Andrew Bynum's right knee was bruised. So was the Lakers' ego.
They'd already lost a 15-point lead, tantamount to par-for-the-course these days, and looked fragile against their longtime rival (Boston) at the only place they have won consistently this season (Staples Center).
Time for Kobe Bryant to stand up and take control. Take a shot. Slay the Celtics.
Instead, the ball went down low to Bynum, who rattled in a jump hook over Kevin Garnett with 15.5 seconds left for the final points in the Lakers' 97-94 victory Sunday.
Equally surprising were Bryant's words during a timeout before the play. He wanted Bynum to take the last shot.
Done deal. The Celtics were finished. Bynum's play completed an 8-0 Lakers run to end the game.
"I knew exactly what I wanted to do," said Bryant, who had 26 points on nine-for-20 shooting.
Said Bynum: "It was crazy. Kobe came up with that play."
A hugging convention broke out after Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo missed three-point attempts in the final seconds.
Bryant and Bynum embraced. Bynum and Pau Gasol hugged. Gasol and Bryant too.
This was more than a regular-season game, no matter what anybody said.
"The intensity and the physicality of it, yeah, it's always kind of like a playoff game with Boston," Gasol acknowledged.
The Lakers (25-16) improved to 18-2 at home even though Bynum banged knees with an unspecified player while trying to split a double team in the second quarter.
He acknowledged being cautious with his knee in the third quarter but finished with 20 points and 14 rebounds, including a late play in which he reached back, controlled a slightly off-target lob pass from Bryant and guided the ball into the basket with his right hand.
No play was more surprising than the final one. Bryant had just made the 14-foot jumper that put the Lakers ahead to stay, 95-94 with 41.7 seconds to play, and seemingly everyone expected him to shoot at the end too.
"We're so used to Kobe taking that last shot," said Gasol, who had 13 points and 13 rebounds.
Boston Coach Doc Rivers wasn't so stunned.
"Listen, they looked at our team and saw our size. I think they knew exactly where they were going [even] before the game," Rivers said. "They won't say it, but I think the two places they wanted to go [were] Bynum and Gasol."
In other news, it's getting easier to figure out Metta World Peace. He shows up offensively for only the big games.
He had 17 points against Miami a week earlier and 14 points Sunday against Boston, making three of five three-point attempts.
"I like playing against the good teams," he said.
World Peace also did a solid job defensively, holding Pierce to 13 points on four-for-14 shooting.
Pierce seemed annoyed at the mention of World Peace by reporters after the game and was unusually short after answering everything else with multiple sentences.
"It's OK," Pierce said when asked if it was fun playing against World Peace. "It's OK."
This being Celtics-Lakers, there was the typical push-and-shove session after World Peace and Pierce briefly grappled in the third quarter.
It's also the time of year when Bryant creeps close to the league limit for technical fouls, as usual. He picked up his eighth this season after whipping off his protective plastic mask and complaining after not getting a foul call in the second quarter.
Players are suspended one game if they accrue 13 technical fouls, not the usual 16, because it's a lockout-shortened season.
Not to inject any melancholy, but Sunday was probably the last time the Lakers played against a Celtics team with Pierce, Garnett and Ray Allen.
"If it is the end of [the rivalry]," Bryant said, "it will resurface one day, I'm sure."