Lakers take game three in Boston

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

BOSTON -- Derek Fisher broke down the court after yet another miss by Ray Allen. Nothing between him and the basket, and nothing -- not even three hard-charging Celtics -- was going to keep the Los Angeles Lakers guard from finishing off a Game 3 victory.

A hard foul from all three pursuing Celtics sent Fisher sprawling to the floor, but not before he laid in his fifth basket of the fourth quarter and converted the three-point play to help the Lakers beat Boston 91-84 and take a 2-1 lead in the NBA Finals.

"[That was] just Derek being Derek," said Kobe Bryant, who scored 29 points. "He makes big plays all the time. He never ceases to amaze me."

Bryant had 25 points after three quarters, but he did not score for the first 10 minutes of the fourth. That's when Fisher took over, adding four key baskets after Boston winnowed a 17-point first-half lead to one point and the Lakers regained home-court advantage they had lost when the Celtics took Game 2 in Los Angeles.

Game 4 is Thursday night in Boston.

"We just had to be poised and understand they're going to make a run, and we did that," Bryant said. "They made a push but they never fully got control of the game. We made big shots when we needed it."

Fisher finished with 16 points, and Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum had 10 rebounds apiece for Los Angeles.

Kevin Garnett, who had just six points in Boston's victory Sunday, had 25 in Game 3. But Allen, who had 32 points in Game 2, missed all 13 field goal attempts -- one shy of the NBA Finals futility record -- many of them while Fisher was guarding him.

"It's a hell of a swing, I'll tell you that," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "It's basketball. That's why you can't worry about it. He'll be back in the gym tomorrow and getting ready for the next game.

"I thought all of his shots looked flat tonight. I didn't think he had any legs. ... It happens to the best of us."

The Celtics had high hopes after splitting the opening two games in Los Angeles, but the "Beat L.A.!" chants at the TD Garden couldn't help them overcome poor shooting.

And it couldn't stop Fisher.

"He won the game for them. Derek Fisher was the difference in the game," Rivers said. "He's just a gutty, gritty player and he gutted the game out for them. I thought Kobe was struggling a little bit, and Fisher -- he basically took the game over. I don't know what he had in the fourth quarter ... but most of them were down the stretch."

The Lakers opened a 37-20 first-half lead, but Boston cut the deficit to four late in the third quarter and then made it 68-67 early in the fourth on consecutive drives by Glen "Big Baby" Davis and Rajon Rondo. With a chance to take the lead, Allen was called for an offensive foul away from the ball.

Fisher drove for a layup at the other end that made it a three-point game then scored four of the Lakers' next five baskets to give them a five-point lead with about 4 1/2 minutes left. He scored another with 49 seconds left before being flattened by Davis, among others, then added the free throw to make it a three-possession game.

"He saw the opening and went and made a very bold play. ... It was imperative that it goes in for us to win," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "When he's got an opportunity to hit a key shot, it seems like he's always there and ready."

Allen and Paul Pierce combined to go 1 for 13 from the field as Boston went nearly 6 minutes without a field goal in the first half. Pierce finished with 15 points, including 3 for 4 from 3-point range, but Allen never snapped out of it.

He missed all eight 3-pointers, all five 2-pointers and got to the line just twice. He was spared of matching the worst shooting performance in NBA Finals history when Garnett was called for an offensive foul away from the ball in the final minute while Allen clanged another shot off the rim.

"The job that Fish did on Allen was terrific," Jackson said.

Baltimore's Chip Reiser missed all 14 shots in a 1948 Finals game against Philadelphia, and Dennis Johnson was 0 for 14 for Seattle against Washington in 1978.

Garnett, who scored only six points in 24 foul-plagued minutes in Game 2, had that many in the first 75 seconds of Game 3. Rondo had Boston's next three baskets, and the Celtics were quickly up 12-5.

But the Lakers ran off eight straight points to go ahead, scoring 32 of the next 40 points to open a 37-20 lead with 9:10 left in the half.

Rondo, who had a triple-double in Game 3, finished with 11 points, eight assists and three rebounds.


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