The greatest rivalry in the NBA added a terrific regular season contest to it’s lengthy, historic legacy on Wednesday, as the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics 112-104.
It was far from the most meaningful regular season game between these two franchises, given the Lakers’ struggles so far this season and what both teams always strive for. But it still held significance because it marked the final time that Kobe Bryant would play in front of the TD Garden crowd. To honor Kobe, the Celtics actually gave him quite the gift before the game, which came as a surprise to many fans.
While Bryant was obviously the headline coming in, it was the future of the Lakers that stole the show.
Julius Randle 15 points, 12 rebounds and four assists while D’Angelo Russell chipped in 16 points, six rebounds and three assists. Jordan Clarkson bounced back from his recent struggles with 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting, including a pair of clutch buckets down the stretch after the Celtics pulled to within two in the final minutes.
The youngsters gave the Lakers the lead and a cushion for most of the second half, but it was Kobe that delivered the final dagger, drilling a deep three to put Los Angeles up by five with less than two minutes to play. His huge shot triggered very loud chants of, “KO-BE!” It was reminiscent of when he received “MVP” chants in the very same building.
The young guys played well, Bryant hit the clutch shot, and the Lakers beat the hated Celtics. Hard to ask for much more this season if you are a Lakers fan.