(LOS ANGELES) - In front of a constellation of Hollywood stars which included Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, and Sylvester Stallone, the desperate Los Angeles Lakers struggled to keep up in Game 3 of the NBA Finals before they rallied in the 4th quarter to subdue the Boston Celtics for an 87-81 victory.
Ray Allen scored 25 points for the Celtics, but Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were a combined 8-for-35 from the floor.
Pierce, an LA native playing his first playoff game before a hometown crowd, fell into foul trouble early and missed his first five shots on the way to 2-for-14 shooting.
Garnett missed his first seven shots but still had a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds, while making a few key shots to give the Celtics a short-lived lead in the 3rd quarter.
But no one could stop Sasha Vujacic and Kobe Bryant, who carried the Lakers.
Vujacic shot 70% from the floor and had a post-season high 20 points. Backcourt teammate Bryant bucketed 36 points, leading all scorers, including a twisting floater with :38 left.
Los Angeles avoided the near-impossible roadblock of needing four consecutive triumphs. No NBA team has overcome a 3-0 lead in any playoff series (0-for-85).
The Lakers, 9-0 at the Staples Center this postseason, trail the Celtics 2-1 in the best-of-seven series. Boston is only 2-8 on the road this post-season.
Game 4 is Thursday night.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)