Lakers pay tribute to Buss by routing Celtics
On a night that kicked off with a solemn tribute to their recently deceased owner, the Lakers brought it back.
Riding just the latest emotional wave in what has been a saga-filled season, the Lakers routed the visiting Boston Celtics in a 113-99 victory on Wednesday night at Staples Center.
"It was very fitting," Bryant said. "It's funny how sports always to have those poetic stories. Something like this happens, and we just so happened to play the Celtics the next game.
Added Boston's Paul Pierce: "You could see it in their eyes. I could see it in Kobe's eyes. He was really emotional when he came out. They wanted that game bad and they understood that."
Buss, who presided over the Lakers since 1980 and led the team to 10 championships, including three victories over Boston in the NBA Finals, received a massive ovation from the adoring home crown. A video was played commemorating his life. Kobe Bryant addressed the crowd. The Celtics, as expected, were greeted with boos.
In a season full of disappointment for the Lakers, the game was a bit reminiscent of brighter days in the rivalry, at least in the Los Angeles box score.
The Lakers had seven players score in double figures, including all five starters, as they jumped on the Celtics early.
Los Angeles led by as much as 14 in the first half, claimed a nine-point halftime lead and stretched the advantage to as much as 19 in the third quarter.
Dwight Howard led the way with 24 points and 12 rebounds, and Kobe Bryant -- who choked up while addressing the crowd before the game with his thoughts about Buss -- finished with 16 points and seven assists. Steve Nash had 14 points and seven assists, passing Magic Johnson for fourth on the all-time assists list, and Earl Clark added 14 points and 16 rebounds for the Lakers.
"A lot of things that we've been stressing came through tonight, so we have to keep it going," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said. "Again, it is one little step. I don't want to get too crazy."
Paul Pierce had 26 points, including 23 in the first half, and had five assists and four rebounds for Boston, and Courtney Lee added 20 points. Jeff Green had 15 points and seven rebounds off the bench for the Celtics, who were out-rebounded 49-34 as the Lakers played with a brand of energy they haven't displayed consistently this season.
"It could've gone either way," Boston coach Doc Rivers said of the Lakers reaction to the emotion. "I'm sure it was an emotional game, but not for all of them. It's not like these guys have all been here long. The emotion was probably Pau (Gasol), who didn't play, and Kobe. It could've gone the other way too, if we jumped on them, which I thought we had to do."
NOTES: Boston remains without the services of Rajon Rondo (torn ACL), Leandro Barbosa (torn ACL) and Jared Sullinger (lumbar disk surgery). ... Los Angeles center Pau Gasol remains out with a torn plantar fascia in his right foot. Jordan Hill (left hip surgery) is also out for the Lakers. ... Boston trounced Los Angeles in the Lakers' first game after Gasol's injury, a 116-95 walloping on Feb. 7 at Boston's TD Garden. The Celtics, who led by as many as 32 points in the big win, had six players in double figures while Bryant was the lone Laker in double digits with 27 points. ... Los Angeles swept the season series last year, 2-0. ... After surpassing Johnson for fourth place on the all-time assists list, Nash now is fewer than 200 behind No. 3, current Golden State coach Mark Jackson. ... Garnett, meanwhile, is closing in on former Lakers great Jerry West for 15th on the all-time scoring list. He trails West by fewer than 140 points.
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