Celtics-Lakers takeaways: C’s starting five dominates in Christmas Day win originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Three Key Storylines
Kristaps Porzingis shines in return to lineup
Jaylen Brown shakes off back injury
C’s starting five > Lakers‘ starting five
The Boston Celtics closed out their West Coast road trip with a convincing Christmas Day victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.
They wasted little time taking it to their archrival, jumping out to a 12-0 start and going up by as many as 18 points in the first quarter. That lead didn’t last long, however, as L.A. responded with a strong second quarter and cut the deficit to one at the half.
Third quarters have been an issue for the C’s at points this season, but not on Monday. This time, they dropped 41 points in the frame to reclaim the lead and didn’t look back as they went on to win, 126-115.
All five Celtics starters scored in double figures. Kristaps Porzingis (28 points) and Jayson Tatum (25 points) topped the list.
Anthony Davis was one of the few bright spots for L.A. offensively. The eight-time All-Star dropped 40 points while shooting 15-of-26 from the field.
The Celtics will return home to take on the Detroit Pistons — who have lost 26 consecutive games — on Thursday night. First, here are three takeaways from Monday’s matchup.
Kristaps Porzingis shines in return
In the two games Porzingis took the court, he appeared unbothered by his ailments. He followed a standout performance in Sacramento with a spectacular showing in L.A.
Porzingis got off to a fast start with 11 points, six rebounds, and a block in the first half. The 3-pointers weren’t falling, but he found other ways to assert his dominance against the Lakers.
Porzingis stayed hot in the second half, getting it done on both ends of the floor. He finished with team-highs in points (28 on 11-of-19 shooting) and rebounds (11) while logging two blocks and a steal.
Jaylen Brown shakes off early injury
Fans of both teams were given a scare in the second quarter when Jaylen Brown and LeBron James collided. Brown went down with a back injury while James went down holding his knee.
James went to the bench but returned to the court minutes later. Brown, on the other hand, exited to the locker room and was considered questionable to return with a lower back contusion.
Fortunately, Celtics fans were able to breathe a collective sigh of relief when Brown returned to the game in the third quarter. The two-time All-Star, who scored seven of Boston’s first 12 points in the game, didn’t miss a beat. He made several big shots down the stretch and finished with the third-most points on the team (19).
Brown didn’t appear fazed by his back injury, so his availability shouldn’t be an issue with two days of rest before Thursday night’s game vs. the Pistons at TD Garden.
C’s starting five dominates
This was a total team effort for a Celtics squad that’s virtually impossible to beat when the starting five is firing on all cylinders.
All five C’s starters dominated in some form or fashion. Tatum added to Porzingis and Brown’s scoring efforts with 25 points despite a less-than-stellar shooting performance (6-15 FG, 1-6 3-PT). His shots weren’t falling for most of the afternoon, but he made a difference by getting to the free-throw line (12-13 FT) and getting his teammates involved (seven assists). He also notched eight rebounds and a block.
“The Stock Exchange,” a.k.a. the backcourt tandem of Jrue Holiday and Derrick White, was outstanding on both ends. Holiday — donning a festive red headband for the special occasion — logged 18 points to go with seven rebounds, seven assists, a steal, and a block.
White dropped 18 points of his own while dishing 11 assists. He also logged two steals and two blocks, making him the first Celtics guard ever to record two or more blocks in five consecutive games.
While the Celtics spread the wealth, Anthony Davis attempted to carry the Lakers offensively. He scored 13 of L.A.’s first 19 points, shooting 6-of-9 in the first quarter as the rest of his team combined to go 3-for-15 from the field.
Davis went on to score a game-high 40 points, his highest total of the season excluding the In-Season Tournament championship game. It’s the first 40-point performance against the Celtics this season.
Taurean Prince helped out with five 3-pointers, but too much of the burden was put on Davis’ shoulders to carry the offensive load. LeBron James had an off day, totaling just 16 points on 5-of-14 shooting.
Boston’s balanced attack was the difference as it improved to an NBA-best 23-6 on the season.