BOSTON - Kobe Bryant could only be kept at bay for so long. Bryant wasn't much of a factor in the very early stages of the game, but Kobe locked in for the final three quarters to lead the Los Angeles Lakers past the Boston Celtics, 88-87, in overtime on Thursday.
"I thought our execution the whole game was terrible," said Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. "I thought this was an awful game, except for they won. If we had won it, it would've been an awful game that we won. That's how I felt. So, just thought our execution was off."
Bryant, who finished with a game-high 27 points, only scored two points in the fourth quarter, but Los Angeles was still able to force overtime, tying the game up 82-82 at the end of regulation. Ray Allen (22 points) hit a clutch three with 1:08 left in regulation, putting Boston on top 82-80. Pau Gasol (25 points, 14 rebounds) kept L.A. alive after Steve Blake was bailed out on a missed jumper by Bryant, who got his rebound and launched a twisting jumper. Gasol soared to the rim and tipped the ball in to tie it. Mickael Pietrus' desperation three at the buzzer was no good, forcing overtime.
"We set a pick and roll there with me and Ray," said Paul Pierce (18 points) about the final play of regulation. "Ray was the flare and I didn't think he was open. I shouldn't have picked up my dribble. It kind of broke up the play when I picked up my dribble."
Quickly, the Lakers went ahead 86-82 on two jumpers from Bryant and Blake. Pierce, who had seven points at halftime and really dialed up his game in the second half, made a 16-foot jumper and then hit a clutch three with 1:51 left, giving the Celtics an 87-86 edge. Alas, Andrew Bynum delivered the dagger with a tip shot from a foot out at the 1:29 mark.
Several wasted possessions could have doomed the Celtics, and in retrospect they did, but the C's were still able to ge the ball in Pierce's hands on the final play, but he missed a trademarke fadeaway that sealed the victory for the Lakers.
"One of them I didn't make the pass, the second one I just missed the shot," Pierce said of the sequence of events at the end of regulation and overtime.
"The Lakers defense had a lot to do with the play. They clogged the lane especially if we don't fast break. It gets into a half court battle to where they sit in the lane and force you to shoot jumpers. I thought the shots that we got were good shots and they don't break themselves. It's kind of like if we don't break and they don't break it's just like walk down, set something up, and vice versa."
Boston will have to recover quickly, as it head north of the border to face a struggling Toronto Raptors squad at 7:00 p.m. EDT on Friday night at the Air Canada Centre.
|Final - 2.9.2012||1||2||3||4||OT 1||Total|
|Los Angeles Lakers||22||23||22||15||6||88|