Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - Kobe Bryant's 30-point, seven-rebound, six- assist performance was a near afterthought to his highlight-reel third-quarter block that showcased Los Angeles' Boston-like defensive effort, as the Lakers suffocated the Celtics, 102-89, in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
"We just want to win the series," stated Bryant when asked about getting off to a good start. "We have to be ready for their adjustments in Game 2."
Boston's Tony Allen was swatted near the rim by Bryant as part of a spurt that pushed Los Angeles' edge as high as 20 at the quarter's closing.
The outcome itself is an even worse omen than the way the Lakers used the Celtics' formula to roll through the initial contest of this best-of-seven series. The Lakers are nearly unbeatable when winning Game 1 of a playoff series, holding a 59-7 mark in such scenarios.
Even more staggering, their head coach Phil Jackson, has never lost a playoff series when his team takes Game 1, holding a mind-blowing 47-0 mark. The Lakers are also trying to avenge a loss in the Celtics in the 2008 NBA Finals, a series Boston captured, 4-2.
"It was a good win for us. We got some easy baskets and some transition points," said Jackson. The Lakers totaled 12 fast break points and held a 16-0 edge in second-chance points.
Paul Pierce led Boston with 24 points, Kevin Garnett added 16 and Rajon Rondo registered 13 points and eight assists. Pierce passed Tom Heinsohn for seventh on the Celtics' all-time playoff scoring list in defeat.
"I thought they were by far the more physical team, they were more aggressive. I thought they attacked us the entire night," said Boston head coach Doc Rivers. "Our defense was horrible."
Pau Gasol added 23 points and 14 rebounds, Ron Artest chipped in with 15 points and Andrew Bynum, a question mark entering this series, not only started but was effective with 10 points and six rebounds while playing over 28 minutes. Bynum had fluid drained from his right knee earlier in the week.
Game 2 is Sunday night back at the Staples Center, where the defending NBA champions have won 12 straight playoff games.
The 2010 NBA Finals marks the Lakers' 31st trip to the championship series and Boston's 21st appearance with 12 of those overlapping in clashes between the NBA's two storied franchises.
Trailing by 20 points entering the final quarter, Boston quickly picked up the energy scoring 10 of the first 11 points capped by a Garnett mid-range jumper and a pair of Pierce free throws for an 85-74 game.
The Lakers pushed back with a series of positive plays, culminated by an Artest block and Jordan Farmar outlet pass to a streaking Gasol for a left- handed slam and a 91-76 edge with just over six minutes to go.
Boston never seriously threatened for the remainder of the contest.
"It was not a typical Boston locker room. There was some anger in there. We can't deal with it when we lose the way we did," said Pierce about the atmosphere in the locker room after the game.
The Lakers kept up the pressure and Bryant got in a groove during a blitz by the home team in the third. Boston trailed just 69-60 after Garnett's bucket with just under four minutes remaining, but the Lakers capped the quarter with a 15-4 stretch to take complete control.
Inside the scoring stretch the Lakers notched the final seven points capped by Artest's three-pointer for the third-quarter scoring margin, 84-64. Bryant surpassed his first-half scoring with 14 points in the period to pace the Lakers.
In a championship series matching the last two NBA champions, the defending- champion Lakers matched Boston's highly-publicized defensive intensity in the opening 24 minutes.
The Lakers sprinted to a double-digit edge behind a late first-half surge. Holding a 37-35 advantage, the home team rattled off an 11-2 stretch capped by Derek Fisher's driving layup for a 48-37 lead with just under one minute to play.
Gasol added 11 points and seven rebounds, while Rondo led Boston with 10 points, including a jumper to beat the buzzer and cut the deficit to 50-41 at the half.
The first quarter featured bodies flying and a physicality typical of this rivalry. Artest and Pierce, arms tangled under the basket, hit the hardwood simultaneously and were whistled for a double technical just 27 seconds in.
The Lakers held a 16-10 lead over halfway in on a Gasol putback off a Bryant miss. Boston cut the deficit to one late in the period but Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown each streaked through the lane for successive layups and a 26-21 edge after 12 minutes of game action.
The first quarter featured more personal fouls (18) than field goals (16), a combination of solid defense and first-quarter nerves.
The Game 1 winner in any playoff series has won 78 percent of the time since the inception of the best-of-seven format...Jackson and Bryant have now won 111 playoff games together, surpassing Jackson and Scottie Pippen from their days in Chicago as the all-time winningest coach/player tandem in the playoffs...Gasol had as many rebounds (14) as Garnett, Glen Davis, Rasheed Wallace and Kendrick Perkins combined...Bryant has scored 30-plus points in 76 playoff games, surpassing former Laker Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Former Chicago star Michael Jordan is first on the list with 109 30-plus-point games in the playoffs...Gasol logged 46 minutes, 34 seconds out of 48 possible game minutes.