The Los Angeles Lakers put an end to the Boston Celtics five game winning streak Thursday night at the Boston Garden; however the Celtics did not go down without a battle taking their opponents to overtime before finally succumbing as they lost by a final score of 88-87. The victory for Los Angeles snapped their own two game losing streak as Kobe Bryant led the way with a game high 27 points while Pau Gasol racked up a double-double including 25 points for the night. Ray Allen led the Celtics attack with 22 points while Paul Pierce added 18 points in the loss.
This contest had the tempo of a Post Season game as it was a lot of slow down basketball and the two opponents relied more on their defensive strengths than their offensive skills. This was not a sloppy game as both teams kept control of the rock with very few turnovers for either side. Instead it reflected the philosophies of both clubs’ head coaches; Mike Brown with the Lakers and Doc Rivers with Boston; who have both made their reputations with their defensive knowledge.
The home team dominated the early portion of the opening period however Los Angeles would close the gap down the stretch. Mickael Pietrus drained a 24 foot trey with 43 seconds remaining and the Celtics ended the quarter with a 26-22 advantage. The Celtics maintained the upper hand for most of the second, however the Lakers remained on their heels as the home team’s lead was just two points for much of the quarter. Gasol hit a shot five feet from the hoop with 3:35 left to play briefly giving Los Angeles the lead at 38-37. Their turn on top would not last long and with 14 seconds left in th quarter Allen drove the lane putting the ball through the cylinder and as the contest reached the half, Boston was on top 47-45.
Neither team would be prolific scoring wise as the two opponents returned to the floor for the third, with both teams having difficulties putting the ball in the basket. The visitors would be slightly more successful and with 23 seconds left in the period Lakers center Andrew Bynum split a pair at the line putting his team ahead 67-64 at the conclusion of the quarter.
The two teams kept exchanging the lead throughout the final 12 minutes of regulation. With 1:07 remaining in the period Allen buried a 24 foot trey giving the Celtics an 82-80 lead. Pau Gasol would tip in a shot with nine seconds left in regulation knotting up the score at 82-82 and sending the game to an extra period.
Los Angeles struck first in the overtime as Bryant and Steve Blake both hit outside jumpers putting their team on top 86-82. Paul Pierce responded first hitting a mid-range jumper and on the next possession knocking down a three point shot from 24 feet out giving Boston the lead at 87-86 with 1:51 remaining. Seconds later Bynum answered back with a tip shot of his own making it an 88-87 contest. The Celtics had one more chance to get the win as Allen tried to tip a shot in just before time expired, but Gasol blocked the ball and the Lakers held on for the win.
Bryant scored 27 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists, while Paul Gasol knocked down 25 points, grabbed 14 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 block. Bynum notched a double-double with 16 points, 17 boards, 3 blocks an assist and a steal while Matt Barnes came off the bench with 11 points, 4 rebounds and 1 assist.
Allen scored 22 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and a block while Pierce put up 18 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists and 1 steal. Rajon Rondo added 14 points, 7 assists, 2 rebounds and 2 steals while Kevin Garnett recorded a double-double with 12 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block and 1 steal. Los Angeles is now 15-11 and they head to New York to face the Knicks on Friday while Boston now has a 14-11 record and they will travel to Toronto as they will face the Raptors on Friday.