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James, Westbrook Carry Lakers in 117-102 Win Over Celtics
By Jarred Davis, Contributing Writer
Published December 8, 2021

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) scored 30 points in a 117-102 victory over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021 (Courtesy photo)

LeBron James had a team-high 30 points, Russell Westbrook added 24 points and 11 assists and the Los Angeles Lakers went on to rout the Boston Celtics 117-102 on Tuesday night at Staples Center.

Los Angeles responded well after falling to the Clippers in a close game, but looked as inspired as they have been in quite some time on the defensive side of the ball against Boston.

The Lakers improved to 13-12 on the season, while the Celtics fell to 13-12 with the loss.

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Anthony Davis had 17 points and 16 rebounds for the Lakers, who started at the center position, giving the Lakers mobility to run in transition more frequently. Los Angeles ultimately had five players finish in double figures as Talen Horton-Tucker had 12 points, six rebounds, and four assists, while Malik Monk added 10 points off the bench for the Lakers.

“I just like the way we competed tonight on both sides of the floor,” James said. “We had a lot of intensity, a lot of ball movement. Guys were attacking the rim. I think defensively, besides the first 14-point avalanche on Tatum’s part, we locked in from that point forward.”

Jayson Tatum scored 14 of his 34 points in the first quarter for the Celtics and immediately forced Los Angeles to call a timeout 3:49 into the period while falling behind 14-8.

However, James got into a rhythm of his own early on in the game, scoring 16 points in the first quarter for the Lakers, converting 6 of 8 shots and 2 of 3 from long distance. Lakers coach Frank Vogel made a lineup change by inserting Avery Bradley into the starting lineup and moving Dwight Howard to the bench.

“We learn about our group a little bit every game. … Very proud of the defensive performance tonight,” Vogel said.

Robert Williams III had 13 points for Boston, while Josh Richardson finished with 11 off the bench.

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The Celtics defeated the Lakers 130-108 in their first matchup in the NBA 2021-22 season less than a month ago but Los Angeles responded in a big way in the rematch. The Lakers dominated the interior by controlling a 66-42 advantage in points in the paint and outrebounded Boston by 17, (51-34).

“Once we lock in defensively and do what we did tonight, we’re a tough team to beat. So we just have to find a way to build off this game,” Davis said.

Los Angeles led 60-55 at halftime and used a 15-point third quarter from Westbrook to seemingly put the game away for the Lakers, not allowing the Celtics to ignite a comeback.

“Pace and paint attack. … He’s relentless on attacking the basket,” said Vogel.

The Lakers lead stretched to 19 after Westbrook made a jump shot, followed by a lay-up and three-pointer with 2:04 left in the period, as Boston ran out of gas from there on.

“I think at the beginning of the year, Russ was a little bit passive,” Davis said. “He was trying to get guys involved, pass the ball. … We told him, ‘The more you’re aggressive, the more it will open up for everyone else.’ The last seven to 10 games, he’s been very, very aggressive, and when he does that, it opens up the floor for everyone else as far as shooting. He’s just been in attack mode. That’s why we brought him here, to be Russell Westbrook and not anybody else but that.”

Westbrook acknowledged that he knew the importance of the Lakers and Celtics rivalry, marking it as the 296th edition of the matchup between the two teams that have combined to win 34 NBA championships, 17 apiece.

“As a player like myself, you want to make sure you approach all games the same while also understanding the significance of this particular game,” Westbrook said. “That makes it a good win for us.”

The Lakers will next travel to take on the Memphis Grizzlies (14-10) on Thursday, followed by facing off against the Oklahoma City Thunder (7-16) on the road on Friday.

 

Categories: Basketball | Sports
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