BOSTON — The Lakers have consistently been saying, and Lamar Odom did it again an hour and a half before the game, that redemption for last June can’t come until this June.
But when Odom dropped two free throws with 16 seconds left in overtime for a 110-109 Lakers lead on Boston, something big was about to be theirs if they could get one more defensive stop. They did – with Derek Fisher sticking to Ray Allen like glue and preventing a clean final shot.
Despite an oft-absent defense that benefited from Boston missed many open shots early on, the Lakers stood in position to take the game after Kobe Bryant tore free from a mediocre shooting night to drop a 3-pointer on Paul Pierce for a 96-96 tie. And just when Boston seemed to be gaining control with the next four points from Pierce, the Lakers pushed back with a Pau Gasol flip and another Bryant 3-pointer.
With the score tied, 101-101, after Pierce split two foul shots, Bryant missed a 22-footer on which Pierce stopped his follow-through from going through with 9.9 seconds left. But Pierce lost the ball at the other end, and Eddie House’s rushed shot at the regulation buzzer missed.
The Lakers sorely missed Andrew Bynum’s interior defense for long stretches and got very little from Trevor Ariza, who wasn’t in his usual spot on the floor down the stretch. Luke Walton was out there instead, combining with Bryant against Pierce. Jordan Farmar gave the Lakers a spark after some early foul trouble.
Kevin Garnett fouled out with 4:22 left when Gasol and Fisher combined for a near-steal. He had 16 points and six rebounds in 33 minutes. Bryant had 26 points on 10-of-29 shooting.