One victory is all that remains for the Boston Celtics to claim their second NBA title in three years. They lead the series 3-2 after a 92-86 win over the Los Angeles Lakers Sunday night. Now, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and crew will head back to LA for Game 6 on Tuesday. Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 38 points, many of which came in the second half, while Pierce led the Celtics with 27.
Bryant was cold for the duration of the first half, but then caught fire, at one point seemingly taking over the Lakers’ offense. From the end of the second quarter to the final minutes of the third quarter, Bryant accounted for 23 straight Lakers points. He received little help from the rest of Phil Jackson’s squad, however, as Boston stretched their lead from one point to 13 during that same time. It was the Celtics largest lead of the game. Pau Gasol was the only other Laker to score double digit points with 12. Andrew Bynum, still nursing an injured right knee, played for 31 minutes and only scored six points.
Pierce, on the other hand, had plenty of help from the Celtics lineup. Garnett scored 18 points with 10 rebounds and Rajon Rondo also got in on the action scoring 18 points on the night with eight assists and five rebounds. The Celtics win was their second in a row, becoming the first team in this year’s Finals to win two straight.
“It was our biggest game of the year,” Pierce said. “We’re in a good spot. We have two games in L.A.; now we have to get one.”
When asked about his mindset heading into Game 6, Bryant responded, “Just man up and play. What the hell is the big deal?” he said. “If I have to say something to them (his teammates), then we don’t deserve to be champions. We’re down 3-2: Go home, win one game, go into the next one. Simple as that.”
“I wasn’t in a personal duel,” Pierce said about Bryant. “I didn’t notice that we were going back-and-forth scoring at the time. He’s a tough player. He makes shots.”
If the Celtics do manage to put away the series Tuesday night, it will give the franchise a record 18th championship. For the Lakers, it comes down to shooting the ball better from the field. The Lakers were just 31-78 (.397) in field goal shooting on Sunday. Even though they are one win away from the title, Boston has to control the ball, as they had 17 turnovers in Game 5.
Tip-off for Game 6 is set for 9 P.M. ET Tuesday on ABC.