NBA Finals: Game 5
The Lakers, led by Kobe Bryant (25 points, five steals) and Pau Gasol (19 points, 13 rebounds), withstood another furious comeback by the Celtics to win 103-98 to stave off elimination in the NBA Finals.
Kobe Bryant and the Lakers tried all manner of defense against Paul Pierce, to no avail. Playing all but the final two seconds of the game, Pierce had 38 points, eight assists and six rebounds.
Kobe Bryant did most of his damage early, scoring 15 of his 25 points in the first quarter. He finished 8-of-21 from the field.
Criticized in the Finals for being too soft, Pau Gasol delivered a big game against P.J. Brown and the Celtics. Gasol's 19 points and 13 rebounds were series highs for the 7-foot Spaniard.
An aggressive Paul Pierce repeatedly attacked the interior of the Lakers' defense, earning himself 19 free-throw attempts.
Reserve guard Sasha Vujacic (left) couldn't get a handle on this loose ball -- or his jump shot. He shot 2-of-10 from the field, making him 3-of-19 in the last two games.
After allowing 39 first-quarter points, Kevin Garnett and the Celtics tightened up their defense. That helped Boston slice a 17-point deficit at the end of the first quarter to three by halftime.
Derek Fisher helped keep Celtics sharpshooter Ray Allen in check. Allen, who had made 20-of-35 shots in the previous three games, connected on only 4-of-13 in Game 5.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson gave Jordan Farmer (5) key minutes down the stretch, and the second-year point guard responded. Farmar scored two baskets early in the fourth quarter to help the Lakers build their lead to 14. Farmar, in fact, played the entire fourth quarter.
Like Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom has taken heat this series for not playing tougher. And like Gasol, Odom delivered a big Game 5, scoring 20 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.