Finals, Game 7: Lakers vs. Celtics — True Character (79-83, Win)

It wasn’t pretty. In fact, it was downright ugly. After playing one of their most perfect games on Tuesday night’s Game 6, the Los Angeles Lakers started Game 7 looking panicked rather than poised; harried rather than patient; lost rather than commanding. The Boston Celtics, on the other hand, despite losing a key player at the very last second, looked every bit as confident and ready as the Lakers had… two days ago.

Kobe Bryant was flanked by two or three Celtics each time he held the ball, forcing him into awkward shots and turnovers; Pau Gasol’s shot attempts were hitting nothing but rim or backboard, no matter how close he stood to the hoop; and the Lakers couldn’t hit a free throw if they were standing inside the basket.

The Celtic defense breathed down hard on the Lakers’ offense, and after 24 minutes of agonizing game time, the home team was shooting a lowly 27% from the field. They were only down by 6, however, 40-34 because of the one statistic that has decided every game in this series — rebounds.

In the first half alone, the Lakers out-rebounded the Celtics on the offensive end 15-2. Aware that their offensive struggles were hurting their team’s chances of winning the game, Bryant (23 points on 6-24, 15 rebounds, 2 assists) and Gasol (19 points, 18 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks) found other ways of contributing. They couldn’t hit their shots, so they hit the boards instead, combining for 33 of the team’s 53 rebounds.

Finding themselves in a 49-36 hole in the third quarter, the Lakers looked primed to be beaten, again, by their hated rivals, this time on their own home court. If there is one thing that can be said of this defending championship team, however, it’s that relinquishing is never an option. Bryant soon hit a jumper, followed by a signature left-handed hook by Gasol, then Derek Fisher hit one from mid-range, which was soon followed by Lamar Odom collecting a couple of misses and then collecting four points, which was then followed by a Bryant lay-up. Suddenly that 13-point lead was 57-53 at the end of the third.

Before the fourth quarter, Bryant said that Derek Fisher gathered the team and advised, “Guys, we got 12 minutes to put it together,” and the Lakers certainly did. For all their offensive misfortune in the game, there also existed a greater and much more, almost divine power — their sheer will.

Asked about their tremendous rebounding throughout the game and especially in the final quarter, Pau Gasol answered, “We thought we had no other option. We knew there was a long time left. We knew we weren’t playing our best. We knew that we still had a chance. It was about getting a few stops in a row… shake off all that tension, all the excitement, settle down, stay poised, execute and we’ll be alright.”

In that last stretch of a Game 7, the Lakers were more than alright, and it wasn’t because Bryant was there to close it out. In this final quarter, in this deciding game, the Lakers used their best weapon of all — teamwork. Odom, maligned much of this series for playing below his capabilities, continued to collect rebounds and finish at the rim. Gasol, battling with the likes of Big Baby, Rasheed Wallace and Kevin Garnett, forced himself around the hoop on both ends to either score in the paint or grab rebounds. Derek Fisher, 0-8 from downtown in this series, hit yet another timely three to tie the game at 64. Kobe Bryant, after two free throws and a jumper, gave the Lakers a 68-64 lead. Ron Artest, who Phil Jackson considered the most valuable player in this game, continued his excellent play, contributing a three-pointer of his own. And Sasha Vujacic, with seconds left on the clock and a chance to increase his team’s lead, shot two clutch free throws, and gave the Lakers an 83-79 lead — good enough to win another championship.

With 11.7 seconds left on the game clock, Rajon Rondo inbounded the ball to Paul Pierce, who turned around and was met with the bodies of Lamar Odom and Kobe Bryant. Unable to get a shot up himself, Pierce passed to Rondo, who was unable to secure a clear sight of the basket with Odom running towards him, attempted a three pointer anyway and missed. Gasol instantly rebounded the ball, tossed it to Odom, who flung it towards Bryant, who ran the length of the court as time expired.

Champions… again.

The late, great John Wooden said that, “Winning takes talent; to repeat takes character.” Character is defined as having qualities of honesty, courage and integrity.

After 2008 in Boston, the Los Angeles Lakers refused to fool themselves into thinking they could get to the pinnacle of the following season by being offensive juggernauts. They knew that merely scoring would not make them champions. They knew that to top every team at the end of the season, they also had to keep their opponents from scoring themselves. They worked hard, despite the many injuries, to do whatever it took to help their team win. They didn’t need pre-game gimmicks, fancy or even dirty play to develop hype or energy to get the victory. They depended on each other for support, relied on their coaches to guide them, and trusted their training staff to take care of them. This is the character of your Los Angeles Lakers. This is the character of a champion.

