Despite the Lakers’ relatively comfortable lead through the game’s first three quarters last night, everyone knew the Celtics had one final, furious push within them. And they did, at one point trimming the L.A. advantage down to just a single point.
What was unexpected — what is seemingly always unexpected, despite its mind-blowing frequency — was Derek Fisher saving his team in a critical Playoff game.
Fish made clutch shot after clutch shot in the fourth quarter (11 of his 16 points came in the period) to help the Lakers escape Game 3 with the series lead.
Fisher got a bit choked up in the postgame interview with ABC; when he had finally composed himself and faced the media contingent in Boston, Derek was able to better explain how managed to do what he did:
“Derek Fisher was the difference in the game,” Doc Rivers said. “He’s just a gutty, gritty player and he gutted the game out for them. I thought Kobe was struggling a little bit, and Fisher—he basically took the game over … I don’t know what he had in the fourth quarter … but most of them were down the stretch.”
“When he’s got an opportunity to hit a key shot, it seems like he’s always there and ready,” said Phil Jackson.
“That was just Derek being Derek,” said Kobe Bryant. “He makes big plays all the time. He never ceases to amaze me.”
“To come through tonight again for this team… after so many great moments, it’s always quite surreal and quite humbling to experience it again and do it again,” Fisher said. “But it’s like being a kid, man, you just never get tired of that candy … I think as you grow in this game and you put in the work that’s required to still be around 14 years later, you start to recognize that being in this moment, on this stage, it’s not a given. It’s not something that happens every season. Five or 10 years from now, when I’m long gone, I would have hated to feel like I didn’t just do everything I could have to help my team. Things have worked out well, and we have two more wins to get to really put a nice cap on it.”
There’s no telling how the rest of this series will play out. It could go either way. Both teams seem to have different heroes (and goats) each night.
One thing is certain, though. The Celtics will need to go back to L.A. in order to win this thing. Sorry, Paul Pierce.