for this game

Celtics embarrass Lakers, win NBA championship

Jun 18, 2008 - 6:34 AM BOSTON (Ticker) -- A championship was well worth the wait for the Boston Celtics. The Los Angeles Lakers, on the other hand, most likely wished they never showed up.

Kevin Garnett had 26 points and 14 rebounds as the Celtics secured their league-best 17th championship with a 131-92 romp over the Lakers in Game Six of the NBA Finals at a rowdy TD Banknorth Garden on Tuesday night.

"This is really sweet, obviously, for a lot of reasons," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "Just the players, just hanging in there with all of us this year. We really pushed them to play together as a team and a group, and they did it."

Ray Allen scored 26 points and Finals Most Valuable Player Paul Pierce added 17 for Boston, which improved to 13-1 at home this postseason en route to their first NBA title since 1986.

"It means everything," Pierce said. "I'm not living under the shadows of the other greats now. I'm able to make my own history with my time here. If I was going to be one of the best Celtics ever to play, I had to put up a banner, and today we did that."

However, before the Celtics could arrive for Game Six, the team's flight from Los Angeles was held up for three hours due to mechanical problems and didn't touch down in Boston until 10:30 p.m. EDT on Monday.

They showed little jet lag.

Holding a four-point lead after the first quarter, the Celtics embarrassed the Lakers, outscoring their archrivals, 34-15, in the second period en route to a 58-35 lead at halftime.

The half ended with a bang thanks to Garnett, who completed a three-point play by banking in a circus shot while parallel to the floor - practically on his back - to highlight a 26-6 run to close the opening half.

And that's where Los Angeles spent most of the night - belly up.

The Lakers shot just 27 percent in the first half and failed to grab a single offensive rebound during that span. Not only did they fail to execute, but their spirit seemed irrevocably broken.

"The last two minutes of the second period buried the team emotionally, and we went into the locker room at halftime and tried to get our guys back on bearing and really couldn't turn the momentum around," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.

League MVP Kobe Bryant, who completed a lackluster series, scored just 22 points on 7-of-22 shooting for Los Angeles, which was outscored, 73-57, in the second half with the game already decided.

"I think if we're going to learn anything from this series, we can't expect to win a championship by focusing on the offensive end," Bryant said.

Boston poured it on in the fourth quarter as Allen - who announced after the game his son was diagnosed with diabetes - drilled four of his seven 3-pointers in the final period.

"It's hard," Lakers guard Sasha Vujacic added. "It hurts. It's even hard to talk about. On a couple of occasions, we stopped playing Lakers basketball. We stopped executing the way we were supposed to execute and then lack of offensive effort led to lack of defensive effort."

The triumph was the completion of a renaissance season for the Celtics, who engineered the best turnaround in NBA history after finishing last season with the second-worst record in the NBA.

Boston, which lost its first six road games this postseason, got better as the playoffs progressed en route to its first appearance in the Finals since 1987 - a six-game loss to the Lakers in the last meeting in the championship series between these two teams.

Ironically, Danny Ainge and Kevin McHale - teammates during the Celtics' last championship runs - consummated a trade for Garnett, who arrived prior to the season from the Minnesota Timberwolves and sparked the turnaround.

"I just feel happy for the players," Ainge said. "You're supposed to. They put so much time and hard work into it - and the city of Boston. We definitely had a huge home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. I'm just happy for everybody."

Garnett joined draft-night acquisition Allen and Pierce - the longest-tenured Celtic - to form the "Big Three." The trio combined to shoot 22-of-43 from the field Tuesday and later celebrated when each hoisted their first championship trophy.

Conversely, Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson fell short of his 10th title on the bench, which would have pushed him past Boston legend and "godfather" of the NBA Red Auerbach, who passed away in October 2006.