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GAME 3: LAKERS 87, CELTICS 81

Fox views

Rick Fox, who played for Boston from 1991 to '97, and won three title rings when he played for the Lakers from 1998 to 2004, analyzes the NBA Finals:

June 11, 2008

You don't win a championship. You take one, forcefully and aggressively. That was the mind-set of the Lakers Tuesday night and it enabled them to win, 87-81.

It was not their mind-set in the first two games. I thought they approached the Celtics in a polite fashion and the result was two losses.

Yes, the Lakers' victory in Game 3 was ugly. They junked it up. Doesn't matter. All that is important is that they got on the board in the NBA Finals. People like to call this city Gloss Angeles. Let the celebrities and the rest of the fans fill Staples Center with all the glitz and glamour. On the court, the Lakers have to play a rough, bruising style to deal with the bullies on the other side. Tuesday, they showed that fight.

And Kobe Bryant led by example. Let Phil Jackson, let Brian Shaw, let Derek Fisher lead vocally. Kobe can lead on the court by getting in attack mode and staying that way for 48 minutes. Tuesday, that's what he did. He demanded the attention of the Celtics defense which, in turn, created a sense of freedom for his teammates.

One big area of concern for the Lakers on Tuesday was the free-throw line where they were only 21 for 34. They complained after Game 2 that they weren't getting the calls from the refs. Well, when you do get to the free-throw line, you've got to make them.

Surprises on the scoring sheet: For the Celtics, the fact that Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were a combined eight for 35 from the field. Pierce two for 14, Garnett six for 21.

For the Lakers, the effectiveness of their young players. These kids have started to grow up in front of our eyes. Guys like Sasha Vujacic, who had 20 points, Ronny Turiaf, Jordan Farmar and Luke Walton obviously felt more comfortable at home. They played with the kind of energy and enthusiasm the Lakers are going to need the rest of the way.

Three things the Lakers must do in Game 4:

1. Allow themselves to continue to play ugly if necessary. That means not being concerned with a Showtime image and being concerned only with the numbers on the scoreboard.

2. Continue to follow Kobe's lead and play in a relentless fashion.

3. Stand up defensively to a tough Celtics team and hit first.

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