Huge comeback falls short for Lakers

BOSTON Perhaps their amazing fourth-quarter comeback will give them hope in a most difficult situation.

Bryant scored 13 of his 30 points in the last 7:40 Sunday night as the Lakers erased all but two points of a 24-point deficit before losing to the Boston Celtics 108-102 in Game 2 of the NBA finals.

Only three teams have ever recovered from the 2-0 deficit Los Angeles faces to win the finals, but the teams play the next three games at Staples Center, where the Lakers are 8-0 in the postseason and have won 14 straight since last losing March 28.

Bryant, who shot 9-for-26 and scored 24 points in a 98-88 loss in Game 1, shot 11-for-23 Sunday night, and also had five of his eight assists in the fourth quarter.

The Lakers have only themselves to blame for falling so far behind. They were within nine points before being outscored 27-12 to finish the third quarter and start the fourth, mainly because of a sieve-like defense. It was never more blatant than when unheralded Leon Powe, who scored a career playoff high 21 points, cruised down the lane for a dunk early in the fourth quarter. There was simply no resistance.

The Lakers were plagued by foul problems all night, and it was reflected at the foul line, where the Celtics shot 27-for-38 while the Lakers were just 10-for-10.

The Lakers' bench was abysmal at times, but came alive to score 18 points in the final period including six each by Jordan Farmar and Sasha Vujacic.

Vujacic had a chance to bring the Lakers within one point with about 15 seconds left, but his 3-pointer was blocked by Paul Pierce.

Pau Gasol disappeared offensively in the second half for the second straight game, scoring only four of his 17 points. He had just three of his 15 after halftime in the opener.

And Lamar Odom picked up his fifth foul in the final seconds of the third quarter. He scored eight of his 10 points in the first half.

Trevor Ariza entered the game in the first 2 minutes when Vladimir Radmanovic picked up two early fouls and played his first meaningful minutes since breaking his right foot in practice Jan. 20. He wound up going scoreless in 7 minutes.


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