Pre-Game Thoughts: One and done. Do or die. This is it.

Half-Time Thoughts: Lakers shooting 27%… enough said.

Most Thoughtless Player(s) of the Game: Who could be thoughtless in a Game 7? No one in a Laker or Celtic uniform, but the fans “celebrating” senselessly in Downtown L.A. need a talking-to.

Most Thought-filled Player(s) of the Game: Ron Artest — he said when he joined the team that he should be blamed if the Lakers failed to win another title, but tonight he proved himself invaluable. The defending champions would’ve been lost without his 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 steals.

Anna Gonda has been the post-game editor for LakerNation.com since the 2009-2010 season. Between post-game reports, she's a full-time advertising coordinator for an academic publisher and a part-time photographer. Favorite Lakers: Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher. Favorite Laker Moment: Game 7, 2010 Finals against the Boston Celtics.
  • SteveAveryisStupid

    I LOVE THIS! I LOVE L.A.!

  • Cody

    Last night I cried and even this morning I cried. I REALLY DON’T KNOW WHAT TO SAY. THIS MIGHT SOUND corny BUT THIS IS THE GREATEST FEELING IN THE WORLD!!!!!!! WORDS CAN’T EXPLAIN HOW HAPPY I AM!!!!!!! I’M JUST SPEECHLESS. And to all you fucks that gave me shit all year, well what do you have to say now??????? THE 2010 LOS ANGELES LAKERS ARE THE WORLD CHAMPIONS!!!!!!! GREATEST FEELING EVER, WE DID IT BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Rio Rondo

      you didnt do much i never saw you out on the court

      • Pouch Me

        but your ass cheeks got beat

  • Showtime4eva

    I couldn’t imagine us getting beat but the whole year was so up and down some nights looked great an some looked real bad last night we looked real bad but found a way to win yeahhhh !!!!!!! NOW WE CAN ALL RESSTT!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/thepandasayshello Josh Herrington

    I just want to thank TLN and all of you guys, through the ups and downs, the good, the bad, the ugly, we stuck together to witness a great season. I came across this site around the time Artest was signed and my life has been SO MUCH greater. This is actually my first time being a consistent blogger. I hope to continue being a member of this site and promoting the Lakers’ greatness. Anna said it all in the report so the only thing for me to do is part of with a farewell.
    .
    Have a good summer GUYS and GALS. Can’t wait until Monday and the ring ceremony.
    .
    PEACE!! lol

  • j

    Words can’t fully describe how I’ve been feeling for the past 14 or so hours….WOW.

    Let the summer begin!!!!!!

  • j

    btw – GREAT summary Anna!

  • KaPau

    Where is Rio Crappo at?

    • lakerman1

      Probably somewhere crying with the Celtics. Losers always show there true colors and guys like that are really nothing more then cowards who hide behind blogs and facebook because they in no way have the courage to standd up to you MAN to MAN. Good thing is he will not be back until next season and then the sissy will re appear.

  • Rio Rondo

    we where robbed.. do the lakers give the refs a ring as well???

    • KaPau

      boo hooo!!! poor you…..scoreboard biatch!!!!

      • Rio Rondo

        very uncalled for but not suprised

        • cle

          your mother gets a ring too

          • Rio Rondo

            here we go again. who the fuck are you? yea nobody

  • http://thelakersnation.com/blog/category/original-articles/benchmob-beat/ Anna Gonda

    Rio Rondo, I’m not surprised you’re on here doing exactly what your team did – trash talkin’ out of your ass. Your boy Pierce after a freakin’ GAME 2 win sayin’ they weren’t coming back to LA cuz they were gonna sweep the Lakers in Boston, then your bigger boy Big Baby, after getting blown out of the water in game 6, talkin’ about he can’t wait to take off his jersey and celebrate on the Staples Center court. Why can’t you just be proud of how far your team got, and appreciate what a great series it was and stop searching for more ways to talk crap you can’t back up. The Celtics lost this game because they stopped playing, thought they had it in the bag with a 13-point lead in the THIRD QUARTER. Just like your team, one thing you Boston bandwagoners don’t lack is overconfidence, and that’s why your team is going home emptyhanded. Quit trying to rain on our parade just cuz you can’t have one of your own.

    • Rio Rondo

      baby come over and we’ll have a parade lol jk but we lost do to the fact that we stoped playin. i mean weve owend you guys 08 so yea and it was a 37 point BLOW out you guys one by 4.. but congratulations im happy for kobe

      ps hes is better than jordan

      • http://www.facebook.com/thepandasayshello Josh Herrington

        Rio Rondo, you fail at life. I wonder what your other Band wagoners or Boston fans (same thing) have to say about you.

