Lakers beat Celtics, 89-67, force Game 7

LOS ANGELES

The /*Lakers*/ had to win Game 6 to keep the championship dream alive. The /*Celtics*/ beat the Lakers 92-86 in Game 5. The Celtics withstood 38 points from /*Kobe Bryant*/ to beat the Lakers and took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series in that game.

In Game 6, Kobe Bryant scored 26 points, Pau Gasol added 17 points and 13 rebounds, and the Lakers emphatically extended the /*NBA finals*/ to a decisive seventh game.

Ron Artest added 15 points for the Lakers, who stared down elimination by jumping to a 22-point lead during a dazzling first half. With remarkable ease, the defending champions stretched the finals to the limit for the first time since 2005.

Ray Allen scored 19 points for the Celtics, who took an ugly pratfall on the verge of winning their unprecedented 18th title. It turns out their longtime rivals are still quite serious about earning their 16th.

Paul Pierce of the Celtics said way back before the finals even started, there wouldn't even be a Game 6. The media called him out on his now infamous quote.

"I don't regret that.I wasn't being cocky about it. I was just being confident in my team. I didn't say anything negative about the Lakers. I was just referring to what I wanted my team to do. That's all," said Pierce.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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