And So It Ends: Lakers Win Defensive Battle For Second Straight NBA Championship

Trailing by 13 points in the third quarter, the Lakers show why they are champions. Kobe Bryant rallies L.A. to a 83-79 victory and is named Finals MVP. Phil Jackson wins his amazing 11th championship and Bryant hoists his fifth O'Brien trophy.

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What It's Like For One Lakers Fan To Watch Game 7

For any fan, especially one that tends to think analytically, a Game 7 can be a big challenge. How do you try to make sense of whatever transpires? How can you write about this from your head instead of your heart? These are dilemmas that many bloggers face.

How did SB Nation's Lakers blog Silver Screen and Roll attack this dilemma? By ignoring analysis altogether and just focusing on being a fan. Check this entire post out to follow everything going through the head of one Lakers blogger during last night's Game 7.

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Celtics Blog: The Window Has Closed

If you're a Celtics fan today, the most painful part of your team's loss is that it probably closes the book on the Big 3 era of the Celtics. There will almost certainly be changes next year, some of which could be major. Doc Rivers might not return. Ray Allen is a free agent, and Paul Pierce could be. Rasheed Wallace might retire (okay, I was kidding on that being a big deal). The team you'll see next year probably won't look the same as the one you saw this season.

If this is the end, it was a really good run. They got one title in 2008 and could have easily had two more. But at the same time, as SB Nation's Celtics Blog writes, it has to sting that the Lakers won two of the three titles during the Big 3 era.

I'm still bleary-eyed from last night, but I woke up with a pit in my stomach that derives itself from the realization that our window might just be closed and 2 out of the 3 years the Lakers were the ones that got to hoist the trophy.  That stings.

Worse, as Celtics Blog writes, the Celtics had their chances during this era to add to their one title.

Three years, one Championship.  If you had given me those numbers 4 years ago, I'd take them in a heartbeat.  But if you told me 2 of them would go to the Lakers, I'd probably lose my lunch.

I can't help but think that there were opportunities lost.  Injuries happen, age creeps up, that's life.  But still, the Celtics were up 3 games to 2 on the Magiclast year and couldn't close out.  They were up 3 games to 2 this year in the Finals and couldn't close out.  

The 2008 Championship means that we'll never think of this team as a failure, but it's just a shame they couldn't have done more.

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VIDEO: Champagne Flows In Laker Lockeroom

For those who enjoy watching the traditional champagne celebrations, here's a video of the revelry in the Lakers lockeroom following Thursday night's Game 7 of the NBA Finals. The Lakers should be good at it, having one it all last season and with several players with multiple rings.



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Fifth Time Is A Charm For NBA Finals MVP Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant was named the Finals MVP after helping the Lakers rally in the fourth quarter for a 83-79 victory over the Celtics in Game 7 in Los Angeles.

“This is the sweetest (of the five),” Bryant said as he accepted the Bill Russell Award as Finals MVP. “We understood how badly the city wanted it. This one is by far the sweetest because it was against (Boston) and it was the hardest, by far.”

Not only was it Bryant’s fifth NBA championship but it was the first time in five tries that the Lakers defeated the Celtics in a Game 7.

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PHOTOS: Lakers Celebrate Their NBA Championship

Well, that didn't take long. The Lakers' web team has posted pictures of their team holding the Larry O'Brien trophy here and here

From inside the locker room:

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From out on the court:

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Bryant Leads Fourth Quarter Rally As Lakers Knock Off Celtics, 83-79

Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - Kobe Bryant and the Lakers looked half- asleep at times during their most important game of the season, but in the end it was their suffocating defense that propelled them to a 83-79 Game 7 win over the Boston Celtics to capture their 16th NBA championship and second in a row.

Bryant captured his fifth title despite going 6-of-24 from the field for just 23 points, as the Lakers used their length to win the rebounding battle by a sizeable 53-40 margin. He also added 15 rebounds, while Pau Gasol provided a huge presence inside with 19 points and 18 boards. Ron Artest added 20 points in the win.

"This is the sweetest (of the five)," Bryant said as he accepted the Bill Russell Award as Finals MVP. "We understood how badly the city wanted it. This one is by far the sweetest because it was against (Boston) and it was the hardest, by far."

Boston held the lead for a majority of the game, but Los Angeles outscored the Celtics, 30-22, in a decisive fourth quarter, including 10 points from Bryant.

"I try not to (get caught in the hype of a Game 7). Tonight, it got the best of me," Bryant said. "I wanted it so bad. Sometimes when you want something so bad, it slips away from you. I can't say enough about (Gasol). We wouldn't have won it without him."

Historically, the Celtics had dominated the Lakers in the NBA Finals coming into this matchup, winning nine of the previous 11 series, including 4-of-4 Game 7s. Los Angeles, though, exacted some revenge for its 2008 loss to Boston and handed head coach Phil Jackson his 11th championship -- extending a record.

