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Ray Allen scored 12 points in just 27 minutes, saddled with constant foul trouble while trying to guard Bryant. Pierce also picked up early fouls, while Garnett simply struggled, going 7 for 16 from the field and grabbing just four rebounds -- even inexplicably missing an open layup with 5 1/2 minutes to play.
That's mostly because of Gasol, the Spanish 7-footer determined to assert himself after admittedly getting pushed around by Garnett two years ago. Gasol capped a strong game by sprinting downcourt and catching a long pass in stride for a dunk with 6:21 to play.
"Pau played a big game tonight," Jackson said. "I thought they did a good job on him in the post, but his movement and his activity was important."
After Artest and Pierce got wrapped up, the mood didn't improve much in a game featuring 54 fouls. Yet the Lakers' aggressiveness was reflected in 10 free throws apiece for Bryant and Gasol, who made 16 of them, along with steady guard penetration from Bryant, Derek Fisher and backups Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown.
Bryant also praised the defensive effort of Artest, whose block on Glen Davis triggered the fast break that led to Gasol's dynamic dunk.
"I think he does a great job for us of setting the tone defensively with his intensity and with his energy," said Bryant, who greeted Artest with a hug after that block. "I was just letting him know it was well appreciated."
NOTES: An entertaining jump ball occurred midway through the second quarter when 5-9 Nate Robinson tied up the 7-foot Gasol. The Spaniard won the tip. ... Celtics C Kendrick Perkins didn't get his seventh technical foul of the postseason, which would have resulted in an automatic one-game suspension, but technical-foul legend Rasheed Wallace got one for arguing late in the third quarter. ... Fans near courtside included Jerry West, Leonardo DiCaprio, Charlize Theron, David Duchovny, Will Ferrell, boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., Terrell Owens, Steven Spielberg, Snoop Dogg, Mike Epps and Hilary Swank. Chris Rock, David Spade, Kevin James and Adam Sandler sat together at courtside to promote their "Grown Ups" movie, opening in three weeks.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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