Basketball: LA Lakers take NBA crown
Friday 18 June 2010
As gold and purple confetti fell like snow from the rafters, the Los Angeles Lakers basked in the glory of beating their greatest rivals to the NBA title.
Completing back-to-back championships was made all the sweeter by holding off the Boston Celtics 83-79 to avenge their defeat in the 2008 finals.
"It's very sweet to win a championship, but it definitely adds to it when you beat Boston," Spanish forward Pau Gasol told Reuters.
"Given the rivalry, the history and our personal history it feels good to have won."
The Lakers were bullied into a 4-2 series defeat by Boston two years ago, raising questions about the toughness of Phil Jackson's team.
Los Angeles won the NBA title in 2009 and in their long-awaited rematch with Boston they showed a new-found steeliness at crunch time.
In Game Seven, the Lakers shook off a 13-point second-half deficit to prevail in a defensive battle with a nail-biting climax at Staples Center.
Despite shooting just 32 percent for the game, Los Angeles found a way to win behind defense and a 53-40 rebounding advantage.
"We learned from the disappointment and frustration that came from losing that series (in 2008)," Lakers veteran guard Derek Fisher said.
"We knew and understood from that point forward that if we don't defend and rebound we can forget about winning."
While beating their nemesis was a motivating factor for the Lakers, it was a new concept for forward Ron Artest, who was acquired in an off-season trade.
Thrust in the middle of the rivalry, the defensive-minded Artest sparked the team with key baskets and 20 points while earning the first championship of his career.
"I never thought I would get a chance to be in this situation," said Artest, who thanked his psychiatrist and plugged his new CD in a TV interview moments after the final buzzer.
"I'm just so thankful. I'm blessed - I'm enjoying this."
Jackson now owns a record 11 championships but would not be drawn on his future with his contract now up.
"(Winning) does improve my chances (of returning)," the former Chicago Bulls coach said. "That's as much as I'll talk about it. I'm going to enjoy this."
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