Paul Pierce led a balanced Boston attack with 18 points, but the Celtics didn't have enough firepower despite a heroic defensive effort for the first three quarters. Pierce also added 10 rebounds, although the C's clearly missed their center in Kendrick Perkins, who sat out the game after spraining his knee in Game 6. Rasheed Wallace, who started in his place, finished with 11 points and eight rebounds.

Kevin Garnett added 17 points, while Ray Allen struggled with only 13 on 3-of- 14 shooting, as Boston failed in its attempt to win its second title in three years.

Gasol's basket on the opening possession of the fourth quarter brought the Lakers to within 57-55, but both teams had some ugly play over the next few minutes.

Neither team scored for over 2 1/2 minutes, until Garnett's short bank shot put the Celtics back up by four with nine minutes to go.

The Lakers, who trailed for all of the third and the first four-plus minutes of the fourth, finally drew even with Boston on Artest's acrobatic three-point play in the lane, making it a 61-61 game with 7:28 to play.

After Derek Fisher kept the game tied with a rainbow three-pointer, Bryant gave LA its first lead of the second half with a pair of free throws for a 66-64 advantage with 5:56 showing on the clock.

Following an Allen miss on the other end, Bryant rose up just inside the arc and drilled a jumper for a four-point Lakers lead. Boston settled for another deep shot on its next possession -- a Pierce miss from three -- and Gasol extended the LA lead to six, 70-64, on a pair from the line with 4:38 to go.

The Celtics managed to stay in it, climbing back to within three on a Garnett dunk with 3:21 left, but a Gasol layup with 1:30 left seemed to give the Lakers an insurmountable edge at 76-70.

The dormant offenses finally got going in the final moments, as Wallace and Allen drained threes around an Artest triple to pull within 79-76 with 51.3 ticks remaining.

Bryant tried to continue the three-point shooting contest, but missed; however, Gasol was there to grab the rebound, dish to Bryant in the lane, and Bryant drilled two free throws after a foul for a five-point advantage with 25.7 seconds to play.

Rondo kept it interesting with a three-pointer in the corner off a broken play with 16.2 seconds left, making it a two-point game. The Lakers then chose to substitute little-used Sasha Vujacic in for Artest, and Vujacic was fouled with 11.7 seconds left.

Vujacic came up big, sinking both free throw attempts for a four-point lead, and Rondo's missed three-point attempt in the final seconds sealed Boston's fate.

The story in the early moments was Boston's shooting prowess versus Los Angeles' rebounding ability. Without Perkins manning the middle, the Lakers were able to outrebound the Celtics, 10-3, in the first few minutes, but shot a dismal 3-of-15 from the field.

Meanwhile, the Celtics made five of their first six shots, including two baskets apiece from starting center Wallace and Rajon Rondo, en route to a 10-7 edge after 4 1/2 minutes of play.

While Los Angeles continued to struggle from the field, the Celtics slowly increased their lead with help from Glen Davis. Davis added six points in the opening period to help the visitors take a 23-14 advantage to the second quarter.

Bryant was a non-factor for the hosts to start, going 1-of-7 from the field for three total points.

LA, though, got back into the game quickly in the second quarter, beginning the frame on a 11-0 burst to move in front. Artest's layup gave the Lakers a 25-23 advantage with 7 1/2 minutes until halftime.

The Celtics, who missed their first seven shots of the second quarter, finally cracked the scoreboard with a Rondo layup with 7:14 to go, and Garnett put Boston back ahead, 27-25, with a layup just past the midway point.

The Lakers continued to hang around due to their rebounding prowess, and an Artest three with just under four minutes left drew the hosts even, 29-29.

Boston, as they did in the first quarter, finished strong, scoring nine of the next 11 points. Pierce had five, including a three-pointer from the corner with 1:42 left to give the Celtics a seven-point advantage, 38-31.

Tempers got a bit testy shortly thereafter, with Artest and Pierce meeting under the basket after a personal foul on Pierce. Double technicals were issued with 1:22 to go, and Artest made both of his shots from the line to bring the Lakers to within five.

LA didn't get closer than four in the final moments, and Pierce's two free throws in the final minute pushed the Boston lead to six at halftime.

The Celtics, armed with their 40-34 halftime lead, picked up right where they left off to start the third quarter.

Boston stormed out in the second half with seven of the first nine points, forcing the Lakers to take a timeout after Rondo's six-foot jumper provided a 47-36 advantage a little more than two minutes in.

The Celtics lead ballooned to as high as 13 before the Lakers surged back. Los Angeles went on a 9-2 burst to climb back to within six, as a Lamar Odom putback dunk made it a 51-45 game with 5 1/2 minutes remaining in the quarter.

Pierce stemmed the run with a three-pointer, but LA hung around, as a pair of Gasol free throws pulled the hosts to within 56-51 with 2:37 left.

