by Lang Whitaker

Aiight, we’re in the Stapler, locked and loaded for Game Five. Game tips in about 15 minutes. Only one real shocker to report thus far: As we were walking into arena, we saw a car drive by and into the arena parking lot, being guided by none other than the embattled Dick Bavetta. And as I type these notes, he’s on the court with Ken Mauer and Scott Foster. Talk about Stern and the NBA ducking any allegations. Wow.

• Also, Perk is a beast…in a suit. Leon Powe is in the starting five.

• National Anthem: Ashanti.

• The Lakers pregame intro ended with the words NOT IN OUR HOUSE, and the crowd erupted. And then they started playing “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” so I don’t know what that means.

• Bavetta is introduced and gets a pretty weak, though mixed, response.

• The Lakers should have Ira Newble defend Paul Pierce and see if he can trick Pierce into thinking he’s Benzino. Pierce wouldn’t drive all night.

FIRST QUARTER
• Lakers win the tip. No, Bavetta didn’t like it so he makes them re-do it, and Boston wins the tip the second time. It’s fixed!

• Boston starts out with Ray Allen on Kobe. Gasol goes right in on KG and scores. Then he picks up a cheap foul. If the Lakers get in foul trouble, there foes the advantage with Perk out.

• Kobe. Three. Good.

• Pierce shuffles his feet in front of Bavetta, but no call. Ha. This is going to be a fun running them, methinks.

• Kobe shoots a three over a double team, misses, then Pierce misses a shot, and then Derek Fisher headbutts a camera.

• KG scores the first points for Boston, makes it a 5-2 game, until Fisher rips a three on the other end to make it 8-2.

• Kobe works Ray Allen and makes it 10-2. Time to switch Pierce onto him yet? Ray is not doing so well.

• Kobe picks up a foul, which means one on him, Gasol and Odom, and we’re not even 5 minutes in. Rondo to the line for two, good, miss. 10-5, Boston.

• Pau Gasol is a lumberjack and he’s OK. Them Kobe popped a three to make it 18-5, with 6:36 to go in the first. Boston is as flat as Ashanti right now.

• A fan in front of us just arrived rocking a KG jersey and was shouted down by a group of Lakers fans, who generated a vocal Boston Sucks! chant. Then that kinda dies down rather quickly.

• Eddie House checks in as Boston goes small, and Pierce immediately gets a jumper. Then Odom turns it over. I thought Boston might switch someone else onto Kobe, but they’re sticking with it. And then Kobe just hit another three. Anyone want to guard Kobe?

• Ray Allen is getting lit up. Another three by Kobe. Then Ray gets one back. It’s 24-12 and Kobe has 14 points.

• PJ Brown just exploded to the hoop, and I could hear the creaking noises from up here. Next time down he somehow does a 360 directly under the basket without dribbling the ball.

• Timeout with 2:04 left in the first, and LA leading 31-15. The Lakers are 5-7 on threes so far and are playing like the Suns tonight. Love the pace of the game for LA, especially with Boston undermanned. Pierce already looks exhausted.

• Zohan Vuajcic and Farmar are in. Out of the TO, Garnett gets an easy bucket in the paint. And Pierce is on Kobe now. Finally.

• KG scores again. There are baskets just waiting for him inside if he wants to go get them.

• And then he picked up his second foul. Maybe not the best idea. PJ Brown is back from vacation to replace him.

• You don’t mess with the Vujacic! Steal and dunk to put LA up 14.

• Someone on Boston has got to step up and take control of this game. Right now, KG has 8 points but he’s on the bench.

• Farmar and Walton run the give and go and get an easy bucket. Great defense by Boston there. Ugh.

• Pierce to the line and the fans chant “Wheelchair!”

• TONY ALLEN!

• 39-22 after one. Anyone remember the score after one during Game Four? 35-14. The Lakers better not sleep tonight.

