The Boston Celtics wrapped up their three game road trip with a dominating victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, with the final score coming in at 121-113. The Lakers were missing many of their starters, and the Celtics made sure to take full advantage of the Lakers injury issues. Whereas we have been accustomed to seeing Jayson Tatum lead the way, last night was all about Jaylen Brown. Brown dropped a game high 40 points, on a night where no other player on either side hit the 20 point threshold, as he was clearly the best player on the court. Aside from the Celtics reserves making a valiant effort to throw the game away late in the fourth quarter, this was a great win for Boston.
Boston started off by building up a double digit lead pretty early on in the game, and while the Lakers hung around for most of the game, it was a lead the Celtics would never relinquish. The Celtics carried a 14 point lead into the half, and looked like they were set to coast away from the Lakers in the third quarter. Despite that, the Lakers actually won the third quarter 31-30, but they made the mistake of allowing Brown to get hot, as he picked up 10 points in the frame, and carried it over to the fourth.
With the Lakers still hanging around, the Celtics seemingly blew the game wide open coming out of the gate in the fourth quarter. They kicked off the quarter with a 20-7 run, building up a 27 point lead the effectively ended the game. Brown continued to shoot lights out, as he scored 11 straight points for the Celtics between the end of the third and the start of the fourth. He subbed out with 36 points, and seemed set to just miss the 40 point mark with the game turning into a blowout.
The Celtics bench unit had other ideas however. Once Payton Pritchard subbed out of the game with five and a half minutes left, the Celtics completely floundered, and allowed Los Angeles to go on a 21-2 run over the ensuing four minutes, forcing the starters back into the game. Brown didn’t miss a beat, and hit a pair of tough layups to get him to the 40 point mark, and ensured the Celtics wouldn’t suffer a catastrophic collapse against the Lakers here.
The Celtics reserves nearly threw this game away, as the Lakers brought the score all the way down to a five point deficit. They showed a stunning lack of effort and basketball awareness in their short time on the court, as they played virtually no defense, and were firing up ridiculous shots only seconds into the shot clock. For players who are looking to earn more minutes in the rotation, their effort was almost laughable at the end of the game, and certainly don’t inspire any confidence in the Celtics depth. With Rob Williams and Evan Fournier missing tonight’s action, hopefully their returns will be enough to help out in this area, because the guys who went on tonight certainly aren’t ready to contribute on a playoff bound team.
Aside from the near collapse at the end, this was yet another solid win for the Celtics, who appear to be hitting their stride at the perfect time. Brown certainly carried the load tonight, but he got some huge supporting play from the rest of his team, as all the starters, plus Pritchard, scored double digit points, and they did it on great efficiency. Had they not committed an astonishing 21 turnovers, this game would have been over by the end of the third quarter. It was a solid way to wrap up their road trip on a potential trap game, and gives them momentum to carry it through the rest of the season.
On the back of a five game win streak, the Celtics now find themselves with the same record as the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks own the tiebreaker over the Celtics, giving them the four seed for the time being, but if the Celtics continue their winning ways, they should be able to take over the four seed from Atlanta in due time. Their next matchup comes against Golden State Warriors at home, and should be another good test for the C’s. Stephen Curry is on an absolute tear recently, and if Boston can’t slow him down, they could be in for a long night. The Celtics need to pick up wins where they can to help ensure they get the highest possible seed come playoff time, and a win over Golden State could go a long way to surpassing the Hawks in the standings.
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