The Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics kicked off their 12th finals matchup in NBA history last night, with Kobe Bryant and Co. making a bold statement with a 102-89 victory. The defending NBA champions got strong performances out of Bryant (30 points) and Pau Gasol (23 Pts, 14 Reb) while the Celtics big three struggled with fouls and poor shooting performances. About the only bright spot for the Celtics was backup forward Brian Scalabrine, who moved chairs and shifted butt cheeks with authority.
The game got off to a physical start, as Ron Artest got all up in Paul Pierce’s patchwork facial hair after the two locked elbows and threw each other to the ground within the first minute of play. The duo earned a pair of technical fouls for their efforts, which shockingly did not include Pierce clutching his chest and screaming out to his dead wife Elizabeth.
Lay some postgame quotes on us, ESPN:
“I knew it was going to be physical. That’s a given,” Gasol said. “After consecutive Finals, we understand the nature of the game. We understand who our rival is, how they play. You’ve got to compete, and you’ve got to match that physicality effort of the game to be successful.”
“They were the more physical team by far,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “They were more aggressive. They attacked us the entire night. I didn’t think we handled it very well.”
“You can’t ease into the game, especially in the Finals,” Pierce said. “That’s one of the better rebounding teams in the NBA. We’ve just got to do a better job rebounding the ball, eliminating easy opportunities. When I look up and we’ve given up 100 points, I haven’t seen that in a while.”
In fact, Pierce and the Celtics haven’t given up more than 100 points in two whole games, since the Orlando Magic dropped 113 on them in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals. But in defense of Pierce’s statement, this is the NBA Playoffs and Game 5 was six weeks ago. Rajon Rondo scored only 3 points in the second half, but vowed to summon the powers of Kahless and return to Klingon warrior form in time for Game 2.
The star-studded Game 1 featured celebrities like Will Ferrell, Snoop Dogg, Leonardo DiCaprio, Dustin Hoffman, Jason Bateman, Charlize Theron-Burnsy, Steven Spielberg, Hilary Swank, and, of course, Jack Nicholson. Lamar Odom’s wife Khloe Kardashian was also at the game, which caused a stir of terror among Japanese fans. The cast of the new “comedy” Grown Ups – Adam Sandler, Kevin James, David Spade and Chris Rock – sat courtside, presumably to remind everyone that this rivalry is no laughing matter.