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June 2, 2010

Top dogs: Celtics, Lakers fight for supremacy

The Los Angeles Lakers are like a kennel. A very pricy kennel.

Kobe Bryant is the alpha dog who can nearly singlehandedly lead his team to victory.

Ron Artest and Derek Fisher are pit bulls, ferocious competitors who'll bite your head off for a loose ball.

Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol should be competing at the Westminster Dog Show. They are massive, elegant and gorgeous but temperamental.

Critics have even said that those three at times lay down like dogs.

To be the top dogs, though, they'll have to get past the junkyard dogs of Boston.

The Celtics took a four-month vacation, but are playing ferocious defense again like early in the season.

Their NBA finals series tips off tomorrow night in L.A. (9 p.m., ABC).

Boston wants an ugly street fight like in 2008, when the C's beat up on the Lakers, who shamefully put their tails between their legs for the deciding Game 6 in the Garden, a 131-92 laugher.

But Boston was shorthanded last year and, with Kevin Garnett out, L.A. rolled to the title, roughing up Orlando in five games for its fourth title of the Kobe era and the first without Shaquille O'Neal.

Much has been made of Boston's injury woes, which had Celtic nation fearing an historic collapse after taking a 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

But Boston dug deep, with the captain Paul Pierce doing what he has done so often in his brilliant 11-year career.

He took over with 31 points, 13 rebounds and five assists to close out the Magic series in Game 6.

Pierce lives for this.

He grew up a Showtime era Laker fan in Inglewood, in the shadows of the old Fabulous Forum.

So in 2008 he came to town, powered the C's to the title and carted off the MVP trophy. Kobe was left fuming.

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