Lakers send series back to Boston
Los Angeles score a 103-98 win in game five to make the series 3-2 with the Celtics.
Last Modified: 16 Jun 2008 09:22 GMT

Kobe Bryant's late dunk gave the Lakers a 99-95 lead with 40 seconds left in the game [GALLO/GETTY]

The LA Lakers kept their title hopes alive with a 103-98 victory over the Boston Celtics in game five of the best-of-seven NBA Finals to cut their series deficit to 3-2 in Los Angeles.
Kobe Bryant, Lakers guard, scored five of his 25 points in the final two minutes and 14 seconds to help extend the Lakers' season and send the series back to Boston for game six on Tuesday.
"I didn't want to see the Celtics celebrating in my home floor with champagne and all that," said the Lakers' Paul Gasol.

"We didn't play our best game, but we played our hearts out."

Boston went on a 16-2 run midway through the final quarter to turn an 88-74 deficit into a 90-90 tie with just over four minutes left.

However Bryant stepped up and sealed the game with a big defensive play, poking the ball away from Boston's Paul Pierce as the Lakers clung on to a 97-95 lead with 40 seconds left.

Lakers forward Lamar Odom scooped it up and passed the ball down court to a streaking Bryant, whose jam pushed the lead to four points with 37 seconds left.

"He made a heck of a steal," Doc Rivers, Celtics coach, said.

"He made a really last ditch effort because Paul [Pierce] had him beat. He had no choice.

"He just came from behind and got a piece of the ball. Give him the credit."

Big games

"We didn't play our best game, but we played our hearts out."

Pau Gasol,
Lakers centre
Bryant hit only eight of 21 shots and had six turnovers but turned things around for his team when it mattered most.

"I had a bad game," Bryant, league MVP, said.

"You're not going to shoot the ball too well against this team because they're going to throw everybody at you.

"But the important thing for me is to push the buttons at the right time."

With Bryant struggling offensively, the Lakers had big games from Odom (20 points), Gasol (19 points, 13 rebounds), and Derek Fisher (15 points).

Pierce, who scored 38 points on 10 of 22 shooting from the floor and 16-of-19 from the free-throw line, said stopping Bryant was "the whole focus" defensively for the Celtics.

"He's a guy who can beat you all by himself, so the whole game plan is surrounding on stopping him and making other guys beat us," said Pierce.

"It's just unfortunate that we let the other guys beat us."

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