Things got a liiiitle bit testy in the 3rd, but the Celtics had one of their more comfortable wins of the season. The ball moved, the defense was smothering, and the Lakers can continue their death march to the end of the season.
Lakers got off too a strong start scoring on there first three posssesions and briefly taking a 7-2 lead, but the Celtics quickly responded lead by a team barrage of three pointers. In the first five minutes, every starter excel Al Horford hit a three pointer and the deficit quickly turned into a 14-11 lead. Amir Johnson had one his more active quarters. He was all over the court defensively and had eight quick points highlighted by two three pointers. This strong play lead to the Boston maintaining a 25-16 lead as the second unit started to sub-in. Though the Celtics flittered with a double-digit lead, the Lakers were able to keep pace with and the quarter ended with the Lakers down , 35-26. Boston ended the frame shooting a blistering 50% from three (6/12) and zero turnovers.
The Celtics started the second quarter with a Smart-Young-Brown-Olynyk-Horford lineup. The unit moved well and they were able to push the lead up to double-digits highlighted by a thunderous Jaylen a brown slam after a beautiful spin move in the mid-post.
Jaylen Brown spins baseline for the two-hander. pic.twitter.com/yyIzHbb34U— SLAM Magazine (@SLAMonline) March 4, 2017
However, after giving up a few buckets, Stevens elected to sub out Young for Bradley. A lineup more likely to get run in the postseason. But by mid-way through the second, the Celtics already had there entire starting five back in the game with the lead hovering at 15. Horford had come alive after a couple of nice passes and finally nailed a three of his own. Though it's clear the Lakers wanted to get up and down the court and play fast, they just didn't have nearly the execution required to sustain such a style. Meanwhile, the Celtics defense continued the same high-level activity from Wednesday lead by an energetic Avery Bradley. The Celtics did an excellent job of limiting the Lakers to one possession and did a solid job generating offense in the halfcourt despite three missed free throws from Bradley. As the offensive miscues of the Lakers continued to pile up, so did the frustration, and the lead hovered to the 18-20 range. By the three minute mark of the second quarter, the Celtics had built a 18 to 5 advantage at the free thrown line, highlighted by the three straight Avery Bradley backdoor cuts that generated 4 free throws and a wide open dunk.
By the end of the half the Celtics bloated their lead to 70-45 and looked nowhere near done. The ball moved well, 7 Celtics had 5 or more points, and everyone who played had a positive +/- with the exception of James Young (-1).
The Celtics promptly started the second half like they ended the first and within the first four minutes they had pushed their lead to 80-49. The Celtics were able to maintain that lead for a majority of the quarter, but in true Celtics fashion, it didn't last long. The Lakers lead by a furious run by a 20-point Jordan Clarkson quarter brought the lead all the way down to 15 by the end of the frame. The Celtics got sloppy, stopped communicating defensively, and again made a game harder than they should have. The once easy-going game was now a much tighter 93-78 contest.
The Lakers initially looked like they would carry their momentum into the quarter and at one point got the deficit down to 13, but the Celtics were able to weather the storm and push the lead back up to 99-82. Then after a baser by Horford and back to back baskets by Brown the Celtic pushed the lead to 105-82. After that the Celtics were able to stay at a comfortable distance away and prevail 115-95. Isaiah Thomas led the team in scoring with 18 points, while Jaylen Brown had an impressive 16 point and 8 rebound outing.
Next up, the Celtics will travel to Phoniex Sunday to take on a hot Suns team who has won their last three at home.