The AP reports:

Ron Artest and Paul Pierce went back-to-back with their elbows locked, both unwilling to yield even an inch underneath the hoop. The veteran forwards crashed to the court together and got up looking to rumble, earning double technical fouls.

And that was just in the first 27 seconds.

Lakers beat Celtics 102-89 in NBA Finals Game 1

This NBA finals rematch was rough from the opening tumble, but Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol made sure the Los Angeles Lakers landed the first shot on the Boston Celtics.

Bryant scored 30 points, Gasol had 23 points and 14 rebounds, and defending champion Los Angeles got tough in a 102-89 victory over Boston in Game 1 on Thursday night.

Artest scored 15 points after his tangle with Pierce in the opening minute of the 12th finals meeting between the NBA’s most scintillating rivals. It was the opening salvo in a gritty physical effort against the Celtics, who memorably pushed around the Lakers while winning their 2008 finals matchup in six games.

The AP reports:

Pierce scored 24 points and Kevin Garnett added 16 after a slow start for the Celtics, who might not want to know Lakers coach Phil Jackson’s teams in Los Angeles and Chicago have won 47 straight playoff series after winning Game 1…

Ray Allen scored 12 points in just 27 minutes, saddled with constant foul trouble while trying to guard Bryant. Pierce also picked up early fouls, while Garnett simply struggled, going 7 for 16 from the field and grabbing just four rebounds—even inexplicably missing an open layup with 5 1/2 minutes to play.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

The Lakers’ 102-89 victory over the Celtics in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night at Staples Center was not easy as the margin. Then again, after the third quarter it wasn’t that difficult. In the end the Lakers were able to win because of their ability to get the ball into the middle and, even more importantly, let Kobe Bryant shoot the ball.

Jackson dismissed the streak as any good coach would do.

“I wish I felt that way (confident),” Jackson said. “We have to play this out. We have a lot of work ahead of us. But ultimately it’s important but then the next game becomes the most important. But the first game sets the action and that is important.”

The Los Angeles Times reports:

The game was close through the first quarter, although the Lakers at one point had a six-point lead they seemed unwilling to keep. But with less than five minutes to play in the second quarter the Lakers went on a 11-4 streak to build an 11-point lead with less than a minute to play in the half.

But the Celtics cut their deficit to nine on a Rajon Rondo jumper and the Lakers had a 50-41 lead at halftime. There were two telling statistics, the Lakers had a 28-12 advantage in points in the paint and an impressive 16-0 on second-chance points.

“Sixteen-0 is pretty remarkable,” Jackson said. “That was a big part of the game.”

The New York Times reports:

On Thursday, Gasol amassed 23 points and 14 rebounds.

“I knew it was going to be physical, that’s a given,” Gasol said. “This being our third consecutive finals, we understand the nature of the game.”

In one telling sequence in the third quarter, Gasol turned around for a hook shot and bumped into Perkins, while the ball careered off the rim. Gasol grabbed the rebound and gained his composure before missing again and scooping up the shot and elegantly laying it in.

“If you heard what you couldn’t do for two years, you’re probably going to come in and try to prove that,” Celtics Coach Doc Rivers said.

The New York Times reports:

The Lakers surged to a 50-41 halftime lead, sliced into mildly when Rajon Rondo nailed a 22-foot buzzer-beater as the second quarter expired.

Rondo scored 10 of his points in the first half by sneaking through creases in the Lakers’ defense and mostly nullifying Jackson’s decision to initially defend him with Bryant.

It took only a few seconds for emotions to flare in one of the series’ most anticipating matchup between Pierce and Artest.

The Washington Post reports:

This was the matchup the Lakers really wanted, and they showed early on that they weren’t the same team. After Rajon Rondo made a layup to start the game, Ron Artest, a member of the Sacramento Kings when the Celtics won two years ago, collided backs with Pierce under the basket. Both players wrapped their arms behind each other, pulled themselves to the ground and charged each other after they got to their feet. Words were exchanged and Pierce and Artest both received technical fouls. Artest has historically caused problems for Pierce, and he spent the rest of the night harassing him and limiting him to 24 points and 13 field goal attempts.

In his Finals debut, Artest added 15 points and three three-pointers, including one that gave the Lakers an 84-64 lead at the end of the third period. Artest later riled the crowd when he blocked a shot by Glen “Big Baby” Davis, recovered the loose ball then whirled around, swinging his arm to celebrate as Pau Gasol raced down the floor for a breakaway dunk that gave the Lakers a 91-76 lead with 6 minutes 20 seconds left in the game. Celtics Coach Doc Rivers called timeout and Bryant ran over to hug Artest and tap him on the chest.