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Ray: ‘One of the hardest feelings of my lifetime’ 06.18.10 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
Celtics video: Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo 06.17.10 at 7:57 am ET
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LOS ANGELES — Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo speak to the media prior to practice Wednesday afternoon.

Read More: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen,
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
C’s veterans call a meeting at 2:50 am ET
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LOS ANGELES — In the late moments of Game 6, the television cameras caught a glimpse of a conversation on the Celtics bench between their veteran players. That conversation carried over to the locker room and while the details are murky, the point was clear.

“We take complete responsibility,” Ray Allen said. “We just put us in a hole early. It affects our bench. We didn’t give them any great rhythm, any great chemistry. I think we talked about our defense and how we allowed so many points, but I think it stemmed from the offense because we didn’t make the extra pass. Each individual tried to make the home run play early.”

Oddly enough, the veterans finally put together solid shooting nights in the same game. Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett combined to go 19-for-42 and score 44 points. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you consider the rest of the team shot 9-for-42 and scored just 23, they accounted for a sizable portion of the Celtics limited production.

All the veterans know that this may be their final chance at winning another ring, and given the uncertainty surrounding the summer, it may be their final chance together in the same uniform.

Pierce said he was keeping the conversation in-house, while Garnett said it was nothing. But one thing is certain: They don’t want to go out like they did in Game 6.

“As a unit, starting unit, we take responsibility,” Allen said. “We have to do a better job for next game.”

Read More: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen,
What they’re saying about Celtics-Lakers 06.14.10 at 2:19 pm ET
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Fueled by a raucous TD Garden crowd, a bench that wouldn’€™t quit and an apparent lack of serious competition, the Celtics took a 3-2 series lead over the Lakers Sunday night with their 92-86 win. The storylines have stayed the same throughout the series. The C’€™s have stepped up and played as a team with a new leader emerging every game, while the Lakers have been inconsistent and led by one strong player, usually Kobe Bryant. Game 5 was just more of the same, and the national headlines the day after have told the same tale.

Los Angeles:

  • Most of the criticism against Kobe and the Lakers originates from LA:
    —  T.J. Simers of the LA Times writes the harshest criticism by refusing to call him by name, opting for Our Ball Hog instead.
    — Mark Medina from the Times’€™ Lakers Blog places the blame on the rest of the Lakers for not supporting their leader.
    — The LA Daily News’€™ Vincent Bonsignore discusses how calm and quiet Kobe was during the postgame press conference. Alongside that, Bonsignore says that the captain ‘€œreally isn’t interested in prodding his teammates along with some fiery speech over the next few days.’€
  • Bill Plaschke believes that this 2010 series is starting to resemble the 2008 series and it seems as though the Lakers are throwing in the towel.
  • The Lakers’€™ big men ‘€“ Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum ‘€“ have been largely ineffective and just taking up space on the court, writes Mike Bresnahan.
  • Meanwhile, the Daily News’€™ Elliot Teaford reports that Lamar Odom hasn’€™t been acting like his normal, bubbly self in and around the Lakers’€™ clubhouse this series because of his poor play.

National:

  • Jeff Zilgitt of USA Today chalks up the C’€™s Game 5 victory to their big four starters: Pierce, Rondo, Allen and Garnett.
  • Also from USA Today, Michael Falgoust noticed that Bryant’€™s shooting percentage for the series is down to 42.5 percent, his lowest since the first round against Oklahoma City when he had swollen knee problems.
  • Pau Gasol has been nothing more than a ‘€œspectator to the Kobe Bryant show.‘€ According to The Associated Press, Gasol wouldn’€™t ‘€œget himself involved or the Lakers wouldn’t involve him’€ in Game 5.
  • Kevin Garnett is noncommittal about his immediate future, but he is definitely glad he decided to leave Minnesota and come to Boston, writes Bill Lee of the Providence Journal.
  • ESPN’€™s Daily Dime covers topics such as ‘€œthe better team won Game 5,’€ Kobe Bryant needing some serious help on the court and Boston’€™s bench keeping the energy up every game.
  • And finally, the ratings for Game 5 are slowly trickling in and it appears that it was the most watched game of the series so far and the most watched event of the night again. The 2010 finals have been the highest watched finals since the 2004 matchup between the Lakers and the Pistons.
Read More: Celtics, finals, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant
Title wave will be a Green energy transfer at 12:06 pm ET
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Now comes the hard part.

The Celtics, after dropping Game 3 on their home court, have crept to within one win of their 18th title by taking advantage of the incredible energy inside TD Garden. But if they are to raise yet another banner to the rafters in the fall, they’re going to have to get it done in the hostile environment of Staples Center.

Kendrick Perkins said the key to transferring the momentum and energy of the TD Garden crowd to Los Angeles will be mental toughness.

“It’s all mental,” Perkins said. “I think we have to go out there and take their crowd out of it early. We can’t let them get energy going in the building. I think it’s got to be all mental. There are going to be times where they make runs and their crowd may get involved in the game and it may get loud in there. But we have to make sure we have to keep our composure and just keep going, keep attacking.”

While their 24-17 regular season home record was tied with Miami and Chicago as worst among the 16 playoff teams, the playoffs have been a different story.

The Celtics won six of their first seven at the Garden in the opening three rounds, and went 7-2 at home to advance to the NBA finals. They dropped Game 3, 91-84 to the Lakers but came back to win Games 4 and 5 to finish 9-3 at home in the playoffs.

While it was not the 13-1 mark they had on the parquet in their 2008 title run, the energy in TD Garden the last two games clearly helped the Celtics. And they were quick to point that out after the game.

“The energy in the building really feeds our defensive intensity,” Tony Allen said. “We all feel it.”

Now, the Celtics need to find a way to replace that energy with focus.

“Mental toughness,” Allen added. “Guys staying together and knowing what our goal is and everybody knowing what their role is when we get down there. And I think that’ll get the win.”

Ray Allen remembered 2008 after Game 5 Sunday night. Those finals ended with a celebration on the parquet. But if the Celtics can win once more, this celebration will be just as sweet.

“That’s the beautiful thing about this whole situation,” Allen said. “The circumstances that have been before us all playoffs long. We never had home court advantage except for the first round. We had to win on the other team’s floor. We talked about what team we’re going to play in the first round. I remember sitting in the locker room and we’re watching Miami and Milwaukee play and we’re talking about where we want to go.

“It seemed like so long ago. At the same time, we had to beat Miami on their home floor, we had to beat everybody on their floor in order for us to advance. We’ve been in this position before. I think the guys mentally are ready for it. We’ll get prepared and get ready to get it done.”

Read More: Celtics, going mental, Kendrick Perkins, Lakers
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