LOS ANGELES - Perhaps now the Los Angeles Lakers can put behind them the anguish of losing the NBA Finals to Boston and the embarrassment over the way the series ended.
The Lakers snapped the Celtics' franchise-record 19-game winning streak with a 92-83 victory yesterday behind Kobe Bryant's 27 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Teammate Pau Gasol scored seven of his 20 points in the final three minutes.
The game was the first between the teams since Boston's 131-92 victory in Game 6 of the Finals in June gave the Celtics their first championship in 22 years and their league-high 17th title. The Lakers had blown a 24-point second-quarter lead in Game 4 at home to fall behind in the series by three games to one - a deficit that has never been overcome in the Finals.
Yesterday's victory made Phil Jackson the sixth NBA coach to reach 1,000. Jackson, 63, is 1,000-423 in 17-plus seasons as coach of the Chicago Bulls and Lakers. He became the fastest to win 1,000 games, surpassing Pat Riley, who did it in 1,434 games.
"Here we are, a game that's been pointed to since the schedules came out," Jackson said beforehand.
The teams have met in 11 NBA Finals, with Boston winning nine.
The Celtics, who manhandled the 76ers in Boston on Tuesday, entered with a 27-2 record - the fastest start by a two-loss team. They were in good shape when Kevin Garnett put them ahead by 81-79 with 3 minutes, 57 seconds left, but the Lakers finished the game with a 13-2 run.
"Give them all the credit," Boston's Paul Pierce said. "We just have to play better down the stretch."
Lamar Odom and Sasha Vujacic each scored 10 points for the Lakers (24-5), who won their 12th straight game at the Staples Center, where they are 15-1.
"We've been waiting for that opportunity for a long time, and we won," said Vujacic of the Celtics. "I don't like them at all. A lot of people called us softies or whatever. It doesn't matter at all. We know what we can do."
"Last year, they won the championship. This year, it's our year, we want to take it all the way," he said.
Garnett shot 11 of 14 in leading the Celtics with 22 points and he had nine rebounds. Pierce added 20 points and 10 rebounds, but didn't score in the fourth quarter. Ray Allen scored 14 for Boston, and Rajon Rondo had 12 assists.
A 15-foot jumper by Gasol with 2:48 remaining in the game put the Lakers ahead for good, 83-81.