Bryant scored 30 points, Pau Gasol had 23 points and 14 rebounds, and defending champion Los Angeles got tough in a 102-89 victory over Boston in the NBA Finals opener Thursday night.
Ron Artest scored 15 points after tumbling to the ground in a tangle with Paul Pierce in the opening minute of the 12th finals meeting in the NBA's most scintillating rivalry. Bryant and Gasol then led a gritty physical effort against the Celtics, who memorably pushed around the Lakers while winning their 2008 finals matchup in six games.
Pierce scored 24 points and Kevin Garnett added 16 after a slow start for the Celtics, who might not want to know Lakers coach Phil Jackson's teams in Los Angeles and Chicago have won 47 consecutive playoff series after winning Game 1.
Game 2 is Sunday night at Staples Center.
If the first 48 minutes of the rematch are any indication, this series again will be a knockdown, drag-out physical confrontation -- and the supposedly finesse- oriented Lakers held their ground early.
Ray Allen scored 12 points in just 27 minutes, saddled with constant foul trouble while trying to guard Bryant. Pierce also picked up early fouls, while Garnett simply struggled, going 7 for 16 from the field and grabbing just four rebounds -- even inexplicably missing an open layup with 51/2 minutes to play.