Rondo finished two rebounds shy of a triple-double and nearly brought the Celtics back when he knocked down a three with 11.7 seconds left to cut the Lakers' lead to two. He made a few mistakes in transition, but overall, he ran the offense efficiently.
Allen's jump shot broke in Game 3 and he was never able to fix it. Despite several wide-open looks, Allen's shots were way off target, and more than a few times he passed on driving lanes in favor of jump shots. His defense on Kobe Bryant, however, bumps up his mark.
If this was Wallace's last game, it was a good one. 'Sheed was disruptive on Pau Gasol defensively and was lethal in the low post. He made only one of his four threes, but his 25-foot trey in the fourth quarter brought Boston within three.
Pierce had several chances to seize control of the game, only to come up short. He was bothered all night by Ron Artest's physical defense, often settling for contested jump shots. Pierce was equally unimpressive on defense, allowing Artest to muscle him in the paint.
The Celtics leaned heavily on their starters, with Doc Rivers tabbing only Glen Davis for more than six minutes of play. Davis continued to look gun shy and picked up a few sloppy fouls defending Gasol in the post. Nate Robinson looked tentative in his first Game 7, while Tony Allen didn't have the same impact defensively as he did in previous games.
Doc Rivers, Head Coach
Rivers danced with the one that brung him. He stretched out his starters' minutes, a strategy that nearly paid off before Boston faded in the fourth quarter. He could have utilized his timeouts more early in the second half to give his starters some rest, and at times, Boston's offense became isolation-happy. But the Celtics never quit, despite strong odds against them.
Fisher's defense on Allen was so-so; Allen's struggles were mostly attributed to his inability to make shots. But he was economical with his scoring and canned one of the biggest shots of the night: a three-pointer that tied the game midway through the fourth quarter
Bryant will remember the ring; not the game. Caught up in the magnitude of the moment, Bryant's shot was off and his play sloppy. He did rally to make 8-of-9 free throws in the fourth quarter, salvaging his game and pushing the Lakers to the finish line.
Andrew Bynum, C
19 min., 2 points (1-5 FG), 6 rebounds
With Celtics center Kendrick Perkins out, Bynum wasn't expected to be much of a factor. He was a load in the paint early, but with Boston going with a quicker lineup, he ceded his spot to Lamar Odom.
Trevor who? Artest's shooting percentage wasn't great, but he overpowered Pierce several times on the inside and came up with a team-high five steals. Artest was going to be the hero or the goat in this one. In the end, he was the former.
Can't question Gasol's toughness after this one. The Spaniard overpowered Kevin Garnett in loose-ball situations and dominated the glass. There are a few free-throw attempts Gasol would probably like to take back. But that's about all.
Odom played a lot of minutes (35), but didn't produce much (seven points on 3-of-8 shooting). Sasha Vujacic played less than five minutes, just enough time to sink two critical fourth-quarter free throws. But Jordan Farmar's only contribution in 13 minutes was a pair of fouls and a turnover, while Shannon Brown couldn't bring the same energy he had in Game 6.
Phil Jackson, Head Coach
Jackson allowed a struggling Bryant to bomb away despite Artest's and Gasol's effectiveness in the paint. Still, the Zen Master did put a cold Vujacic in the game for Artest late in the fourth quarter, a move that paid off when Vujacic knocked down a pair of game-clinching free throws.
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