If the Lakers' video staff needs any inspiration for the NBA Finals, it won't be difficult.
The guys who put together game video for team meetings this week can insert a wide array of images between clips of the Boston Celtics' physical defensive front and Rajon Rondo picking apart any number of teams.
In no particular order, they could use: Paul Pierce dancing on the Celtics' bench during a timeout in the final minutes of the 2008 NBA Finals; the Garden crowd derisively chanting "Where is Kobe?" while the Celtics hovered near a 30-point fourth-quarter lead and Kobe Bryant sat on the bench in the decisive Game 6; the Celtics returning to Los Angeles later in the summer of '08 for a sports awards show and bragging onstage of "another win in L.A." after taking the category for top pro team of the year.
It's up to the Lakers whether they want to revisit what happened two years ago, including the 131-92 loss they sustained in the clinching game, the second-largest margin of defeat ever in an NBA Finals game.
So far, they seem fine with going there.
"I think everybody on our team remembers what happened," Andrew Bynum said.
Their setback two years ago took place without Bynum (dislocated kneecap) and with Trevor Ariza at the end of the bench, unable to gain any traction in the rotation after missing more than four months because of a broken foot.
Bynum's status might be only slightly better than in 2008 — he continues to hobble through games with torn cartilage and might have his right knee drained before Game 1 Thursday at Staples Center — but the Lakers hope they have an answer to Pierce, who blistered them on numerous fronts two years ago (points, assists, continual trips to the free-throw line) while being selected Finals most valuable player.
The Lakers signed Ron Artest to a five-year, $33-million contract last July with a challenge like this in mind.
"Pierce is a very tough matchup," Bryant said. "He's one of the few players that has a long ball, that has mid-range game, can get to the basket. I think that makes him tough to cover, but Ron is up to the challenge."
Artest and Pierce even have a built-in history.
A few years ago, Artest pulled down Piece's shorts while trying to guard him in an Indiana Pacers-Celtics game. He offered up a singing apology a couple of days later, crooning off-key, "Paul, I'm sorry to humiliate you on TV by pulling your shorts down."
More recently, Artest and Pierce were admonished by a referee for picking at each other before the teams played Jan. 31 in Boston.
They jostled one another with their elbows as players lined up around the midcourt circle for the opening tip and were warned to cut it out by referee Marc Davis.
Artest still seemed irritated afterward.
"I was in my position and he tried to put his leg over my position. But if you're not strong enough, you shouldn't be fighting with me," he said. "If you really can't match my strength, then why even try to pick a fight? Why even try to tussle? I was on the white line and you cannot cross my line."
Artest got the final laugh that night, holding Pierce to 15 points on four-for-11 shooting and drawing a late charge on him in the Lakers' 90-89 victory.
Pierce wasn't any better almost three weeks later, scoring 11 points on four-for-nine shooting, but the Celtics beat the Lakers without Bryant, 87-86, at Staples Center.
Now they'll face each other when it really means something. So will their teammates.
"It's something that has been anticipated now for the last couple weeks," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. "So here it is."
Sasha Vujacic will not be further disciplined by the NBA beyond the flagrant foul he received Saturday against Phoenix, according to a league spokesman.
He got plenty of negative feedback from teammates, for sure, including Bryant, who half-jokingly said, "He's still breathing," when asked if he wanted to kill Vujacic.
Vujacic sparked a Suns rally by striking reserve guard Goran Dragic in the face with his elbow after a play.
Times staff writer Broderick Turner contributed to this report.
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