Read that headline again. That’s definitely not something I expected to type this season, but it’s true. Aron Baynes absolutely dominated the Lakers (5-6) en route to the Celtics (10-2) tenth straight victory. Boston remains at the top of the NBA and has now recorded its longest winning streak since 2010.
The Celtics had an off night from the field but still wound up defeating Los Angeles 107-96, a testament to their hustle and rebounding. Boston shot a mere 38-98 (38.8%) from the field and 7-29 (24.1%) from deep. Luckily, Brad Stevens squad was composed at the line, knocking down 24-31 (77.4%) of their free throws.
Boston has held nine of their ten opponents during this winning streak to under 100 points. The defensive improvements took a slight hit tonight as Los Angeles took advantage of the Celtics live ball turnovers. Boston only had 14 turnovers compared to the Lakers 21 but most of their turnovers led directly to points for the opposition. Los Angeles had 24 points off of turnovers, and miscues by the guys in green led directly to the Lakers being able to stick around in this game.
- You can’t say enough about what Baynes did tonight. He tied his career-high with 21 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists. Whether it was a putback dunk or a hook shot over Brook Lopez, Baynes was feeling it against the Lakers. Kyrie Irving was able to find Baynes with a few slick feeds while the big man rolled to the basket. All of Australia managed to either convert on the pass, draw the foul, or dish it out to an open teammate. He stepped up big time into the absence of Al Horford.
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) November 9, 2017
- Speaking of Horford, Boston was a noticeably different team without him on the court. The defense was suspect on fast breaks and gave up a lot of open looks at the rim. Offensively, the Celtics had a big drop off in their shooting percentages and their passing wasn’t on the same tier that it is when Al is healthy. Horford is essential to Boston’s success and they have to be hoping he’ll make a quick recovery.
- Is the injury bug starting to make its mark on the Celtics? Gordon Hayward is already out with an ankle injury while Horford started to feel the effects of a concussion earlier today. With two starters out, Boston was stretched even thinner when Jayson Tatum suffered an ankle injury in the first half. He missed the final 24 minutes of the game and was in a walking boot after the win. Irving also had an injury scare of his own when a trainer was seen working on his knee in the fourth quarter. With three starters out and fourth likely not at full strength, it’s easy to see why we watched some ugly basketball tonight.
- Irving had one of his worst games as a Celtic in his first game against the Lakers. He finished with 19 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists but shot just 7-21 from the field. Irving also went 0-7 from behind the three-point line. It’s the second game already this season where he’s dropped a goose egg from deep. Despite his shot being off, I liked how Irving was able to set his teammates up for good looks throughout the game.
- Marcus Morris and Daniel Theis were also tremendous tonight for Boston. Morris finished with 18 points and 2 assists. He nailed three shots from behind the arc and was mostly successful while creating offense for himself. Morris had multiple possessions where he was able to post up a defender and either use a creative move to get to the rim or nail the fadeaway jump shot. He’s a solid piece for Stevens to work with though I would like to see him play more within the offense than for himself. Theis had 8 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, and 3 blocks. He was a force on defense and had a huge dunk in the third quarter that brought the crowd to its feet.
- Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier are two of the top bench guards in the entire NBA. Smart is all-hustle and makes the kinds of plays that impact winning. He had a ridiculous assist in the first half where he launched the ball behind his head to Semi Ojeleye, who finished through contact for an and-1 layup. Later in the half, he stopped Lonzo Ball in his tracks at the rim with a ferocious block. Smart finished a team-high +16. Rozier had 14 points of his own and was the top scorer off Boston’s bench. He drilled an absurd shot from just in front of half court as the first quarter buzzer sounded and delivered a few timely baskets throughout the game. Rozier is just so remarkably athletic and twitchy. The third-year pro is a phenomenal athlete and showed that off by grabbing eight boards. Teams around the league would kill to have ball handlers of this quality on their team, let alone coming off their bench.
Not today, rook. pic.twitter.com/lDjUh9aDhf
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) November 9, 2017
- Los Angeles did not get off to a great start in this game. They trailed 33-16 after the first quarter and got down by as many as 21 points before finally making it interesting. The Lakers saw most of their shots fall from around the basket and not much further. They shot just 5-24 (20.8%) from three.
- Lonzo Ball wasn’t impressive on offense but he did make a few encouraging plays on the defensive end. He had 9 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, and 4 blocks. Ball knocked down only 4-15 of his attempts from the field while going 1-5 from deep. He didn’t flash often outside of a chase down block on Irving in the second half.
- Brandon Ingram still looks lanky and awkward but he’s beginning to develop an offensive game. The second-year player from Duke had 18 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 steals. His efficiency was impressive, as Ingram went 7-11. He still needs to work on his outside shot but he’s starting to show some signs after a raw rookie year.
- Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson provided a nice punch off the bench for Los Angeles. It’s almost a little baffling they aren’t starting over their counterparts, Kyle Kuzma and Ball. I guess Luke Walton really wants his rookies to get some playing time. Randle had 16 and 12 while dominating Boston’s second unit. Clarkson chipped in 18 points and two triples as well. The two single-handedly sparked the Lakers to get back into the game, it just wasn’t enough in the end.
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