Final

Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 2)

Series starts 2/19

Game 1: Tuesday, February 19th
Celtics109Final
Lakers108
Game 2: Friday, April 5th
Lakers81Final
Celtics99

Lakers 81

(53-23, 23-16 away)

Celtics 99

(44-32, 24-14 home)

7:30 PM ET, April 5, 2002

TD Garden, Boston, MA

1 2 3 4 T
LAL 17 41 23 81
BOS 23 43 33 99

Top Performers

Los Angeles: K. Bryant 26 Pts, 6 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

Boston: P. Pierce 33 Pts, 4 Reb, 2 Ast

Minus O'Neal, Bryant shoots 5-for-25

BOSTON (AP) -- An injured Shaquille O'Neal watched from the bench as the Boston Celtics celebrated their first playoff berth in seven years by beating his Lakers.

Paul Pierce

Reuters

Kobe Bryant can't slow Paul Pierce, who scored 33 on Friday.

The Celtics did it with their first sweep of a season series against Los Angeles in 10 years as Paul Pierce scored 33 points and Kobe Bryant missed 20 shots in Boston's 99-81 win Friday night.

"It's a big win against the defending champs," Pierce said. "Even though they didn't have Shaq, they're still the defending champs."

The Celtics clinched a postseason spot when Indiana lost Thursday. But they concentrated on avoiding a letdown like the one they had in a loss to Philadelphia a week earlier after Allen Iverson broke his hand in the first half.

"We just got the news earlier in the day that we made the playoffs and we wanted to go out and play a great game," Eric Williams said after Boston's fifth win in six games.

O'Neal missed his second straight game with a sprained right wrist but is expected back for Sunday's game in Miami.

His absence allowed the Celtics to focus on stopping Bryant, made it easier for Boston point guard Kenny Anderson to penetrate and opened the middle for Tony Battie to tie his career high with 15 rebounds.

"I think he was the happiest man in the world to find out Shaq wasn't playing," Celtics coach Jim O'Brien said.

Bryant led the Lakers with 26 points and made 16-of-18 free throws. But he went 5-for-25 from the field as he forced shots in an attempt to pick up the offensive burden.

"It has been a while since I've had a shooting night like that, but I'm glad it's out of my system," he said after the Lakers had their lowest total of the season, two points less than in a loss to Phoenix on Nov. 16.

The Lakers hit only 34 percent of their shots and dropped to 53-23 with six games left.

"Sacramento would have to falter for us to catch them now," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.

O'Neal sat out Wednesday night's 94-92 loss to the New Jersey Nets. The Lakers fell to 7-8 playing without him.

The Celtics led 39-33 at halftime and stayed ahead by at least six points the rest of the way. The Lakers still had a chance when they trailed 66-58 after the third quarter, but Boston began the fourth with a 14-5 run that made it 80-63 with 7:01 left.

Antoine Walker's third 3-pointer of the game gave him 20 points and Boston its biggest lead, 99-76.

Pierce hit five 3-pointers as Boston went 10-for-25 from long distance. Los Angeles was 3-for-19.

O'Neal's presence "lets us be a little bit more aggressive on the perimeter defensively," Los Angeles' Rick Fox said. "When he's not back there, that aggressiveness will get us burnt."

The Lakers didn't set up good shots as they had a season-low 11 assists.

"Whoever got the ball would go down (to the basket) like we were playing street ball," Robert Horry said. "When you play street ball, it doesn't work in your favor."

Los Angeles didn't make a field goal in the third quarter until Derek Fisher connected on a 14-footer from the left side 4:58 into the period that cut the lead to 50-38. And they couldn't come back in the fourth quarter, making just eight shots.

"Without Shaq, it's a completely different ball team," O'Brien said, "but we did beat them twice and we should be happy about that. We are happy about that."

Game notes


Pierce passed the 2,000-point mark for the season when his 3-pointer with 3:50 to go put the Celtics up 87-70. He finished with 2,005, most in the NBA... The national anthem was sung by Jamie Lynn Sigler, the actress who plays Meadow on "The Sopranos." ... The Celtics activated Anderson from the injured list and placed rookie guard Joseph Forte on it with what they termed a left ankle sprain. ... Lawyer Milloy and Willie McGinest of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots had front-row seats. ... Williams left the game for good with 10:32 left after jamming his right big toe on a camera beneath the basket.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
LAL
BOS
Points 81 99
FGM-FGA 28-82 (.341) 40-88 (.455)
3PM-3PA 3-19 (.158) 10-25 (.400)
FTM-FTA 22-25 (.880) 9-17 (.529)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 8-41 12-49
Assists 11 28
Turnovers 13 14
Steals 8 8
Blocks 7 1
Fast Break Points 1 5
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 21 (1/0) 21 (1/0)

Top Performers

Los Angeles
Boston
Kobe Bryant Bryant
Points: 26
Reb: 6
Ast: 2
Stl: 1
Blk: 1
Paul Pierce Pierce
Points: 33
Reb: 4
Ast: 2
Stl: 0
Blk: 0