Boston Celtics

Boston Celtics

Boston Celtics

Dec 25, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) moves the ball against Los Angeles Lakers forward Cam Reddish (5) during the first half at Arena. Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Celtics had to go on the road for the holidays this year, but they made it work. On Monday evening the C’s wrapped up a four-game West Coast road trip by beating the Los Angeles Lakers 126-115 on Christmas Day to close the trip with three wins in a row.

It was a complete effort by the Celtics in this one. Fully healthy after missing various starters over the previous three games, every Celtics starter scored at least 18 points.

With the win, the Celtics improved to 23-6 on the season. After the Milwaukee Bucks lost to the New York Knicks earlier in the day, the Celtics are now 1.5 games up for the top spot in the Eastern conference as they head back to Boston.

Right away, the Celtics picked up with the torrid pace they featured in Saturday’s 144-119 over the Sacramento Kings. They got up 12-0 in the first two and a half minutes, a run that featured six points off of turnovers. Seven of those 12 points came from Jaylen Brown, with Jayson Tatum barely having to touch the basketball, and Brown’s first three of the game drew an early timeout from Lakers’ coach Darvin Ham.

That timeout didn’t do much to cool the Celtics off, and Tatum was more involved after that. He scored seven of the Celtics’ next 16 points. However the Lakers found a groove late in the quarter, and closed the frame on a 9-0 run. With that run, the Celtics still led 32-23 at the end of the first quarter.

  • The Lakers continued to chip away at the Celtics’ lead early in the second quarter, but Payton Pritchard prevented them from catching up. At one point he scored 10 consecutive points for the Celtics. Still the Lakers kept closing, and a 10-3 run was the cap on a 30-13 run to trim the Celtics’ lead to three points midway through the second.

    After a Celtics timeout they held that margin for a few minutes, although the Lakers eventually tied the game with two minutes to play in the half. A back-and-forth final few minutes saw the Celtics go into the break with a one-point lead, at 58-57.

    Los Angeles’ offensive efficiency was the difference between the two quarters. LA shot 38 percent on 24 shots in the first quarter, then 61 percent on 23 shots in the second. The Celtics were at 50 and 43 in the two quarters, respectively.

  • Late in that first half Brown had to leave the game with a back injury, with the Celtics calling him ‘questionable’ to return. Brown did indeed return to start the second half, and capped a Celtics’ 8-0 run to open the third with a big dunk.

    As the third continued the Celtics were able to put together another big run. A 10-3 stretch was highlighted by seven points from Kristaps Porzingis, who was back on the floor after missing Saturday’s game with an ankle injury.

    Those runs were the story of the third quarter, and helped the Celtics build a cushion. They won the high-scoring quarter 41-33, and took a 99-90 lead in the fourth.

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    The fourth quarter began with the teams trading baskets, but the Celtics didn’t give any ground. Every time the Lakers tried to make a push the Celtics’ would get an emphatic basket with Tatum, Porzingis, and White all contributing to that effort. An 8-2 run by the Lakers to close out the game proved to be too little, too late.

    Porzingis finished the game with a team-high 28 points, and added 11 rebounds for the double-double. Tatum added 25 points, Brown 19, and White and Jrue Holiday 18 each. For White this was a game that will help him make his All-Star push – he added 11 assists, two blocks, and two steals to his stat line while shooting 8-of-13 from the floor.

    Defensively the Celtics did a good job against LeBron James, who scored just 16 points on 5-of-14 shooting while turning the ball over a team-high three times. Because of that effort they were able to survive a barrage from Anthony Davis, who became the first player to score 40-plus against the Celtics this year. He finished with exactly 40 points on 15-of-26 shooting, with 13 rebounds.

    The Celtics will now have a couple of days off once they get back to Boston. Their next game is Thursday night, at home against the struggling Detroit Pistons. Coverage of that one begins at 7:00 p.m. ET on the BetMGM 98.5 The Sports Hub Celtics Radio Network.

  • Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at [email protected].

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