More than half of the fourth quarter remained when the Lakers started to admit defeat.
LeBron James sat, so did Anthony Davis, and the Boston Celtics started pulling their starters too. They led the Lakers by 31 points — the largest deficit the Lakers had faced all campaign.
On the parquet floor versus their hated rivals, there were few friendly faces, and much of the crowd at TD Garden kept the arena packed in garbage time to revel in the one-night derailing of one of the NBA’s hottest teams.
The Lakers came into the match having won 10 of their last 11 games, including four of five without Davis, and the Celtics came into the game on a three-game losing streak, having lost six of their last eight.
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But their recent history wasn’t predictive. The Celtics beat the Lakers, 139-107.
“It was just a good ol’ …” James said before pausing. Then he continued. “Good ol’ fashioned butt-whooping. That’s all. They beat us in all facets of the game. Outside, interior, points off turnovers, offensive rebounds, so it’s the main ingredients in the L.”
The loss dropped the Lakers to 34-9, still best in the West, while the Celtics improved to 28-14, good for fourth in the East.
Davis returned and finished with nine points, two assists and four rebounds in 23 minutes. James scored 15 points with 13 assists and seven rebounds. Boston was led by Jayson Tatum, who scored 27 points with five rebounds and three assists. Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker also notched 20 points each for the Celtics. It was the first time in his career, out of 29 tries, that Walker won a game versus James.
The Lakers have been remarkably consistent versus teams with poor records — they are 22-1 against them. But their games against the NBA’s better teams have had peaks and valleys. They are 10-4 against the top seven teams in the Western Conference, but have lost to four of the top five teams in the East — Milwaukee, Toronto, Boston and Indiana.
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