The Lakers stepped onto the floor of TD Garden and had one goal in mind; to win the game and go back to LA up 3-2. The Lakers played many important and vital games throughout the season, but none of them compared to the importance of this Game 5. The Lakers made all of their adjustments and were prepared to face the Celtics for a series lead. This game was going to be a dog-fight, and the Lakers came to battle.
The pivotal Game 5 started off very similar to Game 3, as the Celtics took an early 6-0 lead. The Celtics were running up-and-down the court, and the Lakers had trouble defending them. It took the Lakers quite a while to find a rhythm in the game, but eventually they went on an 8-0 run. With 6:46 left in the first, the Lakers were up 10-8. Both teams went back and forth and with less than 5 minutes left in the first quarter, the Celtics were holding onto a 2-point lead. The game was very entertaining to watch, as it was a high-tempo, offensively minded showdown. Entering the game, Andrew Bynum’s health was questioned, but he was very efficient early on. Instead of Kobe carrying the scoring load for the Lakers, it was actually Andrew and Derek who were doing most of the scoring. Late in the opening quarter, the momentum began to shift toward Boston and they took an 18-15 lead with 2:39 remaining. Kobe hit his first field goal at the 2:31 mark, which tied up the game at 18-18. The first period ended with the Celtics leading 22-20; the Lakers shot 33% from the field, while the Celtics shot 57%. The Lakers’ leading scorer was Derek Fisher, who had 9, and Andrew Bynum, who had 6.
Both teams began the second quarter with their reserves in, and it paid off—for the Celtics. Four minutes into the second period, Boston opened up a 30-22 lead. It seemed as though the bench was going to ruin another game for the Lakers, however, it didn’t happen. Sasha nailed a three, while Jordan’s defense shut down Robinson. The Lakers turned an 8 point deficit down to one, with 5:38 left in the half. The starters were subbed back in, and they were trying to reclaim the lead. At the 3:50 mark, the Lakers did just that. They took a 37-36 lead after Kobe hit a tough shot; but the lead did not last for long, as Boston went on a 5-0 run. The game became physical, and the hatred between the teams began to show. Ron Artest and Rajon Rondo got into a clash, and on the very next possession Kobe too got into an altercation with Rondo. The half ended with the Celtics leading 45-39; the Lakers shot only 33% from the field while allowing the Celtics to shoot 65%. Kobe Bryant was the Lakers’ leading scorer at the half, with 10, while Boston’s leading scorer was Pierce with 15.
The Celtics opened the half hot, thanks to the Lakers defense. Even though the Celtics shot an amazing number in the first half, the Lakers made no adjustments. Kobe tried to bring his team back into the game, but the Lakers could not get stops. Bryant hit 4 straight shots, but the Celtics still had a double-digit lead. With 7:37 left in the third, the Celtics lead 60-49. The same trend continued for the Lakers, Kobe hitting a shot but the team not playing defense on the other end. With 3:06 left in the third, the Celtics opened up a 13 point lead, 71-58. Kobe poured in 19 points in the third quarter, but the rest of the team failed to help him. The Lakers had trouble defending the Celtics and had to find answers—fast. The Lakers ended the third quarter on a good foot, as they cut they lead down to 8, 73-65.
The Lakers had to attack Boston early if they wanted to win the game. The Celtics inserted their bench in, but the Lakers didn’t take advantage. There was no defensive pressure and the Celtics maintained their lead, 79-69. When the quarter entered its latter half, the Lakers began to pick it up. Players besides Kobe started to play big and contribute on the offensive end. At the 6:01 mark of the fourth, the Lakers cut the lead to 81-75. The run looked very promising, but the Celtics never let their big lead disappear. The Lakers made costly turnovers down the stretch and when they held on to the ball, they couldn’t score. With fewer than three minutes left in the game, the Lakers were down by 12. The Lakers made the game interesting late, but Ron Artest missed a pair of free throws and the Lakers never recovered. The Celtics went on to win the game, 92-86, and took a 3-2 series lead. Kobe did his part in the game, as he scored 38 points, but the rest of the game did not show up. The Lakers have to know that they must step up and match Kobe’s intensity. Going back to LA is good, but being down 2-3 is bad. A historic comeback has to consist of hard work and a desire to win. The Lakers need to play like a champion in order to beat a champion.
Even though the Lakers only gave up 92 points, they let Boston shoot 56% from the field. The Lakers are now facing a 2-3 hole going back to Los Angeles. The fact that they are going to play the next two games on their home-court is good, but they must play with effort and intensity. The Lakers gave up too many easy shots and had trouble keeping the ball. The ’08 Finals memories are still in Kobe’s mind and hopefully he will never let us relive them happen again. The Lakers need to come out in Game 6 with effort and have to play championship ball. The task in hand is a difficult, but if any team can do it, it is Kobe and the Lakers.