BOSTON (AP) - Phil Jackson doesn’t need any reminders of the last time the Los Angeles Lakers visited Boston, when they fell under a shower of 3-pointers and left under a shower of confetti as the Celtics clinched an NBA-record 17th championship.
“We had our most disappointing moments on that Boston Celtic court in Game 6,” the Lakers coach said before Wednesday 115-107 victory over the Toronto Raptors in which Kobe Bryant scored 36 points and Pau Gasol added 31.
“To be not only beaten, but humiliated, in a game like that to end the series, and have them celebrating and throwing (stuff) all over the court, disrupting the game with 2 1/2 minutes left to go. It was in your face and everybody remembers that. There’s a certain element of, you know, we have some serious work to do.”
The Lakers got their first chance at redemption on Christmas Day, when they won in Los Angeles 92-83 to snap Boston’s string of 19 consecutive victories. The loss didn’t just snap Boston’s franchise-record winning streak, it sent them into a 2-7 tailspin that was the worst stretch of the New Big Three era.
But the Celtics are on another hot streak, winning their last 12 to improve to 41-9 - best in the NBA - heading into Thursday night’s game against L.A.
“It’ll be one for the ages,” Celtics guard Ray Allen said after hitting the game-winning 3-pointer with 0.5 seconds left against the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night. “People will be excited. It’s a big game. It’s definitely a playoff atmosphere. We lost to them to the first time so we’ll be looking forward to it.”
Longtime foes who seemed to play each other for the title every year in the 1980s, the Celtics and Lakers renewed the rivalry last June in a championship series that Boston won in six games. The Celtics dominated the finale inside and outside, shooting .500 from 3-point range and outrebounding the Lakers 48-29 in a 131-92 laugher that launched the celebration long before the final buzzer.
“Last time we played there it was a pretty bad game for us,” Gasol said. “I’m looking forward to bounce back there and prove a point.”
The Lakers are 3-0 so far on a road trip that has them playing six games in 10 days. On Monday night, Bryant erupted for a Madison Square Garden record 61 points; the Lakers played Toronto on Wednesday night before traveling to Boston.
“It’s going to be a good test for us, as it always is. When you play the champs it’s always a measuring stick to see where you’re at,” Bryant said. “It’s a long season, so you’re going to have peaks and valleys, no matter how great a team you are. It’s just the nature of the beast. They’re back to playing the way they know how to.”
The Celtics took the day off Wednesday, although a few players worked out at the Waltham practice facility. Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he would give Kevin Garnett a chance to run around “just to get his wind back” after the All-Star forward missed two games with the flu.
Garnett is expected to be in the lineup Thursday night.
The Lakers have their own problems.
Center Andrew Bynum will miss eight to 12 weeks after tearing the medial collateral ligament in his right knee. Bynum was also supposed to miss 8-12 weeks last year with a knee injury, but he missed the last half of the regular season and was recovering from arthroscopic surgery when the Celtics claimed the title.
“Although having him makes us a better team, we’re still good enough to get the job done,” Bryant said. “We were in the finals last year (without Bynum) and we just fell a couple of games short of our end goal. He’ll be back and we’ll be fine.”
AP Sports Writer Dan Gelston in Philadelphia and freelancer Ian Harrison in Toronto contributed to this story.