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The Celtics led by 13 in the second half with an efficient offense and an even better defense that was frustrating Kobe Bryant. That's what Boston did to get past LeBron James and Cleveland, then defending East champion Orlando in the previous two rounds.
But all those games perhaps took their toll on the Celtics, who simply didn't have the energy down the stretch. They were outrebounded 53-40 and couldn't leap to corral the most important rebound of the game, which Gasol grabbed to retain possession with the Lakers up three and 30 seconds to go.
The Lakers even game-planned for the Celtics' age.
"With the Boston team obviously I saw Garnett fatigue," coach Phil Jackson said. "And that's been one of the issues we've had all the way through this series, is run him hard and keep running him if you get a chance because fatigue will affect his game."
It was a great run for the Celtics. They just didn't have the legs to finish it.
"We were scratching and clawing, trying to do everything we could to try to pull this out," Allen said. "We had an opportunity to win, but it just didn't go our way down the stretch. I don't think we ran out of steam. Lady Luck just didn't bounce in our corner."
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