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Jaylen Brown redeems himself as Celtics hold off Lakers in wild overtime thriller

Steve Hewitt, Boston Herald on

Published in Basketball

BOSTON — As the Celtics backpedaled into a rare losing streak this week, Jaylen Brown took the blame. His pair of free throws with seconds left in overtime cost them, and he took accountability for not bringing the right energy in a poor performance.

On Saturday, he brought it at just the right time.

Brown shook off one of his worst games of the season, redeeming himself in a huge way on a big stage and in a manner the Celtics sorely needed. With another wild game against their rivals hanging in the balance, the Celtics star delivered in crunch time with several big plays to lift the C’s to a crazy 125-121 victory over the Lakers at TD Garden, snapping their three-game losing streak.

Brown scored a game-high 37 points, Jayson Tatum scored 30 points in 47 minutes — not taking a rest from the second quarter on—– and the Celtics — with the benefit of a few favorable whistles down the stretch — found a way.

After coming back from seven points down in the fourth, the Celtics took the lead several times in the final minutes of regulation but found themselves down three with 15 seconds left after Pattrick Beverley’s ridiculous put-back dunk and a free throw. Brown then drove for a layup that made it a one-point game. But he protested for a foul after being hit on his head by Beverley.

After a brief delay, he was inexplicably granted the late foul call. And unlike Thursday, he sunk the free throw to tie the game.

On the ensuing possession, James made a strong drive to the hoop and missed a layup at the buzzer. But the Lakers star lost it after he didn’t get a foul call, running around the court and dropping to his knees in disbelief. Replays showed that Tatum made clear contact with James’ arm.

Beverley was hit with a technical foul after hilariously bringing out a camera to the court to show an official a replay of the final play, so the Celtics took a one-point lead to start the extra session. They didn’t trail again. Brown converted a three-point play, then drained a 3 on the next possession as the C’s opened up a six-point lead. He made another big pull-up in the final minute of overtime as they held off a late Lakers rally.

 

Things looked ominous for the Celtics early in the second half.

Tatum, after an eight-point first half, carried his struggles over. Brown picked up a fourth foul. Tatum missed a layup and committed two turnovers sandwiched inside a Lakers run. James and Patrick Beverley combined to hit three consecutive 3-pointers, with James posing a bit for the third triple, which forced Mazzulla to call a timeout.

It was an 11-0 Lakers run when Tatum’s second turnover in a minute led to a James dunk, putting the Celtics down 11.

But then Tatum finally woke up. After a 2-for-10 start, he made two 3s in a span of 41 seconds to bring the Celtics within six. After being fouled by Dennis Schroder in transition — which drew a technical for Schroder — Tatum made three free throws. Moments later, he converted a reverse layup before Malcolm Brogdon’s layup made it a three-point game and forced a Lakers timeout. They continued their surge after the break, with Tatum finding White for a transition dunk before Brogdon hit a corner 3.

Somehow, as poorly as they had played all night, the C’s retook the lead. Tatum scored 15 points in the third, and even after a breakdown on the last play of the period — with Anthony Davis finding Rui Hachimura for a buzzer-beating, tying dunk, the Celtics were in a favorable position.

But the Celtics’ momentum was stopped, at least temporarily. Brown was whistled for his fifth foul inside the first minute of the fourth and the Lakers jumped back out to a seven-point lead. But the C’s slowly crept back. Brown returned and hit a pair of buckets to steady the ship, and then their 3-pointers — after a woeful first half from long range — started to fall. Al Horford drained one, then Brogdon hit another as the Celtics retook the lead at 98-96 with just over three minutes to go.


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