You never want to lose to the Boston Celtics, but after the Los Angeles Lakers lost two in a row in the middle of their road trip, LeBron James and company really needed to win this game. Now, it wasn’t pretty, but the Lakers end their skid and beat their arch-nemesis in the process with a 96-95 win at the buzzer.
The Lakers went up double digits early in the game, but Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown kept it close and cut the deficit to three by halftime. Anthony Davis was dominant in the first half with 18 points and 10 rebounds, the Celtics simply did not have an answer for him.
After the break, the Lakers came out sloppy in the third quarter and were not helping their cause. Boston took advantage and their lead got up to eight with about 28 seconds left in the third quarter. Luckily, the Lakers started the final period with Kyle Kuzma hitting a triple and quickly retook the lead. It could have been a smooth finish for the Lakers but once again got careless with the ball and Tatum hit some clutch shots down the stretch, which set up the final 30 seconds of the game.
With a one-point advantage, the Lakers needed to come back and extend their lead to give themselves some breathing room, but Kemba Walker had other plans. Walker was able to poke the ball away from Davis who was backing down his defender on the low post about to shoot a turn around jumper. After a quick scramble, the ball ended up with Walker and he was able to get off his patented step-back jumper, but missed. Daniel Theis had a good look on the put-back, but Montrezl Harrell was able to disrupt him just enough for him to miss the shot as well.
Dennis Schroder also deserves a lot of credit for his defense on Walker who was able to stay with him as the clock was winding down. While it was very stressful, the Lakers were able to kill two birds with one stone. They ended their losing streak and got a win at the expense of the Celtics, which always makes it sweeter.
Player of the game – Anthony Davis
With 27 points and 14 rebounds, Davis returned to the team and looked really good in the first half. The Celtics had no answer for him, but he cooled down during the second half. Davis was the only player who ended with double-digit rebounds and was only outscored by Brown and Tatum.
On the Lakers’ final possession, it was Davis who was going to try to extend the lead but had the ball stolen by Walker. AD was able to run back and defend the basket, otherwise, Brown would have had an easy look to take the lead.
After the game, Davis explained they wanted to avoid extending the losing streak. Behind his performance, they were able to accomplish that.
"We for damn sure wasn't losing three in a row." — Anthony Davis
The Lakers avenge their 32-point loss last year in TD Garden. pic.twitter.com/wxzCjbzSCy
— ESPN (@espn) January 31, 2021
Stat of the game – Points in the Paint: Lakers 40, Celtics 60
This was the stat that stood out in the box score. The Celtics scored 60 out of their 95 points in the paint, which begs the question. Do the Lakers need to add another big man? After losing Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee in the off-season, the Lakers’ interior presence has not been as good as it was last season and this game proved it.
Quote of the night – “When you see Boston, all you see is green. It makes no difference the person.”
LeBron, with a very Laker answer when asked about seeing Tristan Thompson in a Celtics jersey for the first time.
"When you see Boston, all you see is green. It makes no difference the person."
— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) January 31, 2021
To know that LeBron understands the importance of the Lakers/Celtics rivalry is pleasing. According to Harrison Faigen of Silver Screen and Roll LeBron was not in the mood to speak to Tristen Thompson. We hate the Celtics and must beat them at all costs. It’s possible the Lakers and Celtics could play each other in June and with the race to 18 on the line, we need LeBron and AD to channel that hate into another Larry O’Brien trophy.
The Lakers finish their road trip by heading South to face the Atlanta Hawks. Trae Young has been on fire as of late, and after this nail biter, the Lakers need to be better moving forward.