A busy eight-game slate on Saturday was capped off with top teams in each conference - the Los Angeles Lakers in the West and the Boston Celtics in the East - against shorthanded far lower-seeded opponents.
Despite the huge gulf in the records with their opponents, the Lakers and Celtics needed clutch plays down the stretch to seal the wins.
LeBron James knocked down a pair of clutch free throws and Anthony Davis followed that up with a clutch block on Harrison Barnes to help the Lakers beat the Kings 99-97.
No OT. Just AD.- Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) November 16, 2019
(📺: @SpectrumSN ) pic.twitter.com/G6wU5GK0h4
In San Francisco, Kemba Walker, who scored 14 of his 20 in the fourth quarter, knocked down a clutch jumper in the final minutes and then put the game out of reach by nailing a pair of clutch free throws to ice the game 105-100.
🥶 pic.twitter.com/w2WOQKdrXp- Boston Celtics (@celtics) November 16, 2019
For the Lakers, this win improves their record to 10-2, their best start since the 2010-11 (10-2) season ,while the Celtics extended their win streak to 10 for a record of 10-1, their best record through 11 games since 2007-08 (10-1).
LeBron & Lakers continue defensive dominance
Playing nearly 40 minutes, LeBron James had one of those games, highlighted by this poster dunk:
He finished with a double-double of 29 points and 11 assists while also recording four rebounds and three steals. The Lakers had four other players in double figures led by 19 from Anthony Davis, on a night, where they let clamped down defensively to comeback from a 13-point first-half deficit.
Holders of the best defensive rating in the league, the Lakers yet again held their opponents under 100 points. Six of their 10 wins and three of their last four wins have come when their opponents fail to score 100. In this game, the Lakers, league leaders in shots blocked per game, swatted away six shots while the Kings recorded none.
For the Kings, who were playing without key young guys in De'Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley III (injury), Buddy Hield top-scored with 21 points.
They also received useful contributions from Bogdan Bogdanovic and Yogi Ferrell, off the bench, as the duo combined for 32 points and eight assists on 13-of-25 shooting.
Celtics begin 5-game road trip on positive note
For the Celtics, four of their five starters scored in double figures and combined for 91 of the team's 105 points.
Jayson Tatum was the game's top-scorer with 24 points. Jaylen Brown had an all-round game with 22 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals but it was Kemba Walker who carried the team to victory.
The team's offseason All-Star signing scored 14 of his 20 points in the pivotal fourth quarter:
☘️ @KembaWalker scores 14 in the 4th to propel the @celtics to their 10th consecutive W! #Celtics pic.twitter.com/JgE88dswy7- NBA (@NBA) November 16, 2019
The Celtics, who hold the league's best offensive rating, started their five-game Western Conference road trip by pulling out this win against a shorthanded Warriors squad.
The hosts, who were already missing key rotation players in Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevon Looney and Damion Lee, received another blow when All-Star D'Angelo Russell was forced to leave the game after spraining his right thumb in the third quarter.
He never returned to the game. It was later reported that the X-rays on his hand were negative.
For the Warriors as well, four of the five starters scored in double figures but they were led by Alec Burks' 20 points off the bench.