Both teams are feeling the pressure. Combine that with some defensive ball pressure and you have one sloppy half of basketball. It’s not the Game 7 everyone dreamed of, although it has been pretty entertaining.
But Boston will take another half just like it. They lead 40-34 at the break.
The Lakers are shooting just 26 percent, With Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol a combined 6 for 26. The Lakers are 6 of 12 from the free throw line. Boston is aggressively doubling Kobe to take the ball out of his hands, and the only Laker answering the bell is Ron Artest. Yes, seriously, Ron Artest. He is 4 of 9 for 12 points.
But the Lakers height and effort are keeping them in the game — 15 first half offensive rebounds. They have grabbed the offensive board on 41.7 percent of their missed shots.
Boston is shooting 44 percent as a team with far more balanced scoring. Paul Pierce leads the way with 11 points, but four other Celtics have 6 points.
Both teams have reason to be optimistic.
For the Lakers to only be down 6 after a terrible shooting first half is fortunate. They can play better.
Boston has to feel their defense is executing the game plan — don’t let Kobe or Gasol beat you and dare the other Lakers to.
Only one of those two will feel true in 24 minutes.
This was supposed to be a close series. It has been pretty much, up until this half.
The Lakers played much better defense than the last couple games, holding Boston to 34 percent shooting, 2 of 10 from three and just 31 first half points. Meanwhile the Lakers converted those misses into a lot of transition looks and better shooting, 47 percent overall and 4 of 9 from three.
The result is a 20-point halftime lead, 51-31 Lakers.
Just to make things worse for Boston, Kendrick Perkins had an awkward fall going for a rebound, hurt his knee and had to be helped to the locker room. He will not be back for the second half.
That means more Sheed and Big Baby, but the Celtics bench has not been the same on the left coast. The Boston bench is 0-5.
Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are a combined 13 of 27 shooting to account for 29 of the 31 points. They have shown up.
All Celtics outside the big three are 1 of 14. Doc Rivers said before the game he was not sure what to expect from his bench and role players. This has to make him a little bit sick.
Meanwhile, Jordan Farmar has played well for the Lakers, and Sasha Vujacic is hitting shots. Kobe has 15 points to lead the team, Pau Gasol has 7 points and 8 boards. And the Lakers have run the offense, not relied on the isolation that got them in trouble in Boston.
It is looking like there will be one more game. Thursday night, for all the marbles. But in this series, would a 20-point comeback surprise anyone?