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Must C’s: Jaylen Brown reacts to dunking all over LeBron James

Better slam: Jayson Tatum’s playoff jam or Jaylen Brown’s from yesterday?

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Boston Celtics Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

An 8-0 run by the Lakers signaled little changed in the opening minute despite the higher spotlight of TNT, MLK Jr. Day and Celtics-Lakers. None other than Gordon Hayward emerged to right the ship, with a finish and three-pointer that swung the game right back to the opening stalemate.

Hayward responded to recent criticism over his inconsistency and no-show against the Bucks in Boston’s last tilt. Jaylen Brown’s dunk, which pushed the Celtics’ lead to 20, became the point of no return for the Lakers who faded away by as many at 34 points in one of the worst losses at TD Garden.

Brown reflected on the slam, while James focused more on an incident from earlier in the day at LeBron Jr.’s Hoophall tilt in Springfield.

Jayson Tatum: “That was a hell of a play by Jaylen ... I didn’t think he was going to dunk it.”

Tatum continues to shower praise on his fellow all-star candidate and teammate. He won’t go as far as saying Brown’s two-handed slam surpassed his playoff poster on LeBron though.

Kemba Walker: “This is what we should be on a nightly basis.”

Walker sat among the wounded with left knee soreness he refused to ignore as he did in the past. It almost held him out of this game as well. He suited up and scored 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting. “We needed it,” he said. “This is a really important game for us and we treated it like it ... it’s one of those games that remind us how talented we are.”

Jaylen Brown: “I just made a play on the rim. I ain’t gon’ lie though, it was pretty nice.”

Check out the dunk here.

Brown didn’t notice he was flying into James when he rose off the dribble from the paint to smash through him for a shattering dunk. The Lakers wilted after the play that lit up TD Garden. Brown shook off his sprained thumb to play after two nights off, scoring 20 with nine attempts at the line. He didn’t feel the pain on the dunk, crediting adrenaline, “I feel it now though.”

Brad Stevens: “It’s good to be as close to full as we’ve been from a health standpoint.”

Stevens could feel the intensity, size and intensity of the Lakers’ attack through their 8-0 run, which he’d only seen on film. He tightened up his rotation to eight, using a heavy dose of size with Kanter and Ojeleye to build a rebounding 48-36 advantage. “The offensive rebounding was a result of ball movement and body movement.” Asked about Brown’s highlight jam, Brad said he prefers an extra pass to a highlight dunk and that he’s probably the wrong person to ask.

Enes Kanter: “I want to give a huge shoutout to Daniel Theis. Not everything is about box score.”

Kanter reminded everyone of Theis’ impact on the Celtics, lost in the chatter over Brown’s dunk. Theis continues to rotate, contest and switch comfortably with Stevens’ favorite lineups and after his own 18-point, eight-rebound performance, Kanter made sure to give his fellow center credit.

Lakers Press Pass —

LeBron James: “Why would I take it personal?”

“You don’t want to have games like this, but you do,” LeBron said after one of the worst losses against the Celtics in his career. It’s a long season, and James saves his best from the playoffs. Still, Boston held James to the third-fewest points in any of his 52 career meetings with the C’s. He wasn’t fazed by Brown’s dramatic dunk, but unlike Tatum’s in the 2018 playoffs his team couldn’t turn it around after the slam put the Lakers down 20. James also weighed in on his rumored helicopter ride from Springfield to watch Bronny James, “I walked.”

Anthony Davis: “The rebounding ... that’s what killed us tonight.”

Davis missed five games before the trip to Boston and stood questionable with his bruised butt. He worked through two-on-twos and three-on-threes with teammates to play. It didn’t look like the Davis among the contenders for defensive player of the year. On a minutes restriction, he shot 3-for-7 with four rebounds and got battered by Boston’s front line of Enes Kanter, Semi Ojeleye and Gordon Hayward.

Rajon Rondo: “No.”

Rondo was in his usual form down the hall from where he once boiled questions down to yes or no. It marked his 12th career game against the Celtics and seventh trip to TD Garden, where he remains the lone link around the league the 2008 championship.

Frank Vogel: “Bring it. That was the halftime adjustment. We didn’t bring it in the first half.”