BOSTON - Chin resting in his hand, mouth barely moving as he spoke, Kobe Bryant had the look of someone who would have rather been anywhere but the Staples Center.
The next few nights might make him long to be back home.
The NBA's best rivalry is returning to its East Coast headquarters, site of perhaps the most miserable moment of Bryant's career last time he and the Los Angeles Lakers were here for the Finals.
And the Boston Celtics and their green-clad fans can't wait to welcome him back.
"I feel good going back to the jungle," Celtics forward Kevin Garnett said Sunday.
Those familiar "Beat L.A! Beat L.A!" chants that have echoed through the Garden during so many springtimes will be booming again, and the Celtics can lock up an 18th NBA title if they can do just that three times.
Game 3 is Tuesday night, followed by games Thursday and Sunday in Boston.
The Celtics evened the series at a game apiece with their 103-94 victory in Game 2, with guards Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen taking turns punishing the Lakers, and Bryant often powerless to stop them because of foul trouble.
A fuming Bryant had little to say afterward, offering terse responses as he looked back on that game and ahead to the next one.
"It's the most important game. Game 1 was the most important, Game 2 was the most important, now it's Game 3," he said. "It's just the next game, simple as that."
The Finals are deadlocked after two games for the first time since 2004, when the Detroit Pistons split a pair in Los Angeles before coming home and winning three straight to take the series. That was Bryant's first loss in the championship round.
His other one came two years ago, in a Game 6 rout by Boston.