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TA: Hard to come to grips 06.18.10 at 7:24 am ET
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LOS ANGELES — No one took Thursday night’s loss harder than Tony Allen.

He was walking out of the Celtics dressing room and took a right-hand turn before bravely making a U-turn and agreeing to meet with reporters outside. He was the first Celtic player to try and express what had just happened.

Clearly heart-broken, he tried to come to grips with losing Game 7 of the NBA Finals, 83-79, as the Celtics fell short in their bid to win title No. 18. The Lakers won their 16th by rallying in the fourth quarter, outscoring Boston, 30-22.

“Definitely a tough one to swallow,” Allen began. “What I am going to say is I love this group of guys. It’s just a really emotional time for me. Just a tough one to swallow right here.”

Allen admitted that what makes this particularly hard to deal with is the uncertainty regarding veterans like Ray Allen and Rasheed Wallace and head coach Doc Rivers.

“I definitely want to see this group back but who knows,” Allen continued. “It’s not that surprising. We fought hard to get here it’s just a real unfortunate Game 7 for us to lose.

“I definitely want to see Doc back. I don’t know. It’s tough right now.”

With those words, Allen became choked up and was excused by the group of reporters.

Read More: Celtics, Game 7, Lakers, NBA Finals
Ray: ‘One of the hardest feelings of my lifetime’ at 2:40 am ET
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LOS ANGELES — Celtics sharpshooter Ray Allen called the Game 7 loss to the Lakers Thursday night “one of the hardest feelings” of his life after the Lakers rallied for an 83-79 win over the Celtics at Staples Center, the first time in five tries the Lakers have beaten Boston in a Game 7.

Allen, in what could be his final game as a Celtic, finished with 13 points on 3-for-14 shooting.

“It’s disappointing,” Allen began. “This is probably one of the hardest feelings I’ve felt in my lifetime. We’re scratching and clawing, trying to do everything we could to pull this one out. That’s probably what hurt the most – just having the opportunity to win down the stretch. It didn’t go our way.”

And the mood in the locker room after what could be the final game together for these particular group of Celtics?

“Tears, just a lot of tears,” Allen said.

And would he return?

“It’s hard to think about playing,” he said. “You’ve got guys that are veteran players that come in and do their job every night. You know, we’re here for a reason. It’s tough to see it end this way.

“I’m extremely proud,” Allen continued. “We’re a group of guys that stay within ourselves and do what we’re capable of. We fought the good fight all the time. When people didn’t believe in us, we stayed true to ourselves and made sure we came in and did our jobs every day. We don’t win this final game, but we still have a lot to hold our heads high for.”

Read More: Celtics, Game 7, Lakers, NBA Finals
5 Things that Went Wrong in Game 7 at 12:07 am ET
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The Celtics lost Game 7 of the NBA Finals to the Lakers in Los Angeles on Thursday night, 83-79, falling short of their 18th championship. Here are five things that went wrong in the deciding game. (Click here for a recap of the Celtics’ loss.)

1. The Celtics gave it away - The Celtics were in control. They had the momentum and the confidence to get it done ‘€¦ before they let it all slip away. The Celtics led by 10 with seven minutes to go in the third quarter and had taken away the Lakers biggest weapon. But they began to miss shots and the Lakers were there to grab the rebounds. The C’€™s scored just three points in the final four minutes of the quarter and only led by four going into the final 12 minutes. The Lakers immediately got within two points seconds into the fourth, while the Celtics did not score for nearly three minutes. Bryant made three free throws to cut the Celtics advantage to one, and banked another two minutes later to give the Lakers the lead. Bryant scored four consecutive points to pull the Lakers ahead by four with 5:22 left, and they never looked back. The Celtics played catch up for the rest of the game as Bryant, Ron Artest, and Pau Gasol made critical baskets.

2. Kobe Bryant - The Celtics have battled past superstars the entire postseason, each time prevailing with team basketball. But after defeating Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Dwight Howard, they could not overcome the individual performance of Kobe Bryant. The Celtics held Bryant to just eight points (3-14 FG) in 22 minutes in the first half. When Bryant began to find his rhythm, though, the C’€™s failed to find an answer. Bryant scored 15 points in the second half, including four straight to tie the game and give the Lakers the lead with less than six minutes left. He finished the night with 23 points. It wasn’€™t his best offensive performance, but he made the shots when it counted.

