Stud Of The Night It's only fitting that Kevin Garnett(right) would be the hero in the clincher. The Big Ticket, whose arrival in a trade last summer turned around Boston's fortunes, had a team-high 26 points and 14 rebounds to lead the way Tuesday night as the Celtics routed the Lakers in Game 6 to win the NBA championship. Displaying the fierceness and intensity that has marked his stellar 13-year career, Garnett scored 10 points in the first quarter to help set the tone while anchoring a team defensive effort that put the clamps once more on Kobe Bryant (22 points). Boston's Paul Pierce (17 points, 10 assists) and Ray Allen (26 points, including 7-of-9 from three-point range) were terrific as well, but on this night KG was the biggest of the Big Three.
Dud Of The Night The entire Lakers team has to take the blame for this one. Bryant once again couldn't make a shot (7-of-22 overall, 3-of-9 from three-point range), and the MVP did very little in other ways (three rebounds, one assist, four turnovers) to live up to those Michael Jordan comparisons. Lamar Odom (14 points, 10 rebounds) and Pau Gasol (11 and eight) reverted back to their Charmin-y ways. The bench got outplayed again. Basically, the Lakers didn't show up. The Celtics outrebounded them 48-29, including 14-2 on the offensive boards, and amassed an 18-4 edge in steals. How does a team shoot 8-of-27 (29.6 percent) in the first half, as the Lakers did, and not manage a single offensive rebound?
Play Of The Night With the Celtics leading by 11 midway through the second quarter, James Posey poked the ball away from Bryant, raced downcourt, took a feed from Pierce and promptly buried a three-pointer for a 43-29 lead. Posey's pickpocket job, one of a Finals-record 18 Boston steals on the night, was part of a 26-6 run by the Celtics to close out the quarter and blow the game open. It also perfectly exemplified Boston's swarming team defensive effort and the huge role played by the bench in the game and the series overall.
Courtside Confidential Once again, Boston's small lineup proved deadly for the Lakers. The Celtics led 32-29 with 7:50 left in the second quarter when Garnett reentered the game, joining Posey, Eddie House and Pierce. Boston immediately took off on that pivotal run. The Lakers simply could not stop them, nor make them pay for it at the other end. ... It had been 22 years since Boston last won the title, and the atmosphere in the new Garden was electric. From the "Beat L.A." chants during pregame warmups to the rousing ovation for the Big Three as they left the game in the final minutes, Boston fans definitely woke up the echoes of Red, Russell, Bird and the team's glory days. ... As might be expected, some fans were willing to pay top dollar for the chance to see the clincher. One customer paid $27,500 for two VIP mid-court seats, and the average price was $973 on StubHub, according to the Boston Herald. But was anybody willing to trade their Red Sox tickets?
Look Ahead It's another parade for Boston, as the Celtics join the Red Sox and Patriots as recent pro sports champions from that city. But unlike their MLB and NFL brethren, it will be a relatively new experience for Boston hoops fan, whose team last won the NBA crown in 1986. As for the Lakers, it's time to start dreaming about the 2008-09 season. With Bryant, Odom and Gasol under contract, and Andrew Bynum expected to return from his knee injury, L.A. will be one of the preseason favorites to win it all. With Boston's Big Three also expected to return, these two teams could meet again next year in another installment of this classic rivalry.
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