        • Rio Rondo

          you laker fans are very rude its just basket ball not life

          • Betto

            Wow This troll Rio is everywhere, he keeps mentioning 08 like it was today, dude get over it, 2 years have past. Lakers are back 2 back champs while Celtics are nothing but chumps now. Since everyone in Boston is leaving or in retire mode, maybe we’ll see you guys in another 20 years or so.. haha!

  • JOSH IN DA 310

    fuck you Rio piece of shit!!!! We won you guys are never smelling victory again. your team is being dismantled as I type hahahaahahahahah LMFAO fuck Boston chowder heads

  • Rio Rondo

    and josh you use “da” instead of the grew the fuck up

    • TLNbiggestLakerfans

      Hey rio rondo, i hope you stocked up on some kleenex cause this summer your gonna be needing em after sobbing so much.

      I’m surprised your troll @$$ is still on here after you and your team got punked so bad? And your still bringing up 08? LMAO. I would rather lose by 39 than blow a 13 point lead in an NBA FINALS game 7 and fail at the end.

  • http://TLN SHOWTIME4EVA

    WE ENDED THIS VERSION OF THE CELTICS!!! WE ENDED THIS TEAM!! THIS GROUP AINT COMING BACK!!! WE CLOSED THIS CHAPTER ON THEM!!! WE CRUSHED THEIR THROAT!!! KNOCK OUT !!! KNOCK OUT!!! TELL ALL OF BOSTON!! WHO DID THIS TO YOU? WHO DID THIS TO YOU? THE LAKERS!!! JUST KNOCKED YOU THE FUUCCKK OUTT!!! LAKERS!!! JUST SENT THE CELTICS BACK TO THE STONE AGE LMAO!! BYE BYE!!

    • Rio Rondo

      dude i owned you a couple post a go about karma so stfu

      • http://TLN SHOWTIME4EVA

        OH YEAH?I GOT THE LAST LAUGH !!! SO YOU!! STFU!!! LITTLE BITCH!!

        • Rio Rondo

          im not little and certainly not a bitch

          • http://TLN SHOWTIME4EVA

            YOU WOULD BE NEXT TO ME!

          • Rio Rondo

            yea you are a bigger bitch then me

            ohh burn lol

  • j

    BOSTON SUCKS!

  • Aderen

    Congrats from Spain :)

  • LakerNationCitizen

    The Spaniard (as Kobe fondly calls him) won it for Spain, even though he was deeply saddened for their loss in the World Cup. So he’s still representin’!

    Rio Rondo is envious because his team is old. Don’t worry, Rio Rondo, your three party including Doc Rivers will be featured on VH1′s One Hit Wonders. Good job on playing hard – though not hard enough to take the Larry O’Brien from LA!

    Regarding Ana’s comment on Rio Rondo, well said.

    Back2Back baby!! How about a 3peat? HEHEHEHEHE…. we shall see. Let’s enjoy this one, for now.

    • Nate Mcmillian

      I am so happy we won but we have some serious roster changes to do over the summer. I doubt we can win again with the same roster next year. Although you know what I am sick of hearing is all the Celtic fans complain about officiating. I hear them say well oh you got way more free throws I calculated the entire amount of free throws for the series. Lakers shot 149 free throws Boston shot 140 okay we got a whole 9 more free throws than you guys. Lets take a look at 2008 Lakers shot 170 free throws Boston shot 191 free throws. The funny thing is they think they have the right to complain about us getting 9 more free throws, but we don’t have the right to complain about 21 more free throws.

  • Pau Gasoline

    Us Fans are so spoiled by the Laker organization. We have celebrated 16 championships and more to come. Not every game is pretty but that is the beauty of it !! The moments where all we want to do is close our eyes and hope the shot goes in! thats what its all about! WE LOVE LA! WE LOVE IT!

  • Zeki Kayiran

    Rio Rondo, we cannot give rings to Scott Foster and Joe Crawford, because they obviously favored your Celtics. 20 of the 37 free throws the Lakers shot were in the 4th quarter, when your tired Celtics started body slamming instead of playing defence.

    The Lakers had to beat them, in addition to the Celtics.

    So, when (if you can) your Celtics win a championship, wou can give them their rings. They have been your boys all along.

  • Rio Rondo

    those are some sweet hats.. might just go and pick one up

  • si pepe

    thaank you lakers…thank you co-fans! WE ROCK!

    • http://TLN SHOWTIME4EVA

      yeah thanks!

  • Three

    Triple Champion Again!!!

  • hehatemealot

    World Champs baby!!! Paul Pierce u fcken fag. How does my ass taste.