LeBron James layup vs. the Celtics

LeBron Return Spoiled, Lakers Lose 3rd Straight

by Matthew Barrero

The King returned to the Laker lineup Friday night but was all for naught as the Lake Show couldn’t keep up with their rival, Celtics, in the second half, losing by a final score of 130-108.

Anytime the Lakers and Celtics meet, the hype is always at an all-time high. For Friday’s contest, the headlines focused a little less on the two teams and more on one man: LeBron James.

James was back in uniform for the Purple and Gold after missing eight-straight games with an abdominal strain. The four-time NBA champion didn’t show any signs of rust, finishing with 23 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals in 32 minutes.

LeBron’s presence had a significant impact for Los Angeles early in the game when a bounce-pass from Talen Horton-Tucker set up a hammer dunk for James’ first points of the night.

Los Angles found themselves up by eight at the end of the first quarter and seemed rejuvenated.

The Lakers held a one-point lead at the half quickly turned into an eight-point deficit at the start of the third. It wouldn’t stop there as Boston outscored L.A. 33-21 in the quarter, adding another layer to the Lakers third quarter struggles this season.

The Celtics shot 50 percent from the field, scored 30+ points in every quarter, and ran away with the game in the second half (outscored L.A. 70-47).

“We just got to find a way to score in the third quarter,” Anthony Davis said postgame. “That’s been our kryptonite the whole season. Can’t score. That’s putting us in a deficit. We fouled them way too much tonight as well. [Celtics had 38 free-throw attempts]. We got to find ways to get it done. We have to do a better job on the defensive end.”

Davis scored 31 points and recorded six rebounds for his sixth 30+ point game of the season. Russell Westbrook contributed 12 points and six assists in 31 minutes and Carmelo Anthony added 13 points off the bench, shooting 3-of-4 from beyond the arc.

Frank Vogel emphasized the team’s focus on finishing whole games rather than figuring out the third quarter woes.

“Our group just has to strike the balance of how we’re going to play offensively,” Vogel said. “That’s going to take time for our guys to learn. We have to get committed to playing as a team, offensively and when we do, it looks beautiful, and you see the potential of what we can be. We didn’t get it done anywhere near the level that we need to on the defensive side of the ball. There’s going to be some growing pains with cohesion and habits. It definitely was not good enough tonight.”

This is the first time this season Los Angeles has had a losing streak of more than two games. Up next on the agenda is a Sunday afternoon matchup with the Detroit Pistons (4-11).

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