Lakers-Celtics takeaways: Big Three’s big effort a winning formula

Lakers forward LeBron James attempts a shot over Celtics forward Jayson Tatum.
Lakers forward LeBron James attempts a shot over Celtics forward Jayson Tatum on Tuesday night at Staples Center.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

The ball was passed inside to Anthony Davis early in the second quarter, but he fumbled the ball before retrieving it. Once he gathered himself, Davis missed a reverse layup.

Davis retreated on defense shaking his head.

He was not bringing the “energy” in the first half for the Lakers and knew he needed to make a change in his approach.

Davis did just that in the second half, scoring 10 of his 17 points and collecting nine of his 16 rebounds.

When asked postgame about his first half, Davis explained what happened.

“Um, energy. I mean, I lost the ball a couple times. That’s really it,” Davis said. “Just coming out, I mean, teammates stayed in my ear. Bron [LeBron James] told me to scrap it. Everybody was saying, ‘It’s one half. Second half, let’s go.’ Tried to be a little more aggressive.”

LeBron James scored 30 points and provided energy on defense as the Lakers beat the rival Boston Celtics 117-102 on Tuesday at Staples Center.

Dec. 7, 2021


Here are five takeaways from the Lakers’ 117-102 win over the Boston Celtics, their bitter rivals, at Staples Center on Tuesday night:

1. Davis began the game playing as if he was in a fog, going one-for-three from the field, scoring three points and producing a minus-two in the plus-minus department in the first quarter.

He was dunked on by Celtics center Robert Williams III twice in the first half.

Davis was not carrying his weight in the first half, taking just five shots and scoring seven points.

“The good thing about it, we have a team that can pick up the slack when somebody is slacking,” Davis said. “Tonight, it was me.”

By the end of the game, Davis was a positive-17 in the plus-minus rating. He had two blocked shots, two steals, three assists and was seven-of-13 shooting from the field.

2. As the game continued, the Lakers got better on defense.

They had given up 33 points in the first quarter. Jayson Tatum torched the Lakers for 14 points on five-of-seven shooting.

But the Lakers didn’t give up more than 30 points in a quarter the rest of the way.

They held the Celtics to 43.9% shooting for the game, 30.3% from three-point range.

“I think defensively, besides the first 14 [points] avalanche on Tatum’s part, we locked in from that point on,” James said. “So, anytime we’re able to get stops like that, we’re a very, very good team because we’re one of the best teams in transition and we have a lot of guys that can attack the paint. We have a lot of guys that can make plays for others. Tonight, was as close to 48 minutes and one of the best games of the season as far as the way we just played.”

3. James had a strong first quarter, with 16 points on six-of-seven shooting.

Russell Westbrook had a strong third quarter, producing 15 points on six-of-eight shooting.

Davis was solid in the third quarter as well, scoring eight points and grabbing four rebounds.

The Big Three combined for 71 points, leading to Westbrook (24 points) being asked if this was the blueprint for the Lakers to have success when James (30 points), Davis and Westbrook are this productive.


“Listen, the game will always tell you what to do. But we have a unique team, as you guys know, and we have guys that can take over a game at any point,” Westbrook said. “And, whether it’s me starting off, AD, Bron, whatever, to me obviously the game will tell you what to do. Bron felt like he had it going and it’s our job to make sure we find him. AD, vice-versa do the same thing.

“So, tonight was a way that kind of all laid out and kind of worked out for us and it worked for us tonight. But we don’t know. … I don’t know the blueprint. All I know is that we won. So, if that’s the blueprint, then hell yeah, winning is the blueprint.”

4. The good part of the Lakers was them shooting 51.6% from the field.

The bad part of the game for the Lakers was them shooting 29.6% (eight of 27) from three-point range.

5. The Lakers were a force on the backboards, outrebounding the Celtics 51-34.

Besides Davis leading the way with 16 rebounds, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard each had eight rebounds off the bench.