The first home game with fans at Staples Center did not go according to plan for the Los Angeles Lakers as despite a late run, they came up short in a 121-113 loss to the Boston Celtics
The Lakers defense struggled out of the gates as they failed to contain Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who scored the Celtics’ first 14 points. Offensively it was just as bad as Los Angeles missed eight of their first nine shots, and found themselves behind 18-4. It also didn’t help that one of the Lakers’ best perimeter defenders, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, picked up a pair of fouls in the first minute of the game.
Talen Horton-Tucker and Alex Caruso came in and gave the Lakers some much-needed scoring, but defensively the team was unable to earn many stops. The bench did a solid job keeping the game within reach, but Los Angeles found themselves trailing 31-23 after the first.
The Lakers were in a much better offensive rhythm atop the second with Montrezl Harrell finding success attacking the basket in isolation. However, Brown re-entered the game and picked up where he left off, nailing a pair of floaters that kept the Celtics slightly ahead.
Marc Gasol started to find his shooting stroke, nailing a couple of jumpers including a 3-pointer, but Boston continued to shoot well from the field. The Lakers had no answer for the wing duo of Brown and Tatum and they went into the locker room down 61-48 after another half in which they also greatly struggled offensively.
Much like the first half, the Purple and Gold had issues with their half-court offense to start the third until they saw back-to-back threes from Kyle Kuzma and Gasol. Gasol dislocated his pinky diving for a loose ball but was able to pop it back in himself and stayed in the game, proceeding to hit two more triples.
Although Gasol caught fire from the field, Boston was able to respond nearly every time down to stay up by double digits. The Lakers’ competitive spirit was impressive, but they went into the fourth staring at a 91-79 hole.
It was a nightmare start to the fourth for the Lakers as they gave up a quick 10-0 run led by Brown that put them down by 22. L.A.’s defense was unable to slow down Boston, who had no problems executing their sets and getting good looks.
Credit to the Lakers’ bench as they made a late run to make it close, which forced the Celtics to bring back in their starters with the lead being cut all the way down to five. Brown made some clutch buckets to close it out though, so the comeback was all for naught.
Brown was the star of the night as the Lakers simply had no answer for him. He finished with 40 points and eight rebounds on an impressive 17-of-20 shooting.
In a night that the Lakers struggled offensively, Gasol actually had his best night of the season on that end, finishing with a season-high 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting and 4-of-6 from deep.
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