Boston Celtics

Feb 23, 2020; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) and Boston Celtics guard Brad Wanamaker (9) battle for the ball in the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

By Matt Dolloff,

A string of costly turnovers (or perhaps questionable calls) late in the fourth quarter ultimately gave the Los Angeles Lakers a 114-112 win over the Celtics in a hard-fought, playoff-like game at the Staples Center on Sunday.

With Boston clinging to a 110-108 lead in the final minute, LeBron James went up for a layup and drew a foul from Jaylen Brown. The mild arm contact apparently warranted enough evidence for the officials to make the call in that situation. But it got worse for the Celtics after that.

As the ball was up for grabs on James’ missed free-throw attempt, multiple players touched it as it bounced out of bounds and the officials ruled Lakers’ ball on the court. High-definition replays appeared to show that the ball last touched the pinky of Lakers big man Anthony Davis, but the call stood.

James drained a fadeaway mid-range shot on the ensuing inbound pass to make it 111-110 Lakers. Then turnovers continued to doom the Celtics, as Brown’s errant pass to Tatum went out of bounds to give the ball back to L.A. with just 15 seconds left. Celtics head coach Brad Stevens received a technical foul after the play for voicing his displeasure to the officials.

From there it essentially became a free throw contest, but Jayson Tatum had one last opportunity to deliver a clutch bucket for the Celtics. His shot came just barely too late at the buzzer and he got called for an offensive foul to boot.

The C’s came up short to the Lakers despite Tatum tying his career high with 41 points on the afternoon. Jaylen Brown added 20 points of his own. Offensively, Gordon Hayward struggled with just 10 points on 5-for-15 shooting and missed a key layup in the closing minutes. The Celtics also struggled to score at the point guard position without Kemba Walker in the lineup, as Marcus Smart and Brad Wanamaker combined for just 16 points.

Up next: The Celtics will look to rebound from the loss when they take the court in Portland to face the Trail Blazers.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at