, 30-22 (9:40, 2nd quarter)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 09:46 PM

    After watching Leon Powe go to work in the post for several minutes, Paul Pierce brought the offense back outside, knocking down a three-pointer at the 9:48 mark to give the Celtics their largest lead of the game.

    Timeout, Lakers.

    Standing O for Powe

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 09:44 PM

    Leon Powe got a standing ovation after making a post move and drawing a foul at the 10:07 mark in the second quarter. Powe has already taken 8 free throws in this game.

    Lakers, 22-20 (1)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 09:35 PM

    It's anybody's game here after the first quarter.

    The Lakers have the lead, but they also have foul trouble. Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, and Vladimir Radmonovic all have two fouls. Kendrick Perkins has two for the Celtics.

    Powe-rful play

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 09:33 PM

    Leon Powe checked into the game for Kevin Garnett with 44.3 seconds left in the first and made an immediate impact, drawing on offensive foul on Lamar Odom.

    With Kendrick Perkins hampered, Powe is likely to get more minutes tonight. He joins the big-man rotation of Perkins, Garnett, and P.J. Brown.

    Nice Sox

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 09:29 PM

    Not to be outdone by their professional football counterparts, the Red Sox (and an alumnus) are out in full force at the Garden.

    After today's final score (Boston 2, Seattle 1) was displayed on the Jumbotron, the camera panned to different spots of the arena to show Larry Lucchino, John Henry, Curt Schilling, Mike Lowell, and Jon Lester. Also in attendance: Mr. Cowboy Up Kevin Millar.

    "Sweet Caroline" played softly as the camera showed the Sox.

    Kobe's second

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 09:27 PM

    Ray Allen is doing a fantastic job against Kobe Bryant. Allen just baited Bryant into drawing his second foul of the game at the 1:59 mark when the MVP tried to clear Allen away with his forearm.

    On the other side, Allen is 2 of 3 from the floor for 6 points.

    Perk's play

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 09:24 PM

    Kendrick Perkins gave it a good run in the first quarter, starting the game and playing until he was subbed for by P.J. Brown at the 3:28 mark. Perkins had 2 points, 1 rebound, and 1 assist in that stretch. He also had 2 fouls.

    Premium seats

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 09:17 PM

    The seats at the end of the opposing team's bench (and before to the scorer's table) have become the premium spot for celebs to sit.

    Jay-Z and Beyonce christened the seats during the Cavaliers' series and local stars like Patriots Tom Brady, Tedy Bruschi, and coach Bill Belichick have since sat there.

    Tonight's guest of honor: Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, who has wife, Shonda, seated behind him.

    We see a handful of Patriots (Richard Seymour and Vince Wilfork), along with former Celtic Antoine Walker, near the baseline by the Lakers' bench.

    Lakers, 15-12 (5:07, 1st quarter)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 09:17 PM

    The Celtics found themselves down 15-8 early, but a jump shot by Kevin Garnett and a driving lay-up by Ray Allen forced Lakers coach Phil Jackson to call a timeout. The two buckets were huge, as the Celtics were in danger of going down big early at home. It's crucial the Celtics don't allow this game to get out of hand so they can keep the crowd in it.

    The Lakers are killing the Celtics with 12 points in the paint so far. Pau Gasol is 3 of 3 for 6 points.

    T for KG

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 09:15 PM

    Kevin Garnett picked up a technical foul for arguing at the 6:34 mark in the first quarter. KG was called for an offensive foul on the previous possession and didn't agree with the call.

    What injuries?

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 09:12 PM

    Paul Pierce has 7 early points and Kendrick Perkins has the other 2 as the Celtics have tied the game, 8-8 at the 8:18 mark in the first.

    If you're keeping track, that means the two injured Celtics have all the points for Boston so far.

    Center of attention

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 09:12 PM

    No, not Kendrick Perkins.

    The midcourt line which was obstructed by the addition of the Larry O'Brien championship trophy image for Game 1 of the NBA Finals has been tweaked to have the white line go over the trophy and run the duration of the image (only disappearing behind the leprechaun.

    Presumably, this makes it easier for officials to call backcourt violations.

    Foul trouble

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 09:10 PM

    Vladimir Radmonovic just picked up his second personal foul trying to guard Paul Pierce at the 10:06 mark. He's now on the bench.

    Pierce, meanwhile, started the scoring for Boston with a three-pointer.

    Blame the ankle?

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 09:07 PM

    Kendrick Perkins won the jump ball, then got an offensive foul on Boston's first possession.

    Perkins starting

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 08:55 PM

    As expected, Kendrick Perkins has just been introduced as a starter for the Celtics. His pregame warm-ups must have gone well enough for Doc Rivers to let him give it a go.

    Pregame tidbits

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 08:48 PM

    A few notes from the pregame festivities:

    • The Celtics' video montage shown during warm-ups was updated with highlights from Thursday's Game 1 win over the Lakers.

      The two clips getting the loudest ovations: Paul Pierce's return to the court after injuring his knee and Kevin Garnett's effusive fourth-quarter putback.

    • A "Let's go Celtics" chant bounced around the arena as ABC's introduction video played on the Jumbotron.

    • Keith Lockhart -- conducting in a No. 95 Celtics' jersey with his name on the back -- and the Boston Pops played the National Anthem. The crowd booed loudly when Kobe and Phil Jackson were shown on the Jumbotron. Kevin Garnett got a big round of applause when he was shown.

    • Unlike Game 1, the reserves for each team were not announced during lineups.

    • The video montage that plays before the Celtics' player introductions was updated to open with Pierce's return during Game 1, which got another loud ovation.

    • The break between lineups and the start of the actual game is a bit intolerable. Both teams actually go back out on the court and shoot jumpers to stay warm. What's more, they have time to play nearly three full songs before the television timeout ends.

    Perkins says he's playing

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 07:37 PM

    Kendrick Perkins just said he's going to attempt to play in tonight's Game 2 against the Lakers. He says his ankle is about "75 percent".

    "I'm going to give it a shot," Perkins said in the Celtics locker room shortly after doing some shooting on the court. "I'm going to see how it goes in warm-ups."

    Perkins did not attend this morning's shootaround, and he did not practice with the team yesterday.

    We're still awaiting official word from coach Doc Rivers as to whether Perkins will be in the starting lineup tonight. Stay tuned.

    UPDATE (7:50 p.m.): Kendrick Perkins will play tonight if warm-ups go well, according to Celtics coach Doc Rivers. Rivers did say, however, that the team would monitor Perkins closely and go with Plan B if necessary.

    Perk finally appears

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 07:02 PM

    Just when we thought he'd never show, Kendrick Perkins just strolled onto the court to warm up. He's wearing two pairs of high socks on each foot, so it's hard to see what kind of support he has on his sprained left ankle.

    Perkins is shooting short jumpers. He's not getting particularly high off the floor, but does he ever? He's not walking with any kind of limp.

    Still no official word on whether Perkins will play. We'll pass that info along when we get it.

    UPDATE (7:15 p.m.): Perkins hasn't done anything to test his ankle since he's been out there. He hasn't made any side-to-side motions, and he didn't work on post moves. Perkins did throw down one dunk, but it didn't have his usual emphasis.

    Still no Perkins

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 06:43 PM

    Kendrick Perkins typically comes out onto the court around this time before a game, but we've yet to see the Celtics big man this evening. Perkins has a sprained left ankle and is questionable for Game 2.

    We'll update you on Perk's condition as soon as we know more.

    In case you're curious, the order of appearance of Celtics players on the court this evening has been Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Glen Davis, and Rajon Rondo.

    UPDATE (7:01 p.m.): The Celtics big men (James Posey, P.J. Brown, and Leon Powe) are on the court warming up, and still no Perkins.

    Pierce shoots without a limp

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 06:03 PM

    Paul Pierce is currently out on the parquet testing his injured right knee. The knee is wrapped in a sleek black brace, barely visible below his uniform shorts.

    Pierce is moving around the court very well. He’s going through his normal routine of moving around the perimeter and shooting three-pointers. He seems to be getting good elevation on his jump shot. He hasn’t limped once in the 15 minutes or so I’ve been watching him.

    After he was finished taking threes, Pierce took some fadeway jumpers off the dribble. Again, Pierce didn't seem hampered by his knee.

    The difference in Pierce's movements from two days ago is striking. The Celtics captain could barely climb a set of three stairs on Friday. Besides the brace, which doesn't appear cumbersome at all, it's hard to tell there's anything wrong with Pierce. This has to be a good sign for Celtics fans.

    The Celtics captain even had a little fun at the end of his session, playfully taunting assistant coach Clifford Ray, who was trying to get a hand in Pierce's face. The Celtics captain banked in a three before running (yes, running) back into the locker room.

    "And off glass," Pierce yelled to Ray.

  • Celtics guard Ray Allen warmed up on the opposite end of the court from Pierce. Same routine as usual. Injury aside, it's incredible how smoothly Allen moves on the court in comparison to Pierce. The man is a ballet dancer on the parquet.

  • Members of the Boston Pops just rehearsed their rendition of the national anthem. It's going to be phenomenal.

    More to come.

  • Welcome to the Garden ...

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 8, 2008 05:17 PM

    Welcome to the Garden, where the Boston Celtics will take on the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 2 of the 2008 NBA Finals at 9 p.m. The Celtics lead the best-of-seven series, 1-0.

    Television crews and NBA personnel are busy readying the arena for tonight’s game. There are cameras to set up, lights and mics to test, and a couple of fake giant trophies to wheel into position. They just ran through a practice run of the pregame introductions, with NBA interns walking past said trophy posing as players being introduced.

    I really wish I had something more exciting to tell you than that.

    Action outside of the Garden is almost non-existent. Only a couple of fans were milling about around 4:45 p.m. Could be the heat. Or the fact that the game doesn’t start for another four hours.

    No players on the court yet. Celtics director of player personnel Mike Crotty is the first basketball-related person on the court, but he can’t do much because all the crews are in the way.

    For anyone coming to tonight’s game, you’ll be happy to know it’s nice and chilly in here. The Garden is kept at a constant 65 degrees all year, which isn’t all that fun during the winter. Don’t mind it so much today.

    Things should start getting a little more exciting here within the hour. We’ll be covering every angle of Game 2 all night. Stay tuned.

    Doc says Pierce will play; Perkins uncertain

    Posted by Michael Vega, Globe Staff June 8, 2008 12:35 PM

    WALTHAM --- Paul Pierce tested his sprained right knee when he engaged teammate Sam Cassell in a lively game of 1-on-1 this morning during the Celtics' shootaround at the team's practice facility at HealthPoint. The sight of Pierce spinning and driving hard to the basket only served to confirm Pierce's status to coach Doc Rivers, who proclaimed the Celtics' captain was ready to play tonight against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 2 of the NBA Finals at TD Banknorth Garden.

    ``You could see he had some movement in the shooting drills [this morning] and that he felt comfortable,'' Rivers said of Pierce. ``And Eddie [Lacerte, the team's athletic trainer] said this morning he thought Paul would be ready to play tonight.''

    Kendrick Perkins, meanwhile, was another matter. His sprained left ankle was still bothering him, meaning he'd likely be a game-time decision.

    ``Perk, again, I don't know, but Paul will be ready to play,'' Rivers said. ``Perk, we didn't even let him shoot. We sat him down.''

    As Rivers spoke, Pierce was on the practice court, driving hard to the hoop against Cassell.

    ``We wanted him to do this,'' Rivers said, nodding to Pierce on the court. ``I think he needs to play a little bit, just to see what he can do.''

    Rivers said if Perkins was unable to go, then reserve veteran P.J. Brown would likely get the start at center.

    Pierce, Perkins improving

    Posted by Michael Vega, Globe Staff June 7, 2008 02:15 PM

    stretch.jpgPaul Pierce stretched his injured right knee Saturday (John Tlumacki, Globe Staff)

    Doc Rivers met with the media today at TD Banknorth Garden and, as was expected, the topic of conversation was the status of starters Paul Pierce (sprained right knee) and Kendrick Perkins (sprained left ankle).

    Although both players spent the entire media-access portion of practice riding stationary bikes, Rivers indicated today he was "more optimistic" about Pierce's chances of playing in Game 2 of the NBA Finals than he was about Perkins, who indicated he was feeling better and figured to be "about 75-80 percent" by game time Sunday night at 9 p.m.

    "I don't know how effective either one will be," Rivers said. "They may be very effective. Paul is moving much better today, that's clear. And so of the two, he's the guy I'm more optimistic about, just watching him move around and walk around.

    "If we played today, could either one of them play? It would be dicey, but I think they could."

    Pierce said he's definitely expecting to play Sunday night. He said his knee still has some stiffness, but he also said he's seen some progress since Friday.

    "I think it's mostly my range of motion," said Pierce. "Just being able to squat all the way down. I can't quite do that yet. My walk is pretty good actually, but when I go down into a squat position, that's when I feel it the most, when I bend it. Like if you look at the knee, if you bend it all the way, there's some pain there. But this motion when I'm straight and I'm walking is pretty good."

    The Celtics captain said he might pull a Brian Scalabrine and ride an exercise bike to stay loose when he's not on the court. He said he certainly won't have a problem staying motivated.

    "I think it's going to be easy as far as handlling it mentally," he said. "Because once you step on that court, hear the crowd, you look up and you see posters of The Finals, I'm totally going to probably forget about it. From there on, my adrenaline will probably get going.

    "Usually you tend to forget about injuries when you're on that court and you're playing for something special,'' Pierce added. "That's what you dream about all your life."

    Here's a selection of quotes from today's media availability at the Garden:


    Celtics center Kendrick Perkins

    Q. How's your ankle doing?

    "There's a little aching in it, but it's all right."

    Q. What's the pain level, better than yesterday?

    "Yeah, it's all wrapped up. Yesterday I felt like 60 percent, today it's like 80."

    FULL ENTRY

    'Gino' dances in disco Heaven

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 7, 2008 08:28 AM

    gino535.jpg

    The season-long search for the Celtics' dancing man affectionately known as Gino has come to a saddening end as the Wall Street Journal reports that the man died 18 years ago.

    Joseph R. Massoni, pegged as the dancer clad in a Gino Vannelli T-shirt grooving in the American Bandstand clip that has become known as the Celtics' virtual victory cigar, reportedly passed away at age 34 in Fontana, Calif.

    From the Journal:

    Dick Clark Productions, which produced "American Bandstand" until it went off the air in 1989, agreed to help locate the man after being contacted by The Wall Street Journal. The company reviewed old tapes and talked to former dancers to uncover the mystery. One dancer, Terry Izen of East Highlands, Calif., received a call a few weeks ago from another former dancer telling her to check out the Gino video on YouTube.

