Game 1 to the Los Angeles Lakers, 102-89. Kobe Bryant scores 30, including a statement 3-pointer in the final seconds. Pau Gasol scores 23.
Lakers now 9-0 at home in the playoffs, and three wins away from another title.
So what's Boston to do?
It's actually quite simple: Fewer fouls early, more touches for Ray Allen.
The first few minutes of Game 1 doomed the Celtics. Allen getting in so much foul trouble early disrupted him immeasurably. Made the Celtics adjust everything they wanted to do as well, including their rotations.
The Lakers, meanwhile, they were just expertly quarterbacked by Bryant all night long.
There was no huge run, other than perhaps the steady stream of scoring in the third. But it wasn't a rout. Just never in doubt, either.
See you Sunday.
This one is all but sealed for the Lakers.
The Celtics just didn't get enough stops in the third quarter, then were just flat in the fourth quarter. The Lakers are up 13 with 2:15 remaining, and didn't play particularly well offensively, either.
Boston needs something from its centers in Game 2. Perkins. Davis. Wallace. Anyone.
There was no inside-out or outside-in approach for the Celtics tonight, which was one of the many ways in which there was no semblance of what worked for the C's against Orlando.
Sums up the Celtics' night.
Rajon Rondo gets a loose ball, finds Kevin Garnett, who has no one around him for what appears to be miles. Garnett misses the chippy, losing the ball on the way up. Lakers run out, score in transition the other way, lead back to 15.
Meanwhile, Boston 1 for 10 from 3-point range. Allen and Pierce a combined 0 for 6.
At some point, they'll fall. Question is — will it be tonight or Sunday in Game 2?
With their once-solid lead shaky, the Lakers did something that most teams wouldn't do in any situation.
They went at Kevin Garnett. Twice.
Jordan Farmar's layup past Garnett gave the Lakers their first field goal of the fourth quarter, and Pau Gasol scored on a postup over Garnett with the shot clock running down to push Los Angeles' lead back to 15. It wasn't like Garnett gave up on either play, just the Lakers executing again like they did in the third quarter.
We're down to 6:42 left. Lakers by 13.
That's how long Nate Robinson just dribbled the ball. On one possession. Down by 17 points.
Yes, the Lakers are taking away passing angles, for certain. And there's still a ton of time left. But there's no real outward sense of urgency yet from the Celtics, who are facing a decidedly uphill fight here with less than 9 minutes to go. Although the Lakers are helping with quick shots at the other end, like Lamar Odom's inexplicable 3-pointer that clanged off the side of the rim.
One quarter left. Lakers lead 84-64.
Who's going to step up for Boston?
Ray Allen has played 15 minutes because of foul trouble and got his fifth — yes, fifth — foul against Kobe Bryant with 1:39 left in the third. Paul Pierce has managed to get only six field-goal attempts off through three quarters. The 3-point shot hasn't been there for Boston whatsoever, with the Celtics 1 for 6 from beyond the arc. Boston's bench, so good against Orlando, has done very little tonight.
And offense is the least of Boston's problems.
The Lakers had 23 possessions in the third quarter, getting at least one point on 17 of them. The Celtics got two stops in the last 5½ minutes of the quarter, and Los Angeles scored 34 points in the period. Bryant had 14 by himself.
It's got to change, soon, or Boston isn't going to enjoy Friday and Saturday very much.
This game isn't over, not by a long shot.
The Lakers are dominating the glass, not letting the Celtics run, have a 14-0 edge in second-chance points ... and are only up by 11 points with 3 minutes left in the third quarter.
One Boston spurt, and the Celtics would be right back into this thing.
Bear in mind, Boston is staying close even though neither Paul Pierce nor Ray Allen has really gotten hot yet, and don't forget about the foul issues.
Then again, if they give up a run to the Lakers, it'd get out of hand quickly.
Very tenuous spot for Boston here late in the third.
