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The Lakers never recovered, trailing by as many as 36 points in the fourth quarter. Kobe Bryant (22 points) failed in his first finals appearance without Shaquille O’Neal, and Phil Jackson failed to break his tie with Red Auerbach at nine rings.

“We’re disappointed. Our fans are disappointed,” Jackson said. “I think everybody is disappointed that we didn’t get a game out of this, give ourselves a chance.”

Rather, the Celtics didn’t give them one.

“You guys look at Kevin, myself and Ray,” Pierce said. “We sacrificed so much of what we did throughout our careers to get to this point because we’ve done everything we’ve been able to do individually, won all type of awards, but never made it to the mountaintop, and today it’s like a breath of fresh air.”