Lonzo Ball and the Lakers get a dose of rivalry with Celtics, who win 10th in a row
Before Wednesday night, Lonzo Ball had only heard about the Lakers’ rivalry with the Boston Celtics. His father used to show him old footage of games between the teams.
On Wednesday night, Ball got a small taste of it himself.
The green-clad fans at the TD Garden booed him heartily early in the game.
“It’s their home,” Ball said. “I’d boo too if I was a fan.”
The boos eventually subsided, but the energy in the building didn’t. The Lakers never led after making the first basket in their 107-96 loss. It was Boston’s 10th win in a row after dropping the first two games of the season.
The Celtics have also won four consecutive games against the Lakers — their longest winning streak in the rivalry since they won 10 in a row in the 1970s. The loss dropped the Lakers to 5-6 as they began a four-game trip.
Boston did it shorthanded — big man Al Horford was out with a concussion and rookie forward Jayson Tatum missed most of the game after suffering a right ankle injury in the second quarter. Still, Celtics center Aron Baynes led all scorers with 21 points while point guard Kyrie Irving had 19.
Brandon Ingram and Jordan Clarkson each led the Lakers with 18 points, while Julius Randle, who did not play until the second quarter, scored 16 with 12 rebounds. Ball scored nine points, making only four of 15 shots, with five rebounds, six assists and a game-high four blocked shots.
Randle normally comes off the bench in the first quarter, but Wednesday night, Lakers coach Luke Walton opted to bring in reserve center Andrew Bogut into the game early instead.
“We needed some toughness out there,” Walton said. “Bogut’s a big, tough man. To me offensively we were playing a little selfish and defensively we were getting big-boyed on the court. So Bogut is a brilliant passer, very unselfish player and he’s tough. So we went there to try to slowly turn the tide of how the game was going.”
Instead, the Celtics began to pull away, with the help of a 10-0 run. By the end of the first quarter, the Lakers trailed 33-16. During that period the Lakers committed nine of their 21 turnovers.
“Us just not valuing the ball,” Ingram said. “I think they were the more physical team in the first quarter. They played pretty good defense, but like I said we weren’t the aggressor in the first quarter.”
Starting in the second quarter, after falling behind by 21 points, the Lakers gave themselves a chance.
“Just the effort and energy to be honest,” Ball said. “In second quarter we came out wanting it, but first quarter, I felt like [we should have had more effort], because they were 9-0, we owed them some.”
It was 61-52 at the half. During one sequence in the third quarter, Brook Lopez dunked, Clarkson hit a three-pointer, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hit a long two-pointer and Ingram drove to the basket to scoop the ball up and drop it through the net. Clarkson finished a 6-0 run with a driving layup that got the Lakers within two points of the Celtics at 76-74
In the fourth quarter, the Lakers got within three points, but couldn’t capitalize on chances to get closer.
“Couldn’t hit a shot,” Randle said.
Neither team scored for almost three full minutes in the fourth quarter. Randle finally broke the fast with a jumper and a made free throw that brought the Lakers within three at 89-86.
“We just started taking the fight to them,” Randle said. “Stopped worrying so much about what they were doing and just started being aggressive and taking the fight to them.”
Although frustrated with the way his team played to start the game, Walton took some solace in that it changed.
“They could have folded after the first quarter we had and said we’ve got another one tomorrow night,” Walton said. “But that’s not what this group is about, so I’m proud of the way that they re-engaged themselves and started competing out there.”
Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli
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