Quiet for several games, "The Machine" finally powered up.
Sasha Vujacic lived up to his nickname, scoring 20 points in 28 minutes to give the Lakers the jolt they needed in Game 3 of the NBA Finals.
Vujacic scored in double figures for the first time since a 10-point effort in the opener of the Western Conference finals, once again becoming a spark off the bench, much as he did for the second half of the regular season.
The timing couldn't have been better for the Lakers.
"We couldn't have won the game without his help," Coach Phil Jackson said.
Vujacic made three of five three-point shots and seven of 10 overall. He hadn't made more than half his shots since hitting five of seven in Game 6 of the Western semifinals.
"He was huge," Boston Coach Doc Rivers said. "Kobe [Bryant] was fantastic, but I thought Vujacic was the key to the game. He was aggressive, and he deserved what he got."
Vujacic's three-pointer from the left corner provided an 81-76 Lakers lead with 1:53 to play.
"That's what I love the most and that's what I live for -- those kind of games," Vujacic said.
Rivers jabbed Jackson after the game.
"I'm just surprised he didn't whine about fouls tonight," the Celtics coach said jokingly.
The Lakers made 21 of 34 free throws in Game 3, the Celtics 15 of 22.
Lakers owner Jerry Buss did not travel to Boston for the first two games, instead partaking in a poker tournament in Las Vegas, but Jackson wasn't irritated.
"I know that he was limiting his flights, flight times for a considerable amount of time," Jackson said. "Vegas is, what, less than an hour? That's fine."
Derek Fisher won the Magic Johnson Award, presented annually to the NBA player who combines on-court performance with steady cooperation with the media in the tradition of Johnson's Hall of Fame career.
Members of the Pro Basketball Writers Assn. voted for the award.
"Derek is a man of class and dignity, as he frequently demonstrated during his daughter's battle with cancer," PBWA President Rick Bonnell said. "He sets a standard for cooperation and accountability with the media."
Bryant picked up his second technical foul in as many games after arguing a non-call with 2:18 left in the second quarter.
Bryant now has three technical fouls in the playoffs. He would be suspended for one game if he picked up a seventh technical foul.