Why the Lakers won: Depth. Contrary to what you may have seen in the second and third quarters, the Lakers are not a one-man show. Kobe Bryant didn’t score for the first 10 minutes of the fourth quarter, but L.A. maintained its lead thanks to Derek Fisher, Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol (mostly Fisher) hitting big shots. In the first quarter, when Ron Artest sat down with foul trouble, Luke Walton replaced him and surprisingly didn’t get shredded by Paul Pierce. And during the big four-minute run in the first half where L.A. built an ultimately insurmountable 17-point lead, everybody from Shannon Brown to Jordan Farmar to Andrew Bynum got buckets. That’s eight guys who made a positive contribution out of the 10 Lakers who played.
Why the Celtics lost: They couldn’t shoot. If you wanted “Jekyll and Hyde” from Ray Allen, you got it. Going into the fourth quarter Ray was 0-for-13 from the field and pretty much stopped shooting after the third quarter. Paul Pierce wasn’t as bad — he had a lot of shots rattle out on him and stayed aggressive down the stretch — but he also didn’t deliver like a superstar should. Rasheed Wallace missed every one of those momentum-building, crowd-exploding threes he’s known to make. And almost every Celtic had a hand in the bad free-throw shooting. When you lose a game by seven points where you missed 14 three-pointers and eight free throws, that hurts.
Key numbers: Kobe Bryant (29 pts, 10-29 FG, 7 rebs, 3 blks); Derek Fisher (16 pts); Pau Gasol (13 pts, 10 rebs); Kevin Garnett (25 pts, 6 rebs); Ray Allen (2 pts, 0-13 FG); Paul Pierce (15 pts, 5-12 FG); Free throws (Lakers 21-24, Celtics 16-24).