    "I was like, 'Oh my God, it's Joe Massoni!'" says Ms. Izen, who says she is the redhead to the right of him in the video.

    Ms. Izen, who is now 52 and is involved in theater, was a regular dancer on "American Bandstand" in the mid-1970s. She says didn't know Mr. Massoni very well but lent him the tight Gino Vannelli T-shirt. But she did remember stopping by his family's Italian restaurant in Rialto, Calif., between shootings one day.

    So when she set out to find him, she began calling Rialto's Italian restaurants. No luck. She turned to the white pages of the phone book. On the second try, she reached a woman who said she was Mr. Massoni's brother's mother-in-law.

    The news couldn't have been sadder. Mr. Massoni, the woman said, passed away 18 years ago from pneumonia. "I didn't want to burst everybody's bubble because it's been so neat what's been going on in Boston," Ms. Izen said.

    The Wall Street Journal couldn't independently verify the claim that Mr. Massoni is the deceased dancer. But Dick Clark Productions vouches for Ms. Izen's story. A spokeswoman for the San Bernardino, Calif., coroner's office confirmed that a man named Joseph R. Massoni passed away in 1990 at age 34 in Fontana, Calif. Calls to the residence of Mr. Massoni's brother weren't returned.

    "If it's true, we are saddened to hear that news," says the Celtics' Mr. Gotham. "'Gino' has provided a lot of enjoyment for our fans, and his spirit will live on during the NBA Finals."

    With the real Gino dancing on in disco Heaven, we're looking for best Gino tribute. Send us your photos or video in honor of Gino (the winner receives an iPod shuffle). For more on the Gino phenomenon, check out our video of fans trying to imitate Gino's moves below.


    Pierce: 'Great chance I'll play on Sunday'

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 6, 2008 01:29 PM


    TD BANKNORTH GARDEN -- Celtics forward Paul Pierce walked gingerly into the media room this afternoon to answer questions about the right knee sprain he suffered in the third quarter of last night's Game 1 victory over the Lakers. His knee was heavily wrapped, and he walked up the podium stairs with a visible limp.

    “I can walk on it, I can bend it, but there’s a little sharp pain on the inside of my knee,” said Pierce. “There’s a little pain in there right now so I’m going to keep it wrapped, iced.”

    Pierce said he would be receiving treatment 2-3 times a day, and the team will continue to evaluate how the knee responds.

    But what about Game 2? Pierce was asked the critical question twice during his press conference, and he answered it a little differently both times.

    "I mean, there can be a chance [I won't play]," he said the first time. "Right now if the game was today, I most likely wouldn't be able to play today. Thank goodness for the schedule being that we get a couple days [off] now."

    The second time he answered the question, Pierce was a little more emphatic.

    "I think there's a great chance I'll play on Sunday," he said. "Just knowing myself, knowing my threshold for pain. Great chance I will be playing on Sunday."

    Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Pierce definitely wouldn't be able to practice today, but said it won't be a problem.

    "We're not going to do anything anyway," said Rivers. "We're going to watch film today and shoot free throws. I don't think he could play today, to be honest. But you know, he'll be ready by Sunday."

    Rivers admitted it was huge for the teams to have two full days off before Game 2.

    "Obviously it's nice not playing until Sunday," said Rivers. "That gives [Pierce and Kendrick Perkins] time to heal. I expect both of them to play, honestly. I just don't know how much they can give us yet."

    Pierce had to be carried off the court midway through the third quarter of last night's Game 1. After being taken to the locker room in a wheelchair, Pierce checked back into the game less than two minutes later to a standing ovation from the crowd.

    Just as he did last night, Lakers coach Phil Jackson today questioned the severity of Pierce’s injury.

    "I don't know if the angels visited him at halftime or in that time-out period that he had or not, but he didn't even limp when he came back out on the floor," said Jackson. "I don't know what was going on there (laughter). Was Oral Roberts back there in their locker room (laughter)?"

    Pierce admitted he's a bit put off by all the attention following last night's drama.

    “It’s crazy to me," he said. "I’ve never been carried off the court. It was sort of embarrassing, truthfully. I should have just laid their for 5 more minutes…If I ever get carried off the court again, I’m not coming back.”

  • Perkins walked onto the parquet floor with a slight limp to do his interviews today. His left ankle was heavily taped. Perkins sprained the ankle in the second half of last night's game and told Rivers he was about 60 percent when he returned to the game.

    Perkins said he would have been able to practice today if the team had held one.

    "It's just a little sore right now, but it's all right," said Perkins. "The swelling's not bad, but it's in pain."

    Perkins was asked if he would be able to play Sunday.

    "Yeah, I'm going to play," said Perkins. "It's the Finals."

  • To clarify, Perkins said he wasn't in the locker room at the same time as Pierce during the third quarter of Game 1. Pierce was heading back onto the court when Perkins limped off.

    "I guess I gave him some energy," joked Perkins.

  • What's up, Doc?

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 6, 2008 01:28 PM


    Celtics coach Doc Rivers was peppered with questions on the health of starters Paul Pierce and Kendrick Perkins during this afternoon's media sessions. Here's a bit of the Q&A:

    Just some housekeeping stuff about Paul and Kendrick. How did they appear to you today?

    "Not great, so we'll just see, would be the answer. Perk, you know, I think it's a high ankle sprain, which is never good. But he'll be ready for Sunday. And Paul, we'll see."

    I mean, you're never comforted by a fact when a guy is injured, but are you comforted by the fact that you have at least a couple extra days?

    "Yeah, it helps. Obviously it's nice not playing until Sunday. That gives both of them time to heal. I expect both of them to play, honestly. I just don't know how much they can give us yet."

    Back on Paul, what did he tell you this morning?

    "Well, he didn't have to tell me a lot. I talked to him, though, and just watching him walk, you can see he's -- it's tender, it's still, it's swollen a little bit. You know, no structural damage, which is good news."

    He had a test?

    "Yeah, so pretty much in that way we're good."

    What are you going to do with him today?

    "We're not going to do anything anyway. We're going to watch film today and shoot free throws. I don't think he could play today, to be honest. But you know, he'll be ready by Sunday."

    Did Paul have to go to the hospital or anything else last night to get a further checkup?

    "I actually don't know the answer to that question. Our team doctor is here. We have all the gadgets here as far as I know. I'm assuming we do. So I don't know if he had to or not. I never asked the question."

    And also, Paul said after the game, someone was asking him about getting treatment in the locker room and those few minutes he was out, and he said, man, it can't be over like this. I think God just sent this angel down. You're going to be all right. You need to go out there and show them what you've got. Phil showed a little skepticism toward that today. He said, I don't know if the angels visited at halftime or what, he didn't even limp when he came back out onto the floor. I don't know what was going on back there. Was Oral Roberts there in the locker room?

    "Whatever it takes (laughter). Whatever it takes. All I know is he came back out on the floor and played, and I'm good with that."

    What do you think of any skepticism toward his injury?

    "Oh, I don't care. Aren't we skeptics anyway now about everything? So what the heck; let it begin (laughter). Let it begin. Lee Harvey Oswald did it (laughter)."

    Lakers chatter

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 6, 2008 01:11 PM


    Some notable quotes from the Lakers' practice this morning at the TD Banknorth Garden:

    Lakers guard Kobe Bryant:

    The whole Paul Pierce drama last night, how did that whole thing affect you guys?

    "Paul Pierce drama (laughing). I don't think it affected us at all. He's a good friend. The thing that I was concerned with was his health and making sure he was Okay. But I don't think it had much of an effect on us. I was happy to see him come out there until he made those two damn threes."

    What kind of adjustments do you have to make in your game when you go from having Ray Allen guard you to having Posey guard you to having Pierce guard you in the course of a game?

    "Not much really. Their principles are the same. They just want to contest shots. If I go up and shoot, just get a hand in the face. I've just got to put the ball in the damn hole. That sucker didn't want to stay down last game.

    Would you say that Boston probably has defended you better than most teams this year? What is it that they've done that you're shooting like 35 percent or so against them this season? What is it that they do that makes it hard?

    "Just making me a perimeter player in terms of being able to shoot the ball. Two games we played in the regular season, I shot the ball atrociously. In Game 1 I shot the ball bad, too. Hopefully it just means I'm due."

    ***

    Lakers center Pau Gasol:

    With Paul Pierce and Perkins kind of dinged up a little bit, how does that affect you guys in the front court?

    "Well, I don't know, we'll see. We're not going to rely on them not being 100 percent. We've just got to be focused on ourselves being 100 percent and being tuned in in everything we do out there, executing, rebounding, defending, setting ourselves up early and keeping the tone for 48 minutes. I think that's the bottom line. We're not going to rely on their players not being healthy 100 percent. We're just going to make sure we come out with the right mentality and the right approach in Game 2, and make sure we're aggressive, we start aggressive and we continue to be aggressive for 48 minutes. I think that's how we're going to be able to win the game."

    On that subject, offensively, do you plan to attack more aggressively? The Celtics sort of seem to collapse down low?

    "We all have to be aggressive. We all have to execute our plays, exercise a lot of options. So if they take away our first and second options, we have a lot of guys out there that can score and knock down jumpers. We've just got to make sure we execute and we move the ball and we share the ball, like we did more so in the first half than in the second half. And obviously be aggressive and try to get in the lane as much as we can.

    But like I said, we know how to do it. We just got away from doing it a little bit when things didn't go our way in Game 1. And like I said, if we control the little things, that's going to make a difference because that's not going to put so much pressure on our offense and our execution down the stretch. So that's going to make things better if we control better the boards and would have gotten a few more loose balls that would have been, I think, a different look for us."

    ***

    Lakers coach Phil Jackson:

    Some people were calling last night a Willis Reed moment. Did it go through your mind at all when you saw Pierce come back? And just a memory of that night, because you were there that night?

    "Well, if I'm not mistaken, I think Willis Reed missed a whole half and three quarters almost of a game and literally had to have a shot, a horse shot, three or four of them in his thigh to come back out and play. Paul got carried off and was back on his feet in a minute. I don't know if the angels visited him at halftime or in that time-out period that he had or not, but he didn't even limp when he came back out on the floor. I don't know what was going on there (laughter). Was Oral Roberts back there in their locker room? (laughter) But he certainly carried some energy back on the floor for them.

    Three games against the Celtics this year, Kobe struggled in each. Do you attribute that to what they're doing defensively? Or with Kobe is it just Kobe, is it whatever he's doing that game and that's the result?

    "It certainly has something to do with it. The defense is there. He didn't get to the basket, he didn't get to the foul line. Foul shots are really important for scoring, and again, they eliminated a lot of his ability to get to the foul line. So there's some things they did very well.

    But as we all saw, there was a lot of shots there that just didn't go down for him that were in and out. So that's a matter of understanding his baskets, getting a touch on them and figuring it out."

    Lakers face the media

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 6, 2008 12:59 PM

    TD BANKNORTH GARDEN – The morning after a loss to the Celtics in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, the Lakers held a media session on the Garden’s parquet floor. Players seemed loose, if not a little sleepy. Last night’s game ended just before midnight.

    Several Lakers players, including Jordan Farmar and Coby Karl, did some light shooting. The rest of the team was spread out around the edge of the floor, answering questions for about 150 media members.

    One of the biggest media crowds was for Derek Fisher. The veteran Lakers point guard said his team could have won Game 1 with a little more effort on 8-10 crucial possessions in the game.

    “We realize what’s at stake,” said Fisher. “You can’t squander away chances to win games at this level.

    “You play against great teams, there are certain things you can live with and certain things that you can’t. Guys that are dominant basketball players like a Kevin Garnett and a Paul Pierce and a Ray Allen, you can’t just let those guys size up the defense and have their way….We do feel like there’s a lot of room for improvement.”

    Lakers forward Lamar Odom said rebounding would be his team’s focus in Game 2.

    “We have to keep their guards off the boards as well,” said Odom. “They rebound as a team. We need to limit that.”

    The Celtics have media access next. We'll have quotes, as well as an update on Paul Pierce, shortly.

    Will Pierce be OK?

    Posted by David Lefort, Boston.com Staff June 6, 2008 11:05 AM

    The biggest question on the minds of Celtics fans this morning is undoubtedly the status of Paul Pierce’s injured knee.

    After the game last night, Pierce took a wait-and-see approach when asked about his availability for Game 2 of the NBA Finals,

    “We'll see,” he said. “I mean, it's in pain. I was able to get through tonight. I don't know if it was off adrenaline or what, but got through it.”

    Celtics coach Doc Rivers this morning in an interview on Boston sports radio station WEEI took a similar tact, saying it would depend on how Pierce was feeling after waking up this morning. We should find out more information early this afternoon, when the Celtics meet the media.

    We found one report on ESPN.com late last night that didn’t seem to contain much good news. Here’s an excerpt from Chris Sheridan, who caught Pierce as he was walking to his car after last night’s game:

    After the game, Pierce was walking with a pronounced limp as he exited the postgame interview room and headed back to the locker room, but some 45 minutes later the injury was clearly bothering him more.

    As he walked to his car, Pierce was still wearing his warm-ups. The snaps along the right side were hanging open, revealing a wrapping of several ace bandages from the bottom of his calf to the top of his thigh, an additional layer of white tape wrapped around the lower half of his hamstring, ending just above his knee.

    Pierce's feet moved no more than 12 inches with each step, and as you watched him begin to navigate the four flights of stairs from the locker room level to the players' parking lot, you couldn't help but wonder exactly how much adrenalin had fueled his comeback. The knee injury could also keep him out of Game 2 or, at the very least, reduce his effectiveness.

    Stay tuned.

    Bob Ryan's Game 1 Q&A

    Posted by David Lefort, Boston.com Staff June 6, 2008 11:00 AM

    Globe columnist Bob Ryan dropped by this morning to answer your questions about last night's exciting Game 1 of the NBA Finals at the Garden. The following is the complete Q&A session ...

    Morgs__Guest_: Bob, Thanks for cautioning everyone that it is only one game. I am a 50 something and have lived through all the glory and pain of the past. As you say imposing our will defensively is the key. As for the offense my only frustration is the lack of the "go to guy". Bird on the isolation, Hondo on the weave, Hinie battering people down low. Do you think pierce will emerge as that guy in this series? or will it go the route of whoever is hot. I have been watching Leon all year and love his game except he is slow to finish once he has the offensive board is it technique or skill.

    Bob_Ryan: Is it not self-evident that Pierce is The Celtics "Go-To" guy? He has the repertoire and he has the mentality. KG is reluctant to exit the team guy. facilitator mode in the fourth quarter. People keep hoping he'll do so, but it might be like waiting for Godot.

