Keys to the Game: Celtics 107, Lakers 96

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Key Moment

What do you think about when you hear the name Marcus Smart? Hustle.

His hustle played the biggest role in Boston’s 107-96 victory over the Lakers Wednesday night at TD Garden.

Boston had led by as many 21 points during the first half of the contest, but Los Angeles, to its credit, kept plugging away. By the 8:36 mark of the fourth quarter, the Lakers had clawed all the way back to within three points at 89-86.

Brad Stevens stuck with his second unit, while Kyrie Irving watched from the sideline. That decision surprised some, but in the end, it worked out for the better.

Smart swished home a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 7:30 left in the game to double Boston’s lead up to six.

The team’s next possession came on a fast break, during which Marcus Morris went up for a tough layup that was missed, and the forward didn’t receive a well-deserved whistle from the onlooking referees.

Per usual, Smart never quit on the play. He raced the length of the court behind his teammate and flew in to get a hand on the loose ball. No one could reel the loose ball in, and Smart and LA’s Brandon Ingram wound up tumbling to the floor. Smart, however, somehow wound up with both of his mitts wrapped around the ball, and before a Lakers player could reach in to force a jump ball, Smart kicked it out to Terry Rozier on the wing.

Rozier immediately attacked the basket and was fouled on his layup attempt. He made both of his free throws to make it an eight-point game.

Smart’s hustle rubbed off on his teammates, because shortly thereafter, Morris got in on the offensive rebounding attack. He flew in from behind the Lakers after Rozier missed a 3-pointer, and he was able to cause enough commotion on an offensive rebound attempt to knock the ball out of bounds off of LA.

The Celtics retained possession of the ball, and a timeout was called.

That timeout allowed Irving to check into the game, and he wound up scoring four big points down the stretch. But not before Smart could contribute one more hustle play.

Smart stepped into the paint at the defensive end of the court to take a charge at the 5:44 mark of the period. But it wasn’t just any charge that he took; it was a charge taken against the biggest player on the court.

Smart sacrificed his body and was bulldozed by 7-foot, 270-pound center Brook Lopez. Surely, it hurt, but Smart popped right back up off of the floor as his teammates cheered him on.

Irving scored his final two points of the game on Boston’s following possession to push Boston ahead 100-90 with 5:28 left in the contest. Its lead would never drop to fewer than eight points from there on out.

The C’s closed the contest out on a 19-5 run over the final 7:30 of the contest. It started with Smart’s 3-pointer, and it was fueled by his hustle.

Key Player

You’re going to hear more about Aron Baynes than just this small Key Player blurb, but hear it here first: Baynes was fantastic Wednesday night.

The big man out of Australia tied his career high with 21 points Wednesday night. He did so by making eight of his 12 shot attempts, and while playing less than 23 minutes of action.

Scoring wasn’t the only area in which Baynes made major contributions. He also hauled in eight boards, which trailed only Jaylen Brown’s 11 on the Celtics.

Twenty-one points, eight rebounds and three assists in only 22:53 of action. Those numbers, ladies and gentlemen, are outstanding. They work out to about 33 points and 12.5 rebounds per 36 minutes.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Only one of LA's starters scored more than 12 points, while three of Boston's starters scored at least 18.
  • The Celtics won despite shooting 38.8 percent from the floor, a solid chunk below LA's 43.5 percent conversion rate.
  • Boston pulled that feat off by knocking down seven more free throws and two more 3-pointers than the Lakers.
  • The C's led by as many as 21 points, while LA's largest lead was two points.
  • The contest featured only one tie and one lead change.
  • Julius Randle led the contest with 12 rebounds.
  • Aron Baynes tied his career high with a game-high 21 points.
  • The C's scored at least 20 points during all four quarters. The Lakers, meanwhile, scored 16 or fewer points during botht the first and the fourth quarters.
  • Terry Rozier came off the C's bench to score 14 points.
  • Lonzo Ball blocked a game-high four shots today.
  • Daniel Theis blocked three shots off of Boston's bench. He also contributed eight points and five rebounds.
  • Ball, during his first game against the Celtics, totaled only nine points, six assists and five rebounds.
  • Both teams grabbed 48 rebounds.
  • Marcus Smart and Ball tied for the game high in assists with six apiece.

Quote of the Night

Until we have only four (players) left, I guess we're just going to keep playing... and then I don't know what you do at four.

Brad Stevens on the Celtics continuing to win despite suffering multiple injuries.