Lakers rout Celtics in Game 6, 89-67

As if there was any doubt, the NBA got its way Tuesday night in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. And by getting its way, it could only mean getting a Game 7 involving perhaps the two most storied franchises in the game.

Now this isn’t to suggest that the NBA did anything to make it happen. That was the Los Angeles Lakers. They did things in their89-67 pounding of the Boston Celtics not seen since Game 3. Or even longer. They jumped for rebounds, passed inside for the score, played defense and forced several jump balls.

Thursday’s Game 7 at the Staples Center will be the first since San Antonio beat Detroit in 2005. Before Tuesday night, the Celtics were 11-0 when leading a finals series, 3-2.

The Lakers won in all the key areas.

--Rebounding, 52-39.

--Points in the paint, 40-32.

--Second-chance points, 15-6.

--Bench scoring, 25-13.

While Kobe Bryant, as usual, was the archtect of the offense with 26 points, he got plenty of help. Pau Gasol scored 17 and grabbed a game high 13 rebounds. Even spotty shooter Ron Artest scored 15 points on six-for-11 shooting. Lamar Odom fell short of a double-double with eight points and 10 rebounds.

Not to overlook Bryant’s total contribution he also had 11 rebounds.

The Celtics were led, if you can say anyone led them, by Ray Allen’s 19 points. Paul Pierce scored 13, Kevin Garnett got 12 and Rajon Rondo 10.

As if being dominated wasn’t bad enough for the Celtics they lost center Kendrick Perkins to a right knee sprain early in the first quarter. His condition will be re-evaluated on Wednesday.

Laker center Andrew Bynum, who has been playing with a torn meniscus in his knee, started strong but also ended up back in the locker room in the third quarter. He did return to the bench with a large bag of ice on his knee. Bynum played 18 minutes and had two points and four rebounds. In Game 5 he played more than 30 minutes and had only two points and one rebound.

There was no immediate update on his condition or availabiity for Game 7.

The Lakers really won the game in the first half stretching a 10-point first period lead to a 20-point halftime advantage. The Celtics could never get closer than 14 in the second half. The Lakers made it clear that they were actually willing to leave their feet for rebounds taking a decided 30-13 edge at the half.

Gasol, with a very tepid performance in Game 5, had eight first-half rebounds, with Bryant getting seven and Lamar Odom six.

Once the Lakers upped their lead to 25 after the third quarter the 18,997 in attendance were just as ready to call it a night as the Celtics, who were well resigned to their fate.

Going into the game it’s almost as if each coach had a look into the future. Or maybe it was the fact that they both knew there was validity to the fact the Celtics were 1-7 in road close-out games the past three seasons. These playoffs they lost road close-out games to both Miami and Orlando.

Celtics Coach Doc Rivers, perhaps fearful of what would become reality later in the night, was speaking from the perspective of an underdog. He tried to explain the pychology of playing a Game 6 as if it were a Game 7.

“Teams tend to say that (gthey played like it was a Game 7) more after they they win Game 6,” Rivers said before the game. “And when they lose Game 6 they’re saying, ‘Well, not really.’ . . . We just want to avoid another game. We want to avoid a Game 7. But the Lakers have the same urgency to play another night. I think you’re going to see bpoth team’s best tonight.”

Meanwhile, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson had the correct feeling of optimism.

“I have a good feeling they’re going to come out and play,” Jackson said. “They’re anticipating the energy that they have to have in this kind of game. They know they have to carry the energy.”

Forty-eight minutes of basketball later, actually it might have been only 18 minutes when the Lakers led by 20, both coaches had their answer.

And if you’re a Laker fan you really liked that answer.

Live updates:

Game 6 final: Lakers 89, Celtics 67

The Lakers were faced with a must-win situation in Game 6 of the NBA Finals at Staples Center on Tuesday night, and they did that and more to even their best-of-seven series and three games apiece.

Behind a dominating effort from all corners, the Lakers routed the Celtics, 89-67, controlling the pace of the game, ruling the boards and completely shutting down the Celtics’ bench to set up a deciding Game 7 on Thursday night.

Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 26 points, Pau Gasol added 17 and Ron Artest scored 15, and the Lakers got substantial contributions from reserves Lamar Odom, Shannon Brown, and Sasha Vujacic when it mattered.

The fourth quarter was played only as a formality, with the Lakers leading by 25 after three periods.

