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Friday, June 6, 2008

Paul Pierce, new star of the 2010 Wheelchair Olympics

Paul Pierce shook off what looked like a terrible knee injury to lead the Celtics to a 98-88 game 1 win over the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals.

The Truth went down in the third quarter after teammate Kendrick Perkins stepped on his foot going for a rebound. Pierce crumpled to the floor, clutching his right knee. It looked like the game and the series were over but magically he recovered (and only missed a few minutes of the game) and finished with 22 points.

Boston went on a run as soon as he came back, in fact Pierce hit back-to-back clutch 3-pointers in that spurt. This from a guy who had been carried off the floor (by Tony Allen and Brian Scalabrine, who didn't have anything better to do) then pushed in a wheelchair to the locker room. Arthur Blank-the Falcons owner-was in town and he did the honors of pushing after his experience pushing Mike Vick in a wheelchair.

In the constant loop of ESPN drivel and over-reporting, sideline reporter Michelle Tafoya was stationed outside the Celts' locker room where she said Pierce stood on his own two feet. Honestly, you expected her to say that Pierce was dead. It was comically overdramatic in the moment, even more so when you watched Pierce come back and play well.

Kevin Garnett had a team-high 24 points and 13 rebounds, Ray Allen scored 19 points with eight rebounds and five assists while Rajon Rondo posted 15 points, seven assists and five boards.

One of the keys to the game was the play of Boston's bench. James Posey (3 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals), P.J. Brown (2 points, 6 rebounds), Leon Powe (4 points, 4 rebounds) and even Sam Cassell (8 points) gave the Celtics valuable minutes.

Perkins also got hurt a few minutes after Pierce. Perk twisted his ankle and missed the rest of the game, finishing with one point, four rebounds and four fouls.

The best player on the planet-Kobe Bryant-had an off-night. He had 24 points (on 9 of 26 shooting) with six assists and four turnovers. Bryant had plenty of decent looks (or at least shots he usually makes) that rimmed out or just didn't fall.

None of the other Lakers stepped up enough. Pau Gasol had 15 points, eight rebounds and four assists while Lamar Odom put up 14 points and six rebounds. Derek Fisher was great in the first half with 13 points but he only had two in the second half. Sasha Vujacic had eight points off the bench but he was two of seven from the floor.

All in all it was an entertaining start to what should be a great series. Boston led 23-21 after the first quarter but LA took a 51-46 halftime advantage.

The third quarter (with all the dramatics) was the key as Boston outscored the Lakers but nine (31-22) and then the fourth quarter was tight defensively with the Celtics scoring 21 and holding the Lakers to 15 points.

Neither team was great on 3-pointers (Boston hit 6, LA had 3) but the Celts made seven more free throws. The biggest stat was rebounds: Boston owned the glass, 46-33.

A victory in game one was important but all the Lakers have to do is win one game on the road in the first two to make it interesting. Having three straight games at the Staples Center is a big advantage for LA (8-0 in the playoffs there) so if the Celtics can win game 2, all they have to do is win one out of three then they'd have two chances to close it out at home.

There's plenty of time to go over all the scenarios as game 2 doesn't tip off until Sunday night.

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