Whatever fight the Lakers had (in an arena where the thundering cry of Beat L.A.! seemed to wake up the ghosts of the past) was taken out of them in a 1:30 stretch of the second quarter. Posey hit a three-pointer to put the Boston lead at a modest 35-29. Then he picked off a bad pass from Vujacic that led to a three-pointer from House to put it at 38-29. House followed with two free throws and, at the other end, Posey came up with still another steal. He topped that off with a three-pointer off a Pierce pass and, suddenly, it was 43-29 with 5:29 still left in the second quarter. The Lakers never got any closer than 10 points for the rest of the game, and everybody could've gone home early.
But of course they didn't. They stuck around to watch the completion of the greatest single-season turnaround in NBA history. They stuck around to watch the much-maligned Rondo ("The key to the game," according to Jackson) finish with 21 points, eight assists and six steals. They stuck around to watch Allen return from a poke in the eye to score a total of 26 points, including seven of nine from three-point range.
They stuck around to watch Rivers remove the Big Three from the game together with 4:01 left and commence the subsequent hugathon that went on around the bench. They stuck around to watch Pierce, who had struggled with his shot the entire game, hit his target when he dumped Gatorade on Rivers, believed to be an NBA first. They stuck around to watch Pierce receive the Finals MVP award after averaging 21.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 6.3 assists. And they stuck around to watch Garnett take a long-legged stroll to midcourt and plant a kiss on the Celtics logo.
More than a few spectators, too, wondered if Red Auerbach was going to suddenly appear and take his place amid a few of the legendary Celtics who were in attendance—Bill Russell, John Havlicek, Tom Heinsohn, Cedric Maxwell and JoJo White. For with this victory, Boston kept the Lakers' Jackson from a 10th title, which would've broken the tie with Red for most championships in NBA history.
"Knowing that you were at rock bottom a year ago today, and to climb all the way to the top," said Pierce, his uniform soaked with champagne, his smile as wide as Boston Harbor, "this is a dream come true, and I'm going to cherish this forever."