Very quietly, Kobe Bryant is rolling.
Now with a game-high 20 points midway through the third quarter, Bryant is showing much of the repertoire, including a perfect 10-footer over the outstretched arm of Kendrick Perkins and then a dunk in transition for a 13-point lead.
For whatever Gasol or any other Laker does, it's still all about Kobe.
The Celtics need someone to step up the same way.
Here we go again.
After a mere 31 seconds of the third quarter, three fouls already called, the last of which was Derek Fisher getting his third against Ray Allen.
It's taking a toll, again, on Boston's verve. Kendrick Perkins offered no resistance with the shot clock running down, Andrew Bynum pivoted and scored easily, and the Lakers had their biggest lead of the night, 57-45 early in the third.
One possession later, Allen picked up his fourth against Kobe Bryant. This does not bode well for the C's.
The byproduct of all the foul calls early was this for Boston: The Celtics got tentative late in the first half.
It was costly.
Kobe Bryant and the Lakers kept going to the rim, pounding the ball inside and driving almost at will. They'd catch the Celtics in switches, and Bryant would easily blow past guys like Kendrick Perkins. Then all eyes would be on the ball, letting Pau Gasol get loose down low.
It's hardly out of hand for Boston, down 50-41 at the half.
But the first few minutes of the third could tell a story. If the Celtics get into more foul trouble, this one could get away. Boston needs a spark, plain and simple, or else it'll be time to break out the stat on how Phil Jackson is unbeatable when his teams win Game 1.
Right on cue, maybe they got the spark: Rondo's 22-footer, that seemed to go 22 feet in the air as well, swished at the buzzer.
Bottom line: 2-for-7 from Garnett, 3-for-7 from Ray Allen, it could be a lot worse for Boston.
Pau Gasol starting to assert himself.
This is what the Celtics had to fear. They knew what they were getting with Kobe. If Gasol plays great, it's a huge boost for the defending champs.
He's not just 7-foot, but he's long. Blocks a Ray Allen jumper at one end after showing deft touch on a contested 12-footer at the other. Keeping rebounds alive, and playing straight-up defense instead of swatting and using his arms instead of his feet.
Phil Jackson has to be thrilled, because you know Bryant will get it going eventually.
What a moment.
Nate Robinson, 5-foot-9.
Pau Gasol, 7-foot.
Jump ball against each other.
If Gasol hadn't won that tip, even against a slam dunk champ like Robinson, he'd have been laughed out of the building. He won the tip, Kobe Bryant went over a doubleteam to hit a jumper, and the Lakers went up 34-31.
When the Celtics were at their best against Orlando in the East finals, they controlled the flow.
It hasn't happened yet in these finals.
The foul calls — and there hasn't been much arguing about them, just a lot of contact — have kept Game 1 from developing any sense of smoothness yet.
The Celtics have had to go 10 deep already, and we're not midway through the second quarter. Plus, though these guys eat minutes like nothing, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo haven't gotten a break yet.
Meanwhile, the Lakers' subbing pattern is already off as well, with Lamar Odom getting his third foul after charging into Paul Pierce.
We're through one quarter, Lakers lead 26-21, but fouls are the story.
There's been 18 combined so far.
Tony Allen has three fouls in 5 minutes off the Boston bench. Kobe Bryant has two fouls, as does Ray Allen, Ron Artest and Derek Fisher.
Middle of the lane has been open on both ends.
Rajon Rondo got free to set up Kendrick Perkins, who appeared to travel — he has happy feet, as the saying goes — but drew a foul call. And then Pau Gasol came unfettered across the lane to get a pass on the next possession.
It'll be adjusted.
The lane's been open because everyone's so worried about the wings, where guys like Paul Pierce and Kobe Bryant are ultra-dangerous. So everyone's watching there, forgetting about things like the weak side.
Still very much a feeling-out process.
Very physical start to the NBA finals.