    Morgs__Guest_: He's hoping Perk is okay . I think he could be a real wild card for us as he was in Detriot series. These Fakers are soft. let Kobe get 63, last time someone did that you know what the result was !

    Bob_Ryan: They aren't winning this thing without Kendrick Perkins. As nice as P.J. Brown is to have around, he's here to support, period.

    Bob_Ryan: Don't get caught up with that "Faker" stuff. This is 2008, not 1984. And it took scoring 136 points to offset those 63 from Michael, so forget about giving Kobe anything more than 40.

    boogerboy__Guest_: What do you think, an electronic zapping dog collar that goes off around Cassell's neck every time he winds up to take a long distance shot?

    Bob_Ryan: Once he's hit three, Doc should give him the hook, 'cause he ain't stoppin'. But it was nice to see the jumper return from that little jaunt it took to Cancun.

    Groucho__Guest_: Bob, Do you have any idea what Eddie House has done to be ignored by Doc? Here is a guy who can light it up and stretch the defense. Why no PT? His son has seen more time on the court. Thanks.

    Bob_Ryan: Doc has made a decision that he can't mix and match with both Sam and Eddie. I'm sorry about that. I like Eddie. And who's to say he couldn't hit the same shots Sam is (occasionally) making?

    Bob_Ryan: But that's why they pay Doc the big money.

    Mikester__Guest_: What's the update on Paul Pierce and Kendrick Perkins for Sunday night ? Wasn't game historic and fun last night ?

    Bob_Ryan: Asking the wrong guy for a 10 am injury update. Stay tuned. I'm sure we'll be hearing more shortly.

    Bob_Ryan: Fun? Yup. Historic? How so? Just a good quality NBA Finals game; no more, no less.

    Nate__Guest_: As with the World Series, the NBA starts games at 9 PM. My 13 year old can only watch the first quarter and then go to bed. If these sports are looking at younger generations to acquire fans, they should start earlier. Playoffs used to start at 7 PM.

    Bob_Ryan: Yeah, and Finals, even ones with Dr. J, Moses and Larry, were also once aired on tape delay. All decisions are made by ABC, and they want those Angelenos in front of the sets when the ball is thrown up, not stalled in traffic on the 405, 110, 10, 101 or 1,786,537, if you know what I mean.

    Bob_Ryan: However...

    Bob_Ryan: There is NO excuse for not having the Sunday game start at 7 Eastern, or even earlier. Hear that, Mr. Stern? stand up for common sense.

    Brian215__Guest_: Why, in your opinion, has the national media picked the Lakers to win the series over the team with the best record?

    Bob_Ryan: Thanks for an easy lay-up.

    Bob_Ryan: 1. Lakers breezed through the first three rounds in 4, 6 and 5, whereas the Celtics wheezed their way to the Finals in 7, 7 and a tough 6. And we all know the West is better than the East.

    Bob_Ryan: 2. They have the best player.

    Bob_Ryan: 3. They have a 9-time championship coach.

    Bob_Ryan: 4. People always seem to forget that defense matters more than offense in these situations.

    Bob_Ryan: So, as Dan Shaughnessy said, the pundits were "blinded by the light."

    Brian215__Guest_: What is your reaction to Bill Platsche's article this morning in which he insinuated that Pierce had faked his injury?

    Bob_Ryan: Glad you asked that question.

    Bob_Ryan: Bill's a friend of mine, but let's just say we look at the world differently. He's being ridiculous, OK?

    Bob_Ryan: Now then. Paul Pierce framed himself as a complete drama queen three years ago with that ludicrous stunt of wearing the gauze wrapped around his head after Game 6 in Indy. Remember? So you can see why someone would question him now. But Mr. Plaschke suggested it was completely staged, and, furthermore, that the Lakers were caught off guard. That's the absolutely foolish part of his thinking. Once they saw Pierce on the floor, they were expecting him to be Paul Pierce. And how does him making back-to-back threes in transition play into them not taking him seriously?

    Bob_Ryan: C'mon, Bill. You're better than that.

    Eddie_House__Guest_: Bob, you're a smart guy. Could you please tell me what I did to lose playing time altogether? It just kills me to see Sam Cassell in there, missing shots, playing poor defense, and slowing our offense. Let me know what to do/say to convince Doc I should be playing 10-12 minutes a game.

    Bob_Ryan: I've already answered this, Eddie. I feel your pain. By the way, I'd consider having that cute kid of yours pick up some extra cash as a model. Seriously. He looks as if he stepped right off the "Sesame Street" set.

    gary_p: Hi Bob, been a big fan of yours for years. Great game last night! I know it's only one game but where does it rank with some of the classic Celtics-Lakers games?

    Bob_Ryan: Oh, I don't know. Between 8 and 15 somewhere, maybe.

    KensethBlackLabs__Guest_: What happened with Garnett? Was it just a bad night or was there something going on with all the missed baskets?

    Bob_Ryan: Hot first half. Cold second half. What else can I say? He took four jumpers in the fourth and missed 'em all. Nice put-back, though.

    mg__Guest_: Bob, what are your thoughts on Phil Jackson post games comments basically questioning Paul Pierce's injury?

    Bob_Ryan: Phil Being Phil.

    JoeStro__Guest_: What do the Celtics need to do to avoid a Game 2 letdown like they had against the Pistons?

    Bob_Ryan: Act like professionals.

    The______Truth__Guest_: It was good to see Leon Powe play last night, will we expect to see him alot this series?

    Bob_Ryan: Something good always happens offensively and on the boards when Leon Powe is in the game. The reason he doesn't play more, I'm told, is that he doesn't always grasp the particular defensive scheme du jour. And now, with Ol' Man River available, Doc is opting for experience. But I can't believe Leon won't see some additional time in this series. He made the most of his opportunity Thursday, I'd say.

    Green17__Guest_: Bob, with LA's bigs being the leaner and athletic without Bynum do you see the Doc going to that smaller lineup of Rondo, Allen, Pierce, Posey, and Garnett more in this series??

    Bob_Ryan: Doc does have options, sure.

    Nate__Guest_: I have noticed on fast break opportunities, too often the guard running the break pulls up rather than working the passing lanes for a layup. Then we settle for a jump shot which is like a crap shot with no follow up.

    Bob_Ryan: That's because "the guard," whose named is Rajon Rondo --- you new around here, or something? --- has no pull-up jumper. None. That should be off-season priority number one. He squanders far too many fast break opportunities because he won't pull up from the line, or a few feet into the lane, and shoot a stop-and-pop jumper. He can take it all the way, and does, but if he has no shot he dribbled back out and it's bye-bye, fast break.

    Bob_Ryan: That's not a criticism; that's an observation. He can, and will, develop that shot because he is a worker. I am excited about the 26-year old Rondo being the 2012 Maurice Cheeks.

    Brian215__Guest_: If Big Baby is gonna play in this series wouldn't it make sense to let him get his feet wet in Boston instead of a LA debut?

    Bob_Ryan: Doc will sense a Baby moment sometime, but I couldn't tell you when. I think he tends to mope a bit when he's feeling neglected. I hope someone is talking to him.

    greg__Guest_: I see this series as a better match up for the C's than both Detroit and Cleveland. Do you agree?

    Bob_Ryan: Better? No. Kobe Bryant, remember? But manageable? Yes. I said from the beginning that the Atlanta series would give them the most "athleticism match-up problems and that things would get easier in that regard as the playoffs progressed. The Lakers aren't going to out-athleticize the Celtics. I was hoping for San Antonio, where the Celtics would have hade a very big athletic edge. Think about it: SA's great athlete is Parker. No big deal for Boston with Rondo on him.

    Obama_Pierce_08__Guest_: Bob, what did you think of Rondo last night?

    Bob_Ryan: Fisher had his way in the first half, but take a look at the final stat lines. it was a wash. Sure, there's more to it than the stats, especially for a point guard. I give Rondo a B-plus in his first Finals game.

    The______Truth__Guest_: Bob, do you agree that letting Kobe 'have his' and shutting down everyone else is the way to go?

    Bob_Ryan: No. Playing him into 9-for-26 is better. (Assuming you can take the credit). I don't think that what you're suggesting is the M.O. currently being adopted by Doc, Tommy Tib & Co.

    Cary__Guest_: Bob, what do most guys think about Sam Cassell? I've heard that players find him aggravating but those are just rumors. I was a little frustrated at how long he was in the game last night (even with his key bench points).

    Bob_Ryan: I'd only be guessing. Sam is Sam is Sam. The question is whether or not the incumbents think Eddie should be used more. But I'm assuming they all believe Sam has at least one monster three left in him.

    Bob_Ryan: I must say. What a world it would be if everyone had Sam's boundless self-confidence.

    Rutabaga__Guest_: On a follow-up to Cassell vs. House, it seems to me that House is a more reliable shooter, shows way better judgment and shot selection, and plays hustling scrappy defense. Despite hitting some shots, Sam seems like a completely liability out there and changes the whole tempo of the Celtics offense for the worse. Granted, Doc has made a decision, but why???? Nobody I know seems to have an answer. Is he trying to keep Sam from going into a big pout?

    Bob_Ryan: Nah. Doc believes in Sam; that's all.

    tungpham__Guest_: what is LA going to do differently in the next game to beat boston?

    Bob_Ryan: Hope Kobe goes off. Try to free Gasol rolling to the hoop as much as possible. But can they actually stop Garnett and/or Pierce? No. That's one reason I picked the Celtics to win.

    greg__Guest_: How does the NBA select officials for the games and has a rotation been decided upon?

    Bob_Ryan: The honchos in NYC make the call, and I guessing they do have a 7-game rotation written down already, subject to change if there is some kind of officiating dust-up. No real kicks with the overall job in Game 1, although I think P. J. was standing in the lane waiting for Odom to run him over long enough to dictate his last will and testament. I don't see how Scott Foster blew that particular call. They won't come much easier.

    Nostradamus__Guest_: If the Celtics win it all, will you finally admit you were totally wrong last summer, or will you continue to be stubborn?

    Bob_Ryan: I'm glad you asked that question.

    Bob_Ryan: Of course, I was wrong, and I've never said otherwise. I said I'd be happy to see them win 45 and the division. Of course, that was pre-Posey, pre-House, pre-Brown, pre-Sam and pre both Rondo and Perkins making phenomenal individual improvements. And no one, not even Doc himself, thought his team would get this good defensively. Why don't you ask Doc how many games he thought they'd win? You might be surprised.

    Bob_Ryan: Here's my question to you: Did you put money on it? If you did, congratulations. If not, it doesn't matter. I've said a zillion times: the only predictions that are worth anything are those backed up by your wallet. And the difference between you and me is that I have to go public.

    Bob_Ryan: What's the opposite of Murphy's Law? Whatever it is, that's what we have.

    Bob_Ryan: I am immensely pleased to see the Celtics back in the discussion. This team has been a pleasure to watch.

    Bob_Ryan: Anything else you want to know?

    Achilles__Guest_: So is it me or have the Celtics really learned how to close a game out? They seemed to have matured against the ferocious end of game push from the Pistons. Now they seem to have extra confidence.

    Bob_Ryan: The Pistons series was clearly beneficial in many ways, as you suggest. What happened in Atlanta and Cleveland is utterly irrelevant now.

    mg__Guest_: Obviously Phil Jackson is a good coach, 9 championships says a lot, but is there a more arrogant person/coach in the NBA , no wonder why Kobe and Phil get along

    Bob_Ryan: Phil does have a rather patrician air at times. Makes him interesting. I'm glad we have him around. As Voltaire would say, If Phil Jackson didn't exist, it would be necessary to invent him.

    danmazz2001__Guest_: The Celts let up 88 points last night, will they be able to win games on that kind of defense? Keeping in mind that Paul is still questionable and their offense is going to take a hit.

    Bob_Ryan: I'm a bit confused. Are you implying that allowing 88 points in the 2008 NBA is BAD defense?

    allfiredup__Guest_: bob what kind of impact do u think pj brown had last night and also powe?

    Bob_Ryan: They don't win Game 1 without P.J. Brown's sensational play. As for Powe, see above.

    bird__Guest_: bob, could anyone except Kobe even make the roster for the 80s' Celtics?

    Bob_Ryan: You're embarrassing my generation. Stop it.

    RayRay__Guest_: How do you feel about Ray's all-around performance in Game 1? It seems many people are overlooking his 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and solid D on Kobe.

    Bob_Ryan: Excellent point. One thing I've learned having Ray Allen around all year is that, unlike many other big-time scorers, his contributions don't stop there. I was thinking about his subtle all-around contribution to the cause last night myself.

    Bob_Ryan: You know what they say about great minds.

    butters__Guest_: If perk cant play who can step up?

    Bob_Ryan: The simple answer is that Leon's feet would be held to the fire. And Baby would come into play, too. And P.J. but he can't go more than 25. I think.
    Van Bob, I understand why some are picking the Lakers, but shouldn't more people be picking Boston, given that they're better defensively, deeper, and have home-court advantage?

    The______Truth__Guest_: Bob, are you as tired as I am of hearing the ridiculous claims that Kobe is as good as Jordan?

    Bob_Ryan: It's not ridiculous, just not correct. He is the closest thing to Jordan we've seen. It's an understandable stylistic comparison.

    alchemist__Guest_: You know Kobe will come back with a vengeance, and chances are that Odom and Gasol and possibly one of their bench players will have better games.

    Bob_Ryan: See my column. One game is one game in these things.
    Van Also, I'm wondering where you rank Pierce's performance last night among the NBA's all-time "guts" games?

    Bob_Ryan: Hard to know until we see what's really wrong with him today.

    Bostondotcom Thanks for chatting with us today Bob! And thanks everyone for participating ... Bob says see you next week (he's scheduled for another chat from LA)!

    Ryan, Shaughnessy on Game 1

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 6, 2008 01:29 AM

    Boston Globe columnists recap Game 1 of the NBA Finals on the heels of the Boston Celtics' 98-88 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. Shaughnessy talks about the extraordinary efforts of Paul Pierce, while Ryan breaks down a defensive gem the Celtics turned in during the second half.

    Ryan:

    Shaughnessy:


    Pierce's status for Game 2 uncertain

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 6, 2008 12:47 AM

    Players and coaches from each team had vastly different viewpoints on Paul Pierce’s injury after tonight’s game.

    Pierce got tangled with teammate Kendrick Perkins at the 6:52 mark in the third quarter, falling to the floor in a heap before being carried off the court and into the locker room. He returned a few minutes later to the loudest ovation of the night from the Garden crowd.

