Recap: Kemba finally conquers King in 139-107 outburst at TD Garden
(Photo: House of Highlights)
Team basketball from Boston checkmates The King’s Clan to give Kemba his first career victory over LeBron James, 139-107. Celtics keep pace with Eastern Conference foes and stay fourth in the conference. You can still vote for those that make this possible.
The men in purple and gold, who came into TD Garden 34-8 and winners of 10 of their last 11 games, got off to an 8-0 flier. As Celtics fans thought “here we go again” with the slow offensive start, the disappointment was short-lived as the Celtics used hustle on the boards and some solid early play from Gordon Hayward and... well, pretty much everybody on the freaking roster... to erase the deficit early and put it away with ample time left. Hayward, who scored the first 6 points of the game for the Celtics, finished the night with 6 rebounds and 16 points with a pair of threes, a good sighting after a tough finish in Boston’s last game.
Pregame: Kemba and JB back in the lineup. After Marcus Smart’s career night was not enough to pick up a win without the dynamic duo of Kemba Walker and Jaylen Brown, they were both back in the starting lineup today against the best team in the West. The clash of the rivals was notable for Kemba Walker who was winless in his 8 career years against LeBron James entering today. All of those matchups featured Kemba on the Charlotte Hornets, of course. This was his first meeting against LeBron as part of basketball’s most historic rivalry.
First half: LeBron meets his match against fiery Celtics. The second quarter was all about Jayson Tatum, who had ice in his veins and fire on his fingertips, being the offensive leader of the pack in a 36-25 Celtics quarter. Tatum finished the game and, as usual, led the arena in in-game +/- at +32, reminding us once again about how easily he can put up all-star numbers. Tatum finished the game with a game-high 27 points while going 10/18 from the field and 5/8 from deep. He also sprinkled in five rebounds and three assists.
Enes Kanter also made his presence felt, providing an instant spark off the bench with starting center Daniel Theis struggling a bit. Kanter was efficient from the field (8/10 shooting) and provided several second-chance opportunities with his 6 offensive boards. He finished the game leading all bench scorers with 18 points and topped off his strong night with 5 defensive rebounds as well to post his seventh double-double of the year.
However, it wasn’t until the third quarter that future all-star Jaylen Brown reminded King James that the game was indeed in Boston and stole the show with the play of the night. First, Tatum the Rook. Now, Brown wants the Crown.
Brown did receive a technical foul (I don’t need to explain why) but considering the final score, I’ll say it was worth it. I’m totally okay with LeBron James making it a habit to pose for a poster every time he visits TD Garden. Brown finished the game with 20 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds on the night, doing his best Kemba impersonation, who finished the game with 20 points, 7 assists, and 4 rebounds. You know what they say...
Overheard in Lakers locker room after the game:
“He got me,” LeBron said of Brown’s dunk over him. "That f***ing Brown boomed me."
LeBron added, “He’s so good,” repeating it four times.
LeBron then said he wanted to add Brown to the list of players he works out with this summer.
Fourth quarter: Celtics make it a laughing matter. At the end of the third, the men in green had already entered triple digits and led the visitors by 24. What ensued was both coaches calling the game a few minutes into the final quarter, resting their stars. With 8 minutes to go, we were officially in garbage time. However, the Celtics bench didn’t get the memo. Instead, put on a clinic on both ends of the floor. Javonte Green slammed it twice. Romeo Langford showed off his offensive prowess. Vincent Poirier embodied his inner LeBron James, hitting a 3 and making the exclamation block of the night. Even Grant Williams gave the Celtic fans in the crowd something to go crazy about, hitting a 3. Even “Boogie” Cousins, off the bench, enjoyed it but NBA refs gonna NBA ref so Grant received a tech for the “taunt” just to stay in shape. Every Celtic who got a minute entered the points column of the box score. It was that kind of night.
The Celtics reminded everybody why they are still one of the best teams in basketball. With all Eastern Conference teams ahead of the Celtics winning today, Boston will hold fourth in the conference. Team leader Kemba Walker got a much-deserved first career win over LeBron James and is now 1-28 against the King in his career. Will it be 3-28 soon? Perhaps this year if a Lakers-Celtics NBA Finals is in the coming? Let's not get too excited right now because Boston gets back to work right here at home with a 7:30 PM tip-off on Wednesday against a red-hot Memphis Grizzlies.