Los Angeles Lakers vs Boston Celtics Game 4 NBA Finals

June 10, 2010

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Thursday, June 10th (All times eastern)

(1-W) Los Angeles Lakers (2-1) at (4-E) Boston Celtics (1-2), 9 p.m.

Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce now hopes the NBA Finals return to Los Angeles.

The braggadocios star had incensed Lakers fans by proclaiming “We ain’t coming back to LA” after the Celtics Game 2 win in Hollywood. Well, Pierce may still turn out to be right for all the wrong reasons. By bouncing back to win Game 3, 91-84, on Tuesday night, it’s the Lakers who have a chance to lock things up in Boston, starting with tonight’s contest at TD Garden.

Veteran Derek Fisher was the unlikely star in Game 3 of the set, scoring 11 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter. Kobe Bryant poured in 29 points despite shaky 10-of-29 shooting, and Pau Gasol added 13 points and 10 rebounds for the defending NBA champions, who grabbed a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Fisher, like Bryant, going after his fifth championship ring, made 5-of-7 shots from the field in the final quarter.

“We saw some things we could accomplish by playing a little two-man game between Kobe and myself,” Fisher said. “When Kobe sets a screen, his man is going to be very reluctant to help off of him, so it allows somebody else to get into the interior of their defense, and a couple times I made a pass or two, and a few other times I was able to knock down shots.”

Ray Allen, who set an NBA Finals record by making eight shots from beyond the arc on the way to a 32-point night in a 103-94 Boston win Sunday in LA, missed all 13 of his attempts from the field in Game 3 and had just two points. He also missed all eight from long range, a sharp contrast from his 8-of-11 effort in Game 2.

Allen fell one miss shy of the all-time finals record of futility for worst percentage without a field goal. Dennis Johnson went 0-for-14 for Seattle against Washington in Game 7 of the 1978 Finals

“I thought he was pressing early on some of them, and honestly, I thought all of his shots looked flat,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “I didn’t think he had any legs. Of the 13, I think eight of them were great looks, and all of them were short, all of them were flat. It happens to the best of us.”

Kevin Garnett scored 25 points for the Celtics, who also received 15 points from Paul Pierce. Boston had six turnovers in the last quarter after having just four combined over the first three periods.

Rajon Rondo, who had a triple-double on Sunday, was limited to 11 points and eight assists for the Celtics, who now face an uphill battle to win their record 18th championship. The NBA Finals has been tied at a game apiece 32 different times and the winner of Game 3 has gone on to take 28 of those series.

Lakers center Andrew Bynum, who suffered a slightly torn meniscus against Oklahoma City in the first round of the playoffs and had his knee drained before the finals started, suffered some swelling after Game 3 but is expected to play tonight.

“It was real swollen right after the game, but it’s come back down to normal, Bynum said at practice on Wednesday. “It hurts when I do certain movements, like quick-twitch stuff or running really hard, It’s just something I have to deal with. I’m going to play.”

The 2010 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 most storied franchises.

Their finals history dates all the way back to the 1958-59 season when the Lakers still called Minneapolis home. Boston and the game’s ultimate winner, Bill Russell, dominated the early years of the rivalry. The Red Auerbach-era Celtics took the Lakers all seven times they met in the finals, although the Jerry West, Elgin Baylor-fueled LA clubs did manage to take Boston to seven games on three different occasions.

The rivalry lay dormant for 15 years until Larry Bird and Magic Johnson “saved” the NBA by bringing their own storied college rivalry to the pros. Bird avenged his loss at Indiana State to Magic’s Michigan State Spartans in the 1979 NCAA Finals when the Celtics got past the Lakers in seven games to win the 1983-84 NBA title.

Johnson and his Lakers responded the next season as LA finally beat Boston in the finals for the first time. Magic also won the rubber match two years later before the rivalry went cold again, this time for 20 years as the Celtics struggled mightily in the post-Bird era.

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Boston basketball chief Danny Ainge re-ignited things by acquiring both Garnett and Allen before the 2007-08 season. The two All-Stars teamed with Pierce to create the “Boston Three Party” and the Celtics were relevant again. A 17th Boston championship was the result as Garnett and his Celtics got the best of Bryant’s Lakers.

A rematch could have been in the offing last season but a knee injury to Garnett derailed any hopes of a Celtics repeat. Instead, LA earned its 15th championship by taking Orlando in five games.

The Lakers and Celtics have combined to win 32 of the NBA’s 63 titles coming into this series.

Game 5 is Sunday, again at TD Garden.


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