Monday, February 23, 2015

Lakers 118 - Celtics 111 OT: C's let one slip away in L.A.

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Los Angeles - The Celtics came into the Staples Center looking to sweep the season series against the 'rival' Lakers on Sunday night. After word got out that Jared Sullinger would miss the remainder of the season with a left foot stress fracture, Isaiah Thomas was set to make his debut in a big way.

Despite Avery Bradley's buzzer-beating 3-pointer to send the game to overtime, it was Jermey Lin who led L.A. to a 118-111 victory over the C's for their second straight loss.

Lin scored a season-high 25 points to help the Los Angeles Lakers snap a seven-game losing streak. Wesley Johnson added 22 points, while Nick Young chipped in 19 in the Lakers' only second win in 18-games.

Jae Crowder finished with 22 points and 7 rebounds off the bench to lead six Celtics players in double-figures. Bradley added 20 points and 5 rebounds, and Brandon Bass chipped in with 15 points. Evan Turner recorded a double-double with 12 points to go along with his 12 assists.

Thomas made an impact in his first game as a Celtic since being acquired from the Suns in last Thursday's trading deadline. He led all scorers with 21 points through the first 43 minutes of Sunday's game. In the fourth quarter with 5 minutes left in regulation, Thomas was whistled for an offensive foul. In frustration with the call, the guard slammed the ball to the floor forcing the ref to give Thomas a technical foul. Before any of us realized what had just happened, Thomas' night was over on an apparent second technical fouled called after he allegedly 'threw' the ball at the ref's feet.

In Thomas' 25 minutes off the bench he ended his night with 21 points on 6-of-13 shooting (3-7 from behind the arc), 5 rebounds, 3 assists plus an ejection. Not bad.

"I actually asked [for an explanation] and [Brothers] just said that he called the first tech for slamming the ball, then the second one for throwing the ball at him," said Brad Stevens, who visibly looked unhappy with the calls. "So that was the explanation I was given."

It was a close back and forth between these two teams through three quarters. The Celtics led 78-73 to begin the fourth. The Lakers took their first lead of the final frame on a Wesley Johnson 3-ball to go up, 85-84, with 8:15 left in regulation. After back-to-back 3's from Thomas and Nick Young, Thomas drove into the lane and was called for an offensive foul, followed by two techs. With 5:03 to go, L.A. was still up 91-87 and went on a 7-2 run. Boston watched Jeremy Lin take over and score the next nine straight points in a two-minute span.

Bradley brought the C's back scoring 8 points in the final 27 seconds of the quarter. Questionable calls down the stretch, got the Lakers to the free-throw line and on a steal by Marcus Smart (11 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists) with 12.7 seconds left, he was called for his sixth-foul. Young made one of two from the line to go up 106-103. With calm and ease, Bradley received a pass from Evan Turner and found daylight at the top of the key to sink a 3-pointer as the clock hit triple-zero to send the game into overtime.

However the Celtics were just simply outscored by the Lakers 12-5 in the extra five-minutes. Not enough offensive or defense from Boston could not stop the likes of Lin, who all of sudden played like 'Linsanity.' He just easily put away the team that had originally killed the slogan just three-years ago.

"Jeremy Lin killed us the whole night," said the Celtics coach. "He was really effective in a lot of ways, not only scoring the ball, but also getting into the paint and making plays for others."

Boston let this one get away after they made a nine-point comeback with less than a minute left in regulation. They let their emotions get the best of them despite the refs missing a few calls, the Celtics are a much better team than what they showed on Sunday night, losing to a 14-win squad.

The C's will have a chance to close out their mini west coast trip on a positive note when they take on Isaiah Thomas' former team, the Phoenix Suns. Tip-off is at 9 PM EST.

Game Note:

The Lakers' bench out-scored the C's 84-45, while Los Angeles overall finished the night hitting 51.2-percent (7-18 from 3) of their shots, while Boston shot 43-percent (8-33 from 3). Jonas Jerebko also made his Celtics debut since being acquired from Detroit for Tayshaun Prince, playing just five minutes. Gigi Datome, who was also included in the Thursday's deal from the Piston was an active DNP.

Joel Pavón
Follow us on Twitter:@CausewayStreet

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