    To Celtics players and coaches, this was a big moment.

    “It was great to see him come back,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “Obviously we were concerned when he went down. A guy grabs his knee, you know, there's no good thoughts. I was really proud, honestly, of our team during the stretch when he was in the locker room. I thought that was the biggest part of the game. We could have easily felt sorry for ourselves. We actually made a little run there. But then when he came out he was big for us.

    “Obviously him coming back lifted us up.”

    Perhaps playing psychologist, Lakers coach Phil Jackson seemed to take exception with the notion that Pierce’s injury made any difference in the game.

    “You know, you don't know what happens,” said Jackson. “Guys can break a shoelace and go out, the pants break down, drawstring falls apart. You don't know what happens to guys. Pierce was back on the floor in three minutes, so he wasn't that long out of the game. He came back and hit two threes. I think that was a big momentum change in the game.”

    Pierce said he heard a pop in his knee when he went down and feared the worst – a tear.

    “Usually when I go down, I'm getting right back up,” said Pierce. “But it was an instance where I turned my knee and it popped, heard it pop, and I was just in pain where I just couldn't move.”

    To see Pierce go from that point, to the point where he hit consecutive three-pointers, was huge for the team, according to Kevin Garnett.

    “When he came out, you just heard the roar of the crowd,” said Garnett. “He was walking, he was up on his own strength, and he rejuvenated us, I think to the point where he gave everybody life. Our defense picked up a little bit.”

    That never happened, according to Lakers guard Derek Fisher.

    “I don't know how much him coming back really changed the energy in the game,” said Fisher. “I don't know if when he came back there was much of a difference. I think they actually were playing pretty good while he was out, more so even when he came back.”

    No matter who’s perspective you take, the big postgame news was that Pierce said he isn’t sure if he will be able to play in Game 2.

    “We'll see,” he said. “I mean, it's in pain. I was able to get through tonight. I don't know if it was off adrenaline or what, but got through it.”

    Kobe has an off night

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 6, 2008 12:34 AM

    Kobe Bryant can try to sugarcoat it all he wants. But the bottom line is Bryant was 9 of 26 from the field tonight and attempted only four free throws. That isn't going to get it down for the league's MVP.

    Despite the line, Bryant said he wouldn't change a thing.

    "I had some great looks," said Bryant. "They just didn't stay down. It was just pile it in with the other bad shooting games I've had and flush it and come back Game 2 and hopefully I get the same looks."

    Lakers coach Phil Jackson said he was happy with the play of his superstar.

    "I think he thought he was shooting the ball pretty well, they just didn't stay in," said Jackson. "A lot of them rattled out...He had some guys open in other parts of the offense, but he said he had some good looks. You live on that."

    Official injury status

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 6, 2008 12:30 AM

    Paul Pierce has a strained right knee. Kendrick Perkins has a sprained left ankle.

    Defense wins championships

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 6, 2008 12:21 AM

    After allowing the Lakers to shoot nearly 50 percent in the first half, the Celtics held Los Angeles to 33 percent shooting in the second half.

    "We didn't play any [defense] in the first half," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "We didn't get back in the first half. We gambled in the first half. We gave them uncontested shots in the first half.

    "In the second half we did our jobs. We got back on defense for the most part, we contested shots. I mean, that's how we have to play -- I really thought we got away with something in the first half because we didn't have the defensive energy that we've played with all year. Who knows why, but we didn't. In the second half, we did. We didn't make any adjustments, and that's how we have to play."

    Lakers coach Phil Jackson said he wasn't happy with his team's play in the second half.

    "What did we have, 14 assists the first half, and seven in the second?" said Jackson. "That was the difference."

    Ray Allen diagnosed the changes the Celtics made in the second half.

    "There were a couple of miscues that we had underneath the basket," said Allen. "We talked about it at halftime, and we just made sure that we were more aware of their back cuts and their big guys flashing under the basket and kind of pushing further away. It took them a little bit more out of their comfort zone, I think."

    Celtics, 98-88 (final)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 11:56 PM

    LA’s been beaten. Three more to go.

    Paul Pierce did his best Larry Bird impression, the other two members of the Big Three each came up huge, and the Celtics emerged with a 98-88 win over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of the NBA Finals tonight at the TD Banknorth Garden. The Celtics lead the best-of-seven series, 1-0.

    The Lakers had a 5-point lead at halftime, but Pierce, saddled with three fouls in the first half, came out firing for the Celtics in the second, scoring on Boston’s first three possessions of the third quarter.

    After getting tangled up with teammate Kendrick Perkins at the 6:52 mark in the third quarter, Pierce was down on the floor for several minutes before being carried to the locker room. Pierce appeared to be in a tremendous amount of pain, and his facial expressions, combined with the silence of the crowd, suggested he might not return to the game.

    Re-enter the hero.

    After missing barely more than a minute of game time, Pierce skipped to the bench to rejoin his teammates. He was greeted by a thunderous roar from the crowd. It was pure drama.

    The Celtics led by 4 heading into the fourth quarter, and they opened up an 86-78 lead on a 3-pointer by James Posey with 8:42 left.

    The teams went back and forth, but Pierce gave the Celtics their largest lead, 90-82, on a pair of free throws at the 3:43 mark.

    Lamar Odom cut the lead to 5 on a 3-point play with 2:57 left, but the Lakers failed to convert on a couple of possessions and could not get any closer.

    The next big scoring play came after Posey missed a three and Kevin Garnett crashed the boards for a two-handed throwdown with 1:31 left to make it 94-86 Celtics.

    After the teams traded a pair of free throws, Garnett made one more jumper that allowed the Celtics to run out the clock and put the game away.

    Ray Allen played a solid all-around game for the Celtics, finishing with 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists. Garnett had 22 points and 12 rebounds for the Celtics. Pierce finished with 22 points on 7-of-10 shooting.

    Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 23 points and 5 assists, but he was just 9 of 26 from the field.

    The Celtics and Lakers return to the Garden Sunday night at 9 p.m. for Game 2.

    We’ll have plenty of postgame reaction and analysis, as well as video, from the Garden shortly.

    Gino time!

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 11:48 PM

    Our favorite dancing man is sending fans grooving to the exits as the Boston Celtics have defeated the Los Angeles Lakers, 98-88, in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

    It's been a while since we've seen Gino during regulation and even with a 10-point cushion with 16.6 seconds to play the Celtics' staff didn't take any chances on jinxing their squad.

    Standing O for PJ

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 11:45 PM

    PJ Brown got a standing ovation as he departed with 1:49 remaining. Another solid performance from the veteran who's waited a long time to play in the NBA Finals.

    Celtics, 90-85 (2:57, 4th quarter)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 11:37 PM

    Paul Pierce gave the Celtics their largest lead on a pair of free throws, but Lamar Odom just answered with a driving lay-up to cut the lead back to 6. Odom was fouled on the play and made the free throw.

    Loud crowd

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 11:21 PM

    Gary Glitter's "Rock 'N Roll Part II" is playing and the crowd is clapping its way through this latest timeout with the Celtics out front, 86-78, with 8:42 to go.

    Those not wearing their "Beat LA" t-shirts are swirling them over their heads, while the Celtics dancers are decked out in similar T's on the court.

    During the timeout, we saw some of the Patriots on the Jumbotron again, including Randy Moss and Kevin Faulk, who had some more fun with the gentleman seated next to them.

    A Paul Pierce segment imploring the crowd to get loud carried us out of the timeout and the fans are still clapping as the Beastie Boys', "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)" brought us back to the action.

    Celtics, 86-78 (8:42, 4th quarter)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 11:21 PM

    Sam Cassell hit a jumper from the foul line, and James Posey nailed a 3-pointer on Boston's next possession as the Celtics have opened up a 6-point lead heading into the final stretch. The crowd was as loud as it's been all game after Posey's three.

    Timeout, Lakers.

    You can't handle the truth

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 11:14 PM

    The "A Few Good Men" clip carried us into the fourth quarter.

    If only Jack Nicholson were here for his post-clip cameo.

    Celtics, 77-73 (3)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 11:11 PM

    Paul Pierce made a dramatic comeback, then put his team back in the lead at the end of the third quarter.

    Pierce is currently riding a stationary bike at the end of the court, trying to keep himself loose for the start of the fourth quarter. He's pumping his fists and yelling "Let's go" as he rides the bike. It's quite a scene.

    Sasha from waaaaaaay downtown

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 11:11 PM

    Not sure if TV showed it, but Sasha Vujacic tossed up a three-quarters court shot after the final buzzer in the third quarter... and splashed it.

    That hurts if you're a Lakers fan.

    Perk's back, too

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 11:04 PM

    Kendrick Perkins, who had previously limped off the court and into the Celtics' locker room, has also returned to the bench.

    PP's return

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 10:55 PM

    The return of Paul Pierce may have produced the loudest cheers of the night. You could hear the cheers build in a wave as fans spotted Pierce returning to the floor and they roared as he re-entered the game.

    Pierce's return was replayed on the Jumbotron coming out of the timeout with the Rocky theme playing in the background and another glimpse of the sign with Jack Nicholson sign that reads, "LA can't handle the truth."

    Safe to say the crowd was holding its collective breath before Pierce returned. As commenter Chris Berez wrote, "This is the best moment of the night so far. The relief that washed over me was indescribable."

    Pierce back!!!!

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 10:55 PM

    Paul Pierce just skipped out of the tunnel and joined his teammates on the bench. He's also checked back into the game, at the 5:04 mark in the third.

    His return did not look good moments ago. Quite a turn of events for the Celtics.

    Perkins to the locker room, too

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 10:52 PM

    Kendrick Perkins just limped to the locker room with an undisclosed injury.

    Pierce carried off

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 10:48 PM

    Paul Pierce fell hard to the floor after Kobe Bryant nailed a 12-foot running jumper at the 6:52 mark in the third quarter.

    Pierce was down on the floor under the basket in front of the Celtics bench for more than a minute. He was then carried off the floor and into the locker room. He looked to be in severe pain, and did not put any weight on his legs.

    We'll update you on Pierce's injury when we know more.

    Pierce comes out firing

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 10:45 PM

    Paul Pierce scored on the first three Celtic possessions of the second half as Boston reclaimed the lead, 54-53.

    Pierce sat out much of the first half with foul trouble, but he came out firing after halftime. He brought the crowd to its feet when he hit a 3-pointer while drawing a foul on Vladimir Radmonovic. Pierce converted the 4-point play.

    Lakers, 51-46 (half)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 10:16 PM

    The Lakers figured a couple of things out at the end of the second quarter, and that could spell trouble for the Celtics.

    The first is that Lamar Odom has a mismatch on offense. He can take Kendrick Perkins to the hoop at any time.

    The second is that the Celtics have to be so concerned with Kobe Bryant, other players can make a killing.

    The players making a killing right now for the Lakers are Pau Gasol (12 points, 4 rebounds) and Derek Fisher (13 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists).

    On the other side, Kevin Garnett has 16 points and 6 rebounds for the Celtics. Boston has 8 turnovers, which is starting to be a problem. Another problem? The Lakers are shooting 50 percent.

    Rondo'd

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 10:12 PM

    It's pretty quiet in here with the Lakers taking the lead, but the Celtics got a small pop when the Jumbotron aired one of the new Reebok spots entitled, "You got Rondo'd."

    The video starring Vince Wilfork played with the requisite cut to Wilfork in the crowd after it ended.

    Learn more about the promos, HERE.

    Lakers, 45-42 (3:03, 2nd quarter)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 10:08 PM

    This is what the Celtics were afraid of.

    The Lakers have taken the lead on a couple of plays the Celtics might not be able to guard. The first play was made by Kobe Bryant, who used a Pau Gasol screen to drive to the hoop. When Kevin Garnett hedged on the screen, Gasol cut to the hoop and Bryant found him wide open for a jam.

    On the next possession, Lamar Odom simply blew by Kendrick Perkins, who was guarding Odom at the top of the key.

    Pierce in foul trouble

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 10:04 PM

    Paul Pierce picked up his third personal foul when he was called for a charge at the 5:14 mark. Pierce is on the bench, and it's unlikely he'll return before halftime.

    Celtics, 40-35 (5:49, 2nd quarter)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 09:59 PM

    Kevin Garnett hit a pair of free throws, then nailed a tough jumper over Pau Gasol at the 6:03 mark to give the Celtics a 5-point lead.

    Paul Pierce dove for a loose ball in the vicinity of the Lakers bench, landing at the feet of Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi in the effort.

    Timeout, NBA.

    Something's Fishy

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 09:56 PM

    Derek Fisher is killing the Celtics in the first half.

    Fisher has 9 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists for the Lakers. He's getting anywhere he wants to on the floor. And the Celtics are bailing him out by putting him on the line.

    This could be trouble for Boston if they don't address it.

    Celtics, 29-24 (8:46, 2nd quarter)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 09:49 PM

    Sam Cassell is 2 for 2 and the Celtics bench has opened up a small lead against LA's reserves.

    It's Sam

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 09:44 PM

    Sam Cassell is the backup point guard of choice for Doc Rivers over Eddie House. Cassell nailed his first jump shot attempt near the 10:00 mark in the second quarter.

    More Pats ... and a fistpound

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 09:42 PM

    In addition to the Pats we spotted earlier, the Jumbotron just showed Kevin Faulk and Randy Moss sitting next to each other in the crowd.

    The crowd popped for the duo, but Moss -- wearing that West Virginia hoodie again -- didn't look up at the scoreboard during the cheers. An older gentleman to his left tapped Moss on the shoulder and pointed to the Jumbotron before Moss waved to the crowd.

    The man then offered up a fistpound, which Moss returned.

    Celtics, 23-21 (1)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 09:37 PM

    Good first quarter here for the Celtics, who shot 47 percent and have the lead. The Lakers are shooting 48 percent.

    Kobe Bryant was just 2 of 8 in the first. On the other side, a confident Ray Allen is 2 of 3 for six points.

    Subs

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 09:35 PM

    James Posey was the first player off the bench for Boston. He replaced Paul Pierce with about two minutes to play in the first.

    P.J. Brown subbed for Kevin Garnett shortly after.

    Celtics, 19-14 (3:07, 1st quarter)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 09:34 PM

    Ray Allen drove for a tough runner off the glass, then followed that up with a three-pointer to make it 19-14 Celtics at the 3:07 mark.

    Timeout, Lakers.

    10-10 (7:08, 1st quarter)

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 09:20 PM

    The teams are feeling each other out early. The extended delay following player introductions seems to have thrown the players off.

