Phil Jackson pulled into a tie with Red Auerbach for seventh place on the career wins list earlier this weekend. On Sunday, he'll get a chance to take sole possession of that spot against the franchise that's synonymous with Auerbach's name.
Jackson and the Los Angeles Lakers go for their season-high fifth straight victory when they host the Boston Celtics, who are riding their own five-game win streak.
Jackson earned his 938th win as a head coach on Friday night, when the Lakers (19-10) beat Utah 123-109. He matched the career total of Auerbach, who recorded his last 795 wins with the Celtics.
Jackson, who's also tied with Auerbach for the NBA record with nine championships, downplayed the achievement.
"The longer you stay here, the more wins you're going to accumulate," he said. "But I've never really followed that stuff, you know?"
"Fortunately, I've had really good teams and they've accumulated a lot more wins in a short period of time. But still and all, it's really just longevity and it speaks for hanging in there."
Jackson's 938th career win was the Lakers' fourth in a row, matching a season high. Los Angeles has won 10 of 12 after dropping five of seven Nov. 21-Dec. 2.
Kobe Bryant had 31 points, seven assists, four rebounds and four steals in Friday's win, and has topped 30 points in three straight games for the first time this season. The two-time defending scoring champion is averaging 36 points during his hot streak while shooting 56.1 percent from the field and 50 percent (12-for-24) from 3-point range.
Continuing that surge could be a challenge against Boston (25-3), which has the NBA's best record thanks in part to its stellar defense. The Celtics are allowing just 86.7 points per game and allowing opponents to shoot just 41.7 percent from the field - both marks lead the league.
The Celtics were expected to be challenged on their first western road trip of the season, but they've won the first three games by an average of 11.3 points heading into Sunday's finale. They rallied from an eight-point third-quarter deficit to beat the Utah Jazz 104-98 on Saturday night - their 14th win in 15 games.
Paul Pierce was the key to the comeback. After being held scoreless without a rebound in the first half, he finished with 24 points and six boards.
"I was really mad at myself at the half," said Pierce, who has scored 50 points in the second halves of his last two games, compared to just 11 before halftime. "I knew I was going to come out more aggressive at both ends of the court. That's what I tried to do."
Boston coach Doc Rivers said he made a concerted effort to get the team's leading scorer more involved in the offense.
"We had to get him going," Rivers said. "Once he got it going, you know, you've seen Paul, it's tough to turn him back off."
Pierce had 20 points, nine assists and six rebounds as the Celtics won their first meeting with the Lakers 107-94 on Nov. 23 at TD Banknorth Garden. He was one of four Boston players with at least 18 points.
Bryant led the Lakers with 28 points in that game, but shot just 9-for-21 from the field.
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