Another Odom putback shot made it a four-point game with a minute to go, and Artest missed a three that would have trimmed the deficit to one. The margin remained at four, 57-53, in favor of Boston heading to the fourth.

Boston had been 7-0 overall in NBA Finals Game 7s...The Lakers are now one championship behind the Celtics' all-time record of 17...Jackson is 6-3 all time in Game 7s and 5-0 at home. His teams are also an impeccable 48-0 when winning Game 1 of a series...The Lakers became the seventh team out of 41 to climb out of a 2-3 Finals deficit. The last was Houston, which beat New York in 1994...Bryant is now tied with Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Cooper, Jim Pollard and George Mikan with five titles as a Laker...The Celtics went 12-2 in the postseason when holding their opponent under 90, with both losses coming in the final two games...LA is 14-1 all time at home in Game 7s, including 10 straight dating back to 1969...Fisher is now tied with Shaquille O'Neal for first among active players with 32 series wins. Bryant has 31...LA finished just 32.5 percent shooting from the floor, while Boston went 40.8 percent...The Lakers are the first repeat champs since they did it with Bryant and O'Neal from 2000-02.

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NBA Finals Game 7 Live Blog: Lakers Win 2010 NBA Title

-One quick thought before we hit the stretch run: notice how the Lakers aren't going to TEH MOST CLUTCH PLAYER EVAH down the stretch? I have. As much as Kobe has been Kobe all season, this hasn't been uncommon. Pau Gasol has closed games as the go-to guy a lot this season, and he's doing it again. Of course, as I say that, Kobe will take over at the very end and finish this off.

-Movement. Movement. Movement. Movement. MOVEMENT! This is officially my new bumper sticker.

-Gasol's defense on pick and rolls has been unbelievable. LA is stopping Boston's pet play - the Paul Pierce pick and roll. Yet another reason why I blog instead of coaching.

-Kobe Bryant hits a jumper, Lakers by 4. I dread Mark Jackson's lead-out to commercial. It turns out more tame than I expected.

-Isn't it funny how you can't get your offensive rhythm back easily once you go to too many isolations? LA has played great defense, to be sure, but Boston definitely lost a lot when they started to rely too heavily on Pierce isolations late in the third quarter and early in the fourth quarter. Right now, Ray Allen is out of rhythm, for example, and so is Kevin Garnett. That definitely made a difference on Allen's wide open missed jumper.

-LA dodges a huge bullet there, because Ron Artest left Paul Pierce wide open to close out on Rasheed Wallace for no reason. Pierce missed the shot, Gasol got bailed out on the other end and actually hit his free throws. Lakers by 6.

-I'm surprised we haven't seen Boston post up Garnett on Gasol much this quarter. That would be a smart offensive set.

-Speaking of out of rhythm ... Ray Allen just missed a layup.

-Kobe just got to the rim and got fouled on a dunk attempt. He missed another free throw. I find it funny that, if the Lakers win, Kobe will get praised for sticking with it on offense. The praise really should go to the Lakers' defense for shutting down Boston's offense, which has little to do with Kobe.

-Garnett gets free for a dunk right after Mark Jackson said he's never seen the Lakers play better defense, ever. I love karma.

-Pau Gasol has 16 points and 15 rebounds, though it doesn't seem like he's made that kind of impact. I guess by my standards, nobody is playing well tonight.

-Dribble, dribble, dribble, WHISTLE, foul, free throw attempt, missed free throw.

-Paul Pierce and Ron Artest just traded dumb fouls on consecutive possessions. They might need to repaint the free-throw line after tonight. 

-Pierce just waved Rondo off on that rebound, took the ball straight to the basket, got stuffed, then threw it away. I know Paul meant well, but Rondo needs to demand the ball out of his hands. He's been invisible this quarter.

-Speaking of someone who hasn't been invisible ... Pau Gasol with another huge shot. The barometer meter has officially swung back in LA's favor. I also think we can officially retire the "soft" label, right? Right? (Not that it had much validity any ... okay, I'll stop).

-Well that was fitting. Mark Jackson just praised a Doc Rivers out of bounds play that ended in Rasheed Wallace hitting an impossible three.

-And Ron Artest responds with an impossible three of his own.

-Ray Allen just buried a three he should make. Man, this is good.

-Fittingly, Pau Gasol got an offensive rebound, and Kobe goes crashing into Rasheed Wallace for a blocking foul, Wallace's sixth. Not sure why Rondo switched onto Gasol right there, but then again, I'm not sure why anything has happened the way it's happened in this game, so I don't know what to tell you.

-Kobe was clearly tired as hell - he's breathing really, really deeply right now - but he hit both free throws. Normally, we'd take this for granted, but the Lakers have missed about a zillion free throws tonight, so we can't. Kudos to you, Kobe.

-I think that if Boston loses, the one stretch where it might have happened was that stretch in the second quarter where Doc Rivers didn't give his starters a break. Well, that and committing a hundred fouls in the fourth quarter, but that too.

