Celtics’ Kevin Garnett soars as Lakers’ Pau Gasol struggles

Reporting from Boston -- The man who likes to abuse his own bald head — either as a way to psych himself up or express simple frustration — was the one trying to ramp down the energy on Sunday.

Boston’s Kevin Garnett certainly won’t ever become Mr. Zen, but Celtics Coach Doc Rivers found himself somewhat amused when the emotional Garnett went against type in the Celtics’ 92-86 victory in Game 5 of the NBA Finals at TD Garden.

“That tells you how screwed up we are,” Rivers said. “Kevin Garnett is calming our team down. It’s funny now, but it was Kevin and Tony Allen in the huddle telling everyone to calm down. I jokingly told [assistant coach] Armond [Hill] this is a crazy basketball team.”

Rivers thought it was Garnett’s best all-around game in this series against the Lakers. Not only did Garnett issue an emphatic double-double, scoring 18 points and adding 10 rebounds and two blocked shots, but he clearly got the best of the Lakers’ Pau Gasol in their key matchup.

Though Gasol finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds, going five for 12 from the field, he was close to a non-factor in the first half, scoring two points and only taking four shots.

“He’s been consistent for us for a while now, so he can afford to have a bad game every once and a while,” Kobe Bryant said of Gasol.

Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said he would have to look at the tape to get a complete analysis of Gasol’s game, of whether the Spaniard was tentative.

“He didn’t have a lot of opportunities in the first half, and in the second half it looked like he broke away, went by Garnett, got to the front of the hoop, and he blocked it from behind,” Jackson said.

"... I thought Garnett made a couple good defensive plays.”

Gasol averaged 20.5 points the first four games of the series, which is why the vanishing act seemed so startling in Game 5.

“I’ve got to find ways to get better looks than I did tonight throughout the game,” he said. “And when I do, just be assertive and be aggressive and don’t be hesitant when I get the ball. Just attack.”

That was Garnett’s mantra after a rough go in Los Angeles, most notably in Game 1. Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo talked about the big turnaround in Garnett’s game.

“I think a couple of guys maybe thought KG lost a step or something when he struggled in the first few games,” Rondo said. “But he’s caught his rhythm, doing intangibles on the court, scoring, rebounding, assisting, blocking shots. He’s changing the game.

“That’s what he’s been doing for us all year. He’s big for us. He may not score 27 points, 26 points. But he’s happy with his role and he’s doing it well.”

Garnett recognized the moment of truth in the series. “The severity of this game is huge, man,” he said. “You don’t want to go back to L.A. with them having a chance to close it out and it being on their floor.

“Tonight, I thought for the most part I was active. I got my hands on a lot of loose balls. Some knucklehead plays in the fourth quarter I would like to take back.

“But for the most part, I was talkative. I was loud. Just got to carry that over and be all out.”

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