It was a big night in the NBA, as Boston hosted the Lakers for the first ever Lonzo Wednesday. The Celtics was in a tough spot missing Al Horford. While nobody can replace his versatility, Aron Baynes played great starting in his stead. He was a monster on the offensive boards and held his own against Brook Lopez. Baynes posted a career high 21 points, aided by some nice feeds from Kyrie Irving. Leading scorer Aron Baynes isn’t what anyone expected, but you have to be ready for anything in 2017.
Kyrie stole the show early on in his first taste of the Lakers-Celtics rivalry. Fresh off his best game of the season, he was cooking the Lakers with his dribble penetration. The peak was this insane weave through three Lakers to get to the rim.
Boston jumped out to a huge first quarter lead. The Celtics forced LA into 9 turnovers and a ton of missed shots. Everything was coming up Celtics, punctuated by Rozier banking in a last second heave to end the quarter.
Boston was still getting to the rim with ease in the second quarter. Their finishing was actually a little spotty though, which gave LA some life.
Marcus Morris’s shot selection has been a little frustrating this season. But he earned some great looks by overpowering Laker guards in the post during the quarter.
It’s safe to say everyone wanted to see Marcus Smart defend Lonzo Ball. While he didn’t spend a ton of time as his primary defender, Smart absolutely erased Lonzo at the rim.
The Celtics lead by 21 at one point, but credit the Lakers for clawing back and cutting it single digits by halftime. A big part of that was Julius Randle. He provided a spark with one of his classic “hey this guy was picked #7 overall” stretches with 10 points and 7 rebounds in his first 11 minutes.
The second half opened with the news that Jayson Tatum was out for the game with right ankle soreness. Obviously the future implications of the injury is are more important, but it also left the Celtics even more undermanned in the second half.
As expected the Celtics really missed Horford and Tatum in second half. Their shooting cratered as a team and Kyrie’s shot wasn’t falling at all. They needed other guys to step up. Luckily Aron Baynes continued to grind out points in the paint. But the Lakers took advantage with a big offensive quarter, cutting the lead down to 6.
Boston’s offensive woes continued in the fourth quarter with Kyrie resting on the bench. The game was sloppy, so Boston had to generate offense however they could. That meant Rozier and Smart crashing the offensive glass, and some questionable Marcus Morris iso looks.
Kyrie returned to the game and added some quick offense. But Boston continued to miss shots deep into the fourth. The Celtics were forced to make hustle plays like grabbing offensive rebounds and drawing charges. The Lakers had their own share of offensive struggles and that was enough to seal it.
It was weird and ugly at times, but you need to grind out games like this. 38% shooting from the field isn’t great. But 10 straight wins and a loss for the #Lakerspick is pretty good way to make up for it.