They went in looking to wrap up the NBA Championships, but when they took the court on Tuesday, the Boston Celtics received a lesson in basketball from the Lakers. The final score line of 89-67 in favour of the hosts was merely a reflection of the dominance displayed by Kobe Bryant’s team.
The Lakers led from the start in front of a star studded Los Angeles crowd that included the likes of US First Lady Michelle Obama and her daughters, hardcore Lakers fan Jack Nicholson, Will I am among others. At the end of the first quarter, the score read 28-18, and the result was a foregone conclusion.
The Celtics lost their powerful centre Kendrick Perkins to a knee injury early on. Rajon Rondo too, received a cut on the chin courtesy Ron Artest’s elbow, and the entire Boston offence was kept miles away from the paint and the rim by the intensity of the Lakers’ defence. Many had predicted a win for the Lakers in Game 6, but no one had imagined that the Boston offence would look as inept as it did on Tuesday. Their total was the second lowest in NBA Finals history, and the lowest ever by a Celtics team.
The Lakers played with a great sense of urgency throughout the game and never let their huge leads allow themselves to get complacent. At one stage, they led by as many as 27 points.
Bryant finished with a game-high 26 points and 11 rebounds, and the rest of the team responded to Kobe’s call to action, and made the win a complete team effort. Gasol had another great game, nearly earning a triple-double, with 17 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists.
Ron Artest finally found his stroke, and tallied 15 points, and Jordan Farmar and Lamar Odom were phenomenal off the bench. In games 4 and 5, the Celtics’ bench was key to their wins, but in Game 6, the Lakers’ bench was dominant. At the end of the third quarter, the bench scores read 24-0 to the Lakers.
But, the series is not over yet. The Celtics have shown throughout these playoffs that they respond best when they are put in a tight spot. Irrespective of the result though, the fact that we are going right down to the wire is perhaps a fitting tribute to what is the greatest rivalry in the sport of basketball, and come Thursday, one thing is for sure, both these teams will come out fighting.