From Dexter Fishmore, Silver Screen and Roll: Yeah, honey child. That’s how you play an elimination game. Faced with a win-or-go-golfing scenario for the first time in over a year, the Los Angeles Lakers came up with a defensive performance for the ages. They harassed the Celtics for 48 glorious minutes with length, hustle and a rediscovered ferocity that had gone missing in Boston. The result was an 89 to 67 bludgeoning that evens the NBA Finals at three victories a piece. Game Seven, for all the tacos, is Thursday night.
From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk: Boston did not lose this game at the 5:30 mark of the first quarter. When Kendrick Perkins went down the Lakers were already up 6 points, L.A. had been dominating the boards, they were shooting better, they were playing with energy and getting to the 50/50 balls. But that moment may have cost them Game 7. The 5:30 mark Perkins went up for a rebound, fighting for it with Lakers center Andrew Bynum — a guy already playing through a knee injury that will require surgery — and Kobe Bryant. Perkins seemed to land awkwardly and injure his knee.
From Matt Moore, Pro Basketball Talk: Something about home cooking. Does the bench body good. There’s been a high level of complexity to the results of the NBA finals thus far. Everything from the Lakers’ ball movement to the Celtics rebounding have influenced the outcome. But a consistent factor in deciding these games has been the output of the respective benches. And in Game 6, along with their starting counterparts, the Lakers’ bench finally showed up.
From Eddie Maisonet, Ed The Sports Fan: There’s no doubt about it, Phil Jackson is the greatest coach who our generation has ever seen. You can debate what type of talent (be it Michael & Scottie and Kobe & Shaq/Gasol) he’s had around him and what difference that would make, but the man has won 10 championships in 19 seasons and is on the brink of #11. He’s set the bar so high that it almost seems egregious that Doc Rivers has found a way to match wits with the Zen Master. (Doc is 7-5 in the finals against Phil).
From Kelly Dwyer, Ball Don’t Lie: The Los Angeles Lakers rode a furious early rally to traipse all over an ill-prepared Boston Celtics squad in Tuesday’s Game 6, tying the NBA Finals at three games apiece and forcing a deciding seventh game on Thursday night. Kobe Bryant finished with 26 points and Pau Gasol nearly notched a triple-double with 17 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists as the Lakers outscored Boston by 10 points in the first quarter, and another 10 in the second. After stifling an attempt at a Boston rally in the third, the game quickly moved into extended garbage time, even as both teams’ starters worked deep into the fourth.
From Sam Amick, NBA Fanhouse: The Lakers’ house party was in full effect on Tuesday night. Home — otherwise known as Staples Center — was where the big band was, a booming bunch of trumpets and trombones in the third deck that bellowed the Mills Brothers’ “I Ain’t Got Nobody” as the celebration of a Game 6 Finals win grew below. Home was where Kimsha Artest was, the wife of resident fall guy Ron Artest, who so confidently claimed that “we’re walking out of here on Thursday with (a championship)” while cavorting with Derek Fisher’s wife, Candace.
From Mike Trudell, Basket Blog: The Purple and Gold were omnipresent throughout a championship-like performance that produced Tuesday’s 89-67 Game 6 blowout victory over Boston to force a Finals Game 7 that will decide which of the previous two Larry O’Brien trophy winners will become the 2010 champs. L.A.’s stars were brilliant, led by Kobe Bryant’s 26-point, 11-rebound, 4-steal effort and Pau Gasol’s 17-point, 13-rebound, 9-assist near triple-double. The bench was outstanding, dominating Boston’s by scoring 24 points before the C’s pine unit had registered a single point, and the team defense was suffocating all night.
From Kevin Ding, Orange County Register: Let me tell you about one of Kobe Bryant’s philosophies. It doesn’t apply to the run-of-the-mill NBA game; it’s only about the playoffs. Then again, everything is all about the playoffs anyway – as regular-season slackers L.A. and Boston are reiterating this spring. As simple as the idea is, once you get it, you’ll better understand Bryant, Bryant’s team and this current Lakers-Celtics epic. If you’re a Lakers fan, you might even be able to make peace with the fact that the Shaq-Kobe-Malone-Payton Lakers lost the 2004 NBA Finals to that clearly less talented Detroit team. In a seven-game series, the better team wins. Always.
From Mike Bresnahan, Los Angeles Times: The Larry O’Brien trophy was in the building, as was Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell, along with boxes and boxes of T-shirts and hats designating the Celtics as the 2010 NBA champions. None of them became part of the postgame program. The Lakers made sure of it, clearly and convincingly, thumping the Celtics, 89-67, and forcing a Game 7, in case it wasn’t clear by the time Russell headed for the exit with three minutes left Tuesday at Staples Center.
From Mark Heisler, Los Angeles Times: Anyone know where the Lakers can get 10,000 balloons? Oh, not yet? Quick studies that they are, the Lakers not only learned the lesson of their debacle in Game 7 of the 1969 NBA Finals but of Sunday’s Game 5 when they ran for cover in the storm in Boston. Back home Tuesday, and not a second too soon, it was the Lakers who stormed back and the Celtics who ran for cover in an 89-67 blowout that tied the Finals, 3-3, forcing Thursday’s Game 7.
From Vincent Bonsingore, Los Angeles Daily News: This is how it should be. It’s what the NBA needs, what the fans deserve. Game 7 of the NBA Finals, the Lakers against the Boston Celtics. Does anything more really need to be said? “This is definitely a treat for the NBA,” Boston’s Ray Allen said. “Just knowing we are going to a Game 7, that these are the Finals and it’s the Lakers-Celtics.” It is sports at its best, the pinnacle of competition on the professional level. This is the Yankees and Dodgers going to a seventh game of the World Series, Sandy Koufax on the hill for the Dodgers and Whitey Ford dealing for the Yankees.
From J.A. Adande, ESPN.com: This time, there was an embellishment to Phil Jackson’s traditional victory countdown to the championship. After the Lakers’ 89-67 victory over the Celtics to force the NBA Finals to Game 7, Jackson added an artistic flourish on the dry-erase board in the Lakers’ locker room, scribbling “1 to” followed by a drawing of a ring. This must have had an added meaning for Ron Artest. He’s the only person in the Lakers’ locker room without a championship ring. He’s the only empty-handed player among the top seven players on both Finals teams, for that matter. So perhaps Jackson felt the need to illustrate for Artest’s sake. After all, “We tried to simplify some things for him tonight,” Jackson said.
From Dave McMenamin, ESPN Los Angeles: It was six minutes into Game 6 of the NBA Finals before the Lakers, the championship-caliber Lakers that is, showed up. After taking the lead when Kobe Bryant hit back-to-back buckets midway through the first quarter, Lakers clamped down and the seesaw stopped, leaving the Celtics dangling up in the air, at the mercy of the hustle-and-go Lake Show. And it was about time. It began with a Ron Artest block on Rajon Rondo at the rim, for what seemed like the first time all series. Then came a flurry of activity, plays that transformed a group that had seemingly lost its way into a unit that understood its mission.
From Chris Sheridan, ESPN.com: The official word on Kendrick Perkins came from Doc Rivers, who said “it doesn’t look great” for the Celtics to have their starting center available for Game 7. The unofficial word came from a well-placed Celtics mole, someone in the know who was a heckuva lot more definitive: “He’s done.” On a night when Bill Russell walked out in disgust early in the fourth quarter, unable to watch his old team take such a brutal beating, another important big man in green was a goner much, much earlier.
From Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo! Sports: hese NBA Finals promised to be direct descendents of the most memorable in basketball history, the remaking and recasting of Chamberlain and Russell, Magic and Bird. History guaranteed an epic, but the present has delivered a choppy series long on blowouts and short on drama. There have been magnificent performances, genius talent, but ultimately this is a series searching to frame itself for the ages. These are a Finals desperate for a Game 7, and maybe now Kobe and Gasol, Pierce and Garnett, will transform a snarling, unkempt series into an epic.
From Bryan Chu, NBA.com: Rajon Rondo was cut on the chin compliments of a Ron Artest elbow. Kendrick Perkins had to be helped off the court thanks to a Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant sandwich. Paul Pierce wound up on his back time and time again in large part because of the Lakers’ swarming defense. It was that type of game for the Celtics. It was that type of intensity the Lakers showed from start to finish. In what was a must-win to keep their hopes of a repeat alive, the Lakers answered emphatically, blowing out the Celtics, 89-67, in Game 6 of the NBA Finals Tuesday at Staples Center.