LOS ANGELES - Following the Celtics' defeat in Game 3 of the NBA Finals Tuesday night, coach Doc Rivers had a message for his team: Get some rest.
Boston, which holds a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series heading into Game 4 tonight at Staples Center, looked like a tired bunch in its 87-81 loss to the Lakers.
Center Kendrick Perkins said yesterday that in the fourth quarter, he noticed that after working particularly hard to get a defensive stop on a second chance for the Lakers, all five Celtics were jogging down the court, and captain Paul Pierce caused the team to burn a timeout because he was fatigued. Rivers said he told his players that can't happen.
"This was the first game that I had four or five players signal to pull them out," said Rivers. "I thought [Pierce] was injured because he just said, 'I need a timeout.' I called a timeout. He just wanted a blow. We needed that darned timeout, and I told our guys that as well."
Rivers blamed the fatigue on the quick turnaround between Game 2 Sunday and Game 3, with a transcontinental travel day in between for both teams. He did not think the, ahem, attractions and distractions LA has to offer were part of the problem.
For Pierce, who struggled through a 2-for-14 shooting night, the added pressure of returning home could be a fatigue factor. Meeting the demands of family and friends can be draining. However, Pierce dismissed his homecoming as a possible cause of his lack of on-court alacrity.
"Well, I'm just approaching these games like any other game," he said. "[I'm] not really spending a lot of time with family, just going to be around my teammates, staying at the hotel and doing the things I would normally do if I was somewhere else on the road."
Lakers coach Phil Jackson said he noticed that Celtics forward Kevin Garnett seemed a little fatigued. Garnett responded, "It's kind of cool that Phil Jackson is paying attention to me that much."
But after the playful dig, Garnett admitted that tired legs were visible on both sides.
"You could see the travel and fatigue, I think, on both teams," he said. "I think both teams will play better, obviously, with a day of rest, and I'm no different."
Taking their best shots
On Tuesday, the gossip website TMZ.com posted a 45-second clip of Pierce in LA. The video shows paparazzi hounding Pierce, who is seen wearing a white Dodgers cap, while he's out at night. In the footage, which was presumably shot Monday, Pierce ignored the questions asked by the videographers.
"You know, it is what it is," said Pierce. "It's the NBA Finals, a lot of the publicity around it, there is nothing you can do about it."
TMZ is the same site that got video of quarterback Tom Brady wearing a walking boot on his right foot in New York the day after the Patriots were crowned AFC champions.
They earned it
After Jackson moaned about the free throw discrepancy in Game 2, when Boston went to the line 38 times to just 10 for LA, the Lakers enjoyed a 34-22 advantage in Game 3. The Celtics didn't complain about the officiating, saying the Lakers earned their free throws and they need to be more aggressive.
"I think that's how you get to the line is being aggressive, and they definitely were more aggressive than us," said Eddie House. "We settled a lot. Took a lot of long shots and just didn't attack the basket.
"I think the difference between Game 3 and the first two was Paul was attacking the basket a lot, getting [Vladimir ] Radmanovic in foul trouble. They had matchup problems. [On Tuesday], I think we just settled and took a lot of jumpers."
Perkins pointed out that the Lakers don't have a shot blocker in the middle with center Andrew Bynum out. "The Lakers don't have a Marcus Camby in the middle, so I think we need to attack the basket."
No knee-jerk reaction
Pierce made it clear his injured right knee played no part in his horrible shooting night in Game 3. "I don't think it had any effect on the way I played in Game 3," he said. "It was just a bad shooting night, and I just have to bounce back for Game 4."