The Los Angeles Lakers got revenge on a Boston Celtics team that dealt them their worst loss of the season.
Los Angeles’ worst loss of the season, 139-107, came in Boston on Jan. 20. This time around the Lake Show defeated their arch rival Celtics in a 114-112 nail bitter at Staples Center Feb. 23.
“That was a heavy weight fight,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said after the Lakers win. “It was one of the games where whoever made one or two plays down the stretch was gonna be the team that came away.
L.A. came back from a double-digit deficit to earn their fifth-straight win dating back before the All-Star break.
The game came down to the teams trading free throws at the end. However, it was Lakers forward LeBron James going isolation, backing down and converting a fall-away jumper from the left post over Celtics guard Jaylen Brown that gave the Lakers a 111-110 lead with 30 seconds left in the game.
“… Lebron’s big shot in the post were just huge plays and enough to get us over the hump,” Vogel said James’ shot.
James finished with 29 points, 9 assists and 8 rebounds in 35 minutes on 9-of-19 from the field versus the Celtics.
“We knew it was going to be a playoff-type of atmosphere today, ” Lebron James said. “It was a great game.”
James cited the rivalry, the previous loss and both team’s championship aspirations as reasons why both teams competed very hard across all four quarters.
“At the end of the day, when you give it all to the floor, you have that mutual respect,” James said about the rivalry being bigger than basketball.
Anthony Davis was also big contributing 16 points in the third as the Celtics surged. “We know how big this rivalry is,” Davis said. “It goes back, way before some of us were even born. We wanted to make sure we came in here and got the win, especially after how they beat us in Boston.”
“We know how big this rivalry is,” Davis told the media. “It goes back, way before some of us were even born.”
The Brow converted 5-of-7 free throws in the fourth quarter to help the Lakers win too, despite missing a couple of crucial that kept Boston in it. Davis ended the game with 32 points and 13 rebounds.
“We wanted to make sure we came in here and got the win, especially after how they beat us in Boston.” Davis added after the win.
L.A. also got a big bump from their bench, led by forward Kyle Kuzma. Kuzma ended the game with 16 points and 4 rebounds in 22 minutes.
“Ever since we came into the league, we’ve had some good battles,” Kuzma said about matching up versus fellow 2017 first rounder Jayson Tatum.
Kuzma added that it was good test for the Lakers.
As a whole, the Lakers bench scored 43 points while the Celtics bench only contributed 11 points. They were down All-Star point guard Kemba Walker who sat out with a knee injury.
Lakers center Dwight Howard also added 10 points and 7 rebounds in 15 minutes. guard Rajon Rondo also had plenty of highlights versus the team he once won a championship with. He finished with 4 points and 5 assists in 22 minutes.
“Rondo has been good for us all year,” Vogel said about Rondo’s spark off the bench. “I know going against the Celtics was gonna mean a little bit more to him. He was terrific tonight.”
L.A. ended the first period up 28-19 and their biggest lead, 11, came in the second half. However, it was Jayson Tatum’s 18 points in the second that helped his squad comeback.
“I just wish we would have won. That’s all that really matters,” Tatum said after his team’s loss. “I know what I’m capable of.”
Tatum scored 18 in the third too as his team pushed their lead as far as seven in that period. The 2017 No. 3 pick finished with 41 points on 12-of-20 scoring from the field.
“I thought the difference in the game, to me, was their second group,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said after his team’s loss.
The game was tied at 87 all entering the fourth quarter. However, the Lakers found a way to hold Tatum to 1-of-3 in seven minutes of play in the fourth.
“It’s tough one,” Celtics guard Jaylen Brown said after his loss. “We felt like we could have won, should have won. For whatever reason we didn’t.”
Brown finished with 20 points and 6 rebounds in 39 minutes. All the rest of the Celtics starters finished in double-figures.
The Lakers also wore wrist bands with the numbers of legend Kobe Bryant. They weren’t the only people honoring Kobe from this rivalry. Celtics Legend Bill Russell rocked a Kobe jersey, honoring the legend as he attended Sunday’s game too.
LeBron James was feeling himself starting the game with a nice lob to JaVale McGee. He hit a contested three from the top of the key in the first.
Rajon Rondo showed his old Celtic Rondo vision with a nice pass to a cutting A.D. for a dunk in the first. He found K.C.P. for an assist on the next possession.
The Celtics and Jayson Tatum came fighting back in the second quarter. He had 18 points in the second.
With three minutes left in the third, a KCP breakaway dunk helped the Lakers tie the game at 79 again after being down by as much as seven.
The Celtics answered with a shot from Gordon Hayward. The Lakers would clap-back pretty quick as Rondo found AD for the pick and roll dunk at the basket on the next possession, tying the game at 81.
K.C.P helped the Lakers take an 85-83 lead with a corner three in the second-to-last minute of the third.
The third ended tied at 87 after Anthony Davis followed a Kyle Kuzma miss with a dunk.
Both teams continued to trade bucks in the fourth. However, Dwight Howard converted a shot in the paint that brought the Lakers within one at 95-96.
Kuzma got the foul on the next possession that helped the Lakers make it 97-96.
Boston got an offensive foul and LeBron James turned that into a drive and shot off the glass shortly after.
A Danny Green three right before the halfway mark in the fourth gave Los Angeles a 102-98 lead.
Jaylin Brown would eventually answer with a three that made the game 102-101.
Tatum drove to the basket, spun and scored a layup that tied the game at 105 just before the five minute mark in the fourth.
Davis three gave the Lakers 108-105 advantage tho with less that two left but Hayward answers. Celtics made the bucket and went up 110-108 with a minute left.
James can’t make both free throws to tie the game at 110 with 36 seconds left. Thee Lakers did get the ball on the out-of-bounds call after the miss. LeBron James went to work and gave them a 111-110 lead over the Celtics.
Boston turned the ball over on the next possession and got a technical foul. Anthony Davis missed the technical free throw but made the free throws after the inbounds to give the Lakers a 113-110 advantage over the Celtics.
Things got a bit dramatic when Anthony Davis missed the second free throw with seconds left and the game at 114-112.
The Celtics tried to get a shot off before time expired but Jason Tatum was called for an offensive foul on the miss anyways.
On the court, the Lakers will play the New Orleans Pelicans Tuesday. 2019 No. 1 pick Zion Williamson makes his debut versus the Lakers and former Lakers Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram will be back in the house too.
Before that, the Lakers will honor Kobe Bryant, Gigi Bryant and the others killed in a helicopter crash last month with a concert and event at Staples Monday.
“Tomorrow will be about Kobe ad GiGi and Tuesday will be about next opponent,” Vogel said about balancing grieving with basketball over the next few days.
Davis also talked about the emotions that come with honoring one of the franchise’s best players in the middle of a home stand in the second half of the season.
“When it’s time to grieve, we grieve,” Davis said about balancing the emotions of the season with the loss of Kobe. “When it’s time to lineup between the lines and do what people want us to do, we have to do it.”
Otherwise, the Celtics continue their road trip traveling to play the Portland Trailblazer Tuesday.