LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Jayson Tatum and the National Basketball Association-leading Boston Celtics thwarted a furious late rally by the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday to win 122-118 in overtime and snap a two-game skid.
The Celtics bounced back from defeats to the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco and the Clippers in Los Angeles, but they needed every ounce of energy and will to avoid their first three-game losing streak this season.
“Oh, man, last game of the road trip, we’ve been going for, like, 13 days, second night of a back-to-back,” Tatum said.
“But we found a way.”
“We needed that,” added Tatum, whose 44 points included a game-tying turnaround jumper over LeBron James that sent the contest to overtime.
“We found a way to get back on track.”
Jaylen Brown added 25 points and grabbed 15 rebounds and Marcus Smart scored 18 points for the Celtics, who appeared headed to victory when they took a 20-point lead on Tatum’s floater with 6:57 left in the third quarter.
But the Lakers, with 37 points from Anthony Davis and 33 from James, roared back, putting together an 18-0 run from late in the third that was capped by a James three-pointer that put Los Angeles up by four with 8:55 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Lakers pushed their lead to 13 points before the weary Celtics were able to respond.
Russell Westbrook put the Lakers up by four with two quick baskets to open overtime, but the Celtics scored on four straight possessions to take the lead for good.
“It was big,” Tatum said of the win, which pushed Boston’s league-best record to 22-7.
“(It) showed the character of our team.”