Celtics

Celtics

BOSTON -- It took less than two minutes for the Los Angeles Lakers to put the Boston Celtics in an 8-0 hole, looking as though we were about to witness the basketball equivalent of the Conor McGregor-Cowboy Cerrone UFC fight that was over before you knew it. 

The Celtics-Lakers game stayed true to that … but not the way you might have expected. 

Boston erased that 8-0 deficit in no time. 

And then they went about wiping out any hopes that the high-flying Lakers had of competing, let alone beating the Celtics, who absolutely crushed the Lakers with a decisive 139-107 win.

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Boston (28-14) officially kicked off the second half of the season with the Green Team equivalent of a  2-for-1 special: snapping their three-game losing streak while beating a hated rival in the process. 

Brad Stevens often talks about his players needing to play as close as they can to the best version of themselves. 

We saw that on many levels Monday, with the contributions coming from pretty much every Celtics player who stepped on the floor. 

And aside from the first two minutes of the game, the Lakers (34-9) were outplayed in every way, shape and form by the Celtics. 

The catalyst for Boston’s uprising on Monday wasn’t about a single player or moment in the game, but a collection of impact, difference-makers who on this night put together the most complete game of the season.

The result is a rousing win that, if the Celtics have their way, will be the jumping-off point for them to get back in the thick of the race for one of the top spots in the Eastern Conference this season. 

ENES KANTER

We’ve seen Enes Kanter dominate games, but rarely have we seen him control the action around the rim against a team with as many bigs as the Los Angeles Lakers. 

Whether it was on post-ups or put-backs, Kanter was not going to be denied on this night. 

He would finish the night with an impressive 18-point, 11-rebound performance with much of his damage coming in the first half in which he tallied a near double-double of 18 points and eight rebounds. 

It was the kind of performance that could not have come at a better time for Boston. Kanter provided the kind of inside presence offensively that would prove to be critical to the team getting a much-needed win. 

GORDON HAYWARD

He wasn’t one of Boston’s top scorers, but his play was absolutely critical to Boston rallying from an early first-quarter hole to get the victory. 

During the first couple of minutes, the Celtics were totally off the mark as a team with shots not falling and the transition from defense to offense being off.

But with points few and far between for Boston, it was Hayward’s scoring that kept the Celtics afloat early on and more importantly, set the tone for their comeback that was easily their most impressive win of the season. 

Hayward would finish with 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting with six rebounds and five assists.

JAYSON TATUM

It wasn’t so much the total points scored, but the timing. 

On more than one occasion, Tatum knocked down a shot that stymied a Lakers surge or gave the Celtics a little breathing room.

Few were as big as the transition 3-pointer he drained to put Boston up 88-66 with 7:09 to play in the third quarter. 

He didn’t deliver the put-them-away dagger shot, but instead a series of well-timed, precision-crisp baskets that began by putting the Lakers in a hole, and concluded with burying them in again, easily the most impressive performance of the season for this Celtics team. 

And Tatum led all scorers with 27 points on 10-for-18 shooting with five rebounds. 

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Grizzlies-Celtics, which begins Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, followed by tip-off at 7:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.