After three quarters, the Lakers bench had outscored Boston’s, 24-0, an emphatic answer to questions about the Lakers depth that were raised while the Celtics won two of three games in Boston to take the series lead.

The Lakers, who struggled inside during the last two games at Boston, dominated inside in Game 6, outrebounding the Celtics, 52-39. Gasol had 13 rebounds and Bryant 11. No Celtic approached double figures in rebounding.

The Celtics, who held a 3-games-to-2 lead coming back to Staples, are 11-0 in the NBA Finals after holding that lead. Thursday will find out whether they go to 11-1 or 12-0.

This will be the first NBA Finals to be decided in a seventh game since the 2005 Finals, won by the San Antonio Spurs over the Detroit Pistons.

Fourth quarter, 6:05 remaining: Lakers 80, Celtics 59

The Lakers called a timeout with 6:05 remaining after a sloppy stretch in which Tony Allen and Ray Allen both scored on layups, and Ray Allen added a free throw after Kobe Bryant had been called for a technical.

The outcome of the game isn’t in doubt. How the teams finish is.

Fourth quarter, 8:55 remaining: Lakers 80, Celtics 54

Nate Robinson completed a three-point play with 9:56 remaining, the first points of the game scored by the Celtics’ bench. That’s about as far as the moral victories have gone for the Celtics in this one.

This game is out of reach for the Celtics, the effort from both teams now apparently to get through without any more injuries.

Andrew Bynum is still icing his knee on the bench; the Celtics have been without Kendrick Perkins because of a sprained right knee suffered 6 1/2 minutes into the game.

End of third quarter: Lakers 76, Celtics 51

Sasha Vujacic drilled a three-pointer from the corner with 1:07 left in the quarter to push the Lakers’ lead to 73-51, and it was looking more and more likely that a seventh game would be necessary at Staples Center on Thursday.

Then when Ron Artest followed that with a 26-foot three-pointer with 14 seconds left, the Lakers lead was pushed to a game-high 25.

Kobe Bryant is leading the Lakers with 20 points, followed by Artest with 15 and Pau Gasol with 13. The Lakers’ bench has outscored the Celtics’ bench, 24-0, in a game of complete domination. The Lakers rebounding edge is 39-24.

Third quarter, 2:03 remaining: Lakers 70, Celtics 51

Shannon Brown got things going coming out of the timeout with another alley-oop dunk, and the Lakers, doing a good job of keeping the Celtics from doing damage inside, maintained their big lead.

Gasol scored four points, Kobe Bryant a couple of free throws, Ron Artest scored on a drive and the Lakers had offset anything the Celtics could muster.

Andrew Bynum is on the Lakers bench with ice on his knee, but the Lakers still hold a 35-20 edge in rebounds.

Third quarter, 5:21 remaining: Lakers 60, Celtics 42

The question as the second half began was whether the Lakers could build on -- or at least maintain -- their 20-point cushion after having outscored the Celtics by 10 in each of the first two quarters.

The answer was yes. Rajon Rondo scored two baskets and Paul Pierce hit a three-pointer and scored on a drive, but the Celtics and Lakers essentially traded baskets, something the Lakers are happy to do.

The highlight of the first few minutes of the half was a breakaway feed from Kobe Bryant to Shannon Brown, who powered down a dunk.

Derek Fisher picked up his fourth foul 15 seconds into the quarter and was replaced by Shannon Brown. And Andrew Bynum, who had played only four minutes in the second quarter, was replaced by Lamar Odom less than two minutes into the period. Bynum was having his knee examined in the locker room.

The Lakers scoring was balanced at the start of the second half, with Odom, Pau Gasol, Bryant and Brown all scoring.

--Mike James

Halftime: Lakers 51, Celtics 31

The Lakers rode a hot hand by Kobe Bryant and a huge rebounding advantage as they built a 20-point lead at the half.

The Lakers outscored the Celtics 23 to 13 in the second quarter.

Bryant led the Lakers with 15 points, on six of 12 shooting. Ron Artest hit two three-pointers and has 10 points.

But the real story of the half was the battle in the trenches as the Lakers out-rebounded the Celtics 30 to 13.

And other than Ray Allen, who has 13 points, the Celtics were cold from the field. Rajon Rondo missed seven of eight shots and has only two points.

