Anthony Davis scored 27 points to fuel the Los Angeles Lakers, who ended their two-game NBA losing streak in dramatic style Saturday with a 96-95 victory over the Celtics in Boston.
A well-rested Davis, who sat out the Lakers’ loss to the Pistons in Detroit on Thursday with a bruised thigh, added 14 rebounds for the reigning NBA champions.
LeBron James finished with 21 points, seven rebounds and seven assists for the reigning NBA champions, who bounced back after defeats in Philadelphia and Detroit.
“We’re a team that takes pride in not losing two in a row and we lost two in a row,” Davis said. “For damn sure we weren’t losing three in a row.”
It was a close-run game, however.
Jayson Tatum scored 30 points and pulled down nine rebounds for the Celtics and Jaylen Brown added 28 points.
It was a one-point game when Boston’s Marcus Smart departed with 10:28 remaining after a fall that left him with what the Celtics said was a calf strain.
James drained a three-pointer to put the Lakers up 88-85 with 5:25 remaining and the Lakers pushed the lead to as many as seven points before the Celtics again narrowed the gap.
Tatum cut the deficit to 96-95 with 32.8 seconds remaining.
Boston’s Kemba Walker blocked a Davis shot but missed at the other end. Teammate Daniel Theis grabbed the rebound but couldn’t get his follow-up effort to fall.
The victory was especially satisfying, Davis said, not necessarily for the long history between two clubs that own 17 NBA titles apiece but because of what happened the last time the Lakers played in Boston in March.
“We got a little revenge,” Davis said. “This team beat us by 30 the last time we were in this building.”
Lillard lifts Blazers
It came down to the buzzer in Chicago, where Portland’s Damian Lillard drained a three-pointer as time expired to give the Trail Blazers a 123-122 victory over the Bulls.
Lillard finished with 44 points on eight 3-pointers.
Chicago appeared headed for victory when Coby White made a pair of free throws to put the Bulls up 122-117 with 11.5 seconds remaining.
But Lillard, whose 44 points included eight three-pointers, closed the deficit to 122-120 with a strike from beyond the arc with 8.2 seconds left.
The Blazers then forced a jump ball with 6.2 seconds left and Lillard was able to snag a loose ball and make the winner.
It was a narrow escape for a Blazers team that led by 19 in the third quarter.
Forward Lauri Markkanen scored 31 points and guard Zach LaVine added 26 for the Bulls.
And it was close in Miