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Lakers' Mob rules in bench battle against Celtics

L.A. reserves outplay their Boston counterparts to help turn the tide in Game 6.

June 16, 2010|By Lisa Dillman

For this, Boston's bench should be benched.

Kidding aside, checking that particular box — as inviting as it may seem — won't be among the Game 7 options for Celtics Coach Doc Rivers.

But that's hours of hype away — in fact, 48 whole hours.

For now, here's the latest conventional wisdom from the NBA Finals after the Lakers' 89-67 victory in Game 6 on Tuesday night at Staples Center.

Lakers bench: arrow up. Celtics bench: arrow down.

That was one of the vital matchups in Game 6, and in this case, the statistics did not lie. The Lakers' bench outscored the Celtics' reserves, 25-13 — and it was 24-0 after three quarters.

"We do what we do," said Lakers guard Shannon Brown, who had four points in 19-plus minutes of action. "We take the criticism with a grain of salt. We take it personal."

Sasha Vujacic was the leader of the Lakers Bench Mob, hitting two three-pointers and finishing with nine points. Lamar Odom bounced back, with eight points and 10 rebounds.

The Celtics' reserves didn't score until Nate Robinson's reverse layup with 9:56 to play. Robinson had six points and Glen "Big Baby" Davis and Rasheed Wallace were scoreless.

"Usually the home team's bench plays better, and they were at home, and I thought their bench guys were comfortable," Rivers said. "Bench players are typically more comfortable at home and stars play well everywhere.

"There was a lot of that tonight. I thought their bench was terrific. I thought their bench gave unbelievable energy. Every single guy. I don't think there was one guy off the bench that didn't give them great play."

Lakers Coach Phil Jackson got more specific.

" Jordan [Farmar] made a big recovery getting on the floor and getting after a ball," he said. "Sasha made some baskets. [ Derek] Fisher got in foul trouble, and Shannon came out and played a good backup role as a defensive player out there with the first unit, and that really helped us out."

It was quite a turnaround from Game 4, in which the Celtics' reserves outscored the Lakers' bench, 36-18. That was the beginning of the Robinson and Big Baby comedy show.

Rivers wanted to see more of that Game 4 moxie from Davis.

"We've got to get better play out of Baby, and I told him that after the game," he said. "We do. He has to come with that same spirit he came with in the famous 'Shrek and Donkey' game. We need that again, and we need that from everybody."

Doing it on the road is always going to be a tough ask. But Game 7 is, well, Game 7.

"The bench is big, man," Boston's Kevin Garnett said. "When you're playing in Game 7, you need everybody."

Vujacic said the Lakers bench can't really be compared to others.

"It's very irrelevant to say bench here, bench there," he said. ". . .When we play team basketball and move that basketball and start some defense, there's not one team that can beat us."

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

twitter.com/reallisa

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