LOS ANGELES - Ron Artest and Andrew Bynum helped the Los Angeles Lakers find the mean streak they lacked the last time they faced the Boston Celtics in the NBA finals.
With Artest providing the toughness he was acquired for and Bynum being a force in the middle, the Lakers smothered the Celtics in a 102-89 victory in Game 1 on Thursday night.
Bynum finished with 10 points and six rebounds and Artest had 15 points, four rebounds and two steals.
In 2008, it was the Celtics who pushed around Pau Gasol and the Lakers in the finals, on their way to a 17th NBA title.
Artest was not on that team and Bynum was injured and did not play in the series.
Having those big, strong bodies paid dividends in the rematch.
The seven-foot Bynum, who is nursing a right knee injury, made his impact early, scoring three straight points on a free throw and dunk to put the Lakers ahead 37-33. By halftime, he had seven points and five rebounds.
"I was definitely effective early in the game," said Bynum, who played only eight minutes in the second half. "I just tried to play hard, that's what I've wanted to do ever since I got this injury. I was like, 'I'm not going to get frustrated, I'm just going to go through and play with it."'
Artest, who signed with the Lakers before the season started, hounded Celtics star forward Paul Pierce. Pierce finished with 24 points and nine rebounds, but he made only six field goals and missed all four three-point attempts.
When Artest wasn't shadowing Pierce, he was getting his hands on Boston passes and shots.
"Right from the start, that first play with Pierce, Ron was definitely in tune," Lakers forward Lamar Odom said. "He hit that big three (before the end of the third quarter). Ron doesn't get a lot of credit for doing the intangibles the way he puts the ball on the floor, creates his own shot and creates plays for others."