Lakers win NBA title in Game Seven thriller

Lakers win NBA title in Game Seven thriller

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Los Angeles Lakers came from behind to beat the Boston Celtics 83-79 in the decisive seventh game of the NBA finals and claim back-to-back titles.

Kobe Bryant battled through an uncharacteristically tough evening to lead all scorers but Pau Gasol took the plaudits, the seven-foot Spaniard recording 19 points and 17 rebounds.

Ron Artest added 20 points as the hosts recovered from a long-time deficit which peaked at 13 points to triumph at the Staples Center.

A final-quarter surge took them ahead for the first time since they briefly led 25-23 in the second, and a pair of free throws from Sasha Vujacic – the Slovenian’s first points of the game – took them out to a decisive two-score margin.A final-quarter surge took them ahead for the first time since they briefly led 25-23 in the second, and a pair of free throws from Sasha Vujacic – the Slovenian’s first points of the game – took them out to a decisive two-score margin.

Boston was without centre Kendrick Perkins, who sprained his right knee in game six of the series, but it embarked on a 13-3 run in the final five minutes of the first period to lead 23-14 at the first interval.

Bryant had taken five shots and over eight minutes to open his account but he briefly clicked to underpin a 9-0 streak which levelled the match for the Lakers.

The match proved a physical encounter and, when the Celtics’ Kevin Garnett – who impressed with 17 points on the night – was sent crashing into the front row of the crowd, Hollywood star and Lakers fan Jack Nicholson had to produce a neat sidestep to avoid being caught up in the collision.

The visitors took almost five minutes to score in the second period but recovered to go in at half-time 40-34 to the good, with Bryant having contributed just eight points on three of 14 field goals.

A Rajon Rondo two-pointer saw the lead move into double figures for the first time at 47-36 and the same player then added a further two en route to 14 for the game.

But Lamar Odom was to the fore as LA cut the gap to 57-53 by the end of the third quarter and a free throw from Artest levelled the scores at 61-61.

Another 9-0 run took them 70-64 ahead but the game remained in the balance as both teams traded three-pointers.

But Vujacic held his nerve at the crucial moment and Rondo’s missed three-pointer allowed Odom to hurl the ball long to Bryant and safety.

Bryant finished with 21 points, eight of which came in the fourth quarter, and collected the Bill Russell Award as finals series MVP for the second time as well as winning his fifth title.

He said: ‘This is the sweetest (title). We’ve been downplaying the rivalry with the Celtics but there’s no question, this one’s by far the sweetest because it’s against them – and because it’s the hardest.’

And he reserved special mention for team-mate Gasol, adding: ‘I can’t say enough about ‘Spain’. That guy’s unbelievable, a hell of a player – we wouldn’t have won it without him.’

Of 18 decisive seventh games in finals history, 14 have now been won by the hosts, while every match in this series has been won by the team with the most rebounds – Los Angeles dominating that statistic 53-40 on Thursday night.

Coach Phil Jackson felt both were crucial factors, and said: ‘I don’t know it we’d have won this game without these fans – thank you!’

‘(My advice to the team was) keep rebounding the ball, keep getting those loose balls.’

Speculation has surrounded Jackson’s future – as well as that of opposite number Doc Rivers – and he would not be drawn on whether he will stay with the franchise and attempt to win a third successive title for the third time in his career.

‘I’ve got to take some time and think about this,’ he said. ‘This was great, I’ll wait to make that decision in a week.’

Owner Dr Jerry Buss, meanwhile, felt the hostility towards his team fired it up.

He said: ‘I think we want it more. Everybody abuses LA – ‘beat LA, beat LA’ – I think it gives us a lot of energy.’

Jubilant celebrations over the Los Angeles Lakers’ dramatic win in the NBA championship turned rowdy in scattered sections of the city, with raucous revelers hurling rocks and bottles at officers, setting fires and jumping on vehicles.

Los Angeles city firefighters responded to 37 incidents within a half-mile radius of Staples Center in a three-hour period following the game, spokesman Brian Humphrey said. There were 15 rubbish fires, one vegetation fire, three vehicle fires and 18 medical aid requests for people ill or injured, Humphrey said. Eight people were transported by ambulance to hospitals. Humphrey didn’t know the nature or extent of the injuries, but said some were “quite serious.”
One police officer suffered a broken nose after someone threw an object at him, Police Chief Charlie Beck said.
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• Source(s): NBA Media Ventures, LLC, Turner Sports and Entertainment Digital Network

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June 2010


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