The Lakers pounded the boards and dominated the front court, scoring 48 points in the paint and out-rebounding the Celtics 42 to 31, 12 on the offensive board. The Lakers were also 16-0 in second chance points as they defeated the Celtics in Game One of the NBA Finals, 102-89
Although Kobe Bryant had a game-high 30 points, it was Pau Gasol, throwing off the “soft” label that has haunted him since the 2008 NBA Final. Gasol put up the only double-double in tonight’s game with 23 points, 14 rebounds and three blocked shots.
To put it in perspective, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins, Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis altogether only had 14 rebounds.
The Celtics were thought to be the tougher team. They proved that in the 2008 NBA Finals. But tonight it was the Lakers who proved tougher.
Commenting on the Lakers physicality, Celtic coach Doc Rivers put it succinctly, “I thought the Lakers were the more physical team tonight. They were more aggressive. I thought they attacked us the entire night”
Magic Johnson on ABC/ESPN praised the Lakers defense: “The Lakers were just all over the Celtics all night long…It was team defense all night long, and it was physical team defense.”
The game also set an NBA record. It was the 111th playoff victory for the player-coach combination of Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson.
Bryant’s last second three-pointer pushed him ahead of former Laker Kareem Abdul Jabbar for second place with his 76th playoff game scoring 30 or more points. Michael Jordan is still way out in front with well over a hundred playoff games of 30 points or more.
Phil Jackson is 47-0 when winning the first game of a playoff series. Will this series make it 48-0?
Well, don’t go making arrangements to attend a parade yet, Lakers fans. This is still the Celtics. They won’t go away that easily. According to Paul Pierce, the Celtics are angry and embarrassed that they played so terribly in Game One. So, don’t expect the Lakers to just runaway with Game Two Sunday evening at the Staples Center.
For one thing, after Sunday’s game, the next three games are in Boston, and the Celtics are well aware of how difficult it will be to defeat the Lakers in three consecutive games. So, they desperately need a win this Sunday evening.
The Lakers are sure to see a different Celtics team on Sunday. The Celtics will do all they can to steal a game at Staples Center. If the Lakers go to Boston up 2-0, the Celtics know the series is over. So, expect Sunday’s game to be an all-out war.