Neither the Boston Celtics or the Los Angeles Lakers are at the same place they were five years ago, but any time the two teams get together, the intensity of the game raises to another level and that was the case again when the two teams met at Staples Center.
The Lakers made another change to the starting lineup, inserting Carlos Boozer back with the starters in place of Tarik Black. The Celtics have also made recent changes as they acquired point guard Isaiah Thomas at the trade deadline.
It would be a matchup of rookie point guards as the explosive Jordan Clarkson would square off against Marcus Smart, who is already emerging as one of the league’s best on-ball defenders. The Lakers have lost seven straight games and came in with a 13-41 record, while the Celtics came in at 20-32.
The Lakers started off the game in a zone and Avery Bradley immediately made them pay with a three pointer. Marcus Smart then showed off his defensive prowess stripping Jordan Clarkson clean and drawing a clear path foul. Smart would split the free throws and Ryan Kelly would hit a short jumper to get the Lakers on the board. Clarkson hit a jumper to tie the game but back-to-back baskets form Tyler Zeller and Evan Turner put Boston ahead 8-4. A three-point play from Clarkson tied the game at 10 but Brandon Bass got an easy layup to keep the Celtics ahead by two. A mid-range jumper from Bass capped a 7-0 Celtics to run to put them ahead 19-12 midway through the quarter. Another bad turnover from Clarkson led to an easy layup for Isaiah Thomas, but Wesley Johnson got an easy layup and Jordan Hill knocked down a pair of free throws to pull the Lakers within five. The Lakers stayed in the game via the free throw line, but an Isaiah Thomas jumper kept the Lakers at bay. Nick Young hit a jumper, but Thomas responded with a three. Johnson had a tip-in and hit a jumper at the buzzer but it came after the horn so the Lakers trailed by six after the first.
Nick Young got the scoring started with a three and Ed Davis denied Thomas on the other end with a massive block. Another turnover, however led to a layup for Bass as the Celtics remained ahead by five. A Johnson three and a Lin layup cut the Lakers deficit to two and forced the Celtics to call a timeout. The two teams traded baskets with Lin continuing to have a strong showing in the second quarter. His free throws cut the deficit to two points midway through the quarter. A Lin three-point play gave the Lakers their first lead of the game at 43-42. An Ellington jumper pushed the Lakers run to 10-0 as they pulled ahead by four and a ridiculous runner from Lin kept the run going. The Celtics responded with a six-point spurt of their own to tie the game before Kelly’s jumper put the Lakers back up two. Turner tied the game and Jae Crowder put Boston back ahead with a three. The two team’s again traded baskets as defense was not mandatory in the first half. A three-point play from Thomas put Boston ahead by four, but Boozer matched with a three-point play of his own, but he missed the free throw and the Lakers trailed by two at halftime, 58-56.
Both teams started off slow offensively. Free throws from Turner started off the scoring for the Celtics before baskets from Boozer and Clarkson tied the game at 60. A nice layup from Clarkson tied the game at 62, but Bass drove for an easy layup to keep Boston ahead by a bucket. An impressive three-point play from Smart gave the Celtics a five-point lead. Wesley Johnson came in and knocked down a pair of free throws, but a dunk from Smart kept the Celtics ahead by five. Johnson continued his solid play with a short jumper and a steal for a huge dunk. Jordan Hill would knock down a jumper to tie the game at 73, but Isaiah Thomas hit a wide open three to end the Lakers short run. The Lakers had a chance to cut the lead to one, but Johnson dropped an alley-oop and Crowder got a layup on the other end to put Boston ahead five. Hill was fouled right at the end of the quarter, but missed both free throws and the Lakers trailed by five after three quarters.
Wesley Johnson continued his strong play with a three to start the quarter. Davis got a layup off a nice Lin assist and a Nick Young three cut the Lakers deficit to only a point. Crowder would hit a jumper and Young would match with a pair of free throws as the Lakers deficit remained a point. Johnson hit a tough jumper to put the Lakers ahead by a point. Both offenses struggled for a little while and the Lakers showed off their scrappiness, diving on the floor for loose balls to maintain their slim lead. Young hit Lin for a three that made the crowd explode and put the Lakers ahead by four midway through the quarter. Thomas would come right back down and match it, but Young would hit one of his own as the Lakers remained ahead by four. Thomas was called for an offensive foul and proceeded to pick up two technicals to get ejected from the game. Young would split the technical free throws and Lin would continue his outstanding game with a three-point play, but missed the free throw as the Lakers pushed the lead to seven. Lin began to feel it as he hit a jumper and gave a beautiful assist to Johnson that gave the Lakers their biggest lead of the night at nine points with four minutes remaining. Lin’s aggression continued as a layup gave the Lakers a 10-point lead, but Turner got a layup to cut the Lakers lead to eight. Free throws from Crowder cut the lead to six and Price split a pair of free throws to keep the Lakers up seven with two minutes remaining. Young stripped Turner on defense and hit a tough fadeaway to put the Lakers ahead nine. Crowder hit a floater, but Turner missed a three. Price’s offensive foul and Bradley’s dunk kept the Celtics in striking distance. Another Lakers turnover gave the Celtics a chance and Bradley hit a three to cut the lead to two. Young went to the line and knocked down two huge free throws to make it a two possession game with 12 seconds left. Crowder got a layup with eight seconds left and Young went back to the line but split them giving the Celtics a chance and Bradley would hit a three at the buzzer to send the game to OT.
Both teams started slow before the Lakers finally got going. Lin, Boozer, and Johnson all hit jumpers to put the Lakers ahead six with two minutes left in the extra session. Crowder got a three-point play to cut the Lakers lead in half, but Boozer got a layup to keep the Lakers ahead five. Turner got a layup and Lin matched with a jumper. The Lakers got a stop and Ellington went to the line and knocked down to free throws to ice the game and snap the Lakers’ seven game losing streak with a 118-111 win.