By Gethin Coolbaugh
LOS ANGELES – The statistics say that over 70% of the teams who win Game 1 of the NBA Finals go on to win the series.
If that holds true, the Celtics are in trouble.
Kobe Bryant amassed 30 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists and Pau Gasol added 23 points and 14 rebounds as the Lakers triumphed over the Celtics with a 102-89 win in Game 1 of the NBA Finals at Staples Center on Thursday night.
Los Angeles, which holds a 1-0 series lead, jumped out to a 26-21first quarter lead and outscored the Celtics 24-20 in the second quarter to take a 50-41 halftime lead.
The Lakers pulled away in the third quarter, outscoring Boston 34-23. The Celtics opened the fourth quarter on an 8-1 run and outscored Los Angeles 25-18, but it was too little, too late.
Ron Artest added 15 points and four rebounds and Derek Fisher chipped in with nine points, three rebounds and three assists.
Shannon Brown scored six points off the bench, Lamar Odom added five and Jordan Farmar scored four points.
Paul Pierce paced the Celtics offense, finishing with 24 points, nine rebounds and four assists in 45 minutes. He struggled from the floor early but finished the game having made 6-of-13 field goals. Despite the sub-par shooting performance, Pierce made 12-of-13 free throws.
Kevin Garnett, who played with visible fatigue throughout the game, totaled 16 points and four rebounds in 34 minutes.
Rajon Rondo had 13 points, six rebounds and eight assists and Ray Allen scored 12 points but did not have a rebound or steal.
Kendrick Perkins, who is still one technical foul away from an automatic one-game suspension, scored eight points and had three rebounds.
Rasheed Wallace led the Celtics bench in scoring with nine points in 18 minutes. Tony Allen had four points and Glen Davis scored three points and had three rebounds.
Nate Robinson, who was coming off of a spectacular performance in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against Orlando, did not score and had two rebounds and four assists in 13 minutes.
The Celtics were plagued by fouls through the entirety of the game, as they totaled 28 team fouls. Ray Allen and Pierce both had five fouls, Tony Allen had four, Garnett, Perkins and Wallace had three a piece, Rondo and Robinson had two and Davis had one.
The Lakers had 26 team fouls and were led by Odom’s five fouls. Bryant, Fisher and Gasol had three fouls and Farmar, Sasha Vujacic and Luke Walton each had one.
Boston made 29-of-67 shots to shoot 43.3% for the game and hit 30-of-36 free throws (83.3%).
Despite having two of the games best three-point shooters in Ray Allen and Pierce, the Celtics made a dismal 1-of-10 shots (10%) from beyond the arch.
Los Angeles connected on 37-of-76 shots to shoot 48.7% and made 4-of-10 three pointers (40%) and 24-of-32 free throws (77.4%).
The Celtics collected 31 rebounds (eight offensive) and had 19 assists, 13 turnovers, five steals and five blocks while the Lakers amassed 42 rebounds (12 offensive), 18 assists, 12 turnovers, six steals and seven blocks.
Los Angeles hosts Boston in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday evening at Staples Center (8 p.m. EST, TV/Radio: ABC, TSN/WEEI).
Gethin Coolbaugh is the Associate Editor of Boston Sports U18. He can be reached at 774-279-1995 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit Gethin Coolbaugh’s official website and follow Gethin Coolbaugh on Twitter.