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Los Angeles Lakers beat Boston Celtics in Game 7 of NBA Finals

LOS ANGELES — Purple and gold confetti raining down upon him, Kobe Bryant hopped up on the scorer's table, shook his fists and extended five fingers.

When he hopped down, Bill Russell, Boston's legendary Hall of Fame center, was waiting to shake his hand.

A Game 7 classic — and it finally went the Lakers' way.

Beating Boston for the first time in a Game 7, the Lakers came up champions again after trailing in the last quarter of the last game of their season.

Bryant scored 23 despite 6-of-24 shooting, and the Lakers won their 16th NBA title Thursday night, rallying from a fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Celtics 83-79 in Game 7 of the Finals.

Bryant earned his fifth title with the Lakers, who repeated as champions for the first time since winning three straight from 2000-02.

"This one is, by far, the sweetest, because it's (the Celtics)," said Bryant, named the Finals MVP for the second straight season. "This was the hardest one by far.

"I wanted it so bad, and sometimes when you want it so bad, it slips away from you. My guys picked me up."

Ron Artest added 20 points for the Lakers, who shot terribly while trailing for most of the first 3½ quarters.

Yet they reclaimed the lead midway through the fourth and hung on with big shots from Pau Gasol and Artest.

"Well, first all I want to thank everybody in my 'hood," Artest said. "I definitely want to thank my doctors … my psychiatrist, she really helped me relax a lot."

With their fifth title in 11 seasons, including last season's victory over the Magic, the Lakers moved one behind Boston's 17 for the overall lead.

Amid the confetti and streamers after the final buzzer, former Lakers great Magic Johnson rushed the court to congratulate Bryant, who now has the same number of titles, and to hug Artest, the only new addition to the Lakers' roster from last season.

Artest has been a liability for much of the postseason, but the former head case came up with a remarkable game on the Lakers' biggest night, playing sturdy defense along with his scoring.

Paul Pierce had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Celtics, who couldn't finish the final quarter of a playoff run after a fourth-place finish in the East. They flopped in two chances to clinch the series in Los Angeles after winning Game 5 at home.

"We liked the game. We liked the game plan going in," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "That was exactly the type of game that we wanted.

"There's a lot of crying in that locker room. A lot of people who care. I don't think there was a dry eye. A lot of hugs, a lot of people feeling awful. That's a good thing. Showed a lot of people cared."

After three quarters of mostly terrible offense, the Lakers tied it at 61 on Artest's three-point play with 7:29 left.

Bryant's free throws 90 seconds later gave the Lakers their first lead of the second half, and the Lakers went up by five before Bryant and Sasha Vujacic hit free throws in the final seconds to seal it.

"Give the Lakers credit," Rivers said.

"They were terrific."

The teams have met in 12 Finals, but the Lakers won for just the third time. And Thursday's win came two years to the day after the Celtics beat the Lakers by 39 to clinch the 2008 title.

Los Angeles had lost a seventh game to Boston four times previously — but those teams didn't have Bryant, who's just one title shy of Michael Jordan's six rings after winning his second title without Shaquille O'Neal, his partner in the first three.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson won his record-setting 11th title overall, fifth in Los Angeles.

BOSTON (79): Pierce 5-15 6-6 18, Garnett 8-13 1-1 17, Wallace 5-11 0-0 11, Rondo 6-13 1-2 14, R.Allen 3-14 5-6 13, Davis 2-4 2-2 6, Robinson 0-1 0-0 0, T.Allen 0-0 0-0 0, Scalabrine 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 29-71 15-17 79.

L.A. LAKERS (83): Artest 7-18 4-5 20, Gasol 6-16 7-13 19, Bynum 1-5 0-0 2, Fisher 4-6 0-0 10, Bryant 6-24 11-15 23, Odom 3-8 1-2 7, Farmar 0-3 0-0 0, Vujacic 0-2 2-2 2, Brown 0-1 0-0 0, Powell 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-83 25-37 83.

Boston23171722—79

L.A. Lakers14201930—83

3-Point GoalsBoston 6-16 (Pierce 2-3, R.Allen 2-7, Rondo 1-2, Wallace 1-4), L.A. Lakers 4-20 (Fisher 2-2, Artest 2-7, Vujacic 0-1, Farmar 0-1, Odom 0-3, Bryant 0-6). Fouled OutWallace. ReboundsBoston 46 (Pierce 10), L.A. Lakers 66 (Gasol 18). AssistsBoston 18 (Rondo 10), L.A. Lakers 11 (Gasol 4). Total FoulsBoston 25, L.A. Lakers 19. TechnicalsPierce, Artest. A18,997 (18,997).

Lakers 83

Celtics 79

Lakers 4, Celtics 3

Game 1: Lakers 102, Celtics 89

Game 2: Celtics 103, Lakers 94

Game 3: Lakers 91, Celtics 84

Game 4: Celtics 96, Lakers 89

Game 5: Celtics 92, Lakers 86

Game 6: Lakers 89, Celtics 67

Thursday: Lakers 83, Celtics 79

Los Angeles Lakers beat Boston Celtics in Game 7 of NBA Finals 06/18/10 [Last modified: Friday, June 18, 2010 9:19am]

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