THE Boston Celtics were happy to share on Christmas Day, and it propelled them to a historic holiday against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Led by Kristaps Porzingis with 28 points and 11 rebounds, all five starters had at least 18 points for the Celtics in a 126-115 win over the Lakers on Monday (Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2023 PH time).
Jayson Tatum added 25 points, Jaylen Brown had 19 points and Derrick White chipped in with 18 points and 11 assists for Boston, which has won three straight and 12 of their past 14.
“Honestly, we all know that if we push the pace one of us is gonna get a shot. And I feel like when we have that energy and you know if I run to my spot and I run to my lanes I’m gonna get the ball, it just makes everybody do it and do it that much harder,” said Jrue Holiday, who had 18 points and seven assists.
Anthony Davis scored a game-high 40 points with 13 rebounds, LeBron James had 16 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, but the Lakers have dropped six of eight since winning the inaugural In-Season Tournament.
“I don’t think we’re healthy right now. I don’t think we’re where we want to be to compete versus the top teams until we continue to get better and better, continue to work out habits,” James said. “For us, we’re still trying to figure our situation out as far as how we want to continue to attack each game, but we’ll get better.”
It was the third game on Christmas Day between the two most storied franchises in the league. The Minneapolis Lakers won in Boston in 1951, and Los Angeles was victorious in 2008.
The Celtics ran right over the Lakers’ starting lineup, scoring the first 12 points capped by a 3-pointer from Brown, and would lead by as many as 18 in the first quarter.
After trailing for the only time in the game early in the third quarter when Jarred Vanderbilt threw down a dunk, Boston ripped off seven straight points to regain the lead.
Boston successfully kept Los Angeles at arm’s length in the final quarter, despite Davis hitting the 40-point mark for the 40th time in a regular season game.
Every Boston starter had at least four points in the opening quarter and did it again in the fourth. As Porzingis noted, with some better shooting from 3, it could have been an even more emphatic victory. The Celtics ended up 13 of 42 (31%) from 3.
“Very happy about the game we had as a team,” Porzingis said. “And honestly we played really good basketball. We just did not make or we did not shoot what we normally shoot from outside. But other than that, I think we played really well.”
For the Lakers, there were too many mistakes elsewhere to take advantage of a rare instance where they were the better team from long range, shooting 40.6 percent from 3 (13 of 32).
Coach Darvin Ham ran off a list of errors nearly as long as Santa’s, the details he said Los Angeles cannot afford to get bored with if it wants to compete for a championship at the end of the season. They ranged from transition defense to rebounding to turnovers.
Davis brought up one of his missed free throws in the decisive third quarter as a little mistake that made a big difference.
“You always think about shots you could have made, defensive plays you could have made, rebounds you could have had, free throws I could have made, things like that that could have changed the game,” Davis said. “I missed a free throw in the third quarter and they ended up getting a fast-break 3, and all I was thinking was if I make the free throw, that doesn’t happen.”
Both teams got a scare when Brown and James were shaken up in a collision with 4:02 left in the second. Brown was cutting back to the ball when he took a bad step and pulled up, leading to James kneeing him in the back. Each player was attended to on the court, with Brown going back to the locker room before returning to start the third quarter.