    Kevin Garnett looked tentative on a couple of jump shots, so the Big Ticket decided to take it to the basket, blowing past Pau Gasol and throwing down at the 7:08 mark to tie the game at 10.

    The Lakers are 5 of 10 from the floor so far. The Celtics are 4 of 10.

    Kobe Bryant is 0 for 3 so far for the Lakers.

    Whiteout? Not exactly

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 09:18 PM

    We'll estimate the percentage of fans in the loge wearing their free "Gotta Beat LA" white T-shirts at about 60 percent. Not exactly a whiteout, especially with all the green-clad fans amidst the crowd. It looks more like that early fall snowfall, when there's still a little green grass left and the snow only sticks in spots.

    ***

    During a timeout midway through the first quarter, the scoreboard showed a message saying, "Meanwhile, across town..." and a series of Red Sox highlights showed (none of the supposed Manny-Youkilis flareup) before the clip of Coco Crisp charging the mound played. The crowd roared when the score, "Red Sox 7, Rays 1 (top 8th) displayed)" before the camera cut to John Henry in a front-row seat on the baseline.

    Back to back

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 09:12 PM

    Paul Pierce switched onto Kobe Bryant on defense, then hit back-to-back three pointers to give the Celtics the lead, 75-71, with under a minute to play in the third.

    Gasol-Garnett

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 09:12 PM

    It's Pau Gasol on KG in the early going. Gasol hit the first shot of the game for LA, while KG scored the first points for the Celtics.

    The other matchups are as follows:

    Lamar Odom on Kendrick Perkins
    Vladimir Radmonovic on Paul Pierce
    Kobe Bryant on Ray Allen
    Derek Fisher on Rajon Rondo

    Here we go ...

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 09:09 PM

    Tip-off came at 9:09 p.m.

    Early sightings: All Pats

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 09:06 PM

    Checking the normal hot spots for celebs, we've noticed nothing but New England Patriots so far.

    Tedy Bruschi and his wife, Heidi, are in the premium seats at the end of the Lakers' bench, while there's pack of Pats, including Richard Seymour, Rodney Harrison, and Adalius Thomas under the basket near the Lakers' bench.

    A short distance away, Vince Wilfork is tucked in a corner with a Kevin Garnett jersey on.

    The only Jack Nicholson sighting was on a poster with the catchphrase, "LA can't handle the truth" on it.

    Intros

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 08:56 PM

    A few notes from introductions:

    • Both teams were announced in full with each team's reserves introduced before the starters.

    • There are two very oversized Larry O'Brien championship trophies next to each bench offering a nice backdrop for introductions.

    • The Lakers were roundly booed, but none more than Kobe Bryant.

    • The lights dipped before the Celtics introductions and the message, "The NBA Finals... back in Boston... are you ready?" appeared.

    • The ground fireworks are back and exploded during Kevin Garnett's scream.

    • Every Celtics reserve got a loud ovation (even Sam Cassell), while a message 2008 Eastern Conference champions displayed at the top of the scoreboard.

    • The "Let's go Celtics!" chant that usually starts up after introductions was replaced at first by a "Beat LA!" one, but soon shifted to the more familiar refrain. Once again the music dropped to allow the fans to chant.

    In the Air Tonight

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 08:44 PM

    The video montage that played on the Jumbotron while Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight" filled the arena before pregame warmups featured alternating clips of past Celtics-Lakers moments and highlights from the 2007-08 season. The crowd roared for the drum roll that runs synced with a clip of Kevin Garnett mimicking playing the drums with his hands while walking on to the court following a timeout.

    Another montage showed classic Celtics-Lakers moments (with Kevin McHale's clothesline to Kurt Rambis drawing the biggest pop) before the message, "Tonight a new chapter begins," appeared and clips from this year's Celtics squad rolled.

    During the clip, the crowd began a loud "Beat LA!" chant and the music actually softened to let the chant be heard.

    Going up?

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 08:38 PM

    Bill Russell, Julius Erving, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar shared an elevator up to the ninth floor press area right before the game. That's a lot of talent squished in a 10x10 box.

    Rivers aware of critics

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 08:21 PM

    The Celtics read the papers. They watch TV. They know they're underdogs.

    "[The players] do care," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "You can use it, but at the end of the day you've got to play basketball. Whether they pick you or don't, you still have to play basketball. But you can actually use it. Guys take it personal, they do. They understand that eight out of ten, nine out of ten people have picked the Lakers. Whatever.

    Like I told them at the start of the year, the questions will never stop. They'll never stop about Rondo, they've never stop about me, they'll never stop about Kevin, they'll never stop about Paul, they'll never stop about our team, and you can't take it personally. It's part of it. Just go out and just keep playing, and that's all you can do. You can control it with your play, and that's what I tell our guys."


    Everything Zen

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 08:16 PM

    Lakers coach Phil Jackson has been here before (9 titles), but his current team is filled with young players who have never been to the Finals. Jackson said he is trying to counter that by keeping things simple.

    "We're mostly just trying to give them a schedule of events," said Jackson. "Introductions are going to be similar to a type of All-Star Game type of thing. They're going to be out there and then going to have to reset themselves for that and have a kind of a warm-up period. Those things can't delay their focus at all. They still have to be really focused on what they have to do. We tried to talk about that. But I've always been underplaying, perhaps is the best word, their ability. They've always surprised me with their ability to get ready."

    Tony Allen active

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 08:13 PM

    Celtics coach Doc Rivers just said that Tony Allen has been activated for tonight’s game. That means Brian Scalabrine won’t dress. Rivers said would probably stick to the same rotation he used against the Pistons, meaning Allen is unlikely to see time.

    “We’re still not sure what he can give us,” said Rivers. “If we need him, we’ll use him. And if we need him you’ll know it. That means Kobe’s playing really well.”

    Locker room chatter before Game 1

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 08:09 PM

    Here's a hodgepodge of pregame chatter from each team's locker room, where not a lot of players were talking as Game 1 of the NBA Finals neared.

    In this clip: Celtics forward PJ Brown talks about his long wait to get to the Finals; Celtics rookie Glen "Big Baby" Davis talks about being ready when his number is called; and Lakers guard Jordan Farmar discusses the Celtics-Lakers rivalry renewed.

    Etc.

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 08:06 PM

    There's a trainer's table in the visitor's locker room, and the opposing team's star players usually get treatment there before the game. For the Finals, the Lakers have put this area behind a blue curtain to give the stars a little privacy.

  • The Celtics stars are staying out of the media-access area of the locker room. Ray Allen came in, saw the crowd, and literally threw his shirt at his locker before dashing back into the other room. The shirt almost hit several reporters in the head.

  • Tonight's media meal includes lobster, but the line to get it is about 75 people deep.

  • Farmar unfazed

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 08:01 PM

    Jordan Farmar knows a little something about tradition. The second-year Lakers point guard played his college basketball in the shadow of Bill Walton and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at UCLA.

    “You come into the locker room and look at your jersey and realize [the great players] wore that,” said Farmar. “I kind of got myself set up for it as a young guy. It’s really special for me.”

    And so Lakers-Celtics? Steeped in tradition, to be sure. But it’s nothing new for Farmar.

    “For us it’s about winning championships,” he said. “And whoever we have to beat to be a part of it, it just has to be done.”

    Here come the Lakers

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 07:16 PM

    Several Lakers players are out warming up, including Luke Walton and Ronny Turiaff.

    Watching the Lakers warm up is Celtics legend Bill Russell. Russell spoke to Walton briefly in front of the Los Angeles bench. Julius "Dr. J" Erving is also here.

    Blog Wars: Part 4

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 07:10 PM

    Part four of our Blog War with LA Times might be the most important.

    It’s prediction time.

    In the interest of passing along as much information to you from the Garden as possible, I’m going to keep my prediction short and sweet.

    Gary Dzen, The Boston Globe:

    This series comes down to defense, and the Celtics are simply better on that side of the ball. Boston is allowing just 87.3 points per game in the playoffs, compared to 99.5 for the Lakers. The Celtics will make things difficult for the Lakers in every game. Kobe will win a couple of games by himself, but Boston’s defense will prevail.

    The Celtics will win Game 1. LA will win Game 2. The Celtics will take one game in Los Angeles and bring the series back to Boston, down 3-2.

    The Celtics win Games 6 and 7 and raise banner No. 17.

    Brian Kamenetzky, LA Times

    Like a lot of people, I think there's no question that the Lakers have been the more impressive of the two Finals teams through the postseason, beating three teams that won 50 plus games, including the defending champs in five. But while the Celtics were flat against Atlanta and disappointed against Cleveland, they bounced back to beat a good Detroit squad, including two wins in Motown, and are such a good defensive team that they have the ability to beat anyone.

    Really, it should be fun. So with that, the thoughts, forecasts, and predictions promised in the post's title:

    I'm not a guy who likes to go position by position to decide which team has the advantage. Is Paul Pierce a better player than Vlad Rad at small forward? Well, yeah. What's your point? What matters is how each team operates, since individual matchups are often fluid throughout a game and a series. While the Celtics are indeed an outstanding defensive team, the Lakers are by far the best offensive team Boston will have faced this postseason, can score on the run and in the half court, and against the Spurs the Lakers proved they don't have to drop 115 points a night to win. The big question for me isn't really how much the Lakers will score against Boston, but whether or not the Celtics will find enough offense to be productive against LA.

    Lost in much of the talk about the Big Green Wall Boston puts in front of their hoop is the reality that the Lakers, despite how much people like to complain about it, are actually a solid defensive team, too. Just ask the Spurs, who went huge stretches without being able to generate enough offense to take advantage of openings presented to them. Throughout the postseason, when the Lakers have needed stops, they've found them, and have had long stretches where they shut teams down.

    In short, the gap between each team's D isn't as big as the one between their respective offenses. Advantage Lakers.

  • Celtics fans are already wondering how Doc Rivers is planning on screwing up the Finals. I wonder if the players have the same level of faith in him that the Lakers do in Phil Jackson.

  • If Ray Allen continues to find his groove, the Lakers could have some problems. For all the talk of Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo, who both could undoubtedly have a huge impact on the series (though as dynamic as Rondo can be, is he better than A.I., Deron Williams, or Tony Parker?), if Allen is on he truly gives Boston a Big Three, and makes it much, much more difficult to guard Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. You may have received the memo that those guys are pretty good.

  • KG has made his living in the playoffs with a midrange game. If he stays there, he's doing the Lakers a favor. Should he be able to make hay in the post, though, it'll be a problem for LA. Conversely, if the Lakers are able to work from the inside out, I don't care how stout the Celtics are defensively, the Lakers will score. Along those lines, it might help Boston to get that good work inside if Doc unshackled Leon Powe and Glen Davis from the bench.

  • Pau's point production is less important than his point prevention. The slack always seems to get picked up somewhere offensively.

  • The Celtics are one of the few teams with enough horses to try and play Kobe straight and hope to shut down the supporting cast, but I wonder if they will. The temptation to try and get the ball out of his hands is incredibly strong once games start, but as I've written in the past, the minute teams overplay Kobe, they're doing the Lakers a favor.

  • When it comes down to it, the Lakers have the best player on the floor (Kobe), the better coach (PJ), similar balance up and down the roster. They've beaten a running team, a physical team, and a championship team, showing along the way they can win in a variety of styles. To make a long story short, right now they're the better team. Not by a ton, but by enough. Lakers in six.

    Who will win the series? Post your prediction here.

  • Welcome to the Garden ...

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 06:22 PM

    Welcome to the Garden, where the Boston Celtics will take on the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of the NBA Finals at 9 p.m.

    What’s different about the Finals? To start, James Taylor is warming up for the national anthem at center court at the same time that Paul Pierce and Ray Allen are warming up for the game. LA radio DJ’s are screaming into their mics on the sideline. And Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is just milling around.

    Taylor practiced the anthem twice, then tooled around on his guitar for a few minutes before talking to Celtics assistant coach Clifford Ray.

    In short, there’s a lot going on.

    Pierce and Allen are shooting on opposite ends of the court right. There’s usually less than 30 people in the arena when Allen comes out to shoot. There are about 200 people in here now, including various media members, staff members, and coaches from both teams.

    The shooter’s backdrop is a little weird in here right now with the “Beat LA” t-shirts draped over every seat. It’s not bothering Pierce, who’s just draining threes. During games, Pierce doesn’t look like a pure shooter. When he’s by himself, it’s nothing but net.

    Glen “Big Baby” Davis just walked onto the court to get some work in. Still no Lakers on the court.

    We’re going to cover the heck out of this game tonight. Stay tuned.

    Whiteout at the Garden

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 05:47 PM

    garden535.jpg

    If the Celtics were looking to achieve whiteout conditions in June, they've done it.

    While it's not the most original promotion in sports and we're not certain they'll get everyone to don these T-shirts, the Garden looks pretty cool with each seatback covered by a white shirt that reads, "Gotta Beat LA" in green letters.

    The other new features are the addition of the Larry O'Brien championship trophy image all over the Garden. It's tucked behind the center-court logo and it adorns the hoop supports that Kevin Garnett will be head-butting in a little more than three short hours.

    The media presence is pretty overwhelming (and this after we thought things jumped up for the Eastern Conference finals). There are camera crews at every turn and many of them were on the court for broadcasts before players begin to warm up.

    Outside, evening commuters made their way to North Station while mingling with green-and-white clad Celtics fans. There's a palpable buzz growing outside as game time nears (finally).

    Unlike the Super Bowl, where the loyalties of those attending are usually split with fans traveling for both teams (along with locals attending for the spectacle), there's nothing but Boston revelry outside. We didn't spot a single purple-and-gold jersey on our way inside. Must be your typical LA fans: Late arrivals.

    Much like the Super Bowl, security has been heightened here. Reporters had to send their equipment through airport-like metal detectors and get searched by a hand-held metal detector before getting to the elevators. Colleague Barbara Matson noted that security for today's game far trumped the Wesleyan graduation here, where Barack Obama gave the speech.

    Colleague Gary Dzen and I will be back throughout the night trying to paint a picture of the scene and keep you updated on all the action here at the Garden.

    Doc Rivers at today's shootaround

    Posted by Michael Vega, Globe Staff June 5, 2008 04:29 PM

    WALTHAM -- The Celtics held a one-hour shootaround Thursday morning at the team's HealthPoint practice facility. Wyc Grousbeck was in attendance and, just like the players, seemed eager to get the game going.

    Celtics coach Doc Rivers was also ready to get it underway.

