Lakers guard Kobe Bryant applies defensive pressure against Celtics forward… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)
The most storied rivalry in the NBA had some sizzle again, and the Lakers were hot when it mattered in the final minutes.
The Lakers scored the last eight points of the game during a 97-94 victory over the Boston Celtics on Sunday afternoon at Staples Center, with Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum coming up big at the end.
Bryant made a couple of jumpers and Bynum had a layin off an alley-oop feed from Bryant and scored on a hook shot to gave the Lakers a 97-94 lead with 15 seconds left.
The Celtics tried to go to Ray Allen, but the sharpshooter had 7-foot Pau Gasol in his face and couldn't get off a shot. Paul Pierce then had a three-pointer blocked, and one final attempt from Rajon Rondo came up short.
The Lakers wiped out a 94-89 deficit in the final minutes, going ahead for good on Bryant's jumper with 41 seconds left that gave them a 95-94 lead.
The Celtics' Brandon Bass then missed a jumper and Gasol snagged the rebound for the Lakers. Bynum made a six-foot hook shot, increasing the Lakers' advantage to 97-94.
Bryant finished with 26 points on nine-for-20 shooting for the Lakers. Bynum had 20 points and 14 rebounds.
Rondo had 24 points and 10 assists for the Celtics, who also got 17 points from Allen and 14 points and 11 rebounds from Kevin Garnett.
The Lakers swept the season series and improved to 18-2 at home.
Lakers 72, Celtics 70 (end of third quarter)
The referees do realize this is the NBA, right?
A rare traveling call on Pau Gasol wiped out a potentially momentum-changing breakaway dunk late in the third quarter, but the Lakers still clung to a narrow lead after Matt Barnes made a put-back in the final minute.
Kobe Bryant leads the Lakers with 16 points, though he has made only five of 14 shots, and Andrew Bynum has 14 points.
There were offsetting technical fouls on the Lakers' Metta World Peace and Boston's Paul Pierce early in the quarter after the duo engaged in some shoving underneath the basket. Celtics center Kevin Garnett walked over and pushed World Peace but was not penalized.
Rajon Rondo leads the Celtics with 20 points and seven assists.
Lakers 44, Celtics 42 (halftime)
A sloppy quarter at least featured an entertaining end.
The Lakers' Kobe Bryant made a turnaround baseline jumper with 3.8 seconds left before the Celtics' Rajon Rondo raced down court and made a three-pointer at the halftime buzzer.
Boston wiped out most of a 15-point deficit after the Lakers had taken a 37-22 lead on Andrew Goudelock's three-pointer. The Celtics closed the quarter on a 20-7 run.
Bryant received a technical late in the quarter after ripping off his mask in disgust and complaining about a no-call on one of his forays to the basket. He has 10 points on four-for-11 shooting to go with three assists and one rebound.
Andrew Bynum has 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Lakers. Forward Pau Gasol is stuck on seven points and seven rebounds, adding to neither category in five second-quarter minutes.
Rondo has 10 points for the Celtics, who are shooting only 39.5% to the Lakers' 51.4% and have pulled down nine fewer rebounds.
The Lakers, however, have committed 12 turnovers to Boston's five.
Lakers 24, Celtics 14 (end of first quarter)
It was hello between longtime rivals Sunday afternoon at Staples Center, and it might have been goodbye the way the Lakers closed the first quarter.
The Lakers finished the quarter on a 12-2 run to take early control against Boston, with Kobe Bryant scoring four points during the run to push his total to six points in the quarter on two-for-seven shooting.
Pau Gasol led the Lakers with seven points and seven rebounds, though he had one shot swatted in jaw-dropping fashion by the Celtics' Greg Stiemsma.
Forward Kevin Garnett had six points for the Celtics, who were shooting only 25% to the Lakers' 52.6%.
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