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Lakers falter in overtime to fall short in comeback attempt vs. Celtics

A third-quarter takeover almost resulted in the Lakers beating the Celtics, but two missed Anthony Davis free-throws will sting in such a close loss.

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Boston Celtics v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

In the 371st meeting between the biggest rivals in the NBA, the Lakers exploded in the second half to come back from a double-digit deficit and nearly beat the Celtics, but their exhaustion from the necessity of such a run showed itself in crunch time foibles, allowing Boston to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and escape The Crypt with a 122-118 win.

Anthony Davis led all scorers for the Lakers with 37 points to go with 12 rebounds, but his two missed free throws in the fourth allowed Jayson Tatum (44 points) to hit a jumper and send this game to overtime, where Los Angeles lost despite a Herculean effort from LeBron James (33 points 9 rebounds 9 assists) to add to Davis’ own superlative two-way game on Tuesday.

NBA matchups are a game of runs, but the start was ugly for the Lakeshow. Boston started white hot from three, making 7-11 in the first, and AD was the only player able to get anything going for the purple and gold, scoring 13 of the team’s 24 first-quarter points.

James eventually got going, but a lack of a supporting core offset his contributions in the first half. For every LeBron dunk, you had a missed Patrick Beverly layup, for every nice finish at the rim, an erratic brick from Russell Westbrook. It’s been discussed ad nauseam, but if Bron and AD aren’t perfect, the Lakers don’t have a chance, and sometimes even when they are (nearly) perfect, narrow losses are what’s in store.

In the third, the duo was perfect and ignited the massive run to lead the Lakers back, helping the team force turnovers and converting on those fastbreak opportunities. Lonnie Walker IV, who went scoreless in the first half, stepped up in the third, scoring seven and the Lakers went from down by as many as 16 to only eight entering the fourth.

With the game hanging in the balance, the Lakers continued to overwhelm Boston extending their run to 31-5 and outscoring the Celtics 28-22. Russ was magnificent. He was making three-point baskets, pushing the tempo, blocking shots and bringing that undeniable energy that gets the team and the crowd going. He ended the night with 20 points 14 rebounds and only two turnovers.

Unfortunately for L.A. the Celtics had one more push in them and went on a 17-4 run of their own to force overtime. The Lakers were up by just two with 28.2 seconds left with AD at the line, a very similar situation as the one he found himself at the end of the Sixers game. He split free throws then, but tonight he missed both, and a Tatum jumper took us to OT when James couldn’t hit on the other end.

In their last overtime game, the Lakers were too gassed to score and only had two points after regulation. Tuesday was more of the same. It was clear they were exhausted and didn’t have enough legs to drive to the basket and get easy buckets. This led to long 3-pointers as the Celtics continued to score (12-8 advantage in OT), dooming them to defeat after nearly stealing an improbable victory.

Key Takeaway

The effort was admirable, but the reality is the Lakers can’t beat elite teams like the Celtics when they aren’t playing near their best for almost 48 (or 53) entire minutes. They don’t have the guards needed to defend elite shooters, are lacking size in the post to grab rebounds and with such few shotmakers and creators, the burden of high performance lies mainly on James and AD with a side of Westbrook. We’ve talked about December being the Lakers’ toughest challenge and so far, this month has proven they need more help if they want to be a good team consistently.

The Lakers are going to have to sit with this one for a couple of days, as they don’t play again until Friday when they host the Denver Nuggets.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.

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