LOS ANGELES, USA – LeBron James delivered the go-ahead jumper with 30 ticks left to help lift the Los Angeles Lakers to a 114-112 win over the Boston Celtics as the two decorated franchises renewed their historic rivalry.
The NBA powerhouses went down to the wire in a back-and-forth thriller in front of a crowd of almost 19,000 at the Staples Center on Sunday, February 23 (Monday, February 24, Manila time).
Boston and Los Angeles have 33 NBA championships between them and have met in the finals a record 12 times.
Both are once again title contenders, with the Lakers on top of the Western Conference standings and the Celtics sitting at No. 3 in the Eastern Conference.
James' fadeaway shot gave the Lakers the lead for good and Anthony Davis sealed the win with 3 free throws over the final 12 seconds.
James finished with 29 points, 9 assists and 8 rebounds, while Davis tallied a team-high 32 points and 13 rebounds as the Lakers also showed good defensive strategy late in the game.
Jayson Tatum scored a career-high-tying 41-points for the Celtics, who have survived all season on their superior offensive balance.
All 5 Boston starters scored in double figures, with Daniel Theis adding 16 points and 9 rebounds and Marcus Smart registering 14 points and 7 rebounds.
Gordon Hayward scored 10 points but shot 0-of-5 from behind the three-point line.
Hayward flirted with a triple-double handing out a team-high 9 assists and grabbing 8 rebounds.
Boston was coming off a 127-117 win over Minnesota on Friday where 4 Celtics – Jaylen Brown, Tatum, Hayward and Theis – each scored at least 25 points.
Tatum's 41 points on Sunday equalled his career high set January 11th against the New Orleans Pelicans.
Eighteen of Tatum's 41 came in the 3rd quarter, which ended with the teams tied 87-87.
The Celtics took a 110-108 lead with 77 seconds left in the 4th when Brown drained a three-pointer. Brown finished with 20 points against the Lakers.
Boston played without All-Star guard Kemba Walker.