Game 5 nearly became the Kobe Bryant show. Kobe scored 19 points in the third quarter alone, hitting one ridiculous shot after another on his way to a game-high 38 points on 13-of-27 shooting. But in the end, it was the complete effort of the Celtics that proved to be difference as four different Boston plays finished with 12 points or more, including Paul Pierce, who had his best game of the series, with 27 points.
In fact, the Celtics actually managed to extend their lead during Kobe's Assault.
Trouble for L.A. was that the Celtics entered the frame with a six point lead and actually extended that advantage to 13 during Bryant's reign of terror. Boston's five starters each scored a bucket over the first three minutes of the third quarter to push the lead to double digits despite seven points from Bryant (he ultimately went 9 for 14 during the stretch, while his teammates were 0 for 7). The Big Three then took turns scoring in bunches to preserve a double-digit advantage until late in the frame.
There were so many great performances and great plays in Game 5, that it was perhaps best summed up by CelticsBlog: "Wow. What a game." Some of
Jeff Clark's Greg Payne's thoughts on Pierce after Sunday night's win:
- Paul Pierce played his best game of this series in the most important game of this series. He scored a series-high 27 points, owned the Lakers in pick-and-roll and isolation situations, and submitted perhaps the most important play of the game when he took a Kevin Garnett inbounds pass with 35.4 seconds left and fed a cutting Rajon Rondo for a layup as he was falling out of bounds. Rondo's bucket gave Boston an 89-82 lead.
- Pierce has a knack for the ball, or at least wanting it more. Back in 2008 he took that jump ball away from LeBron James, and earlier tonight he ripped a rebound away from Kobe with less than a minute left. The guy just wants this.
- The Celtics won the battle of the boards, barely, 35-34. But hey, the trend continues. The team that's won the rebounding column in this series has won the game.
- Kendrick Perkins picked a good time to block his first shot of the series, as a rejection on Gasol led to a Pierce three-pointer in the left corner with 11:11 left in the third quarter, which put Boston up 50-39.
- And speaking of blocking Gasol, how about Tony Allen? That was an insane block with 1:26 left in the third quarter. Insane.
The Celtics are now just one win away from their 18th championship, and their second in the past three seasons. Read more at our Celtics blog, CelticsBlog.