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Lakers make like Grinch, end Boston’s streak

Lakers make like Grinch, end Boston’s streak

Posted: Friday, December 26, 2008 6:50 pm
By: By JOHN NADEL, AP Sports Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) — For the Los Angeles Lakers, it was a bit of payback.
But in the big picture, little more.
Kobe Bryant had 27 points, nine rebounds and five assists, Pau Gasol scored seven of his 20 points in the final three minutes, and the Lakers beat Boston 92-83 on Thursday, snapping the Celtics’ franchise-record winning streak at 19.
“It was a good measuring stick to show how much we have progressed since the finals,” Bryant said. “They are a team that has been playing so well. But at the same time, they did win 19 in a row, so they were due.”
The game was the first between the teams since the Celtics’ 131-92 victory in Game 6 of the finals last June gave them their first title in 22 years and a league-high 17th.
“We definitely wanted to do well against a team that is doing great,” Lakers forward Lamar Odom said. “We won’t get them back until we can beat them in a series.”
In other NBA games Thursday, it was: Cleveland 93, Washington 89; San Antonio 91, Phoenix 90; Orlando 88, New Orleans 68; and Dallas 102, Portland 94.
The victory was the 1,000th for Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson.
The 63-year-old Jackson, the sixth NBA coach to reach the mark, is 1,000-423 in 17-plus seasons with Chicago and the Lakers.
Pat Riley was the previous fastest to 1,000, doing it in 1,434 games.
“I can guarantee you that I won’t win 1,000 games because I won’t be around that long,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “It’s just an amazing number.”
The Celtics entered with a 27-2 record — the best ever start by a two-loss team.
They were in position to make it 28-2 when Kevin Garnett dunked off a feed from Rajon Rondo to put them ahead 81-79 with 3:57 left. But the Lakers finished with a 13-2 run.
The Lakers outscored the Celtics 21-16 in the fourth quarter. Boston shot 8-of-19 and was 0-for-7 on 3-pointers in the final period.
“I’m really happy with Pau,” Jackson said. “He stepped up in that fourth quarter and we really needed him.”
Lamar Odom had 10 points and seven rebounds, and Sasha Vujacic also scored 10 points for the Lakers (24-5), who won their 12th straight game at home, where they’re 15-1. Andrew Bynum had nine points and seven rebounds.
“They played great, give them credit,” Rivers said. “For a team that has been phenomenal down a stretch of games, I didn’t think we were very good tonight. We’ve been as composed as any team that I’ve seen in a long time, and I thought, quite honestly, that we lost it a little bit at the end.”
Garnett shot 11-of-14 in leading the Celtics with 22 points and nine rebounds.
Paul Pierce had 20 points and 10 rebounds, but was scoreless in the fourth quarter.
Ray Allen scored 14 points, but went 2-of-11 after making his first three shots.
Gasol made all three of his shots and all three of his free throws in the fourth quarter for nine of his team’s 21 points.
“We were pretty physical,” Gasol said. “We were able to contain them, keep our poise and finish the game off. I had to make sure I took it to them, not settle for easy jumpers. I’m glad I was able to get over that hump of a slow start.
“It shows we can beat anybody. Hopefully, we’ll build on it.”
Gasol’s 15-foot jumper with 2:48 left snapped an 81-all tie and put the Lakers ahead for good. Allen’s 3-pointer failed, and Gasol scored from close range with two minutes left to put Los Angeles up by four.
Garnett answered with a jumper to draw the Celtics within two, but Gasol’s three-point play with 1:28 left put the Lakers on top 88-83.
Gasol then blocked Allen’s 3-pointer, setting up Trevor Ariza for a dunk that gave Los Angeles a seven-point lead with 1:12 to go.
“Losing is losing, man,” Garnett said. “It doesn’t matter who it is. We hadn’t lost in a while, but today I felt like we missed assignments and had some miscommunication, things that we’re known for.”


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