It was Purple Reign as the New York Post wrote. The Lakers, and particularly Ron Artest and Pau Gasol, outlasted the gritty Boston Celtics, 83-79, in a defensive slugfest. Artest was huge scoring 20 points, recording five steals and playing tenacious defense on Celtics' star Paul Pierce. Pierce was five-for-15 from the field, and though he finished with 18 it was so hard-earned and drained him. Artest may be the best defensive player in the NBA. Pau Gasol scored 19 points and pulled down an amazing 18 boards. He made the shot of the game late with KG and Pierce draped all over him. He sank a shot when he was coming down from a jump shot knocking down the shot with Pierce's hand basically on the ball and Garnett right on top of him. If you looked at it, it was really an up and down, but that's not called in the NBA. It should have been
Kobe admitted he folded under the pressure finishing six-for- 24 from the field, and 11-for-15 from the line. He had 23 points but he pulled down 15 boards and played stellar defense on Ray Allen who was three-for-14 from the field. Kobe gutted it out and had a very fine series taking the MVP honors. Phil Jackson won his 11th title, and while I thought Doc Rivers was the better motivator and seemed more into it than Phil, Phil's calm nature and sage advice got it done again. He's a great coach. I think he's tired and injured himself like most all of the players who were out there, so he needs a break to reassess his future.
The stat of the game was the rebounding again. The Lakers outrebounded the Celtics, 53-40, with a 23-8 offensive rebounding edge. The team that won the rebounding battle in each game won that game every time.
The Celtics had held the Lakers to 27 percent shooting in the first half and it looked like their defense would carry them, but the Lakers fought back and D Fish's three tied the game later in the fourth. The Lakers didn't look back.
Both teams were terrific and this was a classic series. Kobe won his fifth title and is one of the five to 10 greatest players in NBA history. He's not MJ yet, but he's getting closer.
The Celtics are a class group. There may be some changes coming with Doc thinking about stepping away for a little while to watch his kids play sports and Ray becoming a free agent. They're older, but I sure enjoyed watching them in the playoffs. Losing Kendrick Perkins hurt for the seventh game. Gasol had his way. Perkins could have made a difference with defense and rebounding. Could have swung the game the Celtics way, no doubt. But KG, Ray, Pierce, Rondo and company gave it everything they had. They left it all on the court.
Both teams left an indelible legacy in this series and throughout the playoffs. It's a legacy of perseverance through injuries through the stress of the regular season and the postseason. It was a classic defensive series. The Lakers showed they could play some pretty outstanding defense. Artest gave them that East Coast toughness. He stood toe-to-toe with Pierce, a pretty tenacious guy himself. He was the difference last night.
I thought in the last six minutes they should really start feeding the ball inside to KG, but he just stepped too far away from the basket. I think, like most every other player on the court except Artest, he was tired, worn out from 113 games including the preseason. I just thought KG could take advantage of his athletic edge on Gasol. He was showing signs of it in the fourth quarter but it didn't happen in the last four minutes.
I'll say this: if I'm going to war, I want KG, Pierce, Rondo and Ray in my foxhole. I guess it would be pretty good to have Kobe, Gasol, Fisher and Artest in there, too.
Tremendous, memorable series. Best NBA finals in years. The Lakers and the Celtics know how to do it right. I'm just down that it's over. I wanted to see more. Next year should be another classic in the NBA. Maybe these two teams will stay together and make another run. They're both older so there may be some changes in the works.Teams like the Suns, Mavs, Nuggets, the exciting young group from Oklahoma City, Portland will all be in the mix in the West. In the East, it all depends on free agency with LeBron, DWade and Chris Bosh. The Celtics are unsure where they stand for next year. Plus the draft is coming up next Thursday, and we'll see new emerging stars like John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Evan Turner next year.
Classic season, historic matchup in the finals. Playoffs were awesome. I love college basketball, but this series and the postseason in general were as thrilling as it gets. Two teams persevered and put on a show in the finals. I can't wait till next year.
(Ron Artest was superb in victory)