Los Angeles was the scene of the second of two games on the season between the two most storied franchises in basketball. Out of respect for the late Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Tatum, Smart, Brown and others all wore purple armbands for the clash. With the Celtics blowing out the Lakers earlier in the season, the long front line of the Lakers paid early dividends as the Celtics got off to horrible start falling behind 9.
Los Angeles reeled off 12 quick points behind JaVale McGee and Anthony Davis as Boston looked sluggish in the early afternoon clash. As the quarter progressed, Jaylen Brown found his way into the paint as the C’s attacked the Laker bigs. Gordon Hayward was outstanding drawing a few defenders into the middle to thread a pretty pass to Marcus Smart.
With the starters resting, Rajon Rondo entered the game and expertly picked apart the Celtics flailing D as LA finished the quarter on a 8-0 run to close out 26-19. Marcus Smart received what appeared to be a shot to the thigh late in the quarter as he hit the exercise bike.
In possibly one of the most egregious refereeing displays in living memory, LeBron James talked all three Refs into overturning a blatant and clear as day goal tending decision on a certain Rookie Romeo Langford 2 points.
This is embarrassingly bad officiating https://t.co/q9BhCUZ4el— John Karalis (@RedsArmy_John) February 23, 2020
The Celtics remained within striking distance through the second behind the aggressive and determined play of Jayson Tatum who had 18 points in the 2nd quarter. With the ball on a string, Tatum was working both inside and out with aplomb. As the Lakers sent in Caruso to guard Tatum, he expertly went into his bag of tricks and carved up the Lakers poster child with this spin cycle move....
and then this patented side-step triple in ADs face.....
Tatum...buries it right in Davis's face! pic.twitter.com/pxZ4GzEXdD— Max Carlin (@maxacarlin) February 23, 2020
Daniel Theis sacrified his mid section taking the brunt of a LBJ drive into the digits and drew the offensive foul. The Cetlics really flipped the switch to end the half down two, 56-54.
Opening up in the 2nd half Theis stepped into a three pointer after receiving a neat pass from a driving Hayward. Smart then followed suit from the land of plenty with consectutive triples and Tatum unleashed a thunderous dunk on the break over a retreating Danny Green as the Celtics built a mini lead answering the Lakers challenges.
Jayson Tatum smells blood lets gooooooooooooo pic.twitter.com/vQX82ao1Bn— Dan Greenberg (@StoolGreenie) February 23, 2020
With Rajon Rondo being the ever present thorn in the side for the Celtics, the former C was super active on D and troubled the Celtics with numerous deflections. His passing was also on display throwing a huge lob to Anthony Davis as the Lakers crept back into the game. With Kemba Walker still out, the Lakers pressured the Celtics ball handlers and forced a bevy of turnovers.
The careless play predominantly by the bench was a big factor in handing the Lakers a lead late. LeBron James started to get going as the Lakers crowd sprung to life as the teams traded buckets. Jayson Tatum returned to the lineup and Jaylen Brown took on the challenge of sparking the Celtics late.
An Anthony Davis triple under two minutes to go saw the Lakers go up 3, not to be outdone a quick 2 point baseline jumper by Hayward then a stop and Hayward found JB who hit a huge corner three at the 1:18 mark.
A Brad Stevens challenge on a Daniel Theis errant foul call meant the Celtics flew blind into the final 30 seconds of regulation as the clock and 50-50 calls conspired against us. LA managed to hold on desptie everything the Celtics threw at them.