The Celtics are shooting only 34% from the floor while the Lakers are shooting 48%.

Rasheed Wallace, who replaced Kendrick Perkins at center, already has three fouls and little used Shelden Williams played some big minutes with little impact for Boston.

Another battle the Lakers clearly won from their bench; their reserves had 15 points, while the Celtics did not get a point from their bench in the first half.

Second Quarter, 4:47 remaining: Lakers 45, Celtics 27

Sasha Vujacic hit an open three to make it 43-25 as the Lakers continue to pour it on. And on the next possession Jordan Farmar scored on a fast break dunk to boost the lead to 45-27.

Pau Gasol already has seven rebounds.

The Celtics have been over-matched since Kendrick Perkins was sidelined with his knee injury and seem to be playing without any intensity.

Rajon Rondo is also cold, missing five of his first six shots.

Second Quarter, 6:54 remaining: Lakers 40, Celtics 23

Pau Gasol scored on a layup after another offensive rebound just before timeout to give the Lakers a 17-point lead.

The Lakers have 18 points in the paint, to only 12 for Boston.

A Jordan Farmar layup made it 38-23 with about seven minutes to; another edge for the Lakers is their bench has eight points, the Celtics bench zero.

Second Quarter, 8:00 remaining: Lakers 34, Celtics 22

Jordan Farmar just dove on the court to win a loose ball, fed it to Kobe Bryant who was fouled going to the basket, drawing big hoots from the Staples Center crowd.

The Lakers are winning all the hustle battles so far.

The Lakers already have an overwhelming edge in rebounds: 19 to seven, and have six second-chance points to only two for Boston. Kendrick Perkins the Celtics injured center is still out.

Lakers 28, Celtics 18, end of first quarter

The Lakers are up 28-18 after the first quarter. Kobe Bryant got off to a strong start, scoring 11 points on five-of-11 shooting from the floor. More surprising for the Lakers was Ron Artest, though. He has eight points and has hit two three-point field goals.

For the Celtics, their biggest blow was losing center Kendrick Perkins to an apparent knee injury early at the 5 minute 30 second mark. Perkins went up for an offensive rebound with Bryant and Andrew Bynum between him, and he landed awkwardly. He was helped to the locker room by his teammates and the official word is that he’s getting X-rays on his knee. Rasheed Wallace replaced Perkins. Ray Allen had eight points for the Celtics, and Kevin Garnett had six.

First Quarter, 1:49 remaining: Lakers 26, Celtics 18

Ron Artest hit his second three-pointer from the left wing to make continue the Lakers lead.

Artest has eight points.

The Lakers are winning the rebounding battle so far, a key in every game in this series; the Lakers have 10 rebounds, to only four for Boston.

Celtics guard Rajon Rondo has missed four of his five points.

Rasheed Wallace replaced Kendrick Perkins at center for Boston.

First Quarter, 5:30 remaining: Lakers 18, Celtics 12

Kobe Bryant has hit four of his first five shots to give the Lakers an early lead; he has eight points.

A Pau Gasol layup made it 18-12, the Lakers biggest lead of the game.

On the last play before the timeout Celtics center Kendrick Perkins was fouled by Andrew Bynum and went down in a heap under the basket and has been helped off the court by his teammates; it looks like a significant injury.

Andrew Bynum is active, as he usually is in the first quarter, with two points, and rebounds.

Ron Artest hit a three from the right wing to give Lakers their first lead at 7-6, then Derek Fisher scored on a layup after a Boston turnover to make it 9-6.

All five Lakers starters have already scored.

Derek Fisher has picked up two personal fouls and was replaced at the 6:37 mark by Shannon Brown.

Lakers vs. Celtics, Game 6, Pre-game:

About an hour before the game Phil Jackson was asked about his team’s mood entering this possible elimination game: “I feel good...[that] they’ll come out and play...they know have to carry that energy,” he said. “We’re used to coming out of the gates and playing well.”

Jackson also said that Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett “are the two [Celtics] are the two who are feeling the best about their offense,” and would need extra attention.

Meanwhile, Celtics Coach Doc Rivers said he talked to his team about the Lakers’ dominance in offensive rebounding in Game 5 in Boston. “The offense rebounds allowed them to stay in the game,” Rivers said. “We will not get away with that on the road.” And for what it’s worth, gambling site favors the Lakers tonight by six points.

--Barry Stavro