(Photo Courtesy of YourCentralValley.com) “Celtics face LA Lakers”
The Boston Celtics are in a slump as they went 2-2 during their home stretch. Boston played the Los Angeles Clippers, New Orleans Pelicans, Indiana Pacers and Los Angeles Lakers during this stretch. On the bright side, Boston still maintains a 4.5 lead over the Milwaukee Bucks for first place in the eastern conference. Against the Los Angeles Clippers, Boston got embarrassed on their home court as they lost 96-115. Boston was without star center Kristaps Porzingis (left ankle sprain). The main takeaway was Boston’s abysmal shooting, as they shot just 36% from the field and 25% from three. Boston also struggled to get stops on the defensive end.
After a competitive first quarter where the Clippers went up 26-21, Boston got smoked as they were down 60-91 heading into the fourth quarter. Boston won the final quarter 36-24 to make the final score more respectable. Celtics star forward Jayson Tatum led Boston with 26 points and 11 rebounds on 8/18 field goal shooting. However, Jaylen Brown struggled as he only had eight points on 4/12 shooting. For the Clippers, star forward Kawhi Leonard led all players in scoring with 26 points and seven rebounds. Boston would then bounce back and defeat the Pelicans 118-112 in a thrilling back-and-forth game. Despite a rough start on both ends of the court, Boston kept their poise and handled adversity.
After the Pelicans went up 60-50 at halftime, Boston slowly chipped into their lead. In the third quarter, Boston won 31-27, cutting the lead to four. After many failed attempts at closing the gap, Boston prevailed despite being down by 11 midway through the fourth quarter. Point guard Derrick White scored 13 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter. Timely buckets and clutch defensive plays led to Boston completing the comeback. Tatum scored 28 points on 10/18 field goal shooting, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Brown scored 22 points on 8/15 shooting, along with 11 rebounds and seven assists. Point guard Jrue Holiday chipped in with 20 points on 7/11 shooting. Center Al Horford and forward Sam Hauser each scored in double figures as well. On the other end, Pelicans star power forward Zion Williamson scored 26 points on 11/18 field goal shooting. Forward Brandon Ingram scored 28 points on 12/24 field goal shooting. Boston followed it up by defeating the Pacers in a 130-125 thriller. In a game with little to no defense, Boston and Indiana lit up the scoreboard.
This time, Boston got off to a strong start, winning the first quarter 36-26. In the second quarter, both teams exploded for 40+ points, with Boston winning the quarter 45-40 to go up 81-66 at the half. However, the Pacers would not go away as they won the third quarter 37-25, cutting the lead to three. Boston held off Indiana’s rally by hitting timely buckets and getting enough stops on defense, as they won the fourth quarter 23-21. Tatum, Brown and White exploded for 79 points in the win. Tatum scored 30 points on 12/19 field goal shooting. Brown scored 25 points on 9/15 shooting. White scored 24 points on 8/16 field goal shooting. The returning Porzingis had 17 points on 7/15 field goal shooting, along with 12 rebounds. For Indiana, former Celtic forward Aaron Nesmith had 26 points on 11/17 field goal shooting, 12 rebounds and seven assists. Power forward Pascal Siakam had 23 points on 9/16 field goal
shooting. To wrap up their home stretch, Boston would suffer yet another embarrassing loss, this time to the Los Angeles Lakers 105-114. What makes this worse than the Clippers loss is that Lakers superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis were out due to injury. What appeared to be an easy Celtics win became a shocking upset.
After a competitive first quarter where the Lakers won 28-25, Boston slowly lost grip of this game as they were down by double digits for almost the entire game. The biggest takeaway was the free throw disparity, as Los Angeles shot nearly four times the amount of free throws as Boston (26 to 7). While there were some questionable calls by the officials, Boston’s interior defense struggled to get stops. Boston looked lost defensively as they had no answers for Lakers guard Austin Reaves, who dropped 32 points on 10/18 field goal shooting and 7/10 makes from three. Los Angeles connected on 52.3% of their threes, going 19/36. Boston only shot 42.3% from the field and 33.3% from three. It was a poor shooting night for everyone on the team. Overall, Boston has shown inconsistency on both sides during this home stretch.