3. Rebounding – The Celtics have said the entire series that the team that wins the rebounding war wins the game. On Thursday, they won neither. The Lakers outrebounded the Celtics, 53-40, including 23 offensive boards. This can’€™t be pinned on the injury of Kendrick Perkins, either. He alone doesn’€™t account for a 13-rebound differential. The Celtics had players capable of rebounding, but in the end, Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant combined for 33 boards while only Paul Pierce rebounded in double-digits for the C’s. Kevin Garnett, who the Celtics desperately needed defensively, grabbed just three rebounds.

4. Ray Allen - His monumental 3-point performance is all but forgotten after Ray Allen’€™s offensive struggles continued through Game 7. Allen shot just 3-for-14 from the field and scored 13 points. While he deserves credit for playing tough D on Bryant, his lack of production at the basket hurt the Celtics in a situation where they needed everyone scoring at full potential.

5. They Played Lakers Ball - The Celtics dominated the first half by feeding off their fundamentals of tough defense and team basketball. In the second half, however, it became showtime for Bryant and the Lakers. The Celtics failed to put together productive offensive possessions, rushed shots, and attempted forced baskets. In the end, they were forced to put the Lakers at the line, where they were outscored 25-15. They C’s began the season by beating the Cavaliers in Cleveland with Celtics basketball, and ended it by losing to the Lakers in Los Angeles by falling victim to their opponent’s game.

Read More: Celtics, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant
Sheed gets the starting call 06.17.10 at 8:13 pm ET
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LOS ANGELES — Rasheed Wallace will start for the injured Kendrick Perkins in Game 7 of the NBA finals. Celtics coach Doc Rivers made the announcement about an hour before the game.

“He’s old. I figured I’d play the oldest guys,” Rivers joked of the 35-year-old Wallace before giving a serious explanation. “I just think it’s a good combination with Kevin [Garnett] because of the size, with Bynum’s size. I just think it’s a better fit for us.

“It also may give [Rajon] Rondo a chance to get loose early because of the spacing on the floor.”

The decision to go with a taller lineup against Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol also means that Glen Davis will come off the bench. Otherwise, Rivers doesn’t expect many other changes with the loss of Perkins to two torn ligaments in his right knee in Game 6.

“We’re not going to change a lot. We could, and if the game dictates that we need to do that, we’re ready to do it. But we’re not going to recreate the wheel tonight. We’re going to be basically who we’ve been. Not having Perk, we may have to do it a little different, but not much.”

[Click here to listen to Doc Rivers explaining his move to start Rasheed Wallace for the injured Kendrick Perkins.]

Read More: Celtics, Kendrick Perkins, Lakers, Rasheed Wallace
Game 7 predictions roundup at 2:36 pm ET
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Before the opening tip of this year’€™s NBA finals between the Celtics and Lakers, many NBA analysts predicted that the series between the heated rivals would go the full seven games. Now, with Game 7 officially upon us Thursday night, many of those same so-called experts are back with their predictions for the deciding game of the championship. Here’€™s a roundup of some of those predictions.

– Philadelphia Inquirer columnist and radio host Stephen A. Smith told Dennis & Callahan that he’€™s going to stick with his original pick of the C’€™s in 7.

Several Sports Illustrated writers give their guesses at the outcome. Four of the six predict a Boston win, including frequent WEEI guest Ian Thomsen, who thinks the final tally will be 92-89 in favor of the Green.

ESPN asked several of its experts what they expect for Game 7. Kevin Arnovitz and Chris Sheridan both think it will be a last-possession game but differ on who will make the game-winner. Arnovitz picked Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant while Sheridan went with Boston closer Paul Pierce.

– Also, as a part of its rivalry page, ESPN had two writers write why they believe the C’€™s will win and why the Lakers will win, with ESPNBoston.com’€™s Chris Forsberg doing the former and Land O’€™Lakers blogger Andy Kamenetzky doing the latter.

ESPN analyst Jamal Mashburn, who also was a guest Thursday morning on the Dennis & Callahan show, says that ‘€œthere’€™s no doubt in my mind’€ that the Lakers will win. He also predicted that Glen Davis will start as the replacement for Kendrick Perkins.

-- Glen Davis gave his own prediction of a Celtics win in this piece from The Los Angeles Times.

