In Kobe Bryant's last game against his long-time rivals, the Boston Celtics withstood a "Vintage Kobe" performance on their way to a 107-100 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night. Despite being up by as many as 17 points in the first half, the C's were never really able to pull away from the Lakers. The win clinched a playoff berth for the C's and pulled them even with the Atlanta Hawks for the third playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Isaiah Thomas led the way again with 26 points and six assists. With Avery Bradley missing the game due to do (positive) personal reasons, Evan Turner and Jae Crowder, who returned to the starting lineup after missing the win over the Golden State Warriors, picked up the slack. Crowder finished with 22 points and five rebounds while Turner added 17 points of his own.
Kobe finished with a game-high 34 points and Julius Randle added 20 points and 10 rebounds.
The Celtics were in control to open the game. Thomas scored 21 of his 26 points in the first half on just 11 shots and late in the second quarter the Celtics led by 17 points. But much to Brad Stevens' disappointment, the Lakers were able to close the half on a 9-0 run to cut the Boston lead to single digits going into halftime.
After being down by double digits for most of the first half, the Lakers made a run to open the third quarter and eventually tied the game 59-59. The two rivals traded baskets for the rest of the third quarter before the C's were able to get some separation early in the fourth quarter. Although not standing out on the stat sheet, Terry Rozier showed that he can do more than just sky for rebounds. He finished with six points, seven rebounds and three assists along with playing his normal hard-nosed defense.
The Celtics made the plays down the stretch that they needed to in order to win. Bryant did his best to keep the Lakers in the game with some Kobe-like shots, but eventually the C's were able to put the game away. After avenging their Dec. 30 lose at home to LA, the entire Celtics team lineup up to shake hands with Bryant one last time before he retires at the end of the season.
A final note to look out for; in the final seconds of the game, Turner was inadvertently poked in the left eye by Randle. Turner quickly ran off the court with a towel to his face and was reportedly being evaluated after the game.
Photo Credit: Richard Mackson/USA Today Sports
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