-Oh jeez, Rondo just hit a three. It's bizarro world. I'm writing on a Twitter and posting 140-character things on my blog.

-The Lakers put Sasha Vujacic in the game for free-throw shooting, and he gets fouled. He's a really good free-throw shooter, but do you want to put someone like that in cold like this in a Game 7?

-Okay, I was wrong. Kudos to you, Sasha. Maybe the Slovenian National Team will welcome you back now.

-I predict Kevin Garnett will hit a three-pointer here.

-Rondo misses a three, Gasol gets the rebound, Lamar Odom pulls a Magic Johnson in the 1991 playoffs and the Lakers are your 2010 champions. A ragged, but incredibly intriguing season ends with a ragged, but incredibly intriguing game. How fitting. 

-I'm guessing Kobe Bryant will win MVP, and it's a fair choice. But I will say this: there is no way - no way! - the Lakers come anywhere close to winning without Ron Artest's play in the first half and Pau Gasol's play in the fourth quarter. 

-Ron Artest just thanked his psychiatrist and babbled uncontrollably. For once, it's the right time. I think that's a fitting way to end this. Good night everyone, and congrats to the Lakers for winning the title again.

-One more thing: this man is now a two-time NBA champion. 

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NBA Finals Game 7 Live Blog: Two Teams Tied As We Enter Winning Time

-Phil Jackson just told Doris Burke that they're "talking" to Kobe Bryant about dribbling too much. He should have said "pleading."

-Mark Jackson believes Kobe Bryant will step up because he's played with a lot of great players, and great players get it done. Excuse me sir. The best players you played with are Patrick Ewing and Reggie Miller. Kobe Bryant is better. 

-Boston has gone to a lot of isolations for Paul Pierce. This is usually when they get in trouble.

-You can definitely fault Pau Gasol's offensive effort. You definitely can't fault his rebounding effort.

-Boston is really laboring right now. You can tell how tired they are by how long they take to get into their set. That time, they took a long time.

-My goodness: Kobe just literally lost the ball for no reason on the perimeter. This is brutal.

-As great as Pau Gasol is on the glass, is it really that big of an accomplishment to grab 14 rebounds in this game?

-Speaking of Gasol, he fronts Garnett again for no reason, and Garnett got another layup. Finally, a goal in this lacrosse game. Oh ... wait.

-It's never too early to ask, so I will: who wins the Finals MVP? If the Lakers win, can you really give it to Kobe? If the Celtics win, do any of the Big 4 make sense? Can you give the Finals MVP to an assistant coach (Tom Thibodeau)?

-Good call by Doc Rivers to put Nate Robinson in for Rondo right now. It would have been nice if he showed the same dedication to his bench earlier in the game.

-On the other hand, as much as that decision is gutsy, it also might be because he has no choice. Boston's starters are probably gassed.

-Wow, some actual offense! Pau Gasol got a touch out of a Triangle set, hit a cutting Artest down the lane, and Artest converted the AND-1. Tie game. 

-Derek Fisher still hasn't returned to this game, which means Kobe Bryant has been switched back onto Ray Allen. The Celtics attacked Kobe and got Allen a couple free throws. He missed one. Celtics by one.

-Rasheed Wallace just flipped out for picking up an obvious over the back foul call on Gasol. He whacked him in the face. IN THE FACE! 

-If the Lakers lose tonight, blame free-throw shooting. They look like the 2002 Kings right now.

-Well, that was fitting. Derek Fisher just hit a game-tying three off a post-up for Gasol. Nice to see the Lakers actually posting up Pau Gasol. SOMETHING THAT COULD HAVE BEEN BROUGHT TO THEIR ATTENTION IN THE FIRST QUARTER.

-So ... yeah, buckle up. This should be good.

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NBA Finals Game 7 Live Blog: Celtics Cling To Four-Point Lead In Ugly Game

-Kobe Bryant is totally in his "I don't trust anyone" mode. I don't blame him: other than Ron Artest, his team hasn't shown up. Still, if you yourself are 3-16, it might be time to think about creating good shots for your teammates.

-Mark Jackson just compared Kobe Bryant's game to John Starks' Game 7 in the 1994 Finals. Hand down, man down! That was harsh.

-Not only is Kobe playing bad offense, but he's also forgetting to box out Rajon Rondo. That's the crazy thing about Kobe's performance: he's been awful on offense, but he's also allowed his man, Rajon Rondo, to have a field day. Sure, a lot of Rondo's production comes in transition, but it's also on Kobe to corral him there.

-Paul Pierce just went to the bench with a shoulder injury. Hopefully he's okay. I know it'll be tough for him to recover because there are no wheelchairs available.

-The crowd is shouting "defense" right now. In this game, is that even necessary?

-It's about time for Pau Gasol to make one of his customary lefty hook shots. Just be yourself, Pau. Don't be someone else.

