Paul Pierce made shots from every inch of the court in vintage style. Netting 32 points in total, The Truth shot 11-18 from the field, and converted all seven of his attempts from the charity stripe.
Ray Allen added 21 on 8-12 shooting and Kevin Garnett recorded a double-double with 18 points and 13 boards. The Big Ticket connected on 8-12 shots and tallied five assists.
Rajon Rondo bounced back from an ugly performance in Phoenix, dishing out 16 dimes while adding 10 points. Glen "Big Baby" Davis and Nate Robinson combined for 24 points off the bench.
Bryant led the Lakers with an incredible 41 points. He netted 16-29 attempts, including 3-5 from long range. Lamar Odom added 15 off the bench on 6-8 shooting, while Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum recorded 12 and 11 points respectively as part of a mediocre L.A. frontcourt that got out-rebounded 43-30.
The Celtics jumped out to an early 22-16 lead and seemed poised to take over the contest. However, the Lakers closed the opening frame on a 5-0 run, thanks mostly to Artest.
Boston responded with a run of their own, outscoring the Lakers 12-4 in the first 2:36 of the 2nd quarter. With just over 6:30 left in the frame, Gasol clawed Garnett's forehead while going up for a shot. Trainer Ed Lacerte took the bloody KG into the locker room to clean and bandage him up.
Pierce's two free throws moments later extended Boston's lead to nine, it's largest of the game at that point. Once again, the C's were unable to maintain their momentum. Bryant and Fisher teamed up to score 16 of the next 18 points and gave L.A. a three-point advantage with 2:02 left in the half.
After Bryant knocked down a pair of free throws with 1.4 seconds left, Odom fouled Big Baby in the back court in one of the stupidest fouls I have ever seen. Davis missed the first, but made the next two, cutting Boston's deficit to four at the break.
The Celtics shot 51.4% in the half, bouncing back from their worst shooting performance of the year against the Suns Friday night.
For the third consecutive quarter, Boston got good shots and played tough defense at the start. After a Bryant three-pointer, the C's went on a 7-0 run to regain the lead at 58-57. Shortly after, O'Neal picked up his 5th personal and headed to the bench. Pierce responded with a three to raise his scoring total to 25, matching Bryant.
Pierce canned another trey minutes later, off a nice feed from Perkins. After The Truth laid in another hoop with just over five minutes left in the frame, Lakers coach Phil Jackson called a timeout.
At that point, Pierce had already tallied 14 3rd quarter points and Boston held a 68-62 lead. The Lakers fought back again. With just under a minute to play in the frame, Bryant netted a jumper for his 29th and 30th points of the game, which tied Pierce's total.
However, his next two trips down the court weren't as successful. Bryant airballed a step back jumper with Pierce's hand in his face, then ran over Rondo on the fast break, picking up the offensive foul.
Going into the 4th quarter, the Celtics led 77-72. Allen and Nate Robinson knocked down back-to-back threes to raise Boston's edge to 83-74. Bryant carried his team back yet again, making moves only a handful of players in the world can make to bring L.A. within four with 5:19 to go.
After Garnett connected on a jumper, Big Baby drove past Bynum along the baseline. Davis banked in the layup, getting fouled in the process. His free throw put Boston ahead 96-87. The C's then gained their largest lead of the game when Rondo found KG with a long in the open court.
An Allen three with just over three minutes left in regulation extended Boston's lead to 12 and put the game out of reach for the purple and yellow.
With the win, the Celtics improve to 36-11, while the Lakers fall to 34-15. Boston wraps up its West Coast swing in Sacramento Tuesday night, when they take on the Kings. Tipoff is scheduled for 10:00 PM ET. Stephen Bailey 1/30/2011 06:26:00 PM Tweet Edit