Celtics fall to Lakers, 113-99

Celtics fall to Lakers, 113-99
February 21, 2013, 2:45 am
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LOS ANGELES — It was an emotional night for the Los Angeles Lakers, playing for the first time since their longtime owner Dr. Jerry Buss passed away.

There was a video tribute before the game and Lakers players donning purple and gold patches with the initials 'JB' inscribed on the right shoulder.

Such a loss has a way of bringing out the best in those affected by it the most, a lesson the Celtics learned first-hand as the Lakers defeated the C's 113-99.

Dwight Howard set the tone with a dominant performance of 24 points and 12 rebounds. Kobe Bryant had a well-balanced night as well with 16 points, seven assists and four rebounds.

As for the Celtics, Pierce led all scorers with 26 points, 23 of which came in the first half. Boston also got a solid night from Courtney Lee, who had 20 points.

The loss was Boston's second in a row and continues a trend in which the Celtics have not found much success on the road this season with Wednesday's loss dropping them to 8-17 away from the Garden.

To put that in perspective, the Celtics lost a total of 18 games all season in 2011, the NBA's last full 82-game slate.

While the Lakers certainly deserve credit for a well-played game, many of pains experienced by Boston fall under the category of self-inflicted wounds.

Despite a relatively low number of turnovers by both teams -- they combined for just nine turnovers in the first half -- the C's didn't play with the kind of force or aggression that was on display prior to the All-Star break.

Just like the loss to Denver on Tuesday night, Boston found itself once again coming up on the short end of the aggression game.

There were plenty of stats one could point to, but none stuck out more than free throw attempts. At the half, the Lakers were 13-for-18 while the Celtics missed three of their four free throw attempts.

Of course it's a given most nights when facing the Lakers because teams frequently foul Howard, who is one of the NBA's worst free throw shooters.

For Boston, it was another night filled with one missed opportunity after another.

If it wasn't a defensive breakdown that led to an easy Lakers basket, it was a wide open miss by any number of Celtics players.

The Celtics looked and played like the team that struggled mightily in November and December, but eventually found its stride once the calendar flipped.

Following the Denver loss, Celtics players said it would take them a little time to get their rhythm back after the All-Star break lay-off.

But considering how deep they are into the season and their 28-26 record, the C's can't afford to be anything less than stellar whenever they step on the floor.

And while the Lakers rallying behind the death of their owner certainly makes for a good story, Boston's play -- not the Lakers' emotional pain -- was at the root of Wednesday's decisive Celtics defeat.