7:30 PM ET, February 19, 2002
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Kobe Bryant swore he got the potential game-winning shot off before time expired.
One official disagreed, and that was enough.
Antoine Walker, center, and Paul Pierce, right, celebrate Walker's 3-pointer with 1.2 seconds remaining.
Bryant made a jumper from the right baseline, but after a brief conference, it was ruled he hadn't released the ball until after time expired.
The television replay made it appear the correct call was made, as Bryant's fingertips seemed to be touching the ball when the clocked showed no time left.
"It was close, probably the only good call they made all night," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.
"It felt good to me," Bryant said. "I thought it was off before the horn sounded because I always listen for the horn to make sure I got the shot off.
"From what I understand, it was the one official, Sean Corbin, who decided to wave it off."
Paul Pierce had 33 points and eight rebounds as the Celtics handed the Lakers their third straight loss.
It's the first three-game losing streak for the Lakers since Jackson became their coach before the 1999-2000 season.
Pierce, who grew up in nearby Inglewood, said the win was his biggest since he joined the Celtics in 1998.
"We didn't want to look back once the ref said, `Game over,"' he said. "This team has a lot of resilience."
Walker said he was convinced Bryant didn't get the shot off because he did a pump-fake before shooting.
"We had luck on our side," Walker said.
Perhaps he could have been referring to the winning basket, which he banked in from the left wing with Robert Horry right on him to cap a 30-point, 14-rebound, 10-assist night -- his second triple-double of the season.
Walker, whose shot gave the Celtics their only lead of the game, wouldn't say whether he was trying to use the backboard.
"It's sweeter when you bank it," he said with a smile. "I was just trying to make the shot, Robert Horry has long arms. It felt good leaving my hands."
Bryant had 27 points and nine assists and Shaquille O'Neal, playing his first game in 16 days, had 25 points and 17 rebounds.
But O'Neal, who didn't speak with reporters afterward, attempted only one shot in the third quarter and one in the fourth, making both.
O'Neal, returning from his second stint on the injured list since Christmas because of pain in his arthritic big right toe, made 9-of-10 shots and 7-of-9 free throws while playing 39 minutes.
The Lakers (35-16) were 2-3 while O'Neal was on the injured list, and are 7-6 without him this season.
"It's pretty upsetting," Bryant said about his team's three-game losing streak. "We did some positive things tonight. You still want to win the game."
A free throw by Bryant with 3:40 left gave the Lakers a 103-91 lead, but the Celtics (31-23) outscored them 18-5 after that.
The Lakers led 89-77 entering the fourth, and seemed safely ahead with their late 12-point lead.
But with Pierce and Walker leading the way, the Celtics outscored the Lakers 13-1 to tie it at 104 with 58.6 seconds left on a layin by Kenny Anderson.
Bryant and Anderson traded baskets before Bryant hit again over Pierce with 11.9 seconds left to give the Lakers a 108-106 lead.
Horry knocked the ball out of bounds with 4.2 seconds left before the Celtics took a timeout and got the ball to Walker, who made the winning basket.
A 3-pointer by Kedrick Brown and a jumper by Anderson capped a 17-7 run by the Celtics to start the third quarter, cutting the Lakers' lead to 70-65.
But that was as close as the Celtics would get until their late surge. Three-pointers by Devean George and Bryant late in the period put the Lakers ahead by 13.
The Lakers led 34-22 after one quarter, making 14-of-19 shots in the period but committing seven of their season-high 21 turnovers.
The Lakers led by as many as 18 points in the second quarter before settling for a 63-48 halftime lead. They outrebounded the Celtics 24-9 in the first half and 46-35 overall.
A Jackson-coached team hadn't lost three straight since January 1995, when he was coaching the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan was a baseball player. ... The Lakers made room for O'Neal by placing Samaki Walker, who started the team's previous 50 games, on the injured list because of a hyperextended right elbow. ... The Celtics activated Brown before the game and placed Joseph Forte on the injured list with a sprained left ankle. ... Michael Cooper and Cedric Maxwell, who played many big games when the teams were bitter rivals, spent time together laughing and joking before this one. Both said the rivalry wasn't what it used to be. "These guys will be hugging and shaking hands," said Maxwell, who played for the Celtics from 1977-85 and is now part of their broadcast team. "Players have no sense of rivalry in the NBA now," said Cooper, who played for the Lakers from 1978-90 and now coaches the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks. ... The Celtics committed only 12 turnovers.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||35-78 (.449)||42-80 (.525)|
|3PM-3PA||11-23 (.478)||9-20 (.450)|
|FTM-FTA||28-37 (.757)||15-19 (.789)|
|Fast Break Points||15||11|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||21 (2/0)||26 (0/0)|