The Los Angeles Lakers will lick their wounds on the flight to Boston, and will try to be ready to avenge a Game 2 loss to the Celtics. Chants at the TD Garden will ring out “Beat LA, Beat LA”, but Kobe Bryant will keep his team focused on forcing the series back to Staples Center.
The Celtics came out with a bigger commitment to defense in Game 2 and held off a late Laker surge to beat the defending champions 103-94. They are glad to be taking the series back to Boston where their fans are sure to provide sixth man support.
“I feel good going back to the jungle,” Celtics forward Kevin Garnett said after the game on Sunday.
The Lakers allowed a record eight three pointers by Ray Allen that allowed the Celtics to take a big first half lead before a Kobe three with 0.2 seconds left cut it to six. Rajon Rondo picked up in the second half when Allen cooled off, adding 19 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists for his fifth playoff triple double.
Bryant is no stranger to the feeling of losing a game at home to begin the finals. In 2004 the Detriot Pistons split the first two with the Lakers, and never returned to Los Angeles. They won the next three straight, in a saga that ended with Shaquille O’Neal leaving for Miami.
Then in 2008 the Lakers returned to the finals for the first time since that fateful series. The Celtics took care of them in six games for their first title in 22 years. In 2009 the Lakers came back with a vengeance, beating the Orlando Magic in five.
Now the Lakers find themselves with a tied series and three tough games in a hostile environment. Bryant is focused on taking it one game at a time.
“It’s the most important game. Game 1 was the most important, Game 2 was the most important, now it’s Game 3,” Bryant said. “It’s just the next game, simple as that.”
The last time the Lakers played a finals game in Boston they were throttled 131-92. Other Laker players have not forgotten about that night, and will use it for motivation in Game 3 Tuesday night.
“Obviously there’s feelings involved and there’s memories that are in there, which should help us, should help us to push through and to battle even harder,” Lakers forward Pau Gasol said of the 2008 rout.
Rondo says his team has more confidence than ever, but they will not over-look the Lakers, who are one of the league’s best road teams.
“Game 3 is the biggest game of the series so far. These two games are behind us,” Rondo said. “You know, they’re not in a bad situation at all. They’re a good road team, and we’re a good home team. It’s going to be a good game.”
NBA Sportsbooks have set the Lakers as the underdogs in Game 3 of the 2010 NBA Finals by 2 1/2 points. The over/under for total points scored in the game is set at 193.