Kobe Bryant finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds as the Los Angeles Lakers, trying to save their season, opened a 20-point halftime lead and went on to an 89-67 victory over the Boston Celtics in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday night in Los Angeles.
The teams will return to the Staples Center for Game 7 on Thursday night.
Trying to force the first Game 7 in the finals in five years, the Lakers led by as much as 22 in a dominant performance over the first 24 minutes after dropping the last two games to fall into a 3-2 deficit.
Ron Artest, who has struggled offensively, added 10 of his 15 points in the first half, while the Lakers' reserves played a key role in a huge second-quarter spurt.
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Lakers center Pau Gasol nearly recorded a triple-double, finishing with 17 points, 13 rebounds, nine assists and three blocked shots.
Ray Allen scored 19 points to lead the Celtics, making his first three-pointer since hitting an NBA Finals-record eight in Game 2.
Perkins leaves with injury
Celtics center Kendrick Perkins was helped off the floor midway through the first quarter Tuesday night with a sprained right knee.
An announcement in the third quarter said Perkins wouldn't return to the game and he would be re-evaluated Wednesday.
Perkins went down after getting fouled by Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum while battling for a rebound with 5:30 remaining. Perkins stayed on the floor while teammates on the nearby bench came to check on him before he was slowly helped to the locker room by teammates Shelden Williams and Brian Scalabrine and taken for X-rays.
Perkins was replaced by Rasheed Wallace. Both players are one technical foul away from an automatic one-game suspension.
Bynum, who has been battling his own knee injury, went to the locker room early in the third quarter.
Rondo learns from veterans
Rajon Rondo might have had a very different NBA career if he had ended up on a team other than the Celtics coming out of Kentucky.
Celtics Coach Doc Rivers credits Rondo's development to being around veterans Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce.
"Most young guys come in the league, they don't even know what a routine is," Rivers said Tuesday night before Game 6. "Where if you ask a veteran what he does on game day, he can probably tell you to the second every step that day until the game starts what he's going to do."
Now in his fourth season with the Celtics, Rondo had a triple-double in their Game 2 win against the Lakers, and he has the second-most in team history with five, trailing Larry Bird who had 10.
Kerr out as Suns' GM
Steve Kerr won't return as general manager of the Phoenix Suns, despite building a team that made a surprising run to the NBA's Western Conference finals.
Kerr said at a news conference Tuesday that the decision was a personal one. He insisted that reports of a contract disagreement with owner Robert Sarver were untrue.
"This has nothing to do with money or contracts or anything like that," he said. "This is a professional and a personal decision that I'm very, very comfortable with. My family's excited about it, too."
The announcement of his departure came just 2½ weeks after he expressed excitement about his future with the Suns and confidence that he and Sarver would come to an agreement on a new contract.
"It's always important to take a little down time after a season ends to let the emotion kind of simmer and make a clear-headed decision," Kerr said.
He said "a couple of opportunities" to get back into broadcasting have surfaced in the last few weeks.
Kerr was a TNT color commentator for NBA telecasts for four years before Sarver hired him three years ago.