• This tempo is also horrible for Boston. They’re letting LA dictate to them instead of the other way around. Boston still hasn’t released their full court press yet, but Doc Rivers can’t like this falling behind stuff.

SECOND QUARTER
• Chris Mihm is in the house! The Secret of Mihm is out!

• Doc’s starting to grasp at a straws — just put Damn Cassell in the game.

• Zohan! A three makes it 43-24…then Pierce drives and draws a foul on Mihm, who is apparently right back to his previous self.

• Pierce has had enough. He’s driven to the rim on three straight touches and drawn back to back fouls on L.A. He’s going to have to provide a heavy dose of this to pull Boston back into the game. It ain’t pretty, but it works.

• Boston has no steals and has forced only 1 turnover. Pierce draws a second foul on Mihm.

• Pierce draws a foul on Ariza! That’s four fouls Pierce has drawn in the last 2:30. Incredible.

• TONY ALLEN with a steal on the inbounds, then a dunk on the inbounds play. Phil Jackson has the LA D-Fenders out there. There’s a little run for Boston, makes it 43-32 with 9:14 to go. Meanwhile, Khalid thinks something just bit the back of his neck and he reports a tingling sensation. I ask if it was a mamba, and Khalid says, “La Bamba?”

• Celeb watch: Lionel Richie is shown on the big screen. I actually passed him downstairs and was surprised by how short he is.

• Phil brings back Kobe and Lamar, this time surrounded by Zohan, Turiaf and Farmar. It’s like he’s handicapping his own team.

• By the way, TONY ALLEN is on Kobe. That should be a fun matchup.

• TONY ALLEN drives and hits a running hook shot. 43-34, LA. Then Turiaf plows into Posey for a charge.

• Garnett returns along with Gasol and Fisher, and immediately KG picks up his third foul. Back to the bench. 7:28 left in the second.

• Dunk from Pierce, then Kobe forces a three that misses, then TONY ALLEN takes Kobe, and then Pierce rips a three. Remember when we talked about someone taking over? Here it is. 43-39, LA.

• Airball from Fisher.

• Timeout on the floor, 43-39, LA. That means Boston is on a 17-4 run in the second. Uh-oh…

• Turnover from Boston out of the timeout; Cassell makes a bad pass to TONY ALLEN. Boston is totally playing with more fire right now, though.

• Boston doubles Kobe on the wing and he hits Fisher, who bricks a three. Boston had Pierce on him on the last play, and and now they’re doubling.

• Odom scores inside to make it 45-39, and Boston takes a timeout. Cassell’s getting open looks but missing everything, and he can’t guard anyone either. Ray Allen is coming in, I guess for Cassell? They’ve got to do something. And the Lakers fans (plural) in front of us are trying to start beef with the Celtics fan (singular), and all the media here and enthralled watching it.

• Powey misses a three out of the timeout then fouls Odom on the other end. Then Odom scores and Vlad Rad get T’d up!

• Boston is playing with TONY ALLEN at the point…and he uses Vlad and Gasol to score.

• Phil puts in Farmar and he promptly airballs a three. Then Ray Allen swishes one after coming off a series of screens. 50-45, with 2:14 to go.

• Farmar hits one to make it an 8-point lead. Then a double-technical is called on Ray Allen and Derek Fisher, who are accused of being too family-friendly.

• Rondo returns. PIerce hits PJ Brown under the rim for a two to make it 55-49. Bavetta then breaks out his signature “make the call and sprint the other direction” move.

• Pierce has Kobe on him as the Celts hold for one. He dribbles the clock down, gets a pick from Ray Allen, and unbelievably the Lakers switch the pick, meaning Pierce now has Fisher on him, and he drills a three over Fisher to make it 55-52 at the half.

HALFTIME: Just like in Game Three, the Celtics are doing everything they can to give this game away. KG’s been in foul trouble, Perk is out, Rondo is basically out, Posey hasn’t scored, PJ Brown has 3 fouls…and yet they’re just 3 points away. It’s not my place to tell to tell Phil Jackson what he’s doing, but this is the Finals. Chris Mihm playing was strange at the time, but when he left with 0 points, 2 fouls, 1 turnover and 1 airball, it wasn’t a surprise. When Mihm checked in, L.A. was up by 16. When he checked out, L.A. was up by 11.

