Brown Goes Showtime During C’s Rout of Lakers

LOS ANGELES – Two and a half weeks ago, the Celtics flew out West for their first West Coast trip of the season and dropped an absolute dud during their opener against the Sacramento Kings.

Apparently two times is a charm, because the Celtics opened up their second West Coast trip Friday night in Los Angeles with a resounding 115-95 victory over the rival Lakers that featured touches of showtime from Jaylen Brown.

Brown and the Celtics flew coast-to-coast Thursday, and they played end-to-end basketball Friday night against the Lakers. Their dominant efforts at both ends of the court turned this matchup into a laugher before fans flooded the concessions at halftime.

Boston opened up a 10-point lead during the first quarter and really blew things open during the second period, when it shot 54.5 percent from the field. By the time halftime had arrived, the C’s had pulled ahead 70-45, and Isaiah Thomas (13 points), Amir Johnson (11 points) and Jae Crowder (10 points) had all already reached double-figures in the scoring column.

“I thought we were playing with great purpose,” Brad Stevens said after the game. “I thought we got the ball to the right guys in the right situations.”

This wasn’t a win that arrived via an exponential effort by one or two players, either. This was all-around, team basketball at the highest of levels.

Six players finished in double-figures as the C’s tallied 30 assists on the night. They accumulated 16 assists during the first half alone, with five players dishing out at least two helpers. Meanwhile, they committed just three first-half turnovers; Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell committed three turnovers during the first half all by himself.

“Just making the right play,” said Isaiah Thomas of his team’s high assist rate and sparkling assist-to-turnover ratio. “Moving the ball side to side, making the easy play for the most part.”

Boston continued to play with such purpose during the second half. It eventually pulled ahead by as many as 31 points and maintained a double-digit lead through the final buzzer as the crowd was lulled to sleep with a blowout.

Thankfully for the fans who were in attendance and watching at home, however, Brown was around to keep them awake.

The rookie forward, who had already spun baseline and thrown down a monster slam during the first half, took it to a whole other level during the second half.

First, he caught an off-the-backboard pass from Isaiah Thomas in transition and slammed it down midway through the third quarter to push Boston ahead 87-58 while sparking his teammates off their bench nearby in celebration.

That play was entertaining, but his next one was borderline astonishing.

Avery Bradley tried to throw Brown another alley-oop during the fourth quarter but tossed his pass just a bit too high for a slam – only it was not too high for Brown to get his hand on. The rookie stretched his right hand up into the air to snag the errant pass, and as his momentum took him past the backboard while his body twisted back toward the opposite basket, he switched the ball into his left hand and kissed it off the glass for two.

One of the most famous plays in NBA history is a layup made during the 1991 Finals by Michael Jordan, during which he rose into the air and switched the ball from his right hand to his left hand before laying it in. This play was of the same ilk, except Brown’s was far more difficult, as he was not only flying past the basket instead of toward it, but he was also fouled on the play.

Coincidentally, both plays took place against the Lakers.

“He was open and I just tried to throw it up high enough where no one could steal it, and he made an amazing play,” Bradley said before quipping that Brown had likely already jumped on his phone to take a look at what he had done.

Brown came over minutes later and confirmed that he had done so, adding that the play was “not too bad” and that he “can top it.” Shortly thereafter, Brown commented on the style of play he and his teammates showcased Friday night in Los Angeles as they got out in transition and logged more than a handful of highlight-reel plays.

“If we get stops, we’ve got some young guys on our team,” he said. “It’s showtime. We can get out and run with the best of ‘em.”

It was showtime Friday night, particularly for Brown. The fact that such a performance was put forth against the Lakers just drips of irony.

It also drips of positivity, as the Celtics were able to open up their second West Coast swing with a far better first step than they did the first time around.

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