BOSTON — The Celtics joined in on the season of giving Wednesday night, and not in a good way.
Boston submitted a subpar effort through three quarters of their last game in 2015, and a late run wasn’t enough to prevent Kobe Bryant and the bottom-dwelling Los Angeles Lakers from earning a 112-104 win in Bryant’s final game at TD Garden.
The Celtics shot a respectable 43 percent from the floor but couldn’t stop the Lakers in the second half. Jordan Clarkson scored a game-high 24 points, including two clutch shots down the stretch, to stave off Boston’s furious fourth-quarter comeback in front of a raucous Boston crowd peppered with plenty of L.A. supporters.
Bryant did his part, as well, shaking a slow start to record a double-double (15 points, 11 rebounds) and flashing a few glimpses of the old Kobe that generated a mixture of cheers and boos from the Garden crowd.
Isaiah Thomas led all Boston scorers with 24 points, while Evan Turner added 20 and Jae Crowder tallied 17. The loss snapped the Celtics’ four-game winning streak.
Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Jared Sullinger, Amir Johnson
Crowder was the Celtics’ primary source of offense during a rough first quarter.
Boston struggled to find its rhythm early on, but the Celtics swingman notched 12 of his team’s first 18 points to help the C’s turn things around.
FAREWELL, KOBE (‘S OFFENSE)?
Bryant received a pretty awesome standing ovation from the TD Garden crowd before the game, but the 37-year-old didn’t exactly inspire cheers once the game started.
Bryant missed his first eight shots and didn’t score until his driving layup went down with 3:57 left in the first half. Bryant turned things around in the second half, though, and came up clutch when it mattered.
His 3-pointer with 1:40 remaining gave the Lakers a five-point lead and was the final stopgap that held off Boston’s 9-0 run.
The Celtics trailed the lowly Lakers by as many seven points in the second quarter thanks to the strong play of L.A. young guns Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell.
But Boston turned things around when Marcus Smart entered the game for the first time late in the half. Smart gave the C’s a boost of energy, helping the club go on a 9-2 run to make the game manageable entering the break.
WHERE’S THE D?
The Celtics’ subpar defensive effort in the third quarter allowed the Lakers to open up a double-digit lead.
L.A. tallied 33 points in the frame despite taking just 22 shots. Everyone got involved for the Lakers, as Clarkson poured in 10 third quarter points while Bryant shook Bradley with this nifty move:
PLAY OF THE NIGHT
Smart provided one of the Celtics’ few highlights with this incredible putback dunk over Randle early in the fourth quarter:
The Celtics welcome another bottom-dweller to town Saturday in the Brooklyn Nets, who currently own a 9-23 record after losing to the Orlando Magic on Wednesday. It will be an early start at TD Garden, as tipoff is set for 3 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@Lakers