Kobe Bryant scored 14 of his 30 points in the third quarter and Pau Gasol added 23 as the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics, 102-89, in Game 1 of the NBA finals tonight at Staples Center.
Ron Artest scored 15 points and Andew Bynum 10 for the Lakers. Paul Pierce led Boston with 24.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series will be played Sunday at Staples Center.
The Lakers trailed only once, 2-0, and were tied twice -- 2-2 and 18-18. They led 26-21 at the end of the first quarter and 50-41 at halftime.
The Lakers outscored Boston 13-2 to close the third quarter to take a 84- 64 lead. Artest scored five points during the run and concluded it with a 29- foot jump shot for a 3-point basket. The Lakers led by at least 11 points in the fourth quarter.
Although the victory was just one of the four the Lakers will need for their second consecutive championship, it puts them on the right side of history.
Since 1984, the team winning the first game of the finals has won the finals 20 of 26 times, including each of the past eight years.
Overall in NBA history, the team winning the opening game of a best-of-seven series has won the series 319 of 407 times, 78.4 percent.
Teams coached by Lakers coach Phil Jackson are 47-0 when they win the first game of a series.