Why the Lakers won: Because they had to. Nobody played an outstanding game for L.A. — even Kobe was ice-cold and made some poor decisions in the second half after a hot first half — but they scrapped and fought and deserve credit for showing the heart that everyone’s been questioning throughout this series. Kobe, Lamar Odom, Derek Fisher and Pau Gasol all made crucial plays down the stretch to keep the Lakers alive.
Why the Celtics lost: Falling behind early. Although Boston proved in Game 4 they could withstand a big Lakers’ lead on the road and still get a W, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to flirt with being 20-pieced. Part of pulling off a historic comeback is having almost everything break your way, and unlike the previous game, the Celtics weren’t giving themselves those breaks this time. From Kevin Garnet missing layups and free throws in crunch-time to Paul Pierce committing costly turnovers, Boston simply didn’t execute well enough to steal the win and clinch the championship.
Key numbers: Paul Pierce (38 pts, 6 rebs, 8 asts); Kevin Garnett (13 pts, 14 rebs); Kobe Bryant (25 pts, 7 rebs, 5 stls); Pau Gasol (19 pts, 13 rebs, 6 asts); Lamar Odom (20 pts, 11 rebs, 4 blks)