By Gethin Coolbaugh
BOSTON – After several sub par performances in the NBA Finals, Celtics captain Paul Pierce knew that he needed to come up big in a critical Game 5.
Pierce did just that, scoring a team-high 27 points on 12-of-21 shooting as Boston cruised to a 92-86 win over Los Angeles in Game 5 of the NBA Finals at TD Garden on Sunday night.
It was the Celtics final home game of the season, and they made the most of it by winning arguable the biggest game of the series and giving themselves a critical 3-2 series lead heading back to Los Angeles.
Boston took a slim 22-20 lead into the second quarter and outscored Los Angeles 23-19 in the second quarter to take a 45-39 halftime lead.
The second half featured more of the same, as the Celtics edged the Lakers in scoring in the third quarter, 28-26, and L.A. outscored Boston 21-19 in the final quarter.
The Celtics had four players score in double digits. Both Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo had solid offensive outputs, scoring 18 points apiece. Garnett also had 10 rebounds, five steals and three assists and Rondo had eight assists and five rebounds.
Ray Allen had 12 points and three rebounds and center Kendrick Perkins had four points and seven rebounds.
Rasheed Wallace led the Celtics’ bench in scoring with five points and both Glen Davis and Nate Robinson added four points.
The Lakers boasted the game’s top scorer as superstar guard Kobe Bryant amassed 38 points, five rebounds and four assists.
After a pedestrian first half, Bryant came on strong in the third quarter, making nearly every shot he took.
Pau Gasol was the only other Laker to score in double-digits, totaling 12 points and 12 rebounds in 38 minutes.
Derek Fisher added nine points and four rebounds and Ron Artest totaled seven points. Andrew Bynum, who missed a significant portion of Game 4 due to a knee injury, played 31 minutes and had six points and one rebound.
Lamar Odom led the Lakers’ bench in scoring with eight points. Sasha Vujacic added five points and Jordan Farmar scored one point.
Boston made 40-of-71 shots to shoot 56.3% and connected on 3-of-112 three pointers (25%) and 9-of-13 free throws (69.2%).
Los Angeles hit 31-of-78 shots to shoot 39.7% and made 7-of-19 three pointers (36.8%) and 17-of-26 free throws (65.4%).
The key statistic in each game has been rebounding, as every team that led the game in rebounding went on to win. That held true on Sunday night as the Celtics amassed 35 rebounds compared to the Lakers 34.
Boston had 21 assists, 16 turnovers, eight steals and seven blocks while the Lakers had 12 assists, 13 turnovers, nine steals and only one block. The Celtics had 23 fouls in the game while the Lakers committed 22.
The series shifts back to the Staples Center in L.A. for the final two games of the series. Los Angeles hosts Boston in Game 6 of the NBA Finals at 9 p.m. EST on Tuesday night. (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.