-"Yourself" should not include letting Kevin Garnett go baseline for a layup.

-Lamar Odom just tipped in a Ron Artest miss in transition and acted like he just won the NBA championship. Or, more accurately, he acted like he just received a Golden Ticket to get inside Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory.

-Ray Allen continues to struggle from the field. He's tired from guarding Kobe Bryant.

-Kobe Bryant's last possession: "Dribble, dribble, dribble, dribble, drive into two defenders, turnover."

-Kobe Bryant's last possession: "Stand around, shoot a shot with a man in his face, miss."

-Does Rasheed Wallace ever do anything other than shoot bank shots in the post? 

-Boston looks tired right now. This is where I think Doc Rivers has to trust his bench a bit. The starters are probably good for one more spurt tonight, but there's no way they can go the full fourth quarter like they did the full second quarter. Doc has to trust Glen Davis, Nate Robinson and Tony Allen right now.

-Paul Pierce got into the paint on that pick and roll, then missed Glen Davis wide open in the corner.

-Kobe Bryant's last possession: "Dribble, dribble, drive, double team, turnover." This sounds familiar.

-So ... yeah, what happened to the Triangle offense?

-It took all of three quarters for Jeff Van Gundy to say this was one of the most poorly played offensive game he's ever seen.

-You know who is playing well right now? Lamar Odom. 

-Sorry Derek Fisher. You're great, but you don't get the standing ovation coming out of the locker room like Paul Pierce in a wheelchair.

-Mark Jackson on that inbounds pass: "This should be a direct pass to Pau Gasol." Two seconds later, the Lakers throw it away trying to pass it to Pau Gasol.

-End of the third, 57-53 Lakers. Is this a better game than Game 7 of the 2005 Finals? Honestly?

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NBA Finals Game 7 Live Blog: Rajon Rondo Leads Celtics To 11-Point Lead

-Four quick halftime thoughts: it was nice of Magic Johnson to finally admit he couldn't make sense of a basketball game; it was fitting that everyone used the wrestling analogy for their analysis; we need more stories from Bill Walton in the future, even if the events he describes are kind of boring; and this Kobe legacy talk is boring, as expected. On the bright side, it was nice of Jon Barry to say the legacy won't change if Kobe wins "4, 5, or 7 championships" instead of "4, 6 or 8 championships" like he did in the pregame.

-It's a good thing the jerseys on the front say "Lakers" and "Celtics." If they instead said "Spurs" and "Nets," there would be more complaining. Or, more accurately, nobody would be watching

-Sorry, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant will get killed if he loses. 

-Honest question: what if Kendrick Perkins played tonight? Sure, the Lakers wouldn't dominate the glass like this, but they also would be more relaxed, because they would have known their opponent. Right now, they don't know their opponent, and they're freaking out.

-I am ashamed this happened.

-Why do the Celtics have a fetish for running guards named Allen into the post.

-Pau Gasol makes a weak move, a bad pass, doesn't get back, fronts Kevin Garnett for no reason and gives up a layup to Garnett. Rondo and Gasol are the barometer players, and Rondo is winning. 

-Speaking of Rondo, he just drove and hit a floater to give Boston a double-digit lead. Timeout LA. I'm amazed with how well Rondo has played tonight. 

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NBA Finals Game 7 Live Blog: Celtics Lead 40-34 At Halftime

-I have decided that I actually enjoy these Grown-ups promos. SIIIIKE!

-Kevin Garnett waited seven seconds, let Derek Fisher get off him to get Pau Gasol back on him, waited around, then went right to the bucket. That's cagey.

-The Lakers are now 11-42 from the field. Mark Jackson notes that if the Celtics lose tonight, it will haunt them for a long time. Thank you Mark. I figured they'd just get over the loss easily.

-We haven't talked much about Kobe Bryant's game, so a quick comment: I don't like it very much. At the same time, Boston is playing unbelievable defense. The Lakers can beat that defense if they run the Triangle confidently, but they haven't done that all season, so I don't expect them to do it now.

-QUEENSBRIDGE!

-Hey Paul Pierce, please stop settling for so many jumpers. Thanks.

-I just noticed that Rajon Rondo yells something at the top of his lungs whenever his team gets a rebound. I was always taught that, if you're a point guard, you should yell "OUTLET." I don't think Rajon Rondo is yelling "OUTLET."

-I'll say this much about Pau Gasol - he's trying. He's taking it strong to the hoop, just like he did there. The problem is that, in doing this, Gasol is not playing like himself. It's the ultimate dilemma - do you play like you and face criticism if you lose for being "soft," or do you try to play differently and go away from your strengths? Right now, Pau's choosing option 2, and predictably, it's not working. In a way, I feel for him. Then again, this is why he's a basketball player and I'm a blogger.

-I guess Jeff Van Gundy goes on tangents even in Game 7s. Shuddup Pee Wee Herman.

