On the special occasion of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Los Angeles Lakers had a lot of reasons to be optimistic. Coming into the home of their arch-rivals, the Boston Celtics, the Lakers had the best record in the West were coming off an impressive win in Houston.
What's more, after missing the last five games, Anthony Davis made his return to the line-up.
However, all of that optimism went out the window once the Celtics rebounded from an early 8-0 deficit in the first 1:30 of the game.
Only took five seconds for the #LakeShow to strike ⚡️- Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 21, 2020
(📺: @SpectrumSN & TNT) pic.twitter.com/blS2ilmnHK
Here are the big takeaways from this clash between longtime arch rivals:
Kemba returns, gets first career win vs. LeBron
After missing the Celtics' last game against the Phoenix Suns, Kemba Walker returned to the line-up in style.
He looked good, finishing with 20 points (8-13 FG's), seven assists, four rebounds and a +24 in his 30 minutes of action. More importantly, he avoided going 0-29 for his career against LeBron James:
LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLW- Sporting News (@sportingnews) January 21, 2020
Kemba Walker finally gets it done against LeBron! ☘️ pic.twitter.com/tjl9aHjFV9
Walker received plenty of support from his team, mostly from Jayson Tatum, who recorded 27 points, on 10-of-18 shooting and Jaylen brown, who added 20 points and six assists.
As a team, the Celtics shot 52-of-93 (55.9%) from the field and 16-of-34 (47.1%) from beyond the arc while assisting on 31 of their 52 made field goals.
AD returns but Lakers' shooting struggles prove costly
Anthony Davis' return didn't quite go to plan, with the star big man managing just nine points, four rebounds, two assists, and two blocks.
JaVale McGee and LeBron James were the Lakers' top performers on the night - McGee finished with 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting, while James recorded 15 points, 13 assists, and seven rebounds but was a -21 in his 29 minutes on the floor.
The Lakers had two other players in double figures, with Kyle Kuzma and Rajon Rondo adding 13 points apiece - but the team's struggles shooting the ball proved to be their undoing.
They connected on 39-of-89 from the field (43.5%), but only knocked down seven three-pointers on the night at a clip of 26.9%. Meanwhile, the Celtics shot a sizzling 55.9% from the field and 47.1% from three (16-of-34).
With this loss, despite having the best record in the West, the Lakers are now 0-5 against the Clippers, Bucks, Raptors, and Celtics.
C's give Lakers taste of their own medicine
This season, the Lakers are top two in the league in points in the paint and fastbreak points - and third in points off turnovers.
The Celtics flipped the script at TD Garden, forcing turnovers, getting out in transition and making the Lakers pay at the rim - none better than Jaylen Brown, who had the arena rocking with this poster jam:
😤 JAYLEN. BROWN. 😤#Celtics pic.twitter.com/0i7HQ2XKqB- NBA TV (@NBATV) January 21, 2020
The Celtics, who average 49.2 points in the paint, outscored the Lakers 62-52, thanks in large part to their transition game, where they outscored the Lakers 25-11 in fast-break points.
Their high-energy defensive effort saw them turn 15 Lakers turnovers into 28 points while allowing just 16 points from their 12.
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