Lakers Cool Red-Hot Celtics in OT Scrap

The loss, described by Celtics coach Doc Rivers as “self-inflicted,” brought Boston’s five-game win streak to a halt as the Lakers improved to 4-9 away from home this season.

They are 2-2 on their current six-game road trip.

Gasol forced overtime with a put-back basket with less than 10 seconds remaining to tie the score at 82-82 and preserved the win with a shot block on Ray Allen as time expired in OT.

“You just got to play until the clock runs out and that’s what I try to do,” Spaniard Gasol told reporters.

“I’ve been in situations in my career where you just freeze and you just catch yourself looking at the ball and somebody makes a play and you end up losing a game.

“Tonight I’m glad that I was able to continue playing until the end and play a good game for my team.”

Boston held the advantage for much of the first half, leading by as many as nine points but Los Angeles battled back and briefly led before falling back to trail 47-45 at halftime.

The Lakers surged ahead again late in the third quarter and held the lead until a back-and-forth final eight minutes which featured five ties and three lead changes.

“This was an awful game,” fumed Rivers. “If we had won, it would have been an awful game that we won. Give them credit, a lot of that was defense. But I thought a lot of it was self-inflicted.”

Kobe Bryant led the Lakers (15-11) with 27 points and Gasol recorded a double-double with 25 points and 14 rebounds. Andrew Bynum finished with 16 points and 17 rebounds.

Allen led the Celtics (14-11) with 22 points, but scored just three points after the third quarter. Paul Pierce scored all five Celtics points in overtime and 18 overall.

(Reporting by Mike Mouat in Windsor, Ontario. Editing by Alastair Himmer.)

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Bulls Trample Celtics in Home Race

Chicago (58-20), winners of 17 of their last 19 games, closed out the third quarter with an 11-4 run to pull away from the Celtics (54-24).

“This meant a lot because you’re going against a team you could see in the playoffs,” Bulls guard Derrick Rose told reporters after scoring a game-high 30 points.

“You don’t want those teams to have confidence. We were aggressive. That’s the way it’s going to be. We’re a tough team. We grind wins out.”

The Bulls allowed the Celtics just four field goals in the fourth quarter and, with just four games remaining, Chicago look like genuine title contenders.

“I just thought they were far more physical, tougher, more prepared, which is on me,” said Celtics coach . “I thought Thibs (Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau) did a better job.

“I thought (Carlos) Boozer did a better job, I thought Derrick Rose did a better job. I just thought overall they just competed far better than us tonight.”

MVP candidate Rose added eight assists for the Bulls and Luol Deng scored 18 of his 23 points in the second half.

The Celtics were led by Paul Pierce with 15 points while scored 10 and Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen were limited to seven each.

(Reporting by Mike Mouat in Windsor, Ontario; Editing by Alastair Himmer)

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Rondo Propels Celtics Past Cavaliers

CLEVELAND (Reuters) – Rajon Rondo continued his strong return to the court as the avenged an early-season defeat with an easy 106-87 victory over the on Tuesday.

In his second outing since a three-game absence due to a hamstring injury, Rondo had a season-high 23 points and 12 assists to lead the Celtics (13-4) to their fourth straight win.

Rondo entered the night on the heels of a 14-assist performance against the on Friday, and his latest effort allowed the Celtics to stay tied with the atop the Eastern Conference.

Perhaps underestimating Cleveland in its first season since franchise player departed for the , Boston were beaten by the Cavs in the opening week of the season.

This time the Celtics seized control with a 35-22 advantage in the second quarter and were never seriously threatened.

Boston got a boost off the bench from Glen Davis, who finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds, along with reserve Marquis Daniels, who chipped in 16 points.

“I thought the bench turned the game around,” Celtics coach told reporters. “I thought (Davis and Daniels) were the two guys that changed everything.”

Anderson Varejao led the way with 16 points and 12 rebounds for Cleveland, which shot just 39 percent from the field in losing for the second time in three games.

“We stopped doing the things that got us the lead. We started to let the ball stick,” said Cavaliers guard Daniel Gibson who had 16 points.

“Once you let the ball stick against that team, it gets really tough to score.”

The Cavaliers will now turn their attention to hosting the Heat on Thursday when they get their first visit from James since he made the controversial decision to leave.

(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles. Editing by Alastair Himmer)

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