Celtics clinch playoff spot with 107-100 win over Lakers

Celtics clinch playoff spot with 107-100 win over Lakers

In Kobe Bryant’s final game against the Boston Celtics, it was clear from the opening tip-off that he wanted to leave them with a performance that would remind them of what he’s done most of his career – score at will.

Well the Celtics took Bryant’s best punches, and ended things by giving him what they always want to give him - a loss.

Despite a strong surge in the second and third quarters by the Lakers, the Celtics began and ended the game playing well which was good enough to secure a 107-100 victory.

With the win, Boston (45-32) has secured a second trip to the postseason while the Lakers (16-60) move one step closer towards the worst record in franchise history.

Bryant doesn’t have the same explosiveness or elite athleticism that has been a hallmark of his career.

But the 20-year veteran can still score with the best of them, evident by him finishing with a game-high 34 points.

He gave the Lakers faithful looking for a sweep of the Celtics hope late in the game when he drained a jumper to cut Boston’s lead to 99-93.

Moments later, Isaiah Thomas broke down the Lakers defense and scored on a driving lay-up to the basket that made it 101-93. Thomas led the Celtics in scoring with 26 points, 21 of which came in the first half.

The Celtics increased their lead shortly after that when Marcus Smart hit a 3-pointer to make it a 104-93 with a little more than 90 seconds to play.

The Lakers, seemingly out of it, went on to score seven of the next seven points to make it a 104-100 game with 27.9 seconds to play.

Brad Stevens, well aware that his team was on the verge of yet another late-game collapse, called a time-out to regroup.

Out of the time-out, Evan Turner was fouled on a drive attempt and went to the line where he made one of two attempts.

Kobe Bryant tried to make it a one-possession game but his 3-point attempt was off the mark.

In the scramble for the loose ball, Crowder was fouled and went to the line. But on the play, Turner was hit in the face by Julius Randle and immediately went to the locker room.

Crowder made both free throws to secure the victory.

Boston led by as many as 17 points in the second quarter, only to see their control – and their big fat lead – shrink up quickly.

Not surprisingly, it was Bryant leading the Lakers comeback.

After a Thomas 3-pointer put the Celtics ahead 57-40, Los Angeles more than doubled up the Celtics over the course of the second and most of the third quarter to lead 73-71 on a lob dunk by Larry Nance Jr.

Neither team could assert control of the game for the remainder of the third quarter which ended with the Celtics clinging to a 77-75 lead going into the fourth.

Isaiah Thomas isn't ruling out return to Celtics

File Photo

Isaiah Thomas isn't ruling out return to Celtics

Isaiah Thomas back in green? Maybe there's a chance after all.

The former Celtics guard, now with the Lakers, started a Q&A session on Twitter and was asked whether he'd consider returning to Boston this offseason. This was his answer...

That's not a no.

Thomas has had a rough go of it since leaving the Celtics. His brief tenure in Cleveland didn't go according to plan, and things haven't gotten a whole lot better out in L.A. The 29-year-old is averaging 15.3 points per game just a year after averaging 28.9 with Boston.

Let the speculation begin.


Horford not making any excuses after C's rough outing vs Pelicans

Horford not making any excuses after C's rough outing vs Pelicans

Al Horford understands that there’s plenty of blame pie to go around following Boston’s 108-89 loss to New Orleans. 

Considering how Pelicans stud Anthony Davis dominated the game on so many levels Sunday night, Horford was quick to acknowledge his role in the loss. 

“He (Davis) was able to get behind our defense a lot,” Horford told reporters after the loss. “Some mistakes on my end; gotta give him credit. He dominated tonight. I’ll definitely take the blame for that.”

Davis finished with a double-double of 34 points and 11 rebounds, a total that would have been higher if not for the game being so lopsided which allowed Davis to head to the bench early in the fourth. 

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And Horford’s struggles defensively were just as problematic on offense as the five-time All-Star tallied just six points on 3-for-11 shooting to go with four rebounds and three assists. 

Boston has been a team whose collective sums have fueled their success. 

But Horford understands he has to be a high impact performer, a job that’s even more vital when key starters like Kyrie Irving (left knee soreness) and Jaylen Brown (concussion) are out as well as top reserves Marcus Smart (right thumb) and Daniel Theis (torn meniscus). 

And by Horford’s own admission, he just didn’t bring it on Sunday at a level to give him and the Celtics a legit shot at winning the game.

“Defensively we had too many breakdowns,” Horford said. “And the game got away from us in the second half. So there’s no excuses. I didn’t give us a chance, either; missing a lot of looks offensively. I just need to be better.”

And he’ll have to be if Boston (47-23) is to get back on track with a win on Tuesday against a talented Oklahoma City squad led by Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. 

At full strength, the Thunder would be a significant challenge for the Celtics. 

But having a roster with a number of key players out with injuries, it becomes even more imperative for Boston’s top players to elevate their play. 

And as you scan this Celtics roster and examine those who are healthy enough to play, it’s clear that Horford more than any other Boston player, has to find a way to become more impactful.

Certainly, more points and rebounds would help. 

But as we’ve seen time and time again with Horford, often his greatest contributions to winning games don’t necessarily show up in the final box score. 

That being said, a six-point, four-rebound game doesn’t cut it. 

Horford has to be better, something he knows better than anyone. 

“I’ll definitely look at the film and see how I can be better individually,” Horford said. “The good thing about the NBA, is we have a chance to play on Tuesday. Hopefully we’ll learn from this game and be ready to go Tuesday at home.”