Anytime the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics meet, it is a tense affair.
However, with both teams having championship aspirations for the first time in numerous seasons and the Celtics having dominated the first meeting, there was even more pressure on the Lakers to step up and deliver a win.
The Lakers had won four straight games and six of their last seven while the Celtics were arguably the league’s hottest team having won nine of their last 10. It was a real back and forth affair that came down to the wire, but it was LeBron James hitting a fallaway jumper with 30 seconds left to give them a huge 114-112 win over their rivals.
Los Angeles got off to a great start, leading by nine points after the first quarter and looking as if they were trying to pay back Boston for their 32-point loss suffered just a month prior. However, the Celtics would fight back mainly behind the efforts of Jayson Tatum. He was unconscious for much of the night, finishing with 41 points but only had just six of them in the final 18 minutes thanks in large part to the work of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
Caldwell-Pope was one of many role players who stepped up. Kyle Kuzma finished with 16 points while Rajon Rondo added four points, five assists, and five steals against his former team while Dwight Howard chipped in 10 points and seven rebounds. But of course, it was James and Anthony Davis who were at the forefront of everything.
Davis led the Lakers with a double-double (32 points and 13 rebounds) while James finished with a near triple-double (29 points, eight rebounds, and nine assists) and Los Angeles needed every bit of it for a win.
Boston actually shot a better percentage from the field, three-point line, and free-throw line than Los Angeles and the rebounds were relatively even as the Lakers outrebounded the Celtics by only two. The big advantage for the Lakers was in the turnover battle as they forced 17 turnovers and their bench outscored the Celtics 43-11.
Lakers-Celtics always brings a different atmosphere than other games and this was one of the best meetings in seasons. Boston showed they are one of the top teams while Los Angeles shut up those suggesting they cannot beat other good teams and James let the world know he does have that clutch gene some believe he does not.