LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles Lakers have won their 16th NBA championship, dramatically rallying from a fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Boston Celtics 83-79 last night in Game 7 of the NBA finals.
Kobe Bryant, scored 23 points despite 6-of-24 shooting while winning his fifth title with the Lakers, who repeated as NBA champions for the first time since winning three straight from 2000-02.
Bryant was named most valuable player of the NBA finals.
Ron Artest added 20 points for the Lakers, who shot terribly while trailing for most of the first 3 1/2 quarters. Yet they reclaimed the lead midway through the fourth quarter and hung on with big shots from Pau Gasol and Artest.
MARK J. TERRILL / AP Enlarge
With their fifth title in 11 seasons, the Lakers moved one championship behind Boston's 17 banners for the overall NBA lead.
Paul Pierce had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Celtics, who just couldn't finish the final quarter of a remarkable playoff run after a fourth-place finish in the Eastern Conference.
Kevin Garnett added 17 points, but Boston flopped in two chances to clinch the series in Los Angeles after winning Game 5 back home.
After three quarters of mostly terrible offense, the Lakers tied it at 61 on Artest's three-point play with 7:29 left.
JAE C. HONG / AP Enlarge
Bryant's free throws 90 seconds later gave the Lakers their first lead of the second half, and the Lakers went up by five points before Bryant and Sasha Vujacic hit free throws in the final seconds to keep Los Angeles ahead.
The Lakers will relish this title because they took it from the Celtics, their greatest rivals, with fourth-quarter poise and defense. The teams have met in 12 NBA finals, but the Lakers won for just the third time.
Phil Jackson's mind was focused on Game 7 of the NBA finals, not on his future with the Los Angeles Lakers.
He's in the final year of his contract, with no word about a possible extension.
"I've resisted thinking about that and talking about it for the most part," he said Thursday night before the finale between the Lakers and Boston Celtics. "It really isn't important what happens after this, it's just about this game right now."
Seeking his 11th NBA title as a coach, Jackson said he would know after the game whether the outcome influences his future.
"I won't tell you then, that's for sure," he told laughing reporters.
If Jackson, who turns 65 in September, decides to retire he was reminded it could have been his last pregame news conference ever.
"Well, someone said I might never have to speak to you again after this night," he said. "I said that would never happen, I never could be that fortunate."
The longest possible NBA finals means the shortest possible turnaround until the draft.
There will be only a week between the time David Stern hands out the Larry O'Brien trophy in Los Angeles and calls the name of the No. 1 pick, likely Kentucky freshman point guard John Wall, next Thursday night at Madison Square Garden in New York.
NBA TV will run draft preview shows Saturday (Eastern Conference) and Sunday (West).34.05349 -118.2453 ERROR: Template storyimage.ldo not found in theme default for section frontpage!
The Los Angeles Lakers have won their 16th NBA championship, dramatically rallying from a fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Boston Celtics 83-79 last night in Game 7 of the NBA finals.