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Lakers retain NBA title with win over Celtics

Kobe Bryant lifts the trophy as the L.A. Lakers celebrate winning their 16th NBA crown
Kobe Bryant lifts the trophy as the L.A. Lakers celebrate winning their 16th NBA crown
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Los Angeles Lakers beat the Boston Celtics 83-79 in game seven of the NBA finals
  • L.A won back-to-back championships and their 16th ever title
  • Kobe Bryant secured his fifth NBA title
  • Boston could not repear the performance that saw them win 17th title in 2008

(CNN) -- The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Boston Celtics 83-79 in game seven of the NBA finals in L.A. on Thursday night, to claim back-to-back championships and the team's 16th title in the world's most prestigious basketball competition.

The win also marked a fifth individual NBA title for L.A playmaker Kobe Bryant, equaling a record set by retired Lakers player Magic Johnson who ran on to the court to congratulate the guard at the end of the game

"This was the hardest one by far." Bryant, who finished with 23 points but only 6 out of 24 on shooting, told the official Lakers website.

"I wanted it so bad and sometimes when you want it so bad, it slips away from you. My guys picked me up."

The Lakers had to come behind from to take game seven, after the Celtics built up an early 13 point lead.

However, the West Coast side edged ahead in the final quarter, thanks to two free throws from Sasha Vujacic which were enough to seal a win and for the side to take the series 4-3.

But it was veteran player Ron Artest who added 20 points to the Lakers overall score and Spanish forward Pau Gasol, with 19 points and 17 rebounds, who were the key to the Californian victory.

"I can't say enough about 'Spain'. That guy's unbelievable, a hell of a player - we wouldn't have won it without him," Bryant said.

And Lakers coach Phil Jackson who now has 11 titles to his name, was full of praise for 30-year-old Artest.

I wanted it so bad and sometimes when you want it so bad, it slips away from you.
--Lakers Kobe Bryant
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"He was the most valuable player tonight. He brought life to our team, he brought life to the crowd," Jackson told his team's official website.

The last time the two rival sides met in the finals was in 2008, when the Celtics beat the Lakers 4-2.

But Boston could not repeat their performance that saw them win a record-breaking 17th championship crown two years ago, despite high scoring from Paul Pierce on 18 and Kevin Garnett on 17.

The team were undoubtedly let down by a poor shooting night from star player Rajon Rondo who finished with just 14, and the absence of Kendrick Perkins, who was injured in game 6.

"Well there's a lot of crying in our locker room, a lot of people who care. I don't think there was a dry eye. A lot of hugs, a lot of people feeling awful," Celtics coach Doc Rives, whose team had two chances to win the series after leading going into game 6, told the official NBA website.

"It was the craziest, most emotional group I've ever coached in my life. They made me reach to places that I never thought I needed to go so that's what makes this loss tough."

The teams had met in 11 previous finals, but it is only the third time that the Lakers have beat the Celtics to take the NBA title.