• By the way, Pierce leads Boston in points, rebounds and assists. Other great stat: Vlad Rad has a +18 rating for the first half.

THIRD QUARTER
• Laker ball. Laker turnover. That was fast.

• Three from Ray Allen ties the game at 57. Lets of weird yells from the crowd. Then Kobe to the line. The chants of Wheelchair return, and a Boston fan goes, “That’s old! That’s old!”

• Boston runs the break and Pierce misses a tough shot, then LA comes back and Kobe hits a runner that Bavetta adds a foul call to. Lakers up 60-58. KG gets it right back.

• Kobe on the wing with KG on him, and Kobe decides to drive, where Paul Pierce is waiting to take a charge. Then Rondo rondos a three from the wing to make it 62-60, Boston.

• You know you got Gasol! Tied at 62.

• Gasol drives again and gets a bucket, as KG picks up his fourth trying to help PJ Brown, who got beat…then they change the foul and put it on PJ Brown, and that’s his fourth, as well.

• Timeout LA, leading 65-64 and with 6:21 to go. Both teams look tentative right now. Kobe has scored 3 points since the 1st quarter.

• Some guy who looks like Bocephus just got the crowd all fired up. Out of the timeout, Kobe drives the lane and gets called for a charge against Powey. That’s Kobe’s 4th. Uh-oh.

• Kobe fights for a rebound, then sets up Fisher, who hits a jumper and collides with Rondo for the and-one. Fisher puts LA up 4, 6-64, with 5:14 to go. Then Rondo turns it over and Vlad Rad pops a corner three. 71-64.

• Timeout Boston. Doc has to treat these guys like a high school team, make sure they don’t lose their confidence. Also, KG is sitting on a -15 rating tonight.

• Pierce scores out of the timeout. Posey wipes Lamar on a drive. Then there’s a weird collision at halfcourt and a foul is called on Eddie House by Bavetta. That send LA to the line, and Fisher makes both. 73-66, LA.

• After Boston gets two free throws, Cassell has to replace House, who seems to be bloodied or something. Pierce picks up his third on a call from Bavetta, the Cassell runs off a bunch of screens and hits a 18-footer. KG double-dribbles and gets away with it. Then KG crushes Gasol in the open floor. Cassell tries to take the call but he can’t fool Bavetta. That’s four on KG, and two really dumb fouls he’s committed back to back.

• The point guard slot is killing Boston — Cassell won’t shoot threes…and as I write that, Eddie House returns.

• This game also lacks a sense of urgency from both teams. LA is not playing like their season depends on it, and Boston looks like they’d be happy to go back to Beantown for a Game 6. Lamar scores in the post to give LA a 79-70 lead, and then Eddie houses the ball outta bounds. Then PJ picks up his fifth foul, which might force Doc to play TONY ALLEN or Leon Powe…no reason those dudes shouldn’t be on the floor.

• Boston misses a corner three and after three, the score is Los Angeles 79, Boston 70.

FOURTH QUARTER:
• I think Lamar jammed something on the opening play (hopefully he jammed his finger). Pierce gets two free throws, and then Farmar destroys House for a layup. I’m starting to understand the frustration of Boston fans with Doc Rivers. TONY ALLEN was lights out in the first half and he hasn’t been back since, and then Leon Powe started the game and has played all of 5 minutes…meanwhile PJ Brown can’t even walk anymore. He’s making Phil Jackson look like a genius for only playing Chris Mihm for 3 minutes. It’s like a contest between the two coaches to see who can harm their team’s chances the most. And Doc’s winning right now.

• Pierce gets a layup to make it 84-74, LA.

