Lakers, Celtics look to play better in Game 4

Thursday, June 12, 2008

LOS ANGELES -- Maybe the NBA finals should book an appointment with one of Southern California's finest plastic surgeons.

After a shabby, sluggish Game 3, featuring enough air balls and air-headed plays for seven games, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers could use a few nips, tucks and lifts. Another good night's sleep or afternoon nap might help, too.

"It wasn't the prettiest game," said Celtics center Kevin Garnett, who missed two dunks and seems to have left his shooting touch back in May.

For two franchises that have combined for 30 titles won by a Who's Who of Hall of Fame hoopsters, it was indeed a night to forget.

But playing in front of Jack, Denzel, Hef and the rest of their celebrity-laden crowd in Staples Center, where they're 9-0 in the postseason and perfect over the past two months, the Lakers, despite missing 13 free throws, pulled within 2-1 in the reborn rivalry series with an 87-81 victory Tuesday night.

Boston, for its many warts, which included a 35 percent shooting performance, still had a chance win.

As the teams practiced for tonight's Game 4, several players blamed the six-hour flight from Boston to Los Angeles for the sloppiness.

"I think most of the players out there struggled physically," Lakers center Pau Gasol said. "You could tell the travel and Game 2 and 3 being so tight together, going across the country pretty much is an overseas trip. It was like going back to Spain. I think that was a factor."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers, too, noticed players may have been feeling the affects of jet lag and fighting fatigue.

"This was the first game that I had four or five different players during the game signal to pull them out," he said. "I had to blow a timeout, one that I didn't want to use late. I thought it was a very tough turnaround and I think rest is very important."

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