Teams often talk about the importance of closing quarters and halves on a strong note. To that extent, Boston’s close to the second and third quarters of Saturday’s matchup with Los Angeles ignited an easy path toward its third straight victory.
Defense was the tone-setter for each run. First, the C’s forced LA into two turnovers and a missed 3-pointer during the final 1:17 of the first half. Then, Boston limited the Lakers to 2-for-9 shooting during the final 3:36 of the third quarter.
Both stretches of strong defense led to Boston’s lead ballooning at the other end of the court. The Celtics closed out the first half on a 7-0 run that built up a 10-point advantage at the break. Their 16-5 run to close the third quarter provided them with a comfortable 93-76 lead heading into the final period.
With LeBron James on a minute restriction and other key contributors missing from the game for LA, the Lakers had no shot at a comeback from that moment on. The Celtics continued to hold a lead that eventually opened up to as many as 18 points before they finished off a 120-107 victory during their final matchup of the season with James and the rival Lakers.
Kyrie Irving’s efficiency is just absurd.
The six-time All-Star, who is having a career-year this season when it comes to shooting the basketball, put together one of his most efficient nights of the season Saturday in Los Angeles. While taking on and outshining his former teammate, LeBron James, Irving connected on 12 of his 18 shot attempts and five of his eight 3-pointers while leading Boston to victory. Irving and James tied for the game high in scoring with 30 points apiece.
Irving is now shooting 49.9 percent from the field and 42.2 percent from 3-point range this season. His previous career highs in those categories were 49.1 percent from the field and 41.5 percent from 3-point range.
Irving tied for Boston’s team-high total in the assist column with five helpers, and his seven rebounds fell just one shy of Al Horford’s for the team-high mark. Surprisingly, the point guard also tied his season high with two blocks and also contributed two assists during his 35 minutes of action.
Box Score Nuggets
- Kyrie Irving and LeBron James tied for the game high in scoring with 30 points apiece.
- James tallied a triple-double in less than 28 minutes of action, with 30 points, and game highs of 12 assists and 10 rebounds.
- Each team's bench scored at least 41 points.
- Los Angeles scored a whopping 68 points in the paint.
- Gordon Hayward scored 15 points off the bench for Boston, on 6-for-8 shooting.
- Moritz Wagner scored 22 points for LA.
- Boston's largest lead was 18 points, while LA's was just two points.
- Irving and Jaylen Brown each blocked two shots to lead the game.
- Marcus Smart shot 4-for-6 from long distance and scored 16 points.
- Smart, Irving and Jayson Tatum tied for Boston's team high in assists with five apiece.
- The Celtics shot 51.6 percent from the field on the night.
Quote of the Night
It’s about us and it’s about us competing and being well-organized every single time we’re out there. And like I said, it starts with me.
Kyrie Irving on the Celtics.