The Boston Celtics left the Staples Center with a 121-113 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night, but it didn't come without a little drama.
The C's led throughout the game and built a 113-86 lead with 7:01 remaining in the third quarter thanks to Jaylen Brown's 36 points up to that point.
And then it fell apart for Boston.
The Celtics bench was dominated as the Lakers went on a 21-2 run and closed within 115-107 with 1:50 remaining, which forced C's head coach Brad Stevens to insert three of his starters -- Brown, Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart -- back into the game. Brown scored twice, increasing his total to a game-high 40 points, and the Celtics escaped to extend their win streak to five games.
Former Celtics center Kendrick Perkins called out the team's bench during "Celtics Postgame Live" on NBC Sports Boston.
"When you come into the game, you're still fighting for your livelihood. We're talking about guys who are still on rookie contracts. When you're on a rookie contract, every minute is valuable. Every possession is valuable," Perkins explained.
"You don't know who's watching. It's not just Brad Stevens or Danny Ainge and the Celtics organization, but they have other scouts from other teams who are watching. Not only watching to scout the Celtics and send in a report sheet, but they're watching to see other talent, who's coming up for free agency so they can keep their on them in case the Celtics don't want them. So you're always auditioning for a job in the NBA, especially when you're a third string-type of player."
This is a great lesson for the Celtics' younger players. Perkins is absolutely right. Representatives from the other 29 teams are always watching and looking for players who could be targets in free agency or the trade market. Everyone is constantly being evaluated.
Some of the stats from the bench's performance against the Lakers are just brutal. Here's a look:
|4th Quarter Stats||Minutes||Points||FG/FGA||Plus/Minus|
The Celtics need to give their stars -- Brown and Tatum -- as much rest as possible throughout the rest of the regular season. They have, for many different reasons, played a ton of minutes through 56 games. These guys could use a lighter workload before the playoffs arrive and their minutes go back up.
Brown and Tatum can't get a rest if the bench is awful, though. There's no excuse for the C's reserves to get obliterated by the bottom of the Lakers' roster.
Hopefully for the Celtics, Friday night's lackluster showing serves as a wakeup call for the bench. Perkins' comments also should serve as a lesson.