The Boston Celtics (10-8) fell to the Los Angeles Lakers (15-6) by a final score of 96-95 Saturday night at the TD Garden. The rivalry was renewed as the NBA’s two most storied franchises faced off against each other in one of the most tightly contested games of the year.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown carried the Celtics offensively, scoring 58 of the team’s 95 points. Tatum finished as the game-high scorer with 30 points (12-18 FG, 2-3 3PT, 4-6 FT) and 9 rebounds in 40 minutes of action, while Brown posted 28 points (13-19 FG, 2-4 3PT) in 38 minutes of play. Daniel Theis added 14 points and 7 rebounds in 35 minutes. Robert Williams also finished with a strong game, recording 10 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocked shots in 18 minutes of action. Marcus Smart finished with a team-high 7 assists but missed the end of the game due to a left calf sprain. He will undergo an MRI tomorrow. Kemba Walker had a tough game scoring 4 points on 1 of 12 shooting from the field, on top of missing the game-winning shot.
For the Lakers, Anthony Davis posted a double-double with 27 points and 14 rebounds. LeBron James also played well with 21 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists. The Lakers had three additional players finish in double-digit scoring. Including Montrezl Harrell (16), Dennis Schroder (12) and Kyle Kuzma (11).
The game was back and forth in the first quarter with the Celtics going into the second trailing by four (28-24). There were five lead changes in the quarter alone. Theis started out strong, scoring 10 of his 14 points in the first quarter. The Celtics have struggled to defend the rim at times this year. And the Lakers used their size to their advantage. The Lakers started to pull away to begin the second quarter. Even establishing their largest lead of the game at 10 points. However, the Celtics countered with a heavy dose of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. The two combined for 19 points in the quarter as they helped bring the team back to within three points at the half. (52-49)
Tatum and Brown continued to carry the load offensively to start the second half. Brown in particular started out the half strong, scoring 9 points in the first 4 minutes of the third quarter. Boston ended the third on an 8-1 run, giving them their largest lead of the game (78-71). The Celtic’s strong defensive effort is what game the edge in the third, as the presence of Rob Williams helped them hold down the middle. They were able to limit the Laker’s offense to 19 points in the quarter. Both teams competed hard throughout the duration of the final quarter. However, with the game tied at 85, the Lakers went on an 11-4 run, which nearly sealed them the victory.
The Celtics refused to give up, as Tatum brought Boston within 1 point with just about 30 seconds left in the game. Walker made a terrific defensive play the following possession, stripping the ball away from Davis. But he failed to convert on the game-winning shot, giving the Lakers the 96-95 victory. The game included 17 lead changes and 15 ties. making it one of the closest and most tightly contested games of the year. Considering this was the only regular-season matchup between the two teams, they will have to meet up in the NBA finals if we want to see a rematch.
This is the second straight loss for the Celtics and they’ll be looking to bounce back. As they hit the road for their next five games. First up, they’ll take on the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday, February 2 at 10 p.m. ET.