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Fisher spoils Celtics' party

BOSTON, June 9- Derek Fisher scored 11 of his 16 points in the fourth and Kobe Bryant finished with 29 as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Boston Celtics 91-84 Tuesday in game three of the NBA finals.Pau Gasol had 13 points and 10 rebounds and Andrew Bynum chipped in with 10 rebounds for the defending champion Lakers, who weathered an early assault, jumped out to a 17-point lead before allowing the Celtics to climb back in it. Fisher and Bryant then powered them down the stretch as they held on for the win to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

"We had to be poised and we did that," said Bryant, who struggled at times on offence, shooting just 10-of-29 from the field. "They pushed but they never got control of the game.

"You win championships with defence and rebounding. Shots come and go but you got to stay after it on defence."

Game four is also in Boston on Thursday as the Celtics host the Lakers three games in a row.

"We worked hard," said the Fisher. "Sometimes things don’t go your way but you just got to keep believing in yourself. I love this team. I love what I do. Nothing means more to me than to have success with my teammates."

Forward Kevin Garnett finished with 25 points and six rebounds for the fourth seeded Celtics who are trying to become biggest underdog NBA finals winner since the sixth seeded Houston captured the crown in 1995.

"When you play a team like this you can’t dig a hole like 17 points," Garnett said. "It is too big a deficit."

The last time the Lakers were in Boston for a finals game they left with their tails between their legs after a 39-point Celtics rout that the clinched the NBA title two years ago.

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"We didn’t doubt our ability to win here," Fisher said.

This is the second time in three seasons and the 12th time the Lakers and Celtics have met in the NBA finals since their first meeting in 1959 finals.

The Lakers are seeking their 16th NBA title and are second all-time behind Boston’s 17 championships.

For the second consecutive game in the series, the teams battled down the stretch but this time the Lakers were able to hold off the Celtics.

The Celtics came out quickly off the opening tip off, jumping out to a 12-5 lead but then it was all Lakers for the first half. Los Angeles’ biggest lead was 17 points in the second quarter.

Strong play from the bench helped the Lakers go on a 10-2 scoring run to end the first for a 26-17 lead in front of a crowd of 18,624 at the Boston Garden arena. They carried that over into the second quarter, building a double digit 52-40 lead at the half.

The much-maligned Garnett found his scoring touch early, scoring the first three baskets of the game for the Celtics. Garnett had more points in game three than his total for the first two games combined.

The same can’t be said for the Celtics’ Paul Pierce and Ray Allen who shot a combined five-of-25 Tuesday. Allen, who was the game-two hero with a league record eight three-pointers, shot zero-of-eight from the arc.

"We didn’t expect him to go 0-for-13," Fisher said of Allen. "It’s a tough gig. He has to run around offensively and then have to guard Kobe on the other end.

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"That takes anybody’s legs out. There are going to be nights when his legs aren’t there having to work so hard on both ends of the court."

Allen’s disappearing act was offset on the other side by the resurgence of Fisher late in the game and early for Bryant who took charge Tuesday on the floor with his scoring and verbally in the scrums during timeouts.

"That’s my job and responsibility," Bryant said. "It is working well so far."

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