Jaylen Brown, the Boston winger, was comfortably seated on the bench awaiting the final buzzer, with 36 points. His Celtics, far ahead in the fourth quarter (113-86, 41st), had only to finish the job on the floor of the Staples Center in Los Angeles, against the still decimated Lakers, deprived of their duo LeBron James ( ankle) and Anthony Davis (Achilles tendon).
The unlikely comeback
But when we thought the game was over, the Lakers, led by Alfonzo McKinnie (10 points, 4 of 6) and Ben McLemore (17 points, 7 of 12 shooting), fomented an improbable comeback – 24 to 2 in 5 minutes -, between distant banderillas, baskets with faults and a few dunks, including that of McLemore who smashed the circle and gathered his own with a breath (105-110).
A situation forcing Brad Stevens, still deprived of Evan Fournier (Covid protocol), to relaunch Brown. A lay-up by passing the ball behind his back and a float in traffic later, the case was definitively folded (121-113). Brown finished the game with 40 points (2 points off his record with Boston), registered with an incredible 17 of 20 shooting skills (3/5 to 3 points), with 9 rebounds, 3 assists and 6 stray balls.
Five other players on the Boston side reached ten points, without going over fifteen – Tatum, Pritchard, Smart, Thompson, Walker – in a game where the Lakers ‘defensive apathy allowed Stevens’ men to shoot 56.5 %, to dominate the rebound (48-36) and win despite 21 stray balls.
The Lakers, with a Caldwell-Pope – Matthews tandem held at 2/14 in shooting, having to get the points on the bench (19 from Talen Horton-Tucker), Marc Gasol also taking advantage of the absences of Andre Drummond and Markieff Morris for regain color (18 points), lacked leaders and ideas. Good news, Anthony Davis has been cleared to resume contact training and could return to competition next week.
Jaylen Brown’s shooting success percentage, making him the first Celtic in history to score at least 40 points with such a skill
The Celtics, who have just dropped successively, away, Denver (105-87), Portland (116-115) and the LA Lakers, string together a fifth success, the seventh in eight games, and take advantage of the defeat of ‘Atlanta at home against Milwaukee to join the Hawks in fourth place in the East (30 wins – 26 losses). The podium and the Bucks still seem out of reach (35-20) but, after a sinusoidal start to the season, Boston is finally in the right direction.
The LA Lakers, which metronomically alternate victories and defeats for ten matches, remain fifth (34-22) ahead of Portland (31-23).
Faced with Sacramento, the Phoenix Suns will have struggled even in the money-time, but finally respected the logic against the desperate Kings (9 losses in a row, 12th in the West), the only winners of the evening at home (122 -114) thanks to the immaculate game of DeAndre Ayton (26 points to 10 of 11 shooting, 11 rebounds), well followed by Devin Booker (23 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists) and playing master Chris Paul (13 points 11 passes).
Winners of fourteen of their last sixteen games, the Suns consolidate their unexpected second place in the West and put a lot of pressure on the Utah Jazz of Rudy Gobert, still leader, but with a short head (41-14 against 40-15 ) before facing Indiana next night, then the LA Lakers on Saturday and Tuesday.