Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Wednesday evening contest against Boston, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Nash, Bryant, World Peace, Clark and Howard
Celtics: A. Bradley, C. Lee, P. Pierce, B. Bass, K. Garnett
6:41 On an evening that was 100 percent about Dr. Jerry Buss, the greatest owner in pro sports history, the energy in the building was fantastic. Much of the sold out crowd stood in applause all the way through the tribute video for Dr. Buss until tip off, and the energy carried through to the court for both teams in a fast start. L.A. claimed a lead behind the fourth field goal from Dwight Howard, all at the rim against the smaller Celtics with Kevin Garnett at center, his put-back of Earl Clark’s miss making it 16-15 for L.A. despite 66.7 percent shooting from the visitors.
3:00 The great energy continued for the Lakers, who rolled off a 10-0 run to take control of the game, the lead pushing to 27-19 when Steve Nash pulled up for a jump shot on Howard’s first assist. Dwight had amassed 10 points, six boards, a block, a steal and that dime in just eight minutes, perhaps showing his appreciation for the comments from Mitch Kupchak. The lead was nine after one at 36-27, thanks mostly to terrific effort on both ends from the home team.
8:41 L.A. really miss Pau Gasol as a second rim protector, and after a 6-0 Boston run cut a 14-point lead to eight (Steve Blake hit a three and Metta World Peace a jumper to push it there), Howard returned to the action. He missed a potential and-1 around KG on the first offensive trip, hitting 1 of 2 (3 of 4 total) to reach a game-high 13 points.
1:52 The second triple from World Peace got him to 4 of 8, a big key for the Lakers since Metta had been above 50 percent from the field only twice in 2013. Boston had trimmed the lead to five, but the fifth LAL triple restored a double-digit lead at 60-50. Nash had it working on offense, meanwhile, dropping five of his six attempts for 12 points to match Kobe (3 of 8, 6 of 7 free throws). At the break, the lead would be nine, behind four starters in double figures and a 28-19 edge on the glass. Los Angeles native Pierce kept the Celtics around with a great individual half, hitting 9 of 15 shots for 23 points.
7:53 A terrific start to the second half was punctuated by two fantastic passes from 17-year NBA vets Nash and Bryant, the Canadian lofting an alley-oop for Howard (dunk), and the American throwing a beautiful behind-the-head no-look pass to Clark (dunk) that capped a 10-0 run, blowing the game open a bit at 75-57.
2:50 Bryant and Nash continued the collective passing clinic of a third quarter, combining for seven of their 12 to keep the Lakers up 18 at 85-67. Amidst the dimes, Nash became the fourth greatest passer in the history of the NBA, feeding Jamison for a baseline bucket. Pretty incredible, as he passed his idol Magic Johnson, with only Mark Jackson, Jason Kidd and John Stockton above him. Boston got a mini-run going to cut the lead to 14 heading into the final quarter, but L.A. remained in control.
8:52 The bench picked things up for the starters, with Jamison reaching 15 points behind a triple and two foul shots, and Blake eight points with his three assists to push the lead up to 19, matching the biggest lead of the ball game as Nash and Bryant got some rest. Clark was also very good, adding some nice defense on KG (6 of 14 field goals), a guy he looked up to growing up, with his 10-point and 12-rebound double-double.
4:26 If the game were in any doubt (it wasn’t), Nash dished consecutive dimes to Clark, pushing the latter’s double-double to 14 points with a career-high 15 boards (L.A. was dominating that category 47-31) and keeping the lead at 20 (108-88). The seven assists for Nash matched those of Bryant, who had returned for a few minutes when Boston trimmed the lead to just 16 near the six-minute mark.
0:00 It was, without question, a victory Dr. Buss could be proud of. Lakers 113, Celtics 99.