Rapid Recap: Celtics lose to Lakers in final seconds, lose Smart to injury

Rapid Recap: Celtics lose to Lakers in final seconds, lose Smart to injury

Celtics

Rapid Recap: Celtics lose to Lakers in final seconds, lose Smart to injury

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I’ll be honest with y’all: Hopes weren’t high for this one. And I was right, for what little that’s worth. The Celtics lost to the Lakers 96-95 in a wire-to-wire game where they played with a toughness that often matched their title-holding competition, but mistakes came at the most costly times. Moreover, Marcus Smart suffering a non-contact injury while trying to defend in the post puts so much up in the air for this squad.

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown had stellar nights with 30-9-3-2-0 and 28-1-3-1-1, respectively. Daniel Theis (14-7-1-1-1) and Robert Williams (10-7-2-2-2 in under 19 minutes) also made the most of their stints. But a rare putrid performance by Kemba Walker (4 points on 1-12 shooting), a quiet bench and major Q4 turnovers sunk the team.

Let’s go through the timeline:

The teams seemed more well-matched than I expected early on.

Interesting variation on the double-big lineup. Looked OK; not bad not great.

ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, I think Q1 went OK, though the bigs’ difficulties on defense was frustrating, as was:

The Lakers bumped their lead up from “small” to “kinda comfortable” despite certain questionable decisions.

Probably because of this:

In a succession of quick plays, the Jays made up a fair bit of the lost ground:

Cs ended the half about where they ended Q1: not too far down but really needing to amp up the defense.

Jaylen Brown stepped hard on the gas pedal to start Q3.

Gasol, of course, wasn’t the problem. LeBron wasn’t even really the problem. This guy was:

Boston and L.A. traded blows and leads back and forth. Oddly enough, one of the most spectacular counterpunches came from the guy who’s been Celtics Nation’s A-number-one whipping boy (with reasons) all season:

It started to turn at the end of Q3, when Boston caught the Lakers slipping multiple times, most notably this glorious Tatum to Timelord sequence:

The final 12 minutes started off OK for the Cs, as the Lakers moved to recover their lead and then.

Pavon amended it to say it appeared to be his calf, and Shams Charania clarified further:

I didn’t feel optimistic about the game either, though it was tied about halfway through the frame. The Celtics fanbase wasn’t ready to give up:

(They deleted the tweet; it was a clip widely interpreted as gloating over Smart’s injury. Between this and the shitty joke about the Garden’s lowered banners that were a tribute to Tommy Heinsohn, it’s not been a banner year for Lakers partisans with prominent social media accounts!)

Frequent Celtics turnovers put momentum back in the Lakers’ hands, even though the margin was still small (93-87 at about the three-minute mark)…until it was worse.

Two stellar minutes on offense and especially defense got the Celtics set up for a Hail Mary bucket, but Kemba missed it, Theis couldn’t clean it up and that was that.

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