The Boston Celtics swept the season series against the Los Angeles Lakers after the 125-121 overtime win. Jayson Tatum was pretty not good for all but about eight minutes, but as a testament to the level he’s on, he still finished with 30 points and 11 rebounds. Jaylen Brown led all scorers for Boston despite foul trouble, finishing with 37 points and 9 rebounds. For the Lakers, LeBron James. That’s all I have to say (he finished with 41 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists).
The first half was an exercise in frustration for the offense. Jayson Tatum had a slow start, going 2-9 from the field, and the offense mostly devolved to unimaginative and uncreative “my turn, your turn” possessions. While the Celtics held a huge freethrow disparity, the Lakers re-took the edge by taking advantage of second-chance points.
Early in the second, the Tatum + bench unit got off to a quick start (thank you, Russell Westbrook), but that changed as soon as Westbrook hit the bench. Boston got out-worked to a lot of 50-50 balls, and the turnovers really hurt a lot of their efforts. Fortunately for Boston, this Lakers team isn’t elite, so the margin for error is a little larger than against actual playoff teams. Boston never fully fell out of the picture even as shots were barely falling in the second quarter.
Grant Williams (woof) has struggled at times this week, and tonight was no exception. While he did start the game, Malcolm Brogdon (26 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists) started in his place at the beginning of the third. This was a risky move given that Anthony Davis (16 points, 10 rebounds) started the third quarter (after coming off the bench in the first half), but the extra playmaking paid off. The move also allowed for more defensive versatility from Derrick White (14 points), who was able to offer more help defense instead of point-of-attack defense.
As good as that lineup looked to start the quarter, L.A. caught fire from behind the line for a quick 11-0 run, undoing all of the good coming out of halftime. While the Lakers dictated the pace for a lot of the third quarter, back-to-back 3-pointers woke Jayson Tatum up out of his slumber. Further along in the quarter, Boston’s defense forced a few turnovers, pushing the Celtics to a 9-0 run of their own, retaking control of the game. All of Tatum’s 15 points in the quarter (after just scoring 8 in the first half) came after the six-minute mark of the third.
Tatum’s spark faded a bit as the fourth progressed, but it was mostly the Boston defense that the Lakers took advantage, leading to difficulty maintaining the end-of-the-third run. Joe Mazzulla shortened the rotation to remove Payton Pritchard and Sam Hauser after bad first-half showings, but Jaylen Brown’s foul trouble led to some issues as well as a less-than-stellar Grant Williams outing.
Brogdon came up huge in the fourth, adding a ton of poise to Boston’s offense while hitting timely buckets – none more timely than the shot to give the Celtics the lead with a little over three minutes left in the game. Brogdon showed up on the defensive end as well, stripping Anthony Davis cleanly under the rim to save Boston from some Lakers second-chance points. We all saw it immediately, and after the Celtics challenged the play, the refs saw it as well.
Some costly mental mistakes led to Patrick Beverley (15 points) earning a career highlight with a huge putback dunk with 18.4 seconds left. JB missed a wide-open 3-pointer the next possession, but a missed freethrow from that same Patrick Beverley led to a wild sequence that earned Jaylen Brown an and-1 opportunity with 4.1 seconds left (he made this one, thankfully).
Some common referee malpractice came up in Boston’s favor as LeBron
was fouled missed a layup, sending the game to OT.
After a technical freethrow, Jaylen Brown went nuts to start the extra frame, giving Boston a huge buffer. He scored 11 points just in OT. For most of the period, the Celtics looked in control, but a flagrant foul had the Lakers trailing by just three points with just over a minute left (Joe Mazzulla don’t think you can hide sneaking Luke Kornet onto the floor there in OT. There’s film of what you did!). Brogdon sealed the deal at the end with some freethrows, and that was enough to put Boston back into the win column.
The Celtics will take their 2.5-game lead over the rest of the Eastern Conference into Wednesday night’s game against the Brooklyn Nets at 7:00 p.m. ET on ESPN. Hopefully, they’ll have Marcus Smart and Robert Williams back in the lineup when they do.