    "Isn't it nice that we're finally going to play basketball?" Rivers said. Asked about the team, the coach added, "I think they're ready and they're just tried of me, so they're ready to play. I'm sure the Lakers feel the same way. They had one extra day over us. Hell, I think Tuesday would've been a great day [to start the NBA Finals]."

    Rivers went on to offer his thoughts on a number of subjects:

    On his playoff experience in Orlando:" I just talked to them more about team and the importance of getting five guys to function at the same time. With or without stars, you have a chance. After that, bringing in Tracy McGrady and Mike Miller, they weren't stars then, but they were budding stars."

    On dealing with "budding stars" vs. veterans:"It is easier -- it's always been easier -- with veterans because: No. 1, they know who they are and they've already accepted who they are; and No. 2, they have a sense of urgency about them because they know the hour glass is running out and they want to get something done significant in their careers as far as winning, because most of the individual stuff has already been established, where young guys are thinking, `I've got sell myself first before I buy into this role thing.' I joked a lot that our practices were a lot tougher than the games in years past because you had [Rajon] Rondo and Delonte [West] and Sebastian [Telfair], they were all competing for minutes in practice. They got in the game, and once we spelled out the minutes, then that all kind of went away, so it was interesting."

    On whether his dealings with McGrady gave him a better sense of how to deal with the Big Three: "Yeah, I guess. I think all players are different and all stars are different. Paul [Pierce] is, in a lot of ways, completely different from Tracy. Tracy was so young, too. People don't remember how young he was when we got him. It helped me having Grant [Hill] and Tracy together, but you rarely get three. When you do, the whole sell has to be about the team."

    On the difference in Paul Pierce now that Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen are in Boston:"He's happier. He smiles more, there's no doubt about it. There clearly is [a difference] because of the change. Paul, he's a smart guy. He's sat in my office many times at the beginning of last year, and he was like, `C'mon coach, I know you're going to do your best, but just look.' I think Kobe was doing the same thing in LA. I think what frustrates stars is when they think they don't have a lot around them, then I think what frustrates them even more is when the guys around them don't work as hard as they do. I think, overall, that's the thing that's frustrating to them. You have a Kobe Bryant who gets to practice two hours before and no one is there. You have a Paul Pierce who does the same thing and no one is there. To me, that frustrates stars far more than the talent level around them."

    On whether he's heard from anyone in the 24 hours leading up to Game 1: "Oh, I've heard from a lot of people. [Anyone in particular?] Any coach who's ever coached me, who's still living, has either written a letter or called; from Pat Riley to all of 'em. It's been nice and they all say the same thing I've been saying [to the media]: it's nice but this is not what we want. I've talked to everyone, literally talked to everyone, or the text generation. [Are you not proficient with texting?] I get 'em, but I don't necessarily send them out very often [laughing]. It just takes too freakin' long as far as I'm concerned; my hands are too big. But I heard from ex-players. Got a call from Anthony Mason the other night, which was great. It's been nice."

    On how important it will be to establish tempo against the Lakers:"I don't know if it's as important as everyone thinks. We don't mind running. We can win either way. We just don't want them to run. So if the tempo is fast and in our favor, we'll take that. We just don't want them to get any easy shots, easy baskets, baskets within the first six seconds, which is what we call `fastbreaks.' We want to take that away."

    Foam fingers, MBTA

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 02:33 PM

    Free "Beat LA" T-shirts might not be the only free swag fans can grab at tonight's NBA Finals opener at the TD Banknorth Garden.

    Season ticket holders received emails Wednesday saying that, "The first 15,000 fans entering the arena for Game 1 will receive a free Celtics foam finger souvenir." Among the other notes in the email:

    • Gates will open at 7:45 p.m. for each game. Premium doors will open at 7:00 p.m.

    • Customers are advised that last trains on all lines from North station will be held on both Thurs., June 5 and Sun., June 8 to accommodate customers attending the two NBA Championship games being played at the TD Banknorth Garden.

      For Thursday, June 5: Trains on all lines will be held for 15 minutes following the conclusion of the game. An additional shuttle to Newburyport will also be offered on Thursday only. This shuttle will depart from Beverly following the arrival of train No. 145; the last train from North Station to Rockport.

      For Sunday, June 8: Trains on all lines will be held for 15 minutes following the conclusion of the game. There will be NO shuttle to Newburyport. Customers are advised to use Beverly Station, catching the last train from North Station to Rockport.

    ***

    In case you didn't see it in our Local News Updates, Kendrick Perkins is a new pitchman for the MBTA.

    From the entry:

    Kendrick Perkins is a man of few words, letting his rebounding and defensive tenacity do his talking as a 6-foot, 10-inch force in the low post for the Celtics.

    That will change today at noon for MBTA riders who will hear Perk's voice every 30 minutes in a plug for the CharlieCard that will be broadcast throughout the subway system.

    "As a center for the Boston Celtics, I've got to be fast," Perkins says in the announcement. "That's why I like the CharlieCard."

    Go HERE to read more.

    Kareem joins Comcast New England

    Posted by Marc J. Spears, Globe Staff June 5, 2008 02:06 PM

    A press release from Comcast Sportsnet:

    NBA Hall of Famer and Los Angeles Lakers great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will join Comcast SportsNet for the network's coverage of Game 1 and 2. The NBA great will provide expert analysis from the TD Banknorth Garden with Comcast SportsNet play-by-play man Mike Gorman and color analyst Tommy Heinsohn. Abdul-Jabbar. A native of New York, Abdul-Jabbar grew up a Bill Russell fan and rooted for the Celtics as a kid. He won six NBA championships, including two against the Boston Celtics in 1985 and 1987. He will provide unmatched expertise and knowledge of the Celtics' finals opponent as he currently serves as a special assistant to the Los Angeles Lakers.

    Free 'Gotta Beat LA' T-shirts tonight

    Posted by David Lefort, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 01:30 PM

    gotta_beat_la.jpgIf you're heading to the Garden for tonight's Game 1, you'll find a free white "Gotta Beat LA" T-shirt (pictured) waiting for you on your seat.

    We're not sure if we'll see a "white-out" in the stands like they had in Pittsburgh for last night's Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals, but that's the idea I guess.

    Pregame Q&A with Marc J. Spears

    Posted by David Lefort, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 01:20 PM

    Boston Globe Celtics reporter Marc J. Spears checked in today for a Boston.com chat to answer your NBA Finals questions in advance of tonight's Game 1 between the Celtics and Lakers at the TD Banknorth Garden. Read the entire Q&A here.

    Celtics top Lakers ... in NBA 2K8

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 09:03 AM

    Don't feel like staying up late tonight to catch Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Celtics and Lakers? We've got you covered. Utilizing NBA 2K8 for the xBox 360 console, we ran a computerized simulation of this year's championship series.

    The result? This series won't be easy on Celtics' fans hearts. In the end, however, Boston prevailed in seven games in our simulation.

    Check out the video above to see highlights from Game 1, where the Celtics watched a double-digit, second-half lead evaporate before rallying to emerge with a 106-99 triumph at the TD Banknorth Garden.

    The Lakers ultimately came back to win Game 2 (in lopsided fashion no less), then took two of three in Los Angeles (the Celtics winning Game 4). Undaunted, the Celtics returned home to win a pair of nail-biters to capture virtual banner No. 17.

    Here's what you'll find in the highlights from Game 1:

    Boston, which led by 11 at the half and seven at the end of three quarters, watched the Lakers pull ahead, 84-83, on a Pau Gasol dunk over P.J. Brown with 7:56 to go in the game.

    Kevin Garnett, who finished with a game-high 36 points and 17 rebounds, soon re-entered and took over. With the Celtics clinging to a 98-95 advantage with 2:09 to play, Garnett swatted a Vladimir Radmanovic offering on the defensive end, then backed down Lamar Odom for a bucket at the opposite side of the court as the Celtics prevented Los Angeles from making a late run.

    Even still, the Celtics were only up three with under a minute to go when Paul Pierce effectively slammed the door by hitting a shot-clock beating jumper from just inside the arc for a 102-97 advantage. The Celtics made their free throws down the stretch to preserve the victory.

    In the simulation, Kobe Bryant poured in 36 points on 13 of 24 shooting, while Radmanovic chipped in 23 points and seven rebounds. Gasol added a double-double with 20 points and 10 boards, while Odom came a bucket shy of a triple double (8 points, 14 rebounds, 11 assists).

    Ray Allen shot the Celtics back into the game after Boston found itself behind after the first quarter. Allen was only 1 of 5 beyond the arc, but scored 29 points overall and hit some key jumpers when Boston desperately needed points. Pierce chipped in 18 points and six rebounds, while Rajon Rondo directed the offense with 14 assists to go along with 10 points and two steals.

    Read on after the jump to find out more about how we set up the simulation.

    FULL ENTRY

    Blog Wars: Part 3

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 4, 2008 10:34 PM

    Those LA Times guys are really getting on my nerves. I mean, there's two of them. And they don't even have a football team out there. Ridiculous.

    In today's edition of our Blog Wars, Andrew Kamenetzky and I pick an X factor from each team in the series. Obviously my pick is better. See for yourself.

    Andrew Kamenetzky, LA Times:

    Picking a Laker "X Factor" for this series isn't the easiest task, since this team's enviable depth has created a scenario where everyone's two cents make a mark. You could offer a solid "X" argument for anyone in the rotation garnering at least 15 minutes of consistent PT. But a man's gotta make a choice, and with that, I'm selecting Sasha Vujacic.

    He's not the most important guy on the roster, nor is he the most talented. But the sharp shooter's production affects the Lakers in a variety of ways. He's been the playoffs' most consistent Bench Mobber, which plays into a potentially big element against the Celts. The Lakers bench has been considerably better than Boston's during the postseason. As the purple and gold standout reserve, Sasha could be a big part of either burying Boston when their starters rest or simply allowing Kobe a rest without his own squad getting a dirt nap. On nights when he's clanged Spalding (like the 1-11 Game 5 against Utah), he's offset that lousy aim with relentless and effective defense. And while he may be a reserve, when it comes to the fourth quarter, Sasha's got starter's clout. Odds favor him on the court down the stretch, often saddled with a difficult assignment. Save perhaps Lamar Odom (who often joins the mob at the top of the second/fourth frames as Kobe catches a breather), no Laker may play as big a role with the first and second units as Vujacic.

    There's also another wrinkle with Sasha pushing him over the top. We've seen him act the fool a few times during the playoffs. Getting a dumb tech jawing at Kyle Korver during Game 5's final (and tight) minute. Canning a wholly unnecessary three as the Lakers and Spurs were ready to shake hands upon the series' conclusion. Michael Finley looked like he was about to kick the crap out of him. And as much as I like Sasha, that shot was nothing short of "bush" (his own teammates weren't even thrilled) and a pop to the chops would have been justified. Both scenarios, however, underscore The Face's ability to annoy foes, which is why I'm genuinely curious to see which Celtic ends up hating him the most.

    Bugging the hell out of opponents always been a Vujacician talent, but an ability to spark reactions doesn't mean much if you're getting used by the player in question. In the past, Sasha would irritate whomever he guarded on a possession or two, then get lit up on the rest. Not so much anymore. Throw in the fact that he's not one to back down and this could get interesting. And by "interesting," I mean, "entertaining." I can easily picture Sasha residing inside the skin of a few green soldiers. Eddie House is nothing if not easily excitable. Rajon Rondo might be down for an epic "skinny dude battle." Sam Cassell may cut to the chase and initiate the smack (if that happens, be happy, because it means Sam-I-Am is playing, which can only help the Lakers). But the best bet could very well be one Kevin Garnett, who's wound waaaaaaaayyyyyy too tightly to find Sasha anything less than nails on the chalkboard. If Vegas offers a prop bet for "first Laker elbowed" (and I have to imagine some casino must), the safe money is on Slovenia's Favorite Son.

    Of course, this all goes out the window if Phil finally comes to his senses and begins running the offense through DJ Mbenga. That, my friends, will put the "X" in "X Factor." But until that day arrives, I'm sticking with Sasha.


    Gary Dzen, Boston Globe

    Rajon Rondo. The end.

    As Rondo goes, so go the Celtics. Paul Pierce is going to score. Kevin Garnett is going to score. Ray Allen might score. Maybe. But Rondo is the engine that makes the Celtics go.

    There are two reasons for this. The first is that Rondo by himself is an impact player. He has only one speed: frantic. Rondo will pressure Derek Fisher and make it difficult for the Lakers to get into their offense. He’s the only Celtics perimeter player who can even hope to disrupt the Lakers in the backcourt.

    On offense, the 22-year-old Rondo is inconsistent. And this has nothing to do with his outside shooting woes, which have been blown way out of proportion. Rondo will hit the midrange shot. He won’t hit threes. It’s that simple. This is NOT a storyline.

    But the way Rondo runs the offense IS a storyline for Boston. When Rondo is aggressive and takes it to the basket, the Celtics are much better off. When he’s tentative, watch out.

    A couple of examples:

  • Game 5 against Cleveland: 20 points (9 of 15), 13 assists in a Celtics win.
  • Game 6 against Cleveland: 2 points (1 of 5), 5 assists in a Celtics loss.

  • Game 1 against Detroit: 11 points (5 of 9), 7 assists, 5 steals in a Celtics win
  • Game 4 against Detroit: 4 points ( 2 of 8), 4 assists in a Celtics loss.

    ‘Nuff said.

    The second reason the Celtics need Rondo to be successful is because the alternatives are scary. Sam Cassell is way past his prime. He’s a liability on defense because he can’t stay with anybody, and he’s a liability on offense because he is a black hole. He doesn’t know the plays. And he shoots every time down.

    Eddie House is the other PG option for the C’s, and he’s the much-preferred option in my opinion. He’s deadly from three, and although he’s undersized, he gets into the passing lanes and gives a solid effort on defense. But Rondo he is not.

    Rondo is the X factor. Is that a lot of pressure to put on the scrawny shoulders of a 22-year-old? Sure. But so was handing him the keys to the Bentley that is the 66-win Celtics. Pressure’s on you, young fella.

    Have an opinion on this? Sound off in our comments forum.

  • Taylor, Pops add local flavor

    Posted by Globe Staff June 4, 2008 07:06 PM

    Massachusetts native James Taylor will sing the national anthem prior to Game 1 of the NBA Finals at the Garden Thursday night.

    The local flavor continues Sunday night for Game 2 when the Boston Pops Orchestra, under the direction of Keith Lockhart, will perform the Star-Spangled Banner.

