BOSTON (AP) -Rebounding, the Los Angeles Lakers' biggest weakness, cropped up again in Game 1 of the NBA finals.
The Boston Celtics continued a disturbing postseason trend Thursday night for Los Angeles, outrebounding the Lakers by 13 on the way to a 98-88 victory to open the seven-game series.
As one-time Los Angeles coach Pat Riley once said, ``No rebounds, no rings.'' These Lakers would be best-served to heed those words.
The Lakers reached the finals by winning 12 of 15 postseason games, despite getting 51 fewer rebounds than their opponents, an average of 3.4 per game. They got an average of 1.3 rebounds more than their 82 regular-season foes.
In Game 1 against Boston, the Celtics won the rebounding battle 46-33.
``They did a much better job on the boards,'' Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. ``That's the difference in the ballgame.''
Pau Gasol led the Lakers with eight rebounds and Lamar Odom added six. Kevin Garnett had 13 rebounds, guard Ray Allen added eight and backup forward P.J. Brown had six for the Celtics.
Boston had 12 second-chance points to only four for Los Angeles.
``That was a big minus for us,'' Gasol said. ``We have to do a better job on the boards. Obviously, that's a factor.''
Odom said he didn't believe the Celtics necessarily dominated the middle despite the rebounding disparity.
``It is something we have to work on,'' he acknowledged. ``But this game was still for the taking. It wasn't like we got pounded inside. We've got to do a better job of playing the right way throughout the game. To beat this team, we've got to execute on offense.
``We go inside, get some layups, get some stops, we'll be all right. We'll see them Sunday.''
No rebound was bigger than one by Garnett, who was left alone to slam in James Posey's miss from 3-point range for one of his four offensive rebounds to give the Celtics a 94-86 lead with 1:32 remaining. The Lakers weren't closer than six points after that.
The Lakers led 51-46 at halftime despite being outrebounded 20-15 in the opening 24 minutes, and fell behind for good by being outscored 31-22 in the third quarter while being outrebounded 14-7.
``A lot of that goes back to our offense,'' backup forward Luke Walton said. ``When we're stagnant, we're not in rebounding position.''
Ronny Turiaf said he didn't believe the game was decided on the backboards.
``I think we've managed pretty well as of right now,'' he said. ``Last time I checked, when we played Utah, they outrebounded us by 15 and we won the game. I don't think the rebounding made the difference tonight. It was moving the ball. We did a great job in the first half sharing the ball. The second half was different.''
The Lakers were credited with assists on 14 of their 19 first-half field goals, but had only seven assists while making 13 baskets after halftime. Kobe Bryant shot 1-for-6 and Los Angeles went 5-for-20 in the fourth quarter.
``I think our rhythm wasn't there, wasn't what we like it to be,'' said Bryant, who shot 9-for-26 while scoring 24 points. ``Still, we played well enough to almost steal the game.''
Bryant shot 15-for-46 in his team's two regular-season games against the Celtics - both losses.
The Lakers' bench, so significant in the team's success, combined to shoot 5-for-15 for 15 points. Boston's bench scored 17 points.
Another factor was the lack of second-half offense from Gasol (three points) and Derek Fisher (two points). The pair combined for 25 points in the first half.
The Lakers trailed by only four points after Sasha Vujacic's basket with 6:53 remaining, but they had only one field goal and scored only six points after that.
``I think we can play much better,'' Vujacic said. ``We missed some easy shots. We'll be OK.''

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