BOSTON — Kobe Bryant had 29 points and Derek Fisher added 16 Tuesday night to lead Los Angeles to a 91-84 victory over the Celtics, giving the Lakers a 2-1 lead in the NBA Finals.
Bryant had 25 points after three quarters but did not score for the first 10 minutes of the fourth. That was when Fisher took over, adding four key baskets after Boston winnowed a 17-point first-half lead to one point.
Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum had 10 rebounds apiece for the Lakers, who regained the homecourt advantage they lost when Boston took Game 2 on the road.
Kevin Garnett, who scored just six in Boston's victory Sunday, had 25 in Game 3. But Ray Allen, who had 32 points in Game 2, missed all 13 of his field goals — one shy of the NBA Finals futility record.
The Celtics had high hopes after splitting the first two games in Los Angeles, but the "Beat L.A.!" chants at TD Garden couldn't help them overcome poor shooting.
Boston cut its deficit to four late in the third quarter and made it 68-67 early in the fourth on consecutive drives by Glen "Big Baby" Davis and Rajon Rondo. With a chance to take the lead, Allen was called for an offensive foul away from the ball.
Fisher drove for a layup at the other end that made it a three-point game then scored four of the Lakers' next five baskets to give them a five-point lead with about 4½ minutes left.
"We just had to be poised and understand they're going to make a run, and we did that," Bryant said. "They made a push but they never fully got control of the game. We made big shots when we needed it."
Allen missed all eight 3-pointers and got to the free-throw line just twice, making both. He would have matched the worst shooting game in Finals history but Garnett was called for an offensive foul in the final minute as Allen clanged another shot off the rim. Baltimore's Chip Reiser missed all 14 shots in a 1948 Finals game against Philadelphia, as did Dennis Johnson for Seattle against Washington in 1978.
|Lakers lead series 2-1|
L.A. LAKERS (91): Artest 1-4 0-0 2, Gasol 5-11 3-6 13, Bynum 3-9 3-3 9, Fisher 6-12 4-4 16, Bryant 10-29 8-8 29, Walton 1-1 0-0 2, Odom 5-5 1-1 12, Brown 2-3 0-0 4, Farmar 1-2 0-0 2, Vujacic 0-0 2-2 2. Totals 34-76 21-24 91.
BOSTON (84): Pierce 5-12 2-3 15, Garnett 11-16 3-4 25, Perkins 1-4 3-4 5, Rondo 5-10 1-4 11, R.Allen 0-13 2-2 2, Wallace 1-5 0-0 2, Davis 4-5 4-5 12, T.Allen 3-4 1-2 7, Robinson 2-4 0-0 5. Totals 32-73 16-24 84.
3-Point Goals—L.A. Lakers 2-15 (Odom 1-1, Bryant 1-7, Farmar 0-1, Brown 0-1, Artest 0-2, Fisher 0-3), Boston 4-18 (Pierce 3-4, Robinson 1-2, Rondo 0-1, Wallace 0-3, R.Allen 0-8). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—L.A. Lakers 48 (Gasol, Bynum 10), Boston 46 (Perkins 11). Assists—L.A. Lakers 13 (Bryant, Gasol 4), Boston 20 (Rondo 8). Total Fouls—L.A. Lakers 20, Boston 27. A—18,624 (18,624).
CAVS HAVE IZZO INTEREST: AP reported that Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, a Michigan State graduate, and Spartans coach Tom Izzo discussed terms of a possible deal worth up to $6 million a year for four or five seasons.
Gilbert would not comment but new general manager Chris Grant, introduced Tuesday, confirmed the club has had contact with Izzo and "a number" of other coaching candidates.
Gilbert also denied that star LeBron James, eligible to file for free agency on July 1, had any input in the firing of former coach Mike Brown or the departure of GM Danny Ferry, who resigned after he was not offered an extension.
HORNETS: The team introduced Monty Williams as its coach, fulfilling a prediction by his former boss in Orlando, Doc Rivers. The current Celtics coach saw Williams as coach material when he played for Rivers. "Doc Rivers kind of told me I'd be a head coach one day. I just kind of looked at him like he was nuts," Williams recalled. "It wasn't a part of my thinking at the time." Now at 38, Williams is a head coach for the first time and the youngest in the NBA. The team gave the former Trail Blazers assistant a three-year contract, the New Orleans Times-Picayne reported.
SUNS: Amare Stoudemire says he will opt out of the final year of his contract if he doesn't re-sign before then. He seeks a maximum contract but says he'd like it to be with Phoenix. Also, forward Grant Hill, 37, exercised the one-year player option on his contract and will return to the team next season.