-Uh oh, Paul Pierce and Ron Artest got tangled up. Joey Crawford is currently trying to convince the referee crew to eject both of them. 

-Crawford settles for the double technical instead. Sorry dude. I know you wanted to throw them out.

-I don't think I need to tell everyone how ironic it is that Ron Artest is the only player shooting well in this brickfest.

-It appears that the "crane" for Rasheed Wallace is simply trying to post up. Some secret weapon there, Sheed.

-The Celtics just ran a pick and roll for Paul Pierce, drawing a foul on Andrew Bynum, who can barely move right now. Remind me why the Celtics aren't doing these more often?

-Brian Scalabrine looks like he's really into this game. He's locked in. 

-Jeff Van Gundy just made fun of Brian Scalabrine's defense. I'm pretty sure that's kind of like Jimmy Fallon telling Dane Cook he isn't funny.

-Fittingly, the half ends with Kobe Bryant dribbling for too long and failing to create a shot. Story of the half for Kobe. Celtics by six, and it really should be more. This is their kind of game. Now, they just need to rebound, which is easier said than done. Hey, it would be fitting in this unpredictable series for the team that gets outrebounded to finally win a game.

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NBA Finals Game 7 Live Blog: Questionable Coaching Moves Cost Celtics

-How do we know it's a big game? Rasheed Wallace didn't complain after maybe getting fouled.

-I too wasn't thrilled with Kobe Bryant's start, but seriously Mark Jackson, he's never played a worse 12 minutes in his career? Obviously Mark wasn't watching the Phoenix debacle in 2006, when Bryant decided to stop shooting.

-I don't know why the Celtics suddenly have a fascination for posting up Tony Allen, but I recommend they find another fad.

-I believe Ron Artest shot that ball from his knee.

-The Lakers have made a surge and now trail by just four. Van Gundy praised Doc Rivers for going back to his starters, but I'm not a fan of the decision. It messes up their rhythm, and the Lakers have now come back primarily on the backs of their bench players. Again, you are who you are at this point. Don't mess it up.

-Speaking of Tony Allen, this is the second straight game he is playing minutes with Kobe Bryant not in the game. This is commonly known as "wasting Tony Allen."

-Rasheed Wallace began the game with two post-ups, converting both. He has since shot two threes, missing both.

-Sheed also ran at Ron Artest for no reason there, leaving Lamar Odom all alone for another offensive rebound. 

-How weird is it that we might see both of these coaches out of basketball next season? Has that ever happened before?

-Artest just got a steal and bucket for the Lakers' ninth straight point, and the Celtics turn it over. The game is now tied. Remind me again why Doc Rivers went back to his starters this early? I really think that decision has cost the Celtics right now.

-13 offensive rebounds...

-Rajon Rondo is a blur in this game. I have no idea how he created that wide open three for Ray Allen.

-In Game 5, the Celtics ran a lot of pick and rolls for Paul Pierce, and Ron Artest had no chance. With this in mind ... why have they not run many pick and rolls tonight? Another coaching blunder, in my opinion. Step it up, Doc.

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NBA Finals Game 7 Live Blog: Lakers Are Reacting, Celtics Are Playing

-Maybe I've just heard him too much, but Mike Breen is starting to get annoying. His calls are totally predictable, and he doesn't always have the best sense of the moment. Mostly, I just miss Marv Albert.

-Artest, for three. Clank.

-Nine offensive rebounds for the Lakers right now. Nine! Luckily, Andrew Bynum will come out soon, and that should help Boston counteract LA's length. 

-There's comedy, and then there's watching Ron Artest try to run a pick and roll. I prefer the latter, for amusement's sake.

-Rajon Rondo just made a beautiful pass to Kevin Garnett for an alleyoop. He saw that play coming. Good to see Rondo locked in.

-When God created Glen Davis, was he just tripping that day? How else does his body make sense? Hey, let me create an overweight dude who has feet like a ballerina! I crack myself up. Hey Allah, bro, pass the chips!

-Wow, I had no idea Paul Pierce grew up in Los Angeles. That's crazy! Hey, did you know Jerome Bettis is from Detroit?? 

-The Lakers have given Ray Allen two wide open looks from three. He missed the second, but that can't happen.

-Dammit, JVG, I was just going to say how Paul Pierce's help defense has been amazing tonight. You stole my point!

-The Celtics lead by five, and Kobe Bryant just shot a long, contested two early in the shot clock. I presume the Triangle has been abandoned. 

-After one possession, the answer to that question is - yes. Kobe made the standard shuffle cut across the lane, then ordered everyone to clear out and let him go to work. The possession ended in a Fisher contested layup that he missed badly. 

-Glen Davis did a great job there of preventing Lamar Odom from getting to his left hand. He hasn't done that all series, until now. Great adjustment.

