NBA

Fisher is Lakers' finisher in Game 3

FOX Sports Mitch Lawrence, Special to FOXSports.com
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BOSTON

Derek Fisher was close to tears after he shot the Lakers to a 91-84 win in Game 3 of the Finals, but who’s crying now?

The Celtics, mainly because they stopped Kobe Bryant about as well as a team can, but still couldn’t figure out how to keep Fisher from sending them to a 2-1 Finals deficit.

“He won the game for them,’’ said Boston’s Doc Rivers. ”Derek Fisher was the difference in the game.’’

Fisher scored 11 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter, with four huge baskets after the Lakers saw their one-time lead of 17 sliced to one.

When Ray Allen missed a three-pointer with Boston trailing by only four with 53 seconds left, Fisher raced the ball down the floor, past Kevin Garnett, Allen and Big Baby Davis. He not only made the layup, but hit the free throw after he was decked by Davis.

“Hitting the floor didn’t feel that good, to be honest,’’ Fisher said. “But Pau’s reaction and my teammate’s reaction, that’s why those moments feel so good to me.’’

They didn’t feel good to Rivers, who saw his team quit on the play and questioned his players’ mental toughness, saying they had lost their composure in the game’s most crucial seconds.

“That was a big hoop,’’ said Garnett. “It was just a miscommunication. I wasn’t sure if Rondo or someone was going to come. But I found myself isolated. I didn’t know if they were going to call a timeout. But it was a weird play. That’s the game pretty much.’’

The fact that Fisher had a huge hand in the outcome is getting to be old hat. The Lakers have seen him make big shots before, in previous playoff games and last year’s Finals win over Orlando.

“He’s been criticized quite a bit for his age, so it’s a huge thrill for all of us to see him come through in these moments,’’ said Bryant, who missed five of six shots in the fourth quarter and needed 29 shots to score 29 points. “But truthfully, he’s done it over and over and over again. So it’s almost his responsibility to our team to do these things.’’

You've got to admit, Fisher is holding up his end of the deal.

From stud to dud

Ray Allen went from Finals hero to Finals zero -- literally -- when he missed all 13 of his shots.

Boston Celtics Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen

Kevin Garnett's strong game couldn't prop up Ray Allen's 0-for-13 night.

Michael Dwyer

Only two nights earlier, Allen set an NBA record with eight three-pointers, including hitting his first seven in the first half en route to a 32-point night.


Most observers were wondering about the toll that the cross-country trip on the off day was going to have on Andrew Bynum, who is playing with torn cartilage in his right knee. But they should have worried about the effects the short turnaround would have on an older player like Allen, who has been around for 14 seasons.

“All of his shots looked flat,’’ Boston’s Doc Rivers said after Allen’s two-point night. “I don’t think he had any legs. Of his 13 shots, he had eight great looks. But all of his shots were short. And all of them were flat.’’

Allen’s 0-for-13 effort was just one miss shy of tying Dennis Johnson’s record night of futility for a Finals game, when he played for Seattle.

Talk is cheap

Paul Pierce is headed back to L.A. -- unless, of course, the Lakers win the next two games to close out the Finals here and claim the title. Of course, that’s not what Pierce had in mind when he told fans at Staples Center that the series wouldn’t return to his hometown after the Celtics won Game 2 in L.A.

But rather than worry about travel, Pierce has to start worrying about getting his shot back. For the Finals, he’s made only 13 of 36 shots (36%). But Tuesday night, his main problem wasn’t Ron Artest; it was the officiating.

At least that was the take of Rivers, who started to work the refs for Game 4 after Pierce played most of the night in foul trouble.

POLL

  • What was the key to the Lakers' Game 3 win?
    • Kobe's 29 points
    • Fisher's 10 fourth-quarter points
    • Ray Allen's 0-for-13 night

“I mean, he wasn’t allowed to play,’’ Rivers said, risking a fine for that comment. “They didn’t allow him to play tonight. He was completely taken out of the game by the foul calls.’’

Each game of the Finals, the Celtics have had one of their Big Three get in serious early foul trouble. Game 1 it was Allen. Game 2 it was Garnett, but the Celtics overcame his extended absence for their win. Tuesday night it was Pierce’s turn to hear the whistles.

“Maybe I should start complaining about fouls,’’ Rivers said.

And so he did.

“Maybe I can get a turnaround like it was turned around tonight,’’ he said. “That was amazing.’’

Rivers was referring to Phil Jackson complaining about the calls against Kobe Bryant immediately after Game 2, when Bryant picked up five fouls and played only 34 minutes. Bryant got to play 43 minutes Tuesday night and was called for two fouls.

Look who showed up

Lamar Odom, missing in action in L.A. in the first two games due to foul trouble, finally surfaced in the Finals.

“I just stayed out of foul trouble,’’ said Odom, who finished with 12 points, going 5 for 5 from the field.

“I was able to stay aggressive throughout the game. Any time you pick up quick fouls, it’s a tough game. But that’s the way it goes.’’

Odom had scored only eight points in the first two games, while picking up 10 fouls. Yet he left those games back in L.A. when the Lakers flew east.

“You always hear me talk about playoff basketball and the last game is exactly that, the last game,’’ he said. “You have a game ahead of you to worry about. You just put those games behind you.’’

Kevin Garnett did the same thing, putting in his best night of the series. Instead of being passive at the offensive end, and settling for fallaway jumpers, the Big Ticket was in attack mode from the opening tip. He finished with 25 points after scoring 22 in the first two games combined.

“I was able to get into a nice rhythm,’’ he said. “I stayed composed. I took what they gave me.’’

Read more of Mitch Lawrence's columns at the New York Daily News.

Tagged: Celtics, Lakers, Paul Pierce, Metta World Peace, Lamar Odom, Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett

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