83 - 92 Final
  for this game

Gasol, Lakers end Celtics' record streak

Dec 26, 2008 - 3:14 AM LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Pau Gasol did what he couldn't do last June for the Los Angeles Lakers - make the difference against the Boston Celtics.

Gasol took over late on both ends of the floor as the Lakers ended the Celtics' franchise-record, 19-game winning streak with a 92-83 victory in Thursday's intense Christmas Day contest.

"(This win) sends the signal out to the rest of the league that we're gonna be ready for anyone," Los Angeles forward Lamar Odom said.

Kobe Bryant scored 27 points and Gasol added 20 for the Lakers, who finished this NBA Finals rematch on a 13-2 run to give coach Phil Jackson his 1,000th career win.

Entering this game, the Celtics (27-3) had engineered the best 29-game start to a season in history and matched the fourth-longest winning streak in the annals of the league.

"You don't really care about the winning streak, you care about the win," Boston center Kendrick Perkins said.

"We wanted to win, but this game doesn't change our minds on what we feel we can do," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "It was a good lesson for us. We give the Lakers their due, they won the game. We'll see them again."

Bryant didn't want to blow the result out of proportion, either.

"Well, this was just another win," he said. "It was a good measuring stick for us to show how much we have progressed since the Finals.

"(It was important) just for the challenge of it. They are a team that has been playing so well. But at the same time, they did win 19 in a row, so they were due for one (loss)."

The Celtics also are trying to defend their record 17th title, which they won in six games over the Lakers last June - capping it all with a convincing 131-92 romp in Game Six.

In this one, Los Angeles exacted a small measure of revenge thanks to Gasol, who scored seven points during the decisive fourth-quarter run.

"You have to be aggressive and turn things around yourself, you can't sit back and wait for it to come to you," Gasol said.

Boston took a two-point lead - its only advantage in the fourth - with 3:57 left, when Rajon Rondo found Kevin Garnett for a dunk. Bryant then nailed a tough fadeaway jumper as the Lakers never looked back.

Bryant and Gasol - the duo which has made Los Angeles a favorite to return to the league's championship series - then went to work for the Lakers' next three buckets.

The reigning league MVP found the Spanish center for a jumper, passed to him out of a double-team for a nifty floater and set up his scoop-shot, three-point play that made it 88-83 with 1:28 remaining.

"I just had to turn it up during that last stretch of the game," Gasol said. "Kobe found me a lot in the fourth quarter, and we executed better. It's important to mentally get over a poor start and finish strong."

While his offensive outburst excited the crowd, Gasol sent it into a frenzy by effectively sealing the win on the defensive end.

Gasol stepped out to help on Celtics sharpshooter Ray Allen, blocking his 3-point attempt and igniting a one-man fast break that Trevor Ariza finished with a fancy reverse jam that made it 90-83. Bryant added a layup to provide the final margin with 26 ticks left.

This edition of the Lakers also preserved an all-time record held by their 1972 club, which won 33 in a row en route to an NBA championship.

Ironically, Boston shares the fourth-best streak with 2000 Lakers, who went on to win their first of three straight championships later that season.

They also were guided by Jackson, who become the sixth coach to hit the 1,000-win plateau. He now is 1,000-473 in 17-plus seasons with the Lakers and Chicago Bulls.

"It's great," Jackson said of the milestone. "Perfect timing. It's nice to do it on Christmas."

The first half was played with a championship intensity and palpable vigor from both teams. There were nine lead changes and three ties in the first two quarters.

Things picked up where they left off in third thanks to Paul Pierce, who scored 12 points in the period and capped the Celtics' key 15-5 run with a fadeaway jumper with 3:30 remaining. The shot gave Boston its first lead, 64-62, since the midway through the second.

The Lakers provided an immediate response with their heralded bench on the floor, finishing the third on a 9-3 run to take a 71-67 lead after three. They improved to 14-0 at home when leading heading into the fourth quarter.

Boston, which also finishes strong, did not do so Thursday.

"For a team that has been phenomenal down the stretch of games, I didn't think we were very good tonight," Rivers said.

"Sometimes, you want to win the game so bad, each guy starts taking what we call the hero shots. I thought we had a boatload of hero shots down the stretch."

Sasha Vujacic and Odom each added 10 points for the Los Angeles, which was dominated in the paint but received 22 points from its bench.

Garnett scored 22 points and Pierce added all 20 of his points in the first three quarters for Boston, which will continue its road trip at the Golden State Warriors on Friday night.

"Nothing at all really," Rondo said when asked about his feelings after the streak was snapped.

"Just try to start another one. Give them credit, they played well tonight. We just have to get ready for Golden State."