    A few Celtics-Lakers quotes from today

    Posted by David Lefort, Boston.com Staff June 4, 2008 04:58 PM

    Both the Celtics and Lakers held press conferences at the TD Banknorth Garden today. We'll have video later on in the day, but for now here are a few quotes, courtesy of the Reuters news service:

  • Doc Rivers on the Lakers' offense:

    "They're a great offensive basketball team, the toughest we've played clearly in the playoffs. They spread the floor and they have the best scorer on the planet (Kobe Bryant). With (Pau) Gasol and (Lamar) Odom posing problems with their size and quickness and their shooting that they put on the floor, it's a tough challenge for us defensively, there's no doubt about it. We're not going to change our defense. Obviously you have to stay home more with Gasol, there's no doubt about that, because he not only is a great post player, he can shoot the ball as well, and so does Odom. That's part of what makes them so difficult, their ability to spread the floor with the fours and fives. Most teams spread it with their ones, twos and threes shooting."

  • Paul Pierce on the importance of defense:

    "Our whole mindset is going to key in on being defensive-minded, keeping them out of transition. ... They're a great transition team and they get a lot of opportunities, shooting a high percentage. So it's our job just to try to do a better job defensively. But we feel we can pretty much play any style, whether we want to slow it down and grind it out or get out on the open court and run."

  • Kobe Bryant on how he views opposing defenses:

    "I look at it as a quarterback, really, because the defenses that I face are always support defenses. Not necessarily looking at an individual but just looking at where the help is coming from and where my wide receivers are going to be."

  • Kobe on the Celtics' defense:

    "They really don't do anything special against a particular player. They just play solid defense all the time and they have principles that they stick to and they support each other extremely well."

  • Rivers on the Celtics-Lakers rivalry:

    "I've watched more Laker-Boston games over the last three days on NBA TV, on ESPN. It's been great and it's just fun to watch. But I think our guys are focused on their goal and the process of it, not the results or not the fanfare around it. We've had great focus in practices and we have a job to do, and that's all we're focused on."

  • Video: Ryan, Shaughnessy preview Finals

    Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff June 4, 2008 03:18 PM

  • The Globe's Bob Ryan talks about some keys to the NBA Finals. He says "the team that wins will be the team that consistently imposes its will on the other team." Accoriding to Ryan, the Celtics' biggest challenge will be containing Bryant, while the Lakers will need to find a way to guard Kevin Garnett.

  • The Globe's Dan Shaughnessy provides some historical perspective on the Celtics-Lakers series.

  • Ryan and Shaughnessy discuss the 2-3-2 format (two games in Boston, then three in LA, then the last two in Boston) in the NBA Finals:

  • Stern defends late start times

    Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff June 4, 2008 10:05 AM

    AP Photo: NBA commissioner David Stern

    Wondering why all the Celtics-Lakers games for the Finals are scheduled for a 9:07 p.m. tip off?

    NBA commissioner David Stern addressed the late starts on the East Coast in a Q&A session with sports radio WEEI's Dennis and Callahan this morning, arguing that the starts were that late in order to get more people to tune in nationwide.

    "The ad rates only go up if the ratings go up," Stern said when pressed if ad dollars were a driving factor behind the late tip-offs. "The ratings only go up if there are more people watching and so NFL's Monday Night Football, they moved it to 8 p.m. starts and fewer people watched. So they moved it to 9 because that's where they were going to get the largest audience."

    Stern was then asked why the Super Bowl was scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. start if the numbers showed more people tuned into NBA Finals games at the later hour.

    "I don't know," Stern replied after a pause. "I don't know why. I don't know why ... we have had three networks, CBS, ABC, and NBC who have told us that despite the maniacal rantings of East Coast radio, that we would get the largest aggregation of our fans if we do it as close to 9 p.m. as possible."

    Stern also responded the specific concern that young kids won't be able to watch the Finals with all the games potentially ending after midnight in Boston.

    "Actually, when you ask kids about their fandom, the NBA is generating as many if not more fans among youths than any other sport, that's the reality," said Stern. "They're not watching TV in a significant way either, they're absorbing us in other ways. I can't even explain it because I don't live it, but we're doing great amongst those kids..."

    What about the games on Sunday (Games 2 and 5 are scheduled for Sundays)? Did Stern consider starting those games earlier?

    "Our network partners in that case [earlier starting times for the two Sunday games] tell us that there will be much lower accumulation of audience at that time... those kids (know how to operate) at TIVO, so they'll get a chance to look at it when they get up."

    Listen to the complete interview with Stern on WEEI here
    .

    Read more on the late Celtics-Lakers starting times in the Boston Sports Blog entry entitled "Disney dollars."

    Have an opinion about the late starting times of the games? Sound off in our comments forum.

    Lakers rev up for C's

    Posted by Shira Springer, Globe Staff June 3, 2008 11:16 PM

    EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — In his daily practice report, Lakers coach Phil Jackson said the team "played more ball today and did less talking and standing around." While Jackson added that you never go into a playoff series feeling "really prepared" because there are so many intangibles involved in the games, many of his players believe the team is ready to take on the Celtics. Although there is still another day until Game 1, the players said they felt relaxed and eager to start the Finals, but not nervous or anxious.

    ‘‘We went through the 82 game season, playoffs, ups and downs and we’re ready as a ballclub,’’ said Lamar Odom. ‘‘I’m pretty relaxed. I don’t want to get too pumped up. I want to kind of stay calm. It will be a little different when we hit the floor and get in that layup line. For me, it will be my first time in the Finals, so I’ll be pretty pumped about it."

    Meanwhile, with Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher and Luke Walton the only three current Lakers players with NBA Finals experience, Fisher had a few words of advice in mind for his younger teammates.

    "The only thing I think you can offer is to make sure they understand this is an opportunity that takes a lot of sacrifice and a lot hard work by a lot of people," said Fisher. "It's not an opportunity that should be squandered by complacency or feeling as though this opportunity will come again. That's the only message that I send out to guys that haven’t been here before."

    You got Rondo'd

    Posted by Gregory Lee Jr. Globe Staff June 3, 2008 10:51 PM

    Kevin Garnett may have his own special shoes for the NBA Finals, but teammate Rajon Rondo is featured in a new marketing campaign by Reebok.

    Three new spots turn the Celtics point guard's last name into a verb with the opening screens defining the word Rondo as:

    • 1. To smoothly move beetween large ojects with dexterity and purpose.
    • 2. To remove an object quickly without being detected.
    • 3. To create a distraction followed by a swift change of direction.

    Each spot features another local athlete showcasing the word in action. In spot 1, JoJo White sneaks his vehicle between two larger cars to steal a parking space. In spot 2, Dee Brown plays a dentist, who quickly extracts a tooth from a patient. In the final spot, Vince Wilfork steals a pizza from two friends.

    Be sure to look for a cameo by Celtics mascot, Lucky, in each spot.

    KG has special shoe

    Posted by Gregory Lee Jr. Globe Staff June 3, 2008 10:45 PM
    shoe1.jpg
    Kevin Garnett, the Boston Celtics and adidas announced today the launch of a rare version of Garnett’s 2008-09 adidas Team Signature Commander shoe. This footwear release was designed to commemorate the Celtics’ historic run at an NBA Championship. adidas will produce only eight pairs per game of this exciting shoe to be sold at retail (as few as 32 pairs or as many as 56 will be available depending on the number of games The Finals goes to). One special pair of shoes autographed by KG will be auctioned off on NBA.com after The Finals. All profits from the sale of these shoes will go to NBA Cares community partners in the Boston area.

    The adidas Team Signature KG Commander is scheduled to launch in October 2008, but for this year’s NBA Finals, Kevin Garnett will wear a special version that will be highlighted by the inclusion of the coveted Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy on the medial side, and an embroidered callout to games 1 thru 7 on the lateral side. The number of that night’s game will be in green while the others remain white. The numbers 1 thru 7 also get larger as each game grows in significance.

    “All season long it has been about we and not me, so as we head into the NBA Finals I wanted to do something special for the Boston community. That is why we came up with this limited edition shoe,” stated Garnett. “Since day one, the fans of Boston have made me feel like family, so to do this and be able to give back to them is a great honor.”

    shoe2.jpg
    Another key attribute that has adorned KG’s shoes throughout the years are his tributes to two of his good friends and mentors: Malik Sealy (former Timberwolves teammate) and Kirby Puckett (former Minnesota Twins Superstar Centerfielder). Malik’s tribute is located under the strap and says “2 Malik”, while Kirby’s call out, “KP 34” is located on the back of the shoe, just below the adidas logo.


    The limited edition adidas Team Signature Commander will only be available at Celtics.com, the TD Banknorth Garden Pro Shop and NBA Store in New York City. Each pair of adidas Team Signature KG Commanders will retail for $1017 (to commemorate the drive for championship #17).

    Blog Wars, part deux

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 3, 2008 07:57 PM

    In our second installment of the blog war between the Globe and the LA Times, Brian Kamenetzky and I debate today's topic:

    Topic No. 2: Who should America be rooting for in the NBA Finals?

    Gary Dzen, Boston Globe:

    It's inevitable.

    In the leadup every sport's championship, bandwagon fans come out of the woodwork to swear their allegiance to one side or the other. During the Super Bowl, it was everybody against the Patriots (the Super Bowl is the NFL's championship game, in case someone is reading this from Los Angeles). During the last World Series, people attached themselves to those loveable, huggable Red Sox.

    And so it goes.

    Putting our prognosticating glasses on, it's easy to see how the Celtics would win over a nation of wannabe basketball fans during the NBA Finals.

    Start with KG, whose intensity has earned him a cult following. It's impossible not to like Kevin Garnett if he's playing for your team. KG will draw people in, no doubt.

    Besides Garnett, the Celtics have plenty of other guys who fans will want to root for. Ray Allen is a smooth-talking, smooth-shooting class act. Paul Pierce has never abandoned his home team and has never asked for a trade.

    Rajon Rondo tries like heck on every play. Leon Powe and Glen Davis bring lunch pails into the paint. Eddie House alternates between nailing three-pointers and standing on the bench to cheer for his teammates on every possession.

    There's also this little issue of what would be good for the NBA. The league needs the Celtics to be good. Boston has revitalized professional basketball on the East Coast this season, and lord knows the Knicks and Sixers aren't going to be of any help for a while. When the Celtics are good, the NBA is marketable to an entire region of the country.

    And then there's this: Kobe can market the Lakers by himself. The league's most popular player doesn't need rings for people to watch him. But if he loses, it's just another reason for the country to cheer. People love seeing an MVP, but there's nothing people love more than seeing an MVP fail.

    Brian Kamenetzky, LA Times:

    Despite making my living on the Internet, I’m not a big believer in conspiracy theories.

    Yes, these playoffs have seen some controversies favoring the Lakers and Celtics. No punishment for KG after his shove-in with Eddie Rush in the Atlanta series. (A good call by the NBA. Just because they freaked out during the Phoenix-San Antonio series doesn’t mean they have to compound the error by sticking to precedent.) No call on Brent Barry at the end of Game 4. (A bad call, but the refs botched the previous play and besides, at that point in a game players have to maul each other like hungry pumas to force a whistle. Had the famous McHale clothesline of Kurt Rambis happened in the last six seconds of the fourth, it probably wouldn’t have been called.) Whatever. The two best teams in the NBA made it to the Finals, as it should be.

    Obviously, Bostonians are pulling for the green, while LA is all purple and gold. But the rest of America has a choice to make. Who should they want to see hoist the Larry O’Brien?

    The answer, and I’m not just saying this to keep my apartment from getting egged, is the Lakers. Here are a few reasons why:

  • A title for KG is a nice story, but would have nothing on the dramatic arc of Kobe and the Lakers winning it all this year. A year ago, the Lakers were in shambles. Their star player wanted out, the owner’s son was questioning the coach while the owner was getting pulled over for DUI while a 23 year old woman rode shotgun. Andrew Bynum is shredded by said star in an Orange County parking lot, blows up on the NBA before blowing up his knee. A promising season is in doubt until Mitch Kupchak steals Pau Gasol from Memphis. Now they’re four games from an NBA title. You could make a movie out of this stuff, and this being LA, someone probably will.

  • Death, taxes, and no rain on parade day in LA. Those are the only guarantees in life.

  • What’s good for Jack Nicholson is good for America.

  • Derek Fisher. You should be ashamed of yourself for ever rooting against a team for which he plays. Don’t like him? Try Ronny Turiaf, a player so enthusiastic and exuberant that fans decided they’d rather watch him cheer from the bench via Yellowbook Cam than any of the dudes on the court during the Western Conference Finals. Finally, there’s Lamar Odom, who has seen more tragedy and death in his family than anyone should, wears his heart on his sleeve, and is as solid a guy as you’ll find in the Association.

  • The ninth place team in the Western Conference won 48 games. The Lakers have defeated 50, 54, and 56 win teams just to make it this far. They finished atop the most brutal conference in recent memory. The Celtics could have lost every game they played after the All-Star break and still made the playoffs, then beat one good team to make the Finals. Justice demands the Lakers win in the end.

    Have an opinion on this? Sound off in our comments forum.

  • Bird, Magic talk Finals

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 3, 2008 04:31 PM
    simagic.jpg
    Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, on the cover of this week's Sports Illustrated.

    You can tell they’re old friends.

    “It’s always a pleasure to be on the phone with Larry,” Magic Johnson said at the start of a conference call with Larry Bird and members of the media this afternoon. “It was great to be able to play against him so many times.”

    The two NBA legends, each recognizable by his first name and each still equated to his former team almost two decades after retiring, have gotten plenty of face time on ESPN Classic this week. With the Celtics and Lakers meeting in the NBA Finals Thursday for the first time in 21 years, Larry and Magic are back in the spotlight.

    Even if Bird doesn’t want to be.

    “I really felt bad about doing this press conference,” Bird said, saying he didn’t want to take away from the current players. “I’m just happy to see these new Lakers in the championships with these new Celtics .It’s really not about us. It’s about what these guys have built.”

    What the current Lakers and Celtics have built are championship contenders. The No. 1 seeds from their respective conferences are generating a Finals buzz that hasn’t been seen in years.

    “I think it’s great for the league,” said Bird. “It’s great for basketball.”

    Johnson agreed, saying that although a lot of time has passed, the game will benefit from this matchup.

    “Even though the names of the players and coaches have changed, when you think about fans around the world in terms of basketball, and you ask them what they’d like to see in the Finals, they would look at these teams,” Johnson said.

    One of the week’s hotly debated topics has been whether the current Lakers-Celtics matchup can be called a rivalry. More than two decades have passed since these teams last met in the Finals.

    “Every great franchise must go through down times,” said Johnson. “Both franchises went through down times, and now they’re back. When that ball goes up on Thursday, they’ll have their own rivalry. It’s for all the marbles. It’s for everything. It doesn’t matter whether they understand the rivalry or not. They will on Thursday night.”

