Anthony Davis was aggressive in his return from a right quad contusion, and the Los Angeles Lakers held off a furious rally by the Boston Celtics to come away with a 96-95 victory that snapped their two-game losing streak.
Head coach Frank Vogel said earlier on the road trip the Lakers had started to make a concerted effort to force feed Davis rather than ensure the newcomers are fully comfortable. That mindset, along with the Celtics having a small frontcourt, resulted in Davis finishing with xx points.
Another notable adjustment for Vogel and the Lakers was a shortened and new-look rotation. Talen Horton-Tucker was first off the bench, and he was eventually joined by Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell and Alex Caruso.
While the Lakers collectively had a better rhythm than in their loss to the Detroit Pistons, a dry spell in the second quarter allowed the Celtics to cut into a deficit and pull even. A LeBron James driving layup for a three-point play in the final seconds was the difference for the Lakers and their 52-49 lead at halftime.
Davis did slow after a strong first quarter but still was up to 18 points and 10 rebounds at the break.
The third quarter saw porous defense from the Lakers and sloppy offense that led to turnovers. The Celtics used that to take a lead that stretched to as many as eight points. The Lakers trimmed that before the start of the fourth and began the final quarter with an 8-0 run.
Both teams continued to trade baskets, with James’ 3-pointer giving the Lakers a slight edge and prompting a Celtics timeout. An empty Boston possession was followed by James again connecting from range.
Dennis Schroder’s three-point play gave the Lakers a 96-89 lead with just under two minutes remaining. But Schroder then hurt his cause by committing an unnecessary foul on the perimeter, sending the Celtics to the line.
Jayson Tatum’s stepback jumper over Davis’ outstretched arm cut the Lakers’ lead to 96-93, and that was followed by James in explicably turning the ball over. Another Tatum basket pulled the Celtics to within one but that would be as close as they got.
Davis was stripped on his shot attempt, sending the Celtics into a fast break. Alex Caruso nearly stole the ball before it found its way to Kemba Walker, who missed a jumper and Daniel Theis’ putback rolled off the rim.
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