The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers played one of the wildest games of the NBA season Saturday night at TD Garden. After a controversial ending to the fourth quarter and a tightly-contested overtime period, the C's escaped with the 125-121 victory.
After a sluggish second quarter, the C's pulled back ahead with a 21-8 run in the third. Boston and L.A. traded punches throughout a dramatic fourth quarter that certainly won't sit well with the Lakers.
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In the final seconds of regulation, Jayson Tatum appeared to foul LeBron James but the referees did not make a call. That resulted in the game going into overtime. James wore his emotions on his sleeve, to say the least.
Patrick Beverley also gave the refs an earful. The Lakers guard earned a technical foul for handing a camera to an official in an effort to show him evidence of the foul.
Nonetheless, the game continued in OT and the Celtics prevailed. Jaylen Brown played the hero with 37 points while Jayson Tatum dropped 30. Malcolm Brogdon added 26 off the bench.
James had a game-high 41 points for L.A. Anthony Davis had 16 points off the bench and Beverley contributed 15 in the losing effort.
The hard-fought win snaps the C's three-game losing skid. They'll have the next three days off before a meeting with the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night.
Here are our takeaways from the C's thrilling victory over the Lakers, which brings them to 36-15 on the season.
Jaylen Brown gets redemption
Jaylen Brown was hard on himself after Thursday's loss to the New York Knicks. His two missed free throws in crunch time sealed Boston's fate, and he took responsibility.
"Those two missed free throws kind of embodied the whole game," he said after the defeat. "I didn't get it going, didn't give my teammates enough energy to get the win, and that's what happens when you don't come out and give your best. I'll be better."
He backed that statement up on Saturday.
Brown erupted for 37 points and most of them came in the clutch. He nailed all of his free throws when the game was in the balance. He had nine points in the fourth quarter to keep the Celtics alive, then finished the job with 11 points in OT.
Brown was in foul trouble early on and played with five personal fouls in overtime, but he stayed aggressive and stepped up as the hero. His coach, Joe Mazzulla, was proud.
"Just his resiliency to not allow the circumstances to affect his mindset," Mazzulla said after the game. "His execution was tremendous. ... The league gives you opportunities to come back."
A huge night for Malcolm Brogdon
Mazzulla went with a seven-man rotation in the second half and it paid off with Malcolm Brogdon putting on a show.
Brogdon hit some of the Celtics' biggest shots of the night, including in the third quarter when he put his team back ahead with a 3 to cap off a 21-8 run.
He also drilled a clutch shot in the fourth that gave the Celtics a 98-96 lead.
The veteran guard ended up with 26 points, his second-highest total of the season (30 vs. Charlotte on Jan. 14). He was 8-for-15 from the floor (3-7 3PT) and tallied six rebounds, four assists, and two steals.
Meanwhile, Brogdon's biggest competition for the Sixth Man of the Year award Russell Westbrook was a dud. He shot 4-for-14 from the floor with 12 points and five turnovers. Consider this a statement from "The President."
Marcus Smart is missed
Marcus Smart was sidelined for the fourth straight game due to an ankle sprain. The Celtics avoided losing their fourth straight game, but it's still tough to look past Smart's glaring absence.
The C's offense simply hasn't looked the same with Smart out of the lineup. Their shooting percentages were down during their three-game skid and the ball movement hasn't been nearly as crisp since his injury.
Boston had only one assist in the entire second quarter, which was a big reason its relinquished its nine-point lead. It had only seven assists midway through the third quarter.
The Celtics' season low for assists is 17. They had 18 on Saturday night even with the overtime period to pad their numbers.
It's clear the C's miss their playmaker and reigning Defensive Player of the Year. Fortunately for Smart and the team, they'll have three days of rest before hosting the Nets on Wednesday. Smart's status will be worth monitoring on the injury report heading into the matchup.