LOS ANGELES — Another dramatic chapter has been written in the long, storied history of the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics’ Tuesday night rivalry.
The Celtics won 122-118 in overtime in a game that seemed like Boston had nothing to lose — then they had no winning business after Los Angeles’ insane comeback.
Led by Jayson Tatum with 44 points, Boston took the win, beating LA 12-8 in overtime.
“This game says a lot about our experience and our mental toughness,” said Jaylen Brown, who added five of the 25 points in overtime. “This is a difficult and perfect way to end our journey.”
The Lakers trailed the Celtics by 20 points in the third quarter, but used a 18-0 run from the end of the third to the beginning of the fourth to take control, leading by 13 with 4:25. in the regulation.
LeBron James: “We gave ourselves a chance to win. But I like our effort. I loved our determination in the second half and put ourselves in a position to win a game against a great team.”
It looked like LA had a chance to seal the win with Anthony Davis on the line and two points ahead with 28 seconds left, but Davis, who had shot 11 to 13 free throws in the night at the time, missed both.
“I didn’t think about the rest of the game,” said an upset Davis after the defeat. “Two free throws, four forwards, different ball game. The rest doesn’t matter to me. I had a chance to freeze the game and missed both.”
The misses set up a pull-up jumper, which was tied by Tatum with 17.1 seconds remaining. Later, Los Angeles slowed down the shift for James to become a potential winner, but his 3-point attempt didn’t come to naught.
As with the Lakers’ defeat to the Philadelphia 76ers last week, the Celtics screwed up the game and closed things down when LA overcame a furious comeback, forcing overtime to disperse in just the extra session.
“Games are not won or lost in the fourth quarter or overtime,” said Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla. “We have to be elite at managing the end of the third quarter, the beginning of the fourth quarter. That’s where NBA games are won and lost, and we didn’t do a good job managing that part of the game. Get the positive aspects of how we worked to get back into the game and then how we managed a run to finish it, but We’re also going to focus on that stretch.”
Davis also missed a free throw with 3.1 seconds left in the rule against Philadelphia and took the blame for both losses.
“Boston is a great team. Philly is a great team. Two great teams in the East,” Davis said. “I had a chance as a team, but personally I had a chance to seal both games. I missed one in Philly, missed both tonight. Both ended in losses.”
Russell Westbrook (20 points, 14 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 blocks) scored the first four points in overtime to give Los Angeles a 114-110 lead, but the Lakers failed to keep up the momentum.
Davis finished the game with 37 points, 12 rebounds, and James 33 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists.
Lakers coach Darvin Ham played Davis 29 minutes in the second half and overtime, giving James just 2 minutes and 28 seconds of rest the entire time.
Davis refused to use his fatigue as an excuse for them to miss, but Ham said he needed more rest for the group he was riding on during the comeback.
“Strategically, we’re trying to see how we can use our breaks wisely and give them breaks that way,” Ham said. “In some cases I could do a better job of using my breaks faster. But that’s up to me. I have to get better at it.”
The Celtics entered the night with an NBA all-time record of 21-7, but lost two games in a row to the Golden State Warriors and the LA Clippers.
“There’s a proud group out there,” Ham said of Boston before the game. “I believe with all my heart that they are not satisfied at all. Not only with the Clippers loss, but also with the Warriors loss before that. We know our hands will be full.”
It’s the second time the Lakers have lost a game in double-digits with five minutes into the fourth quarter this season. According to research from ESPN Stats & Information, the rest of the NBA has done it twice this season in total.
Despite the heartbreaking nature of these results, Westbrook said there are still reasons for optimism in the locker room.
“If you’re a competitor, you have to believe it,” Westbrook said. “But I can’t speak for everyone. I know for myself, God willing, as long as I can compete, I will do this until all is said and done. … It’s just about creating some consistency in general.”
This report uses information from the Associated Press.