In an extremely physical battle, the Lakers answered any questions concerning their "lack of toughness," as they quieted a belligerent crowd in Boston. Chants of " beat L.A." echoed through the Garden, but in the end the Lakers were the last team standing.
Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 26 points and 10 rebounds while Pau Gasol chipped in with 24 points and 14 rebounds. Replacing the injured Andrew Bynum, who was lost with a MCL tear, Lamar Odom came through big with 20 points.
The Celtics led almost the entire second half but the momentum seemed to sway in the Lakers favor after Kevin Garnett fouled out with just over four minutes left in regulation. The Celtics got 22 from Ray Allen and 21 for Paul Pierce, but their lack of Garnett's physical post play down low was sorely missed at the end of the game.
With this win, the Lakers have assured themselves home court advantage should they finish tied with the Celtics and meet in the NBA finals again in June. After L.A.'s convincing win over the Celtics 92-83, on Christmas day, few believed that without Andrew Bynum the Lakers would pull out the win in Boston.
Next up for the Lakers is a showdown with Lebron James and the Cavs. After Kobes'( 61 point,) and Lebrons' (52 point,) shooting clinics against the Knicks, a showdown between the leauge's two biggest superstars should provide plenty of highlight reel material come Sunday.