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Lakers Thwarted By Thomas, Celtics
The Lakers had the firepower to potentially half their arch-rivals’ winning streak, but the Celtics simply had the most dangerous player on the floor.
Los Angeles had no response to the lethality of the NBA’s second-leading scorer, Isaiah Thomas, who scorched the purple and gold for 38 points in Boston’s 113-107 win — its sixth in a row.
It was another explosion for the 5-foot-9 All-Star, who was coming off of back-to-back 40-point nights.
“People say, ‘He’s so good for such a short player and all that,’” Larry Nance Jr. said, shaking his head. “It doesn’t have anything to do with height. He’s one of the best players in the league period, let alone his height. I don’t know how he does it, but he’s good at it.”
Nance himself had a hand in everything, finishing the game with a career-high tying 18-points, 11 rebounds, four assists and three steals.
But the Lakers (17-35) couldn’t take advantage of 15 offensive rebounds — one-third of which came from Nance — as they shot just 39.4 percent from the field.
Nick Young, who finished with 17 points and five 3-pointers, felt that the low clip had to do with the team’s tendency to play isolation basketball when it gets into a rut.
“It brings down the energy,” Young said. “People get frustrated when they’re not touching the ball. It’s sad to say, but it’s part of basketball. Everybody wants to feel like they’re part of the team.”
Head coach Luke Walton saw that problem arise in the second quarter. After taking a one-point lead out of the first, the Lakers shot just 8-of-24 in the next frame, as Boston (31-18) entered halftime up 62-51.
“As a team, I thought we got selfish,” Walton said. “We stopped moving the ball. We stopped trusting each other. And because of it, we don’t make shots. And when we don’t make shots our defense gets lazy. … We gotta get better at putting whole games together.”
The Celtics built their lead as high as 17 late in the third quarter before the Lakers made their comeback bid.
L.A. ended the period with an 11-2 run led by five points apiece from Lou Williams and Brandon Ingram.
However, the closing quarter was all about Thomas, also known as the “King in the Fourth.”
Thomas certainly lived up to that moniker by personally extinguishing the Lakers’ rally.
Though Williams went off for 13 points in the fourth quarter alone, while Nance added 11 points and seven rebounds, Thomas was always there to answer, pouring in 17 points on six baskets.
“He’s fast (and) he makes tough shots, too, at the same time,” said D’Angelo Russell, who finished with 20 points, six rebounds and six assists. “And he can get to the rim. He’s a complete player.”
Thomas was extraordinary all night long, gashing the Lakers with his trademark drives while also mixing in five 3-pointers and a couple of mid-range jumpers to give the Celtics the most wins in NBA history after both teams entered the game tied with 3,252 apiece.
HIGHLIGHTS: Larry Nance Jr. scores 18 with 11 rebounds but the Lakers fall to the Celtics, 113-107. pic.twitter.com/7YYrU4sB5L— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) February 4, 2017
Williams finished with 21 points despite shooting 5-of-14 from the field, while Ingram had 14. … Thomas was complemented by strong nights from Jae Crowder (18 points), Al Horford (eight assists) and Marcus Smart (seven assists, five steals). … The Lakers lost their 11th straight road game. … A crowd of 18,624 sold out TD Garden.
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