LOS ANGELES, June 16 – Kobe Bryant had 26 points and 11 rebounds and Pau Gasol scored 17 points as the Los Angeles Lakers routed the Boston Celtics 89-67 Tuesday to force a game seven in the 2010 NBA finals.
Forward Ron Artest finished with 15 points for the Lakers who were facing elimination for the first time in the best-of-seven series after losing back-to-back games in the Boston Garden arena.
"Our defence was good and our rebounding was better. We had some luck, some good fortune," Laker coach Phil Jackson said.
Forward Lamar Odom and guard Sasha Vujacic helped pace the Laker attack by combining to score 17 points off the bench as Los Angeles improved to 10-1 in the post-season at home.
On Thursday, the Lakers will host game seven, marking just the second time in five years the championship series has gone seven games.
"We got to come with the same energy on the defensive end," Bryant said of game seven.
Said Boston coach Doc Rivers of game seven, "It is here. I hope we embrace it. It should be a lot of fun."
The last time these two teams were locked in a game six finals tussle, the Celtics routed the Lakers 131-92 to clinch the 2008 NBA title.
Bryant and company would not let that happen in front of a crowd of 18,997 at Staples Center arena Tuesday as their bench outscored the Celtic bench 24-0 through the first three quarters.
The Lakers were also determined Tuesday to avoid what happened to them in the 2008 finals when they blew a 24-point lead to the Celtics in losing game four.
Ray Allen finished with 19 points and Kevin Garnett had 12 points and just six rebounds for the Celtics who looked anything but the team that compiled the second best road record in the league this season.
Bryant started quickly scoring 11 points on five-of-eight shooting in the first quarter as the Lakers opened up a 10-point lead heading into the second and then extended it to 20 points, 51-31, at the half.
The Lakers kept it rolling in the third, outscoring the Celtics 25-20 including one slick underhand pass from Bryant to a streaking Shannon Brown who leaped so high he seemed to hang over the basket for several seconds before slamming it home to make it 60-40.
Bryant had a few tricks of his own up his sleeve. Halfway through the third he dropped his shoulder on one drive and powered into Garnett like a gridiron running back barrelling into an offensive line, drawing the foul and sending the seven-foot Garnett cartwheeling through the air draw.
Boston played most of the game without forward Kendrick Perkins who injured his knee in the first quarter after a collision under the basket with Lakers giant centre Andrew Bynum. Perkins went immediately to the dressing room for treatment and X-rays.
The Celtics looked collectively out of sync on Tuesday. Forward Shelden Williams and guard Rajon Rondo both missed dunks in the first half instead of going for the easy layups.
"We played like individuals," said Rivers. "I was disappointed I thought we would play better."
The Celtics’ bench, which was so good in game four, went silent in the first half of game six as the Lakers bench outscored them 15-0. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that reserve guard Nate Robinson scored the first points from a non-Celtic starter.
Allen made two three pointers in the first half after going 0-16 from the arc in the last three games of the finals in Boston. The drought ended at 7:36 of the first when he buried a 26 foot jump shot to give Boston a 12-10 lead.