Posted: Friday June 4, 2010 1:21AM ; Updated: Friday June 4, 2010 2:12AM
Chris Mannix
Chris Mannix>INSIDE THE NBA

Fast Breaks: Lakers-Celtics Game 1

Story Highlights

Pau Gasol was tough, contributing 23 points and 14 rebounds to the Laker cause

Game 1 boiled down to the Lakers' stars playing well while the Celtics' didn't

Boston had the makings of the more physical team, yet L.A. turned the tables

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(1) Lakers vs. (4) Celtics
Lakers lead series, 1-0
102 89
Game 2: @LAL Sun., June 6, 8 p.m., ABC
Game 3: @BOS Tues., June 8, 9 p.m., ABC
Game 4: @BOS Thurs., June 10, 9 p.m., ABC
Game 5: @LAL Sun., June 13, 8 p.m.*, ABC
Game 6: @BOS Tues., June 15, 9 p.m.*, ABC
Game 7: @LAL Thurs., June 17, 9 p.m.*, ABC

gasol-garnett-story-si.jpg
The Lakers' Pau Gasol (left) game up big against Kevin Garnett and the Celtics in Game 1.
John W. McDonough/SI
NBA Team Page
NBA Team Page

LOS ANGELES -- '3 Mo' were the words scribbled on the white board in the Lakers locker room after the West champs sent a powerful message in Game 1, battering Boston 102-89 to grab the early advantage in the series.

The power of Pau: Few players had more to prove coming into this series than Pau Gasol, who can officially retire the 'soft' designation that has been tacked to his chest like a scarlet letter with a big performance against Kevin Garnett. He got off to a good start in Game 1, racking up an impressive 23 points (on 8-of-14 shooting), 14 rebounds and three blocks. Gasol was a nightmare on the offensive glass (eight boards) and did a credible job on Garnett (16 points on 7-of-16 shooting) defensively when the two were matched up.

"He attacked us," said Boston coach Doc Rivers. "He [was] far more aggressive. If you heard for two years what you couldn't do, you're probably going to come in and try to prove that [you can]. I thought he was the best player on the floor."

The Lakers stars shined: Boston's stars didn't. Gasol gets the game ball, but he shares it with several of his teammates. Kobe Bryant (30 points, 18 in the second half) was his usual spectacular self, Andrew Bynum chipped in 10 points in six rebounds in a surprising 28 minutes and Ron Artest scored 15 points (on 5-of-10 shooting) while making Pierce (24 points) work hard on offense. Garnett (16 points) and Ray Allen (13) were in double figures, but KG was consistently outworked by Gasol and Allen was in and out of the lineup with foul trouble. At a bare minimum, the Celtics Big Three needs to match the production of LA's top troika; in Game 1, they didn't.

Rajon Rondo is Boston's engine: In Game 1, he stalled. It's no coincidence the Celtics' sluggish effort offensively coincided with a forgettable game by Rondo. He was the only Celtic in double digits by halftime and finished the game with a respectable 13 points and eight assists, but he never appeared to be in rhythm. The Lakers sagged way off him in the half court and when Rondo went to the rim he was challenging the 6-foot-6 Bryant. With L.A.'s offense humming, Rondo's transition opportunities were limited and he -- along with the rest of the Celtics -- looked a little lost deciphering the Lakers' defense in the half court.

L.A. looks like the more physical team: Boston has the rep, but the Lakers were the ones bringing the muscle in Game 1, sweeping the 'power categories' like points in the paint (20-18), second chance points (16-0), offensive rebounds (30-23) and total rebounds (42-31). All over the floor, the Lakers refused to back down: Lamar Odom and Glen Davis were yapping, Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmar banged with Nate Robinson and Bynum and Perkins tussled a few times under the rim.

"I thought they were by far the more physical team," said Rivers. "They just attacked the paint the whole night."

It's clear the Lakers aren't intimidated by the Celtics and, if Game 1 is a barometer, appear perfectly willing to make this series a fight.

"You knew it was going to be physical, that's a given," said Gasol. "You have to match their physicality in order to be successful."

Boston's 'D' was deplorable: After locking up Orlando to the tune of 43 percent shooting and 33.8 percent from three-point range, the Celtics offered little resistance against the Lakers, allowing them to finish shooting 48.7 percent from the floor and 40 percent from three-point range for the game.

"It was horrible," said Rivers. "I thought we hugged up on guys all night. We didn't shrink the floor at all. In the first half it made the bigs look bad because they were getting offensive rebounds, but it wasn't the bigs fault. It was the guards dribbling down the middle of the lane. They didn't control the dribble at all. Before the game we told them the key to the game was rebounding [and] dribble penetration. We stop those two things we'll be in good shape -- but we didn't stop either one."

Boston needs a boost from the bench: This wasn't the second unit the Celtics were used to seeing in the conference playoffs. Rasheed Wallace (nine points) played well, but Tony Allen (four points, four fouls, two turnovers) was a disaster, Davis (three points) struggled to find open looks and Robinson missed all three of his shots in 13 minutes.

"Their bench outplayed our bench," said Rivers. "The only silver lining is that as bad as I thought we played, there were chances to get back in the game."

 
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