Going into the fourth quarter of Game 5, ABC did another one of those nifty coach interviews with Doc Rivers. You know, the one where the coach doesn’t really say anything but the fans are supposed to act like they just got some kind of remarkable insight on the game.
Well, during said interview, Rivers was asked how he felt about the fact that Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers had just gone off on his team in the third quarter. Rivers’ answer described why his team would ultimately end up winning the game.
“It’s no different than when anyone else scores. It’s still only worth two or three points.”
Despite Bryant scoring 23 straight Lakers points between the 4:23 mark of the second quarter all the way up until there was only 2:16 remaining in the third, the Celtics still managed to defeat the Lakers 92-86 and take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Over the span during which Bryant went on his remarkable run, the Celtics turned a one-point lead into a 13 point lead.
During this scoring binge by the Lakers star, cameras shifted over to Dwyane Wade. who was sitting in the stands. Flash grinned as he watched Bryant’s acrobatic shots go in, and shook his head in amazement. There was no smile on Bryant’s face, though. With every amazing shot he put through the hoop on his way to 38 points on the night, he would watch his teammates fumble a defensive assignment, or let a defensive rebound slip through their fingers.
The title of ESPN’s recap of tonight’s game is: “Kobe Explodes, Lakers Implode.” Nothing could be truer.
On the other side of the court, Paul Pierce got nothing but support from his teammates en route to his 27 points. Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo both did their parts, scoring 18 points apiece. Garnett also managed to grab 10 rebounds, while Rondo had 8 assists and five rebounds.
It was the help from his fellow starters that would help Pierce guide his team to victory. As the Celtics’ captain scored seven points in the last 3 ½ minutes of the second quarter and nine in the first five minutes of the third, he got to watch Ray Allen come in and hit a pair of shots that gave the Celtics a 71-58 lead with a little over 3:00 remaining in the third quarter.
Bryant tried to bring the Lakers back late in the fourth, hitting a pair of free throws to make it 87-82 with a little over a minute remaining in the game. Unfortunately for his team, the refs mistakenly said that an Allen air ball hit the rim, and gave the Celtics the ball as well as a fresh 24 seconds with 1:05 left in the game.
The Celtics would miss a 3-point attempt on the subsequent possession, but the Lakers could not secure a rebound with Derek Fisher and Garnett crashing to the floor. The refs ended up ruling a jump ball, and Fisher would go on to beat the 6’11 Garnett for the tip. Nevertheless, Ron Artest was fouled on a breakaway play and ended up missing both free throws. Bryant leaped in for the rebound, however, Pierce managed to rip it away from him and dribble off to the side before calling a timeout.
A miraculous inbounds pass to Pierce and a great cutting pass to Rondo allowed the Celtics to go up 89-82 with 36 seconds left in the game.
Pau Gasol finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds in a very quiet effort against Garnett. Fisher, the star of Game 3, scored a mere nine points.
All of the other Lakers starters -- combined -- did not outscore Bryant’s 38 points.
The series now shifts back to Los Angeles, with all of the momentum on Boston’s side.
On the bright side, all the Celtics did was win on their home floor, which they were expected to do. On the not-so-bright side, the Celtics have already won one game in L.A. during these finals, and they only need to win one more to win their 18th championship in franchise history.
Game 6 is on Tuesday night.