Sat, Dec 27, 2008 - Page 19 News List

NBA: Gasol helps Lakers end Celtics’ winning streak

STOPPED Los Angeles put a cap on Boston’s franchise-record, 19-game streak as Phil Jackson had his 1,000th win in 17-plus seasons with the Lakers and the Bulls

AFP AND AP , LOS ANGELES

The Los Angeles Lakers snapped the Boston Celtics’ franchise-record, 19-game winning streak as Kobe Bryant scored a game-high 27 points in a 92-83 victory on Thursday at Staples Center arena.

Pau Gasol added 20 for the Lakers, who finished the game on a 13-2 run to give coach Phil Jackson his 1,000th career win.

“They had just won 19 straight games so they were due for one,” Bryant said. “It was a challenge to stop the streak because they were playing so well.”

Entering the game, Boston (27-3) had engineered the best 29-game start to a season in history and matched the league’s fourth-longest winning streak.

The Celtics also are trying to defend their record 17th title, which they won in six games over the Lakers last June — capping it all with a convincing 131-92 romp in game six.

In this one, Los Angeles exacted a small measure of revenge thanks to Gasol, who scored seven points during the decisive fourth-quarter run.

“It was a nice playoff atmosphere. A little deja vu-ish,” he said.

Boston took a two-point lead — its only advantage in the fourth — with 3:57 left, when Rajon Rondo found Kevin Garnett for a dunk.

Bryant then nailed a tough fadeaway jumper as the Lakers never looked back.

Bryant and Gasol then went to work for the Lakers’ next three buckets.

The reigning league MVP Brant found the Spanish center for a jumper, passed to him out a double-team for a nifty floater and set up his scoop-shot, three-point play that made it 88-83 with 1:28 remaining.

Gasol stepped out to help on Celtics sharpshooter Ray Allen, blocking his three-point attempt and igniting a one-man fast break that Trevor Ariza finished with a fancy reverse jam that made it 90-83.

Bryant added a layup to provide the final margin with 26 seconds left.

The Lakers also preserved an all-time record held by their 1972 club, which won 33 in a row en route to an NBA championship.

Ironically, Boston shares the fourth-best streak with 2000 Lakers, who went on to win their first of three straight championships later that season.

They also were guided by Jackson, who became the sixth coach to hit the 1,000-win plateau.

He now is 1,000-473 in 17-plus seasons with the Lakers and Chicago Bulls.

“It was a good win,” Jackson said. “We knew we wanted to win and we had the ability to do it.”

The first half was played with a championship intensity and palpable vigor from both teams. There were nine lead changes and three ties in the first two quarters.

Things picked up where they left off in third thanks to Paul Pierce, who scored 12 points in the period and capped the Celtics’ key 15-5 run with a fadeaway jumper with 3:30 remaining. The shot gave Boston its first lead 64-62 since the midway through the second.

The Lakers provided an immediate response with their heralded bench on the floor, finishing the third on a 9-3 run to take a 71-67 lead after three.

Jackson said at one point he had to take Bryant out of game because he was taking bad shots.

“Kobe was taking shots that weren’t there,” Jackson said. “He had to sit a bit and come back rejuvenated and help us win.”

The Lakers improved to 14-0 at home.

Sasha Vujacic and Lamar Odom each added 10 points for the Los Angeles, which was dominated in the paint but received 22 points from its bench.

Garnett scored 22 points and Pierce added all 20 of his points in the first three quarters for Boston, which was set to continue its road trip at the Golden State Warriors yesterday.

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