The last time the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics rivalry was truly fierce came between 2008 and 2010 when the teams met twice in the NBA Finals. Of course, this also made their regular-season matchups must-see as Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett always had their sides ready for war.
That was the case when the Lakers and Celtics took the court on Jan. 31, 2010 in what would turn out to be a Finals preview. As was often the case against the Celtics defense, Kobe struggled shooting. But per usual with Kobe, he came through when it mattered most.
Despite excellent defense from Ray Allen, Kobe somehow elevated for a perfect fadeaway jumper with 7.3 seconds left to give the Lakers a 90-89 win in Boston. Kobe finished with just 19 points on 8-for-20 from the field, but in the end all that mattered was the game-winner.
The Lakers also got double-doubles from Andrew Bynum (19 points, 11 rebounds) and Pau Gasol (11 points, 11 rebounds) to come out on top in a game that testy from the get go.
Before the opening tip Metta World Peace and Paul Pierce got into a shoving match fighting for position around center court. Later in the first quarter Gasol and Rasheed Wallace had to be separated after some physical post play.
Boston was led by 21 points and 12 assists from Rajon Rondo and 15 points from Paul Pierce. Allen, however, shot just 2-for-10, including missing the potential game-winner after Kobe’s shot.
This turned out to be a preview for one of the best NBA Finals ever as the Lakers and Celtics battled for seven intense games that would see L.A. gain their revenge over Boston after losing to them two years prior.
This rivalry hasn’t returned to this level of intensity since this time, but with Boston already amongst the East’s elite and the Lakers having one of the most promising young cores in the league, it could be only a matter of time before things pick up again.
At some point it always does with these two teams.
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