BOSTON – Derek Fisher broke down the court after another Boston miss. Nothing between him and the basket, and nothing – not even three hard-charging Celtics – was going to keep the Los Angeles Lakers guard from finishing off a Game 3 victory.
A hard foul from all three pursuing Celtics sent Fisher sprawling to the floor, but not before he laid in his fifth basket of the fourth quarter to help the Lakers beat Boston 91-84 and take a 2-1 lead in the NBA finals.
“(That was) just Derek being Derek,” said Kobe Bryant, who scored 29 points. “He makes big plays all the time. He never ceases to amaze me.”
Game 4 is Thursday night in Boston.
Bryant had 25 points after three quarters, but he did not score for the first 10 minutes of the fourth. That’s when Fisher took over, adding four key baskets after Boston whittled a 17-point first-half lead to one point and the Lakers regained home-court advantage they had lost when the Celtics took Game 2 in Los Angeles.
“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.”
Fisher finished with 16 points, and Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum had 10 rebounds apiece for Los Angeles.
Kevin Garnett, who had just six points in Boston’s victory Sunday, had 25 in Game 3. But Ray Allen, who had 32 points in Game 2, missed all 13 field-goal attempts – one shy of the NBA finals futility record – many of them while Fisher was guarding him.
The Celtics had high hopes after splitting the opening two games in Los Angeles, but the “Beat L.A.!” chants at the TD Garden couldn’t help them overcome poor shooting.
The Lakers opened a 37-20 first-half lead, but Boston cut the deficit to four late in the third quarter and then 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 4
Allen and Paul Pierce combined to go 1 for 13 from the field as Boston went nearly 6 minutes without a field goal in the first half. Pierce finished with 15 points, including 3 for 4 from 3-point range, but Allen never snapped out of it.
He missed all eight 3-pointers, all five 2-pointers and got to the line just twice. He was spared of matching the worst shooting effort in NBA finals history when Garnett was called for an offensive foul away from the ball in the final minute while Allen clanged another shot off the rim.
Baltimore’s Chip Reiser missed all 14 shots in a 1948 finals game against Philadelphia, and Dennis Johnson was 0 for 14 for Seattle against Washington in 1978.
Rondo finished with 11 points, eight assists and three rebounds.