The Lakers almost made history in the game 2 of the NBA finals. The Lakers trailed by 24 points with less than 8 minutes to go, but pulled to 104-102 on two free throws by Bryant with 38.4 seconds left. But Pierce made two free throws, and then blocked a jumper by Sasha Vujacic, and James Posey made two free throws with 12.6 seconds left to finish it off for the Boston’s.
“I think we got kind of self satisfaction with the lead,” Pierce said. “We weren’t staying aggressive. We let them pick up their pressure. We stopped guarding. We got to take a lesson from this fourth quarter to keep playing regardless of the score and finish the game.”
Boston was 27-for-38 from the line, while the Lakers were 10-for-10. Pierce wasn’t slowed by a sprained right knee suffered in the series opening game, when he was carried from the court and put into a wheelchair. The Boston captain paced the Celtics, who are back in the finals for the first time since 1987, when Larry Bird was the main man of the team.
As usual, Boston’s Big Three - Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett were the ringleaders but Powe, a second-year reserve had the game of his career, adding his 21 points in 15 minutes that surely made him the Celtics fan favorite for the night.
Bryant, who fought back from the Game 1, scored 30 points - 13 in the fourth - on 11-of-23 shooting. In four losses to Boston this season, Bryant is just 35-of-93 from the field and can’t seem to get the same easy looks he enjoys against every other team.
Pau Gasol scored 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Lakers, who were down 95-71 with 7:55 when they mounted a comeback that fell just short.
Bryant’s free throws brought Los Angeles to 104-102 before Pierce was fouled by Derek Fisher. As a few of his teammates locked arms on the bench like a college team trying to advance in March, Pierce knocked down both foul shots. Then, on defense, he got just enough of Vujacic’s shot from the left wing with 14 seconds left.
That evening Bryant just wasn’t finding things going his way. He scored only 1-of-4 from the floor when he was called for pushing off on Allen - his second personal foul - and spent the final 1:59 minutes on the bench. Soon, Bryant was joined by Lamar Odom and Jackson was forced to give his reserves extended in the early minutes.
The Larker’s bench players also struggled in the end, and the Celtics took advantage. Posey was fouled on the play and calmly made his two free throws. The Lakers rushed the ball down but missed on a couple jumpers, and when the final horn sounded, a collective sigh of relief rushed through the Celtics and their fans as they left the building with smiles.
Game 3 is Tuesday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, where the Lakers are 8-0 in the postseason and have won 14 in a row at home since March 28.