Tonight was a big night of events for the city of Los Angeles. Celtics-Lakers of course, and The Oscars just a few miles away. As Norm Macdonald would say, all the stars were here tonight. With Jonas Jerebko, Luigi Datome, and Robert Sacre in the building, this game had a collection of names to rival the biggest of Hollywood. In all seriousness, this wasn't one of the most glamorous meetings in the history of this rivalry. But with the Celtics fighting for a playoff spot, and the debut of Isaiah Thomas; this game had plenty of things to watch for.
The Celtics came out hot tonight. The Lakers started in a zone, and Boston moved the ball well to find plenty of open looks. They couldn't miss, even when Lakers when switched back to more of a man defense. Avery Bradley played particularly well in the first. He hit his first three shots and finished the quarter with eight points. The rest of the team was feeling it too. Isaiah Thomas wasted no time after subbing in before picking up a steal and fast break layup. His impact was immediately evident on Boston's pick and roll plays. Thomas has great quickness, so he can create space for his shot right after using the pick. He made a few nice passes out of the pick and roll too. After the strong performances by Bradley and Thomas, Boston finished the first leading 32-26.
Marcus Smart wasn't shooting well, but he made a few fantastic plays early in the second. He dove into a pile and managed to tip the ball out to a streaking Brandon Bass. He followed that up with a great spinning assist to Gerald Wallace on the next possession. It was nice to see him have an impact even when his shot isn't falling.
The second quarter was uglier from a defensive perspective though. The Celtics were fouling early and often. Tyler Zeller barely played due to picking up his third foul, so Boston was without their best interior defender for most of the quarter. Led by Jeremy Lin, the Lakers took the lead with a 12-0 run. Lin scored 12 points in the period, and made some ridiculous shots. Boston's offense during this run was ugly too. They committed some sloppy turnovers, and missed six straight shots. Evan Turner bailed them out with some nice isolation baskets. The Celtics righted the ship to end the half with a two point lead.
All things considered, Boston played pretty well in the first half. If they weren't terrible from beyond the arc, then a sizable lead could have been possible. They only made 4/17 from three, but made 64% of their two point attempts. Isaiah Thomas was great in his first action and finished the half with 15 points.
The Celtics started the third up 58-56. Boston and LA stayed within this margin for most of the quarter. Both teams shot poorly, which led to some pretty ugly basketball. The Celtics were able to force the Lakers into five turnovers, which gave them a slight edge. The end of the quarter was marked by alternating runs of points. Boston would string together a five point lead, only for LA to come right back to tie the game. Smart scored seven points to lead Boston for the quarter. They took a five point lead into the fourth.
Nick Young and Wesley Johnson made some huge contested shots for the Lakers early in the quarter. LA was up by one point when Marcus Smart picked up his fifth foul. The Celtic offense stalled out and went over three minutes without any points. Isaiah Thomas stopped a 10-2 run with a three, but Nick Young answered with one of his own. On the next possession, Thomas was called for traveling. He slammed the ball down out of frustration and received two technical for his efforts. This led to him being ejected in his first game.
After this, the Lakers held a seven point lead with just under five minutes left. Jeremy Lin channeled his Linsanity days and continued to torment the Boston defense. He was the focal point for the Lakers defense down the stretch. Boston did themselves no favors by missing free throws and committing turnovers in the final minutes of the fourth. Boston's terrible shooting from three continued as well, which made it hard to cut the lead down. The Lakers committed two consecutive offensive fouls in the final minute that gave an opening for a Boston comeback. Stevens drew a great play to give Bradley an open three. The lead was cut to just three points with 8 seconds left. Nick Young missed a free throw to give the Celtics a chance. Boston went the length of the court, and Bradley hit another huge three to put the game into overtime.
Jeremy Lin broke the tie in OT for the Lakers. Boston's offense was really struggling, as they failed to score in the first three minutes. Bradley was swarmed by the defense, and nobody else could get anything going. Nick Young of all players blocked an Evan Turner shot out of isolation, which really puts things into perspective. Jae Crowder finally put the Celtics on the board with just 1:18 left in OT. Jeremy Lin hit another jumper to put LA up five, and Boston couldn't muster up another comeback in overtime.
Jae Crowder had a nice game overall, tying his career high of 22 points. Bradley wasn't the most efficient, but he did hit some huge shots down the stretch.
The Thomas ejection was really disappointing, especially considering how well he was playing. It was a dumb play, but an ejection seemed awfully harsh. It put a damper on a great, 21 point performance from Thomas in his debut. The Thomas-Smart-Bradley backcourt combination has the potential to make for an entertaining rest of the season; so hopefully this is the lowest point.