    Bird says it’s impossible for the players to ignore the name on the front of their jerseys.

    “If you play for the Lakers or Celtics, or you’re drafted by them, it’s not going to take long for the media or the fans to tell you who was before you,” said Bird. “History followed you around. When two teams have that much history, it doesn’t take that long to figure it out.”

    When asked to make his prediction for the series, Johnson, an unabashed Lakers fan, said the key to the series would be the play of Kevin Garnett/Ray Allen vs. Pau Gasol/Lamar Odom.

    Bird, who is currently an executive for the Indiana Pacers, is usually a little more careful about taking sides. But after giving his usual, “The team that plays better will win the series,” the Celtics legend slipped in his prediction.

    “I’m really happy for Danny Ainge and the Celtics,” he said. “And I look forward to them winning another championship.”

  • Bird was asked how Celtics patriarch Red Auerbach would feel with the Celtics back in the Finals.

    “There’s no question that Red would be very proud of what’s transpired there in a short period of time,” he said. “He’d be thrilled to death right now. He probably wouldn’t be able to sleep. He’d be as nervous as the players. I just wish he was around to see it.”


  • Click HERE to listen to an excerpt from the call, courtesy of colleague Chris Forsberg.

  • Tony Allen returns to practice, but status uncertain

    Posted by Michael Vega, Globe Staff June 3, 2008 02:50 PM

    WALTHAM -- Tony Allen returned to the basketball court today for the first time since Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Detroit Pistons. That's how long Allen had been idle after and straining his right Achilles in a scrimmage at the Celtics' Healthpoint practice facility.

    Allen underwent an MRI on Monday and when it turned up nothing, he decided to give it a go in practice.

    "It felt kind of sore, but I fought through it," said Allen, who was inactive for the Celtics' decisive Game 6 victory in Detroit last Friday night. "I got a massage today, ice, [electrical] stim. It felt pretty good practicing today."

    Doc Rivers, who took a dim view of Allen's chances of playing in the NBA Finals when he said said Monday "it doesn't look good," planted is tongue in cheek and proclaimed Allen's return, "A miracle. It's a miracle."

    Rivers said he wasn't expecting much from Allen today, especially after the fourth-year guard from Oklahoma State was unable to get through Monday's walkthrough.

    "He was supposed to go through the beginning of practice," Rivers said, "and the next thing you know, he's dunking it and laying it in."

    Asked if he was able to convince Rivers to activate him for Game 1 of the NBA Finals Thursday against the Lakers, Allen said, "I sure showed him something today. I had a couple of good moves today. Hopefully, that'll win him over, but I don't know. We'll see how it goes. I had two sessions of massage therapy, ice and stim. I came out and practiced today, and I'm going to get more treatment tomorrow and get one more practice in tomorrow and I'll see."

    Asked about Allen's status, Rivers joked, "He's starting."

    Stifling a laugh, Rivers added, "No, he's good. I mean, we'll find out. The tough part, now that he's practiced, is tomorrow he may not be able to walk."

    It's on!

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 2, 2008 11:56 PM

    To kick up the rivalry a little bit, we thought we'd get our friends (or mortal enemies) at the LA Times involved. Andrew and Brian Kamenetzky cover the Lakers over at latimes.com with their Lakers blog. Since we have similar shticks, we thought we'd engage in a good ol' fashioned blog-off during the Finals. Every day, bloggers from both papers will answer the same question pertaining to a key issue in the series. Feel free to chime in by leaving a comment or two.

    TODAY'S TOPIC: Can the Celtics stop Kobe Bryant?

    Brian Kamenetzky of the LA Times

    Short answer? No. But don't feel bad, nobody can. The better question is should they?

    It's been my contention that one of the greatest mistakes an opposing team can make is to overplay Kobe, and focus their attention on shutting him down. First of all, it's hard to do. He has been able to kick it into another gear that most teams can't handle, even when they throw bodies at him. But more importantly, the Lakers offense is far more efficient and effective when Kobe is able to distribute as well as score. The days of Kobe consistently working to beat double and triple teams while the rest of his guys hang out and scope the crowd for a-listers are over. Always a good passer, Kobe has done a great job this season of recognizing that the extra man is coming, and delivering a pass to the open man. Because the Lakers are, as a team, such good passers, that almost always leaves them with space to run their offense and find an open shot. When they play well offensively, they get to the rack and create looks in rhythm, leading to more made baskets and better defense on the other end (transition D isn't a strong suit).

    Instead, I think the Celtics would be better off playing the Lakers as straight as possible, trying to make Kobe one-dimensional. Don't give him the opportunity to be a scorer and a distributor. Make him take the bulk of the shots and cut off the angles he'll get off doubles to feed Gasol and Odom for easy trips to the hoop. Besides, even with double teams, Kobe still can rack up points if he's on.

    While the Spurs didn't get crazy on Kobe, they did do something that the Celtics would be wise to emulate -- that would be keeping him off the free throw line. They conceded a lot of buckets that might have otherwise turned into and-ones, and in this case discretion turned out to be the better part of valor. Keeping Bryant off the line can be the difference between him dropping "only" 30 and blowing up for 45.

    To a large extent, with the Lakers you have to pick your poison. It always looks bad to see Kobe shred a defense, but if he takes 35 shots, the Lakers are less likely to win. When they get balance, they're almost impossible to stop.

    Gary Dzen of the Boston Globe

    The Celtics can stop Kobe Bryant. They already have.

    In the previous two meetings this season between the Lakers and Celtics, the C's held the league's MVP to 9 of 21 shooting in Boston (28 points, 3 assists) and 6 of 25 shooting in Los Angeles (22 points, 6 rebounds). Not exactly domination.

    Look ... no one is going to truly stop Bryant. He's the league's most dangerous player, capable of taking over a game by himself. Kobe can average 30 points per game this series -- it would be a surprise if he didn't. He's the best player in the Finals, hands down. But the Celtics have proven they can limit both Bryant's points and his ability to get others involved.

    The Celtics have already been through this. Remember LeBron James? The 23-year-old dynamo was supposed to run ragged over the Celtics defense because the Celtics did not have an individual answer for him. And while James averaged almost 27 points per game against the Celtics in the conference semifinals, Cleveland couldn't get over the hump. In fact, James' best individual game (45 points, 6 assists in Game 7) was a Cavaliers loss.

    Defense wins championships, and the Celtics have been the NBA's best defensive team all season. In the playoffs, Boston is holding opponents to 87.3 points per game on 42 percent shooting (by contrast, the Lakers are allowing 99.5 points on 43 percent shooting).

    Kevin Garnett was the league's defensive MVP, but the Celtics' D thrives as a unit. Kobe will see Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and James Posey on the perimeter. When Bryant drives, he'll meet Garnett and Perkins in the middle. And the Celtics finish their rotations better than any other team, meaning Bryant won't be able to pick apart the defense by finding open teammates every time down.

    So give Kobe his 30. But don't expect that to be enough. And if you're expecting 50 from the league's MVP, think again. These aren't Larry Bird's Celtics. They're better, at least on the defensive side of the ball.

    What do you think? Leave a comment here.

    Laidback attitude in LA

    Posted by Shira Springer, Globe Staff June 2, 2008 08:18 PM

    EL SEGUNDO, Calif. - Befitting laidback California, the mood at the Lakers practice facility appeared easy-going, though coach Phil Jackson described the players as "studious" during a roughly three-hour practice session Monday afternoon.

    "They’re ready to start buckling down and thinking about what they have to do," said Jackson. "[We] try to get some offensive sequences in there that are a little different, run a little team that is representative of the Celtics, which is impossible to do."

    Jackson patiently answered questions without revealing much in the way of strategy. He talked briefly about possible matchups, but made it clear the Lakers are not committing to anything.

    On Lamar Odom matching up with Kevin Garnett:

    "At times, I’m sure he will. We haven’t talked about that specifically. Well, I mentioned a little bit about it, but not a whole lot."

    On a potential Kobe Bryant-Ray Allen matchup:

    "That’s a matchup we’ll probably start with, but we’re going to move people around and find out who’s going to guard whom in this series. Those things will change dramatically as we go through the first game and through the series."

    Rested Celtics get back to work

    Posted by Marc J. Spears, Globe Staff June 2, 2008 04:14 PM
    pp535.jpg
    Paul Pierce stretches today at practice. (AP Photo)
    After a much needed two-day hiatus, the Celtics practiced for about two hours today. Celtics players and coach Doc Rivers were extremely gracious to the media, talking at length with the NBA Finals on the horizon.

    Prior to the two days off, the Celtics had had a game every other day since Game 3 of their first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks. Celtics forward Paul Pierce was very happy about getting the rest.

    "It was good for the body. It was good for the mind," Pierce said. "We've been going non-stop since the playoffs started, so it was good to get some rest physically or mentally from the guys ... I've really used the last couple of days mentally and physically for myself. I really haven't talked to anybody. I've just kept it quiet the past couple of days."

    Boston was 2-0 in the regular season against the Lakers and won an NBA-best 66 games. But Pierce also said that he could see how the Celtics could be considered an underdog to Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.

    "People look at us as underdogs even though we've had the best record all year and beat the Lakers twice," Pierce said. "A lot of people are looking at how we struggled versus Atlanta and had a tough time versus Cleveland. This is the first time for us together as a unit in the playoffs. What you got to understand is that what you do in the regular season is far different than how you play in the playoffs. We learned a lot about ourselves in the regular season, but the playoffs is different game. We had to relearn ourselves once again and we figured it out in Detroit. That's probably why we are considered the underdog. But we relish being in that role."

    Rivers said that he didn't think guard Tony Allen would be available for Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday. Allen missed the last two games with an Achilles injury he suffered in practice and is expected to have an MRI. Allen, however, expressed optimism that he will be ready, but missing practices won't help his cause.

    The Celtics practice in Waltham late tomorrow morning, while the Lakers will practice at the Staples Center in Los Angeles tomorrow before flying to Boston in the afternoon. Both teams will practice and conduct media interviews at TD Banknorth Garden on Wednesday.

    The origins of 'Beat LA'

    Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff June 2, 2008 10:35 AM

    "Beat LA" is in. "Yankees Suck" is out. The chants, they are a changin' in Boston.

    You'll be hearing the simple yet powerful "Beat LA!, Beat LA!, Beat LA!" battle cry all over New England now that the Celtics-Lakers rivalry has been renewed for the Finals.

    For most fans, the chant is reminiscent of the playoff games in the old Boston Garden in the 1980s, when Magic Johnson squared off against Larry Bird and the Celtics and Lakers dominated the NBA.

    But that's not when the chant took off in Boston. It actually started as a chant supporting the Philadelphia 76ers.

    With 26 seconds to go in Game 7 of the 1982 Eastern Conference finals at the old Garden and the Sixers pulling away from the soon-to-be ex-champs, the crowd began to chant the now-famous phrase. Philadelphia, after all, would be facing the hated Lakers in the NBA Finals.

    "You hear what the crowd is chanting to the Sixers? 'Beat LA'" said CBS color commentator and Celtics legend Bill Russell as the Sixers were beating Boston 117-105 as the seconds ticked down.

    "Beat LA ... that's great," replied play-by-play man Dick Stockton.

    And so it began.

    "That was nice," Series MVP Julius Erving said after that game, according to Sports Illustrated's Anthony Cotton. "But it wasn't as loud as 'See you Sunday,' was it?"

    The "See you Sunday" chant was also made famous during the same series in Game 5 at the Garden, when the Celtics were down three games to one but the Boston fans were sure the Sixers would return to Boston for a deciding Game 7.

    0531_Dr_J_sicover.jpg
    (Sports Illustrated cover: March 31, 1982)

    The "Beat LA" chant remains one of the most original creations from Boston, rivaling the "Ster-oids, Ster-oids" chants to Jose Canseco at Fenway in 1988. And the "Dar-ryl, Dar-ryl" shouts to Mets outfielder Daryl Strawberry during the 1986 World Series.

    "One of the classiest, coolest thing a crowd has EVER done for an opponent," YouTube commenter torr5962 wrote regarding the "Beat LA" chant. "We talked about this STILL in Philly. Just sick cool."

    "This is my favorite sports moment of all time too, but I'm a Celtics fan," YouTube commenter mcmillspiece wrote. "It's the only time in the history of Boston sports we ever did anything classy together."

    Get a Beat L.A. t-shirt from our Fan Shop.

    A little history

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff June 1, 2008 02:06 PM
    bird.jpg
    Larry Bird (center) and Magic Johnson (left) dueled in the 1987 NBA Finals. (Globe File Photo)
    You'll be inundated with tales of Magic, Bird, West, and Russell in the coming days. But for those of you who weren't around during the height of the Celtics-Lakers rivalry, here's a primer to get you started.

    The Celtics and Lakers have met 10 times in the NBA Finals, most recently in 1986-87, a series the Lakers won 4-2. The Lakers beat the Celtics one other time in the 80's, 4-3, in 1984-85.

    Before that, the Celtics beat the Lakers in their previous eight Finals meetings, with seven of them coming in the 1960's. Bill Russell and Bob Cousy led those Celtics teams, while Jerry West and Elgin Baylor were the stars of the Lakers.

    Because it's the most recent, the 1986-87 Finals between the two teams is one of the most remembered. The Lakers finished the season with a 65-17 record, while Boston came into the postseason at 59-23.

    With homecourt advantage, the Lakers took Game 1 in LA, 126-113. Los Angeles took a 2-0 lead with a 141-122 victory in Game 2.

    The Celtics returned to the Boston Garden and earned a 109-103 victory in Game 3, but Game 4 was the turning point in the series. After Larry Bird's three put the Celtics ahead with 12 seconds remaining, Magic Johnson won the game with his infamous sky hook coming across the lane. The Lakers won the game, 107-106.

    The Celtics protected their home court with a win in Game 5, but the Lakers closed out the series in Game 6, 106-93, to earn their fourth championship of the decade.

    The two teams have also made quite a bit of history when not facing each other. The Celtics have won 16 championships, most of any NBA franchise. Their last title came in 1985-86.

    The Lakers have won 14 titles overall, closing the gap on Boston in the last two decades. Los Angeles has won five championships since the Celtics last won a title, including three in a row from 2000-2002.

    If the Celtics need any extra motivation to win this year, late Celtics patriarch Red Auerbach should provide plenty of inspiration. Auerbach won nine titles as a coach, tied for most all-time with current Lakers coach Phil Jackson. Championship No. 17 would taste a little sweeter if the Celtics could deny Jackson another ring.

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