BOSTON — It wasn’t pretty, but the Boston Celtics won their 10th straight game Wednesday night to remain atop the NBA standings.
The C’s, who were without veteran starters Al Horford and Gordon Hayward entering the game, lost rookie forward Jayson Tatum at halftime with right ankle soreness. Boston didn’t shoot well, either, but its excellent defense was enough to beat the rival Los Angeles Lakers 107-96 at TD Garden.
Aron Baynes led the C’s with 21 points (tying a career high), while Jordan Clarkson and Brandon Ingram led the Lakers with 18.
The Celtics improved to 10-2 with the victory, while the Lakers fell to 5-6.
Here’s how it all went down.
PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Marcus Morris
C: Aron Baynes
The Celtics started out hot, hitting six of their first 10 shots. Morris, who started in place of the injured Horford, hit two 3-point shots in the first five minutes. Boston’s early perimeter defense also was solid, as L.A. began the matchup 0-for-5 from beyond the arc.
Irving scored six points on 3-for-5 shooting, including a sensational display of ball-handling that resulted in a layup.
Terry Rozier banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer as the C’s closed out one of their best first quarters of the season. They led 33-16, forced nine turnovers and held the Lakers to 6-for-18 shooting.
LAKERS CLOSE THE GAP
The Celtics continued to pour it on in the second quarter. The bench grew the lead to 18, led by 10 combined points from rookies Semi Ojeleye and Daniel Theis. Ojeleye converted a nice and-1 play off of a nice behind-the-head pass from Marcus Smart.
But the Lakers fought back, hitting a pair of 3-pointers midway through the quarter to trim Boston’s lead to 11. Los Angeles got within six points at 58-52, but a Baynes 3-point play pushed the Celtics’ lead to nine at the half, 61-52.
L.A. shot 4-for-7 on 3-point field goals in the second quarter after going 0-for-5 over the first 12 minutes. Boston finished the half 4-for-15 from beyond the arc.
Smart started the second half in place of Tatum, who the C’s ruled out for the remainder of the game at halftime.
The Lakers forced the C’s to take a timeout after trimming the lead to 70-63. L.A. started the quarter in style with a Kyle Kuzma jam.
The Lakers continued to shoot well and attack the basket, and they got within two at 76-74 midway through the third stanza. Baynes pushed his scoring total to a team-high 17 with a put-back dunk to widen Boston’s edge.
Irving finished the third quarter shooting 5-for-16 overall and 0-for-5 from beyond the arc. The Lakers did a good job contesting him at the rim, even blocking a few shots, and that turned into fastbreak opportunities.
The Celtics were able to get the lead up to 87-81 at the end of the third quarter. A pair of free throws from Brown and a driving dunk by Theis put an end to a horrible run of shooting for the C’s.
The Lakers kept it close to start the quarter, staying within three of the lead through the first four minutes before the Celtics upped their lead to 96-88 with a run that included a 3-pointer by Smart. Smart was shooting 1-for-8 from the field before that shot.
Irving came back into the game an hit a pair of shots, which pushed Boston’s edge to 100-90.
The Celtics grabbed a few important offensive rebounds and made several defensive stops late to seal the win.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT
The Truth is in the building.
The Celtics host the Charlotte Hornets at TD Garden on Friday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images