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So close, so far, from banner No. 18

<p>For another year, at least, the Celtics are stuck on 17 championships.</p>

For another year, at least, the Celtics are stuck on 17 championships.


Even the C’s trademark combination of defense, heart and guile wasn’t enough to sink Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 7 of the NBA Finals last night.


L.A. won, 83-79.


Going into the playoffs, nobody gave Boston a chance. But they proved they were contenders by topping the Miami Heat and upsetting the Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic.


After taking a 3-2 lead over the Lakers with a win in Game 5 of the Finals, it looked like the C’s were going to add another banner to the rapidly filling Garden rafters.


Not so fast.


Los Angeles responded in a big way in Game 6, blowing Boston out of the Staples Center.


There were no signs the loss was sticking with the C’s on Thursday. They got ahead early, and stretched their lead to double-digits at times.


But younger legs won out in the end. Bryant was far from amazing on offense, but he did enough. Ron Artest was a pest all night, scoring in double figures for just the third time in the Finals. And Pau Gasol took advantage of Kendrick Perkins’ absence in the lane, recording a key double-double.


The loss might have cost Boston’s “Big Three” the chance to add an exclamation point to their special three-year run in the Hub. The C’s core is unlikely to last much longer as currently constructed.

 
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