Celtics, 97-91 (final)
LOS ANGELES – Absolutely stunning.
The Celtics pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in NBA playoff history tonight at the Staples Center, stunning the Lakers 97-91 in Game 4 of the 2008 NBA Finals. The Celtics now have a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series and are one win away from clinching the franchise’s 17th championship.
Winning this game was a pipe dream for the Celtics in the first half. The Lakers jumped out to a 24-7 lead early, seemingly putting the game out of reach right after it started.
The Celtics played a dismal first half, shooting 35 percent and digging themselves an 18-point hole. The Celtics found themselves down by as many as 24 points just a few minutes before halftime. Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol each reached double-figures in the first half.
But Boston made a furious comeback at the end of the third quarter. Down 13 with 3:30 left in the period, the Celtics closed the quarter with a 12-1 run to get within 73-71.
The teams went back-and-forth in the final quarter, but the Celtics took their first lead of the game, 84-83, with 3:48 to play. The Lakers gave it one more push, but the Celtics were too tough down the stretch.
James Posey made a huge contribution for Boston off the bench. The do-everything forward had 10 points by halftime and finished with 18.
It was a strange night for Kobe Bryant, who was out-played on both ends by Los Angeles native Paul Pierce. The NBA’s MVP had just 7 points by the end of the third quarter. He finished with 17 points and 10 assists but was just 6 of 19 from the floor.
Pierce finished with 20 points, 7 assists, and 4 rebounds. He was 6 of 13 from the field and 8 of 9 from the line.
Kendrick Perkins came out of the game at the 9:35 mark in the third quarter. He did not return.
We’ll have plenty of coverage from this stunning win here at the Staples Center. Stay tuned.
- Gary Washburn, NBA writer
- Baxter Holmes, Celtics beat writer
- Gary Dzen, Boston.com senior sports producer