Barely two minutes into the game, Derek Fisher has two fouls. By the 6:57 mark of the opening quarter, Ray Allen had two fouls.
Fisher is really the Lakers' best choice against Allen. And on the first trip to the other end after that Fisher foul, Kendrick Perkins gets calling for too much body against Andrew Bynum and gives the requisite "Who, me?" look after the whistle blows.
Remember, Perkins has six technicals in these playoffs. Another, he'll miss a game.
Jeff Van Gundy made a great observation, that the Lakers have the most physical guards and swingmen in the league. Thing is, their frontcourt toughness might not match up with Boston's. Something to watch, for certain.
Given the crew we have tonight, Joey Crawford, Joe DeRosa and Derrick Stafford, it's mildly surprising there's been some relatively tight calls early. It'll open up.
Well, that didn't take long. All of 27 seconds after tip-off, and we've got our first "Here we go" moment of the NBA finals.
Paul Pierce and Ron Artest get tangled up and fall to the court. Pierce, I think, gets 2 points for the takedown. Artest gets 1 for the reversal. Oh, wait, this isn't Greco-Roman wrestling.
Double technicals, of course.
If the Lakers lose Artest for any significant portion of this series, they're in trouble.
Before we get going for real, here's a look at the 2010 NBA finals, by the numbers:
— 215: The number of countries and territories that'll be seeing the NBA finals.
— 56.81: Distance of film, in MILES, that will be used by NBA Entertainment during the series.
— 51: Number of outlets in China alone that will cover the series.
— 41: Languages in which the NBA finals will be broadcast.
It took about 10 minutes before commissioner David Stern was asked about LeBron James' decision to give a finals-week interview to CNN.
Stern, the master of deadpan, was at his best.
"I don't have a problem with it. I mean, it actually demonstrates, we're really up there now, with Bill Gates, President Obama and Lady Gaga. How can you beat that trifecta, to add LeBron James to that?" Stern said.
It's been widely suggested — and denied by people like Henry Thomas, Dwyane Wade's agent — that players such as Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and others will meet before July 1 to hatch their plans for free agency.
Stern was emphatic. It's not happening.
"There is no free agent summit," the commissioner said, later adding he's been assured of such, "at the highest level."
Stern added that players would be better off watching the finals, to see how championship teams are constructed.
Quipped the Commish: "I was wondering whether they'll all get together, eight players, and they'll all look at D-Wade's ring?"
Commissioner David Stern has put on a sharp suit, the Celtics and Lakers have been on the court at Staples Center getting loose in advance of Game 1 of the NBA finals, and this can only mean one thing:
We're a little more than 24 hours away from LeBron James' interview on CNN's "Larry King Live!"
Yes, we interrupt continuing coverage of Freeagentpalooza, opening in select cities July 1, for a little matter of deciding the 2010 NBA champion and as an added bonus, a series between the biggest rivals in the NBA. Boston vs. Los Angeles, the Celtics looking for an 18th title, Phil Jackson looking for his 11th as a coach and a second straight with the Lakers.
Plenty of updates coming over the next four to seven games. Probably closer to seven than four.
"This is gonna be a epic series... Hope yall get ready...," wrote Andre Iguodala on his Twitter feed earlier tonight.
Indeed, it's Celtics-Lakers. It's a matchup of kings.
And then tomorrow, King James talks to Larry King.
Friday night, James — the biggest headliner in a free agent class that'll hit the open market July 1, a group that includes Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and others — sits down with Larry King on CNN, in an interview taped earlier this week. There won't be any surprises in that one, since the transcript was out only hours after their chat ended.
Tonight, there'll be some surprises. At the very least, some answers.
Will Kendrick Perkins stop arguing and find a way to not get his seventh technical?
Will Andrew Bynum be able to be the physical force the Lakers need against Boston's frontcourt?
Who will be the biggest star of stars? Kobe? Artest? Rondo? Pierce?