The AP reports:
With an emphatic, historic blowout win in Game 6 Tuesday night, Los Angeles earned the right to host the grand finale to both the NBA season and this scintillating chapter in the league’s most glamorous rivalry.
Kobe Bryant scored 26 points, Pau Gasol added 17 points and 13 rebounds, and the Lakers held Boston to the second lowest-scoring performance in NBA finals history in an 89-67 victory, setting up a winner-take-all Game 7 on Thursday…
“We didn’t get in any rhythm early, and it affects our chemistry,” said Ray Allen, who scored 19 points. “We each tried to make the home run play early. As a starting unit, we take responsibility. We have to do a better job next game.”
Ron Artest added 15 points for the Lakers, who got their backs off the wall with a dazzling first half and a strong finish built around defense that held Boston to 33 percent shooting. Only Utah’s infamous 54-point performance against Chicago in 1998 was worse.
Bryant grabbed 11 rebounds, and Gasol led the Lakers with nine assists in a remarkable bounce-back game for Los Angeles, which dominated from the opening minutes by vacuuming up rebounds—13 more than Boston—and playing relentless defense…
Paul Pierce scored 13 points and Kevin Garnett added 12, but the Celtics’ offense was a jumbled, stand-around mess. Rajon Rondo, the late-game hero in Boston’s last appearance in Los Angeles, got off to a 1-for-8 shooting start before finishing with 10 points and six assists…
The Celtics lost starting center Kendrick Perkins in the first quarter to a sprained right knee when he landed awkwardly under the hoop, but his absence couldn’t explain the Lakers’ utter domination of the first half—a 30-13 rebounding edge while holding Boston to 34 percent shooting and frustrating Rondo.
The Boston Globe reports:
The Lakers could do no wrong on this night. They won the rebounding war (52-39). They dominated the paint (40-32). And after seemingly taking on the Celtics by himself in Game 6, Kobe Bryant found reinforcements everywhere.
His 38-point Game 5 assault bulged off the stat sheet, but his 26-point, 11-rebound, 3-assist effort last night seemed to blend in. Pau Gasol was an assist shy of a triple-double (17 points, 13 rebounds, 9 assists). Ron Artest, seemingly lost the past two games, beamed himself back into the series with a 15-point, 6-rebound performance. The Lakers bench combined for 25 points and 16 rebounds. All the pieces put together were too much for the Celtics.
“They did everything harder than we did,’’ said Boston’s Tony Allen. “It’s just unusual.’’
The Celtics shot 33 percent from the floor. A sign of how futile their offense was? At the start of the fourth quarter, Ray Allen, Garnett, Pierce, and Rajon Rondo were the only four Celtics in the scoring column.
The Boston Globe reports:
The Lakers’ bench outscored its Celtics’ counterpart, 25-13, in LA’s 89-67 victory, putting up its most productive effort in the series. Sasha Vujacic scored 9 points off the bench and Lamar Odom contributed 8, playing 28:26 while Andrew Bynum (15:53) rested his knee.
They were part of a unit that did most of its damage in the second quarter. The effort was visible early when Lakers guard Jordan Farmar and Rajon Rondo scurried after a loose ball in the second quarter. Farmar used a headfirst slide to sling the ball toward Kobe Bryant, who was chasing along the left side. Bryant picked up the ball and drove to the basket and was fouled with eight minutes to go in the half. Bryant hit both free throws to give the Lakers a 36-23 lead.
Bryant didn’t have to stay in the game for the Lakers to be effective. He came out with 7:46 to go in the first half, and when he returned three minutes later, the Lakers had stretched the lead to 18 points (45-27).
The Los Angeles Times reports:
The Lakers held the Celtics to 28-of-84 shooting (33.3%) and outrebounded Boston, 52-39. Rajon Rondo had a quiet night, scoring only 10 points on five-for-15 shooting. Paul Pierce had 13 points and Kevin Garnett 12.
“Our defense was good,” Jackson said. “Our rebounding was better.”
The Lakers’ reserves were decisively better, with Lamar Odom totaling eight points and 10 rebounds, and Sasha Vujacic scoring nine points in 14 minutes. The Boston bench was scoreless until Nate Robinson’s reverse layup with 9:56 left in the fourth quarter.
Thursday will be a first for Jackson, who has never coached a Game 7 in the Finals. He is 3-1 in Game 7s with the Lakers, most recently a winner in last season’s Western Conference semifinal against Houston.
After the final seconds ticked down Tuesday, longtime Lakers public-address announcer Lawrence Tanter intoned, “There will be a Gaaaame 7.”