• Jordan Farmar just drove in and scored over the defensive player of the year, Kevin Garnett. And then LA hustles back and Walton gets a bucket.

• How does Doc Rivers respond? He inserts Sam Cassell. Is this the same guy who coached games 1, 2 and 4?

• And Cassell scores immediately. Then Zohan and Cassell tangle for a loose ball and Zohan goes flying, and I hear Zohan’s head hit the ground from up here. Lakers win the jump and Zohan misses a three, but LA gets it back. Farmar misses a layup, and Cassell draws a questionable foul on Farmer and gets the and one.

• Sorry, Doc.

• 88-79, LA. The Lakers switch Zohan onto him and Cassell drives past him to the hoop for two.

• Things get sloppy. KG garnott get a basket, and then LA turns one over. Pierce sits on a prone Walton and draws a foul on Walton. PIerce hits two to make it 90-83, with 6:22 to go. Phil puts Fisher and Odom back in.

• Turnover, Kobe Bryant. Then Pierce slides through the lane and hits Posey in the corner for a three. 90-86. Then Fisher misses a jumper and Lamar helpfully taps it out of bounds. Boston ball. Timeout, 5:28 to go and Boston on the doorstep.

• Pierce draws a foul of the timeout and gets two shots, making it 90-88, LA. Pierce is playing his tail off.

• Tied up! KG from 15 makes it 90 all. 4:26 left.

• Gasol gets a two, then KG to the line. Miss, make. 92-91, 3:54 to go.

• KG picks up his fifth foul away from the ball while fighting for position with Gasol. And the Lakers throw it in and Pierce is called for his fifth. The refs are going to make sure we get back to Boston one way or the other.

• BTW, tight game, 3 minutes to go, and every fan in here is silent. They scurred.

• Lamar gets fouled by Posey and goes to the line for two. Makes, makes. 94-91, 3:20 left.

• Pierce skips through the paint and gets an open layup, but gets fouled. That lane was open like the 24-hr Subway by our hotel. Pierce makes both and cuts it to 2, 95-93. 2:49 left.

• Pierce gets stripped at the top of the key and Fisher gets fouled on the break. Two shots for D-Fish. Miss, make. 95-91, 3:07 left. LA should put Boston away now…if they can.

• Gasol spins and matadors around in the post, then KG grabs the rebound and flops out of bounds. Two shots! KG to the line: misses, misses. 95-93, 2:31 left.

• Ray Allen somehow fouls Kobe, though Posey was all tangled with Lamar, too. Kobe to the line, even though he has just 5 points since the first quarter. He hits both to make it a 4 point game.

• Boston misses two inside attempts. LA gets it to Kobe, who takes a bad runner. Gasol rebounds and LA gets it back to Kobe. 1:27 left. Kobe dribbles, holds, then misses a three over Posey. Lamar is charged with a loose ball foul, sending Pierce to the line for two. Pierce hits the first, then TONY ALLEN checks in! Pierce to the line, makes the second. 97-95, LA, 1:09 left.

• LA misses a three, and Pierce gets the ball. For some reason Odom and Gasol look like they want to foul him, but he manages to hang on to the ball. He comes down and dribbles it off his leg, and the Lakers lob it out to a breaking Kobe for a dunk. 99-95, 37.4 left. Timeout, Boston.

• Out of the TO, Boston gets a shot with Ray Allen driving to the basket. He misses a runner and KG misses a tip-in. LA gets the board. Flea is on the scoreboard going nuts. Boston fouls with 24.8 left. Fisher to the line. Miss! Then after a long break, makes the second. 100-95, 24.8. Timeout, Boston.

• And that’s it, basically. Ray Allen just fouled out, and Kobe’s free throws seal the game. Everyone who thought Kobe was going to hav a break out night? Nope. Instead he made sure the entire team played well (five players in double-digits).

• House for three, and then the ball gets loose in the corner, but Fisher gets the ball and goes to the line, and the Lakers win it 103-98.

Boston? See you on Tuesday…

• And we’re done.