For the second consecutive year, the Los Angeles Lakers are National Basketball Association (NBA) champions. What makes the recent win even more enjoyable was that the title was won by defeating the Boston Celtics, the team that defeated the Lakers for the championship in 2008.
The Celtics are a team that has a history with the Lakers in NBA Finals competition, having matched up against them 11 times previously, winning nine. Four of these Finals matches have gone to a deciding Game 7, with the Celtics winning every time.
This year was different. Last week, the Lakers made history by prevailing over Boston.
In a grueling, unpredictable seven-game series, the Lakers overcame a 13-point second-half deficit to defeat the Celtics, 83-79, to clinch the title.
“This is by far the sweetest, because it’s (the Celtics),” Laker guard and Finals Most Valuable Player Kobe Bryant said. “This was the hardest (championship win) by far. I wanted it so bad.”
In a game where he struggled with his shooting (6-24), Bryant still scored 23 points. Most importantly, 10 of those came in a furious fourth quarter rally that saw Los Angeles seize control of the game and the championship. Active throughout the game, Bryant also pulled down 15 rebounds, as the Laker outrebounded Boston, 53-40.
The 13-rebound advantage was a summary of the 2010 Finals: The team that won the rebounding battle won each game of the seven-game series.
Twenty-three of Los Angeles’ 53 rebounds were offensive. That helped offset a poor shooting night for the team. The Lakers made 27 of 83 shots–a miserable 32.5 percent. The best Lakers’ shooter was guard Derek Fisher, who made four of his six shots, including a high arching three-pointer that tied the game at 76 midway through the fourth quarter to complete the comeback.
Great defense by the team and a strong offensive game (20 points) from forward Ron Artest also kept Los Angeles from getting blown out by the Celtics. Artest’s signing with Los Angeles gave them a stronger defensive presence at the forward position. This was a clairvoyant acquisition by the team back in the autumn of 2009, as the Lakers’ management figured that they were sure to face one of three match-ups in the 2010 playoffs: Denver’s Carmelo Anthony; Cleveland’s LeBron James; or Boston’s Paul Pierce.
It was Pierce, the former Inglewood High School star, Los Angeles faced and Artest hounded him with a vengeance throughout the seven-game NBA Finals. The Celtic forward never truly exploded offensively on the Lakers, other than in Game 5 (27 points), and that was a key to the series that went in Los Angeles’ favor.
Equally favorable for the Lakers in Game 7 was the play of center Pau Gasol. He scored 19 points and joined the team’s rebounding brigade with 18 boards to lead the team in that category.
Since coming to Los Angeles from the Memphis Grizzlies in one of the most lopsided trades ever (for Kwame Brown), Gasol has combined with Bryant to lead the Lakers to three consecutive appearances in the Finals, winning the last two.