-Boston now leads by nine after Davis' two free throws, and if I'm a Lakers fan, my biggest concerns have been realized. The Lakers are reacting to Kendrick Perkins' absence instead of just being themselves. They've abandoned the Triangle already and are not getting Kobe Bryant the ball in his spot in the post. They're getting hung up on screens because they're used to having to deal with Perkins' picks instead of Davis' or Rasheed Wallace's. It's all unfamiliar to them, and they're playing like it. It's Game 7. You are who you are. Just be you. 

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NBA Finals Game 7 Live Blog: Lakers Pound Glass, But Celtics Lead Early

-There's superstition, and then there's letting Christina Aguilera sing the national anthem for the second night in a row. On the one hand, she kind of sucks at singing. On the other hand, the Lakers' crowd was louder than I've ever heard it in Game 6, and they'll probably have to be just as loud tonight. 

-I got to say, I was disappointed that ABC didn't customize the opening montage they always play for NBA Finals games. Hello! It's Game 7! Can't you whip up something original? Hell, the opening line was still "And so it continues." Couldn't you at least have that changed to "And so it ends?" HOW WILL CASUAL FANS UNDERSTAND TONIGHT'S GAME IS DIFFERENT????

-Good to see Mark Jackson point to the "X-Factors" that the ABC pregame show neglected to mention. Wait, did I just praise Mark Jackson?

-Mark Jackson just used the phrase "playing with force." Take a drink!

-I totally agree with this: the commentators absolutely need resumes next to their names like the soccer commentators. Stuff like "Jeff Van Gundy: Once grabbed Alonzo Mourning's leg." Or "Mark Jackson: Once used the phrase "Mama there goes that man," then used it again, and again and again."

-Awww, that was so cute, Doc Rivers. "Let's have our rings touch." Clever.

-One thing to watch early - who do the Lakers go to? If it's Andrew Bynum, I don't agree. If it's Pau Gasol, I do.

-They go to Bynum on the first possession. Twice. He misses both times. 

-Boston's given up two offensive rebounds on the first two possessions. I don't think I need to remind everyone of how the team that's outrebounded the other has won every game.

-How do you know it's a Game 7? Rasheed Wallace actually made an aggressive move in the post.

-Two more offensive rebounds...

-Another offensive rebound...

-From this spot, it seems like the guy who really is getting killed on the glass is Kevin Garnett. Sure, the perimeter players have to help, but ultimately, the bigs have to get the job done, and Garnett's not.

-Rajon Rondo didn't cut fast enough on that possession, which disrupted Boston's rhythm and led to a bad Wallace three. Worse, this means Wallace will not post up again the rest of the game.

-Pau Gasol already has five offensive rebounds. Nicely done, KG.

-Rondo just went coast to coast for a layup, which is big. Boston seems locked in. They just miss Kendrick Perkins.

-Kevin Garnett has now given up tons of rebounds, been turned around by a brilliant Gasol fake and score and air balled a wide open jumper. I guess he could improve. ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE! (lame joke).

-So far, Boston's doing everything but rebound. The rebounding thing is a pretty big problem though.
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NBA Finals Game 7 Live Blog: The Real Keys To Tonight's Game

It's Game 7. We're live-blogging. I don't think I need to explain why.

Anyway, here are five keys to tonight's game, because the ABC pregame show won't tell you anything of substance. (I really want to see someone do an animated .gif of Magic Johnson talking with vuvuzelas in his hands).

Pau Gasol

I posted this earlier on Twitter, but as much as Kobe Bryant matters tonight, we know he should come through. Save for the 2006 Game 7 debacle against Phoenix, Kobe's teams haven't lost a Game 7, and save for the 2009 Game 7 against Houston, which was a blowout, Kobe's been tremendous. Therefore, the barometer tonight is Pau Gasol. This game will make a huge difference on his legacy, and he needs to come up big. He needs to be involved in the offense early and he has to be active late. 

The Lakers can't change their game

Kendrick Perkins' injury throws an interesting monkey wrench into this game. Clearly, not having Perkins will hurt Boston in some ways. On the other hand, we've seen teams win big playoff games without their best players (Lakers without Kareem in 1980, Rockets without Yao in 2009), and that's because it's tough for the other team prepare for a completely different kind of lineup in one game. Rasheed Wallace offers a very different dimension than Perkins, and the Lakers haven't really had experience dealing with that.

But at the same time, it's Game 7. You are who you are. The worst thing the Lakers could do is force feed a hobbled Andrew Bynum in an attempt to weaken Boston's front line. They need to play as if Perkins is still in the lineup. Otherwise, Boston's unpredictability will mess them up.

Speaking of Rasheed...

Rasheed Wallace must play well

Here's what Rasheed said back in March (HT: Jordan Ruby).

