BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics came into the season looking to build around a new Big Three of Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford.
Eleven games into the season and Irving is the last man standing, with Hayward (ankle) expected to be out for the rest of the season and Horford (concussion protocol) out indefinitely.
Boston took another blow when rookie sensation Jayson Tatum (ankle soreness) left the game in the first half and did not return. He played just nine minutes and finished with five points.
But instead of being overcome by a string of adversity, the Celtics continue to be a next-man-up kind of team that regardless of who’s not playing, it’s not an excuse to lose sight of the mission – find a way to win.
And the Celtics did just that, pulling away in the fourth quarter for a 107-96 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
Boston (10-2) has extended its winning streak to 10 in a row, and in the process handed the Lakers (5-6) their fourth straight defeat in this head-to-head series.
Boston got a season-high 21 points from Aron Baynes. Kyrie Irving had another strong game with 19 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Marcus Morris, starting for the second time this season, had 16 points.
Meanwhile, the Lakers were led by Brandon Ingram and Jordan Clarkson who each had 18 points. Lonzo Ball had nine points, five rebounds and six assists for the Lakers.
The Lakers had cut Boston’s lead down to as little as four points in the third quarter following a 3-point play by Julius Randle. But the Celtics bounced back to take an 87-81 lead into the fourth.
Randle, who finished with 16 points, had another 3-point play that cut Boston’s lead down to 89-86 with under nine minutes to play.
Boston responded with a 7-2 run capped off by a pair of free throws by Terry Rozier.
The Celtics dominated the first half of play with a lead that peaked at 21 points. But the Lakers gradually chipped away at the deficit which was down to single digits in the last couple minutes and were within six following a driving lay-up by Kyle Kuzma with less than a minute to play in the half.
But the Celtics wasted no time coming back with a 3-point play by Baynes that put the Celtics ahead 61-52 with 25.6 seconds to play in the second quarter and would serve as the final points scored by either team in the first half.