– Finally, SportingNews.com ran an AccuScore projection of Thursday night’€™s game, and the Lakers won 76 percent of the 10,000 simulations run by the program. The average score was 97.4-89.7.

Read More: Celtics, Lakers, NBA Finals,
Ray shoulders blame for Game 6 06.16.10 at 8:40 pm ET
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LOS ANGELES — Ray Allen took the blame for the bench not scoring a single point through three quarters on Tuesday in an 89-67 loss to the Lakers in Game 6 at Staples Center. The Celtics‘ bench was outscored 24-0 through three periods as the Lakers built a 25-point lead.

That was some readily evident in Wednesday’s film session before practice in Los Angeles.

“A lot of missing and a lot of everything,” Allen said. “Just offensively, we’ve had this conversation before about the ball being stuck. We didn’t make the extra pass. It sucks, too, because we talk about this a lot in the aftermath of our losses. We saw it on film.

“You’re talking about the first quarter. We didn’t set a good trend. And talking about what our bench didn’t do, I take sole credit in the starting five for that because as the starters we didn’t set a good precedent. It’s on us me, Rondo, Kevin, Paul sitting right there, that’s the guys. You can look around at the guys coming off the bench or our coaching staff, but we’ve got to start the game on parallel, like getting back on defense, moving the ball on offense. Those are things that we have to do. Regardless of what plays are called, that’s the way it’s got to be for [Thursday's] game.

Desperation along with other emotions are on the line now.

” I think it’s a whole bunch of those emotions that you throw in the pot and mix them around,” Allen said. “As a team, as individuals, I don’t want to be sitting around in July having to ask myself, did I do everything that I could have done? Have any regrets? I don’t want to be that person. I want to do everything I can to leave it all on the floor.”

Read More: Celtics, Lakers, NBA Finals, Ray Allen
Lakers preparing for a ‘fight’ in Game 7 at 7:50 pm ET
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LOS ANGELES — Game 7 is the ultimate test. For the Los Angeles Lakers it means even more.

The Lakers have a chance to finally beat the Celtics with the title on the line in a seventh and deciding game. Four times before the Lakers have had a chance and four times the Lakers were denied, most recently at the old Boston Garden in 1984 as the crowd rushed the parquet.

In 1969, it was the Celtics going on the road to the old Forum in Inglewood and winning Game 7, 108-106.

Thursday, the scene will be the Staples Center. And millions will be watching to see if the Lakers can finally get it done or do the Celtics walk away with their 18th title.

“Historic,” Lamar Odom said in a one-word characterization. “When you’re talking about these organizations and these teams, what they stand for, the pride. This is what you envisioned when you were a kid playing in your backyard. This was what it was all about.”

Odom said he is expecting a fierce battle from the Celtics, especially with Kendrick Perkins out with torn ligaments in his right knee.

“It’s going to be a fight,” Odom said. “It’s going to be a fight. We expect a tough game. You know, all these games have been tough. Even with last night’s score, to me that’s misleading, sometimes the games just go like that. That team still plays hard, still makes you work.”

The Lakers have battled back from two losses in Boston to tie the series. And now they enjoy the same chance the Celtics had in Game 6 two years ago – celebrating a title over their arch-rival with their own fans on their home court.

“It is what it is,” Derek Fisher said. “It’s something that each time a series starts, you don’t necessarily know how it’s going to play out and what’s going to happen and how the momentum is going to swing back and forth. But here we are, and to have this opportunity on our home floor to win a championship, you know, I don’t know if you can ask for anything else, regardless of the Game 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7. Whatever it would take to win, and we have an opportunity.

“I just think that after losing Game 5, we have been in a position since then that was not very complicated,” Fisher said. “It was pretty simple. You have to win the next game or your season is over, and not over in a way you’d like it to be. You know, as opposed to kind of, I guess, starting to become selfish and kind of bunker mentality.”

“Whether it’s pretty or not, the Lakers can get another monkey off their back with a win. In 1985, Magic Johnson and the Lakers had never beaten the Celtics for a title. They did and followed with one two years later. So, would this mean anything more special?

“It’s hard to answer that question,” Odom said. “A championship is a championship. Any time you have to fight this team really makes you fight I guess you appreciate it a little bit more.”

Read More: Celtcs, Derek Fisher, Lakers, Lamar Odom
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