"You know, I don't show my whole package during the beginning of the season. If you do, then that's what's going to be in the scouting report on me. So now, come money time, it'll say that I'm going to go to the turnaround. Yeah, I'm going to turn around, but I'm going to go by you left, by you right, come with the jump hook. I told my buddy to look at it like a kung fu teacher. I might teach you the lotus and I might teach you the tiger, but I'm not going to teach you the crane, because the crane can beat both of them."    

Well Sheed, tonight's a good night to whip out the crane. The Lakers haven't had much experience dealing with Sheed in combination with the Celtics' starting lineup. This is where Sheed could shine ... if he steps it up.

Lamar Odom vs. Big Baby

This is a key matchup off the bench. Whoever wins it will win tonight. I think.

And finally ... 

Rajon Rondo

Ultimately, this game is all about him. If the Lakers can limit him like they've limited him most of the series, the Celtics have no chance. But a lot of Rondo's struggles, particularly in Game 6, were of his own doing. He can be more active, especially off the ball in half court sets. He can be more aggressive pushing the ball, and he can be more aggressive and confident with his jump shot. He just has to step up and get it done. (Sorry, I know that sounds like Mark Jackson).

Ultimately, if the Celtics are to win tonight, they need to see the Rondo that showed up against Cleveland and Orlando. That's really the bottom line, I think.

(How many times were any of these mentioned on tonight's pregame show? None. Have I mentioned how much I hate ABC?).

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Lakers Blog: Nobody Knows What Will Happen Tonight

It's a cliche to say that anything can happen in Game 7, but in this series' case, it's true. Not only have the two teams split three games, but they've done so in so many different ways. There are no real patterns to this series, leaving tonight's game as the ultimate 'Who knows?' scenario.

At least that's what SB Nation's Lakers blog Silver Screen and Roll writes:

The concept of "anything can happen in Game Seven" is a cliche that has been pretty well worn out, but in this game, the cliche rings true. Why? Because anything already has happened. It's been happening for six straight games. You'd think, considering the number of times these teams have played each other, considering how well they know the other's game plan inside and out, that there would be some level of consistency at this point, but there isn't. Six games have been played, and the only games that looked even remotely similar to each other were Games One and Six. The rest have played out like results on a roulette wheel. You can bet on red or black (the teams) but if you hit the actual number (the way the game plays out) it's just dumb luck.    

It's true: nothing in this series has gone as expected. Join them (and me) in being happily ignorant about what's going to go down tonight.

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NBA Finals Game 7 Referees: Joey Crawford, Danny Crawford And Scott Foster

Yes, you read that right folks. Tonight's referees include everyone's favorite Joey Crawford, according to Orange County Register columnist Kevin Ding.

There's nothing really wrong with Danny Crawford or Scott Foster, but Joey Crawford? This is the same man that threw Tim Duncan out for no reason, botched this call in the first round of the playoffs and committed several other crimes against basketball humanity. Oh, and he also has a quick trigger finger with technical fouls and ejections. Would you want to see a key player ejected from this game because Joey Crawford threw them out for mild complaining? Me neither, but there's always that possibility.

There's really only one explanation here: this is all a practical joke. If it's not that ... I don't know what to say.

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And So It Ends: Getting You Ready For Game 7 Of The NBA Finals

If you're familiar with the NBA Finals broadcasts on ABC, you're probably familiar with the opening montage they play before games. In case you're not, here it is.

 

The first words of this montage are always "And so it begins" or "And so it continues." Tonight, they can finally say "And so it ends."

The 2009/10 season in general has been ragged. There have been some great moments and stories, to be sure, but much of the season has been dominated by the anticipation of what will happen this summer off the court. (I'm talking about free agency, in case it wasn't clear). Then, there was the NBA Playoffs, which were a pretty big disappointment. The players and teams most expected to lead the NBA into its newest era all disappointed. LeBron James left more questions than answers when his team was shockingly eliminated. Dwight Howard couldn't come up with enough good post moves to get back to the promised land. Etc. In the end, there was only one Game 7, and it was a downer. 

Thankfully, Boston and L.A. have given us an NBA Finals for the ages. It hasn't been the best-played finals, and there haven't been as many signature moments as great Finals past, but make no mistake, this has been one of the best NBA Finals of all time. The games have been competitive, intense and interesting. Different players have been heroes. Kobe has been Kobe. The coaching has been top-notch on both ends. I was skeptical about this NBA Finals, but I was wrong: this series has been great, and easily the best NBA Finals series of the decade.

And it's only fitting it ends in a Game 7. For both of these teams, the time is now. Boston is full of old guys that showed their age in the regular season, while the Lakers have the league's largest payroll and very little wiggle room to improve going forward. In a season that could end up being the last of it's era, thanks to the 2010 free agency frenzy and the uncertainty of a new CBA, these two clubs are survivors. They've dominated the NBA in the last couple years, and they turned back the clock again this year to get to this point. 

Anyway, enough rambling. We'll keep track of everything you need to know leading up to the big game tonight in this stream. 

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