There will be a Game 7 on Thursday night. The Lakers made sure there would be a winner-take-all game by hammering the Boston Celtics in Game 6 of the NBA Finals tonight at Staples Center. The Celtics were no-shows. The Lakers led by as many as 22 points in the first half and then by 27 in the second half. It was no contest. Kobe Bryant scored 26 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and added three assists. Pau Gasol scored 17 points, took 13 rebounds and added nine assists in a redemptive performance after two clunkers. Ray Allen scored 19 points for Boston, which shot 33.3 percent. The Lakers outrebounded the Celtics, 52-39. The winner of the rebounding battle has won each game in the Finals.
The Lakers played the first half of Game 6 tonight like their season depended on it, which it did. They took the lead midway through the first quarter and never let off the gas. Kobe Bryant got plenty of help, with Ron Artest scoring 10 points, Lamar Odom adding six points and six rebounds and Sasha Vujacic scoring five points. Bryant scored 15 points, grabbed seven rebounds and added two assists. Ray Allen had 13 for Boston, which lost Kendrick Perkins to an undisclosed leg injury with 5:30 left in the first quarter. The Lakers held the Celtics to 13 points in the second quarter and built a 22-point lead. The Lakers’ second unit outscored Boston’s subs, 15-0, in the first half.
This sidebar off Game 5 didn’t run in the print editions of all our SoCal sister papers today, so if you missed it, here it is:
By Elliott Teaford
BOSTON — Jordan Farmar played high school basketball in Woodland Hills.
He played college ball in Westwood.
He plays professionally downtown.
Farmar is well aware that these might be his final days playing the game he loves in his hometown. He will become a restricted free agent at the end of the month. He said he hasn’t given his future much thought, what with the Lakers playing in the NBA Finals.
The 6-foot-2 point guard acknowledged the other day that his Lakers career could be near an end as the team chases its second straight title. He hasn’t been a great fit in the Lakers’ triangle offense and the triangle hasn’t been a great fit for him either.
It’s uncertain what will happen next for Farmar.
“I’m a few days away from my contract being up and it’s time to think about what’s next,” Farmar said on the eve of Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Sunday. “Right now, I’ve tried to do my best to stay as focused as possible.
“My heart and soul is into trying to help this team win another championship. I feel we’re the best team in the world, and we play eight players and I’m one of them. I’m trying to really do the best for my role.”
At times, Farmar has been a solid backup for Derek Fisher. At others, he has struggled in the role, averaging five points, 1.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists in the playoffs. He averaged 7.2 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists in the regular season.
The triangle differs from the pick-and-roll based offenses run by most teams in the NBA. Instead of using one guard out front and allowing him to break down defenses with drives to the basket, the Lakers spend more time passing the ball than dribbling.
In addition, the Lakers’ second unit doesn’t run set plays designed for any one player. The Lakers’ starters often drop the ball into Kobe Bryant’s hands and let him create shots for himself or teammates if he’s double-teamed.
Farmar has chafed under the Lakers’ system and the second unit struggled as often as it succeeded this season. The glory days of the so-called Bench Mob were a distant memory as Lakers coach Phil Jackson shortened his rotation in the playoffs.
Farmar has plenty of motivation to finish the Finals as well as possible. A good showing in the remaining games could leave a good impression on general managers around the league, including Mitch Kupchak of the Lakers.
“Next weekend I’ll start worrying about that,” Farmar said of his future. “What happens in this week is going to make a big difference and determine (what happens in free agency). It’s a big week for me and (Sunday) is going to be a big game.
“Everything will take care of itself. I’ve always lived my life that way.”
Farmar declined to say if he was determined to sign elsewhere or whether he hoped to re-sign with the Lakers, who drafted him with the 26th overall pick out of UCLA in 2006 after a stellar career at Taft of Woodland Hills.
“I’ll deal with that when it comes,” he said when asked for his signing preference. “I want to do what’s best for my career.”
BOSTON — The Lakers won one of two games at Staples Center to start the NBA Finals. Then they lost two of three on the Boston Celtics’ home court. Now they head home needing to win Game 6 on Tuesday to force a decisive Game 7 on Thursday. It’s not an easy task, but the Lakers haven’t exactly done things the easy way this season. “We have a challenge, obviously, down, 3-2,” Kobe Bryant said. “We let a couple of opportunities slip away. But it is what it is. Now you go home. You’ve got two games at home that you need to win and you pull your boots up and get to work.”
BOSTON — The Lakers shot 33.3 percent in the first half of Game 5 tonight. The Boston Celtics shot 65.6 percent. So, no surprise about the final at halftime. Andrew Bynum looked like a new man for a while in the first few minutes. He has six points on 3-for-6 shooting plus one rebound so far in almost 19 minutes. Kobe Bryant is having a struggling, scoring 10 points on 4-for-12 shooting. Paul Pierce had 15 points on 7-for-10 shooting for Boston.
BOSTON — Andrew Bynum is set to start Game 5 of the NBA Finals tonight. The only change in the Lakers’ active roster is that backup center DJ Mbenga, a possible Bynum replacement if his injured right knee isn’t sound, is out and forward Adam Morrison is in. Lakers coach Phil Jackson said the team never talked about sending Bynum home early so he could get more rest and treatment in the hope that he would be better for Game 6 on Tuesday. Bynum had fluid drained from his knee very early Friday morning.
BOSTON — Put aside all objectivity this afternoon and watched the first half of the United States-England World Cup soccer match at a restaurant near TD Garden. Was joined by a couple of other basketball writers. The place was packed an hour before kickoff and was really rocking after the U.S.’s Clint Dempsey tied the score at 1-all with a two-hopper that eluded England goalkeeper Robert Green, who redeemed himself with a fine save on a Jozy Altidore in the second half. As a rule, we Americans have a tough time with draws. It offends their sensibilities, but I gotta tell ya, this tie felt very much like a victory.
BOSTON — Andrew Bynum said today he was “100 percent sure” he would play in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Sunday. Bynum said his injured right knee was much improved after he had fluid drained from it Friday morning. He also underwent an MRI exam, which showed there was no further tearing of his meniscus. He played only 12 minutes during the Lakers’ loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 4, scoring two points and grabbing three rebounds.
UPDATE: Andrew Bynum had his right knee drained of fluid early Friday morning and also underwent an MRI, which showed no change in the torn meniscus. We’ll know more later today about his condition and his status for Game 5 on Sunday.
BOSTON — Coach Phil Jackson did not have an update on the condition of injured center Andrew Bynum today. Bynum played only 12 minutes, 10 seconds in the Lakers’ loss in Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Thursday because of increased swelling and decreased strength in is injured right knee. Jackson couldn’t say whether Bynum would play in Game 5 on Sunday. “I haven’t got any expectations. I don’t know what his condition is today. He was going to see the doctor later, but in the transition I didn’t get another check with him.” Asked how best to get struggling backup forward Lamar Odom going if Bynum can’t play his regular minutes Sunday, Jackson joked, “I was thinking of an electrode, you know. Something that would really be a stimulus. What do you suggest?”
BOSTON — The bad news for the Lakers was that they lost Game 4 of the NBA Finals tonight and find themselves tied with the Boston Celtics at two victories apiece. The worse news is that Andrew Bynum played only 1 minute, 50 seconds in the second half because of his injured right knee. His status for Game 5 on Sunday is uncertain. Bynum said he expected his personal doctor, David Altchek, to travel from his New York office to examine him. Bynum sounded a defiant tone when asked if could play hurt in Game 5, saying, “That’s what I’m going to have to do. I’m prepared to do it.”