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Keys to the game: Celtics 126, Lakers 115

Key moment

There is an old adage that defense leads to offense. That’s exactly what happened for the Boston Celtics at the most critical moments of their Christmas game against the Lakers in Los Angeles.

There aren’t many players in the league who, as a defender, can bulk up with LeBron James at the post. Jrue Holiday is one of them. Midway through the fourth quarter, Holiday forced James into a critical turnover that sparked a game-closing run by the C’s.

With five minutes left in the game and with Boston leading by 10, James tried to get the better of Holiday, who held on. James couldn’t do anything on his own and eventually tried to slip a pass between Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis to Rui Hachimura in the paint. However, James’ pass was more or less a handoff to Porzingis.

Porzingis immediately passed the ball to Holiday, who passed it to Derrick White, who found a streaking Jayson Tatum for an uncontested alley-oop in transition. That bucket restarted a 9-4 Boston-led run that pushed the C’s ahead 122-107 with 2:40 left, essentially sealing the victory.

During the run, the Celtics also forced James into another turnover while limiting Los Angeles to just two made field goals. Boston, meanwhile, shot 4 of 5 from the field and added a free throw, without committing a turnover, to take total control of the game.

Key player

Kristaps Porzingis was questionable to play on Christmas Day against the Lakers. Not only did he end up playing, he ended up dominating.

Porzingis started and played over 35 minutes of impressive basketball while compiling a double-double of 28 points and 11 rebounds. The performance marked his fourth double-double of the season.

Porzingis’ scoring and rebounding totals were bested only by the Lakers’ Anthony Davis (40 points, 13 rebounds), meaning the Boston big man led the team in both categories. He also dished out two assists, blocked two shots and had a steal during the contest.

The Celtics were dominating while he was on the court. They outscored Los Angeles by 16 points in its 35 minutes of action, tied with Derrick White for the best plus/minus rating of the game.

Score Nuggets Box

  • Six Celtics scored in double figures, including all five starters who scored at least 18.
  • Boston was led by Kristaps Porzingis with 28 points and 11 rebounds.
  • Anthony Davis led the game with 40 points and 13 rebounds.
  • Boston blocked seven shots, while Los Angeles blocked just one.
  • Porzingis and Derrick White each blocked two shots.
  • White had 18 points and seven assists.
  • Jayson Tatum scored 25 points and tied White for the team lead with seven assists.
  • Payton Pritchard led all Celtics reserves with 10 points.
  • Seven of the nine Celtics who participated in the game handed out at least one assist.
  • LeBron James had 16 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
  • Boston’s largest lead was 18, while Los Angeles’s was only two.

Quote of the night

“We just have a dynamic team. When we play the right way, when we play with rhythm, it’s very difficult to protect us.”

– Jayson Tatum on the Celtics offense

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