This game was a battle from the beginning. The first quarter was rather tentative by both teams as they were trying to get a feel for each others' games. At the end of the first quarter, the Celtics held a 23-21 lead with the Celtics shooting 47% and the Lakers shooting 48%. Kobe was 2-8 in the first quarter and the Lakers were down just 2 so they had to feel good going into the second quarter.
Doc started the second with Sam Cassell, PJ Brown, Ray Allen, Leon Powe and James Posey. The quarter started with Ray driving to the hoop and missing but getting his own rebound and passing to Leon for a layup. From there, the teams traded baskets until the Celtics went up 42-37 with 5:20 to go in the half. Pierce went to the bench with his 3rd foul with 5:14 to go in the quarter and the Lakers went on a 14-4 run to end the quarter and take a 51-46 lead into the half.
The Celtics came out of the half with an aggressive mindset. Pierce scored 8 points in the first 1:20 of the third quarter and the Celtics went up 56-53 after 2 minutes. With 6:33 left in the third, the entire Celtics Nation held their collective breath as Perk came down on Pierce's leg and he was carried off the court and then taken to the locker room in a wheel chair. On the next play, Perk came down on his ankle and limped off the court. It didn't look good for the Celtics.
The turning point of the game came with 5:10 left in the third as the Celtics Captain came running out of the tunnel. The report was that he had sprained his knee and was wearing a sleeve over it as he came back onto the court to a standing ovation from the crowd. The game was tied at 62 when Pierce returned. Perk later returned to the bench but didn't come back into the game which may have been because PJ Brown was playing very well in his absence.
The Lakers kept it close as the score went back and forth with the Lakers taking the lead at 71-69 with 2:54 left in the third. The game turned around when PJ got a block and Pierce hit a 3 with 1:24 to put the Celtics up 72-71. On the next possession, he pulled up and hit another 3 to put the Celtics up 75-71 with 1:01 left in the third and the Celtics never looked back. They led 77-73 at the end of 3. Pierce scored 15 points in the third quarter to give the Celtics the momentum going into the 4th.
The Celtics led the entire 4th quarter although the Lakers cut the lead to 3 a couple of times. KG came up big with a couple of incredible moves in the quarter. With 10:04 left and the Celtics up 3, KG leaped into the back court and saved the ball to Ray Allen who got the ball to Sam for a jumper. The second huge play came with 1:30 left in the 4th and the Celtics up 92-88. Posey missed a 3 from the corner and KG flew in from nowhere to slam the rebound in over Gasol to give the Celtics a 6 point cushion. He also hit 2 clutch free throws with 1 minute to go and give the Celtics an 8 point lead. The final score was 98-88 but the game was close throughout with 13 lead changes and 12 ties.
KG was the Celtics high scorer with 24 points to go with 13 rebounds and 3 assists, but he took too many jumpers and didn't go into the paint nearly enough. Pierce was the hero as his return to the court after what looked to be a game ending injury sparked the Celtics to the win. Pierce finished with 22 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal. Hopefully in the 3 days before game 2, Pierce can get treatment and will be ready to go for the next game.
Ray Allen had a solid game and he picked up his game when Pierce went out finishing with 19 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists. Rondo played Fisher fairly even, finishing with 15 points (4-10), 5 rebounds, and 7 assists. Fisher finished with 15 points (4-9), 4 rebounds and 6 assists. Perk played just 23 minutes as he was in foul trouble and then sprained the ankle and didn't return. He finished with 1 point, 4 rebounds, and 1 block.
The Celtics bench (17 points, 12 rebounds) had a slight edge on the Lakers bench (15 points, 7 rebounds). PJ Brown came in when Perk went out with the injury and did a great job on defense and finished with 2 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 block in 21 minutes. Posey also gave the Celtics a lift off the bench with 3 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals and some very good defense. Sam hit his first 3 shots but then went 1-6 the rest of the game. He had 8 points and 1 assist in 13 minutes. Leon Powe got the call off the bench in the second quarter and finished with 4 points and 4 rebunds in 9 minutes.
The Celtics and Lakers both shot 42%. The Celtics were all over the Lakers on the boards with a 46-33 edge. The Celtics had 13 turnovers to just 8 for the Lakers. They had 11 at the end of 3 quarters and took good care of the ball in the 4th, adding just 2 more the rest of the way. In spite of all the hype about Phil Jackson's experience over Doc, it was Doc who did the better job of coaching in this one. The Celtics held Kobe to 24 points on 9-26 shooting. Defense won out in game 1, but the Celtics need to be ready for the Lakers to come back with a vengeance in game 2. Phil Jackson will make adjustments. Kobe will hit some of the shots he was missing. The Celtics won't have a miraculous come back from Pierce in game 2. So, the Celtics will need to tighten up their defense, especially on the pick and roll. But for now, The Celtics are up in the series and Celtics fans can feel good as Phil Jackson is 41-0 in series that he wins game 1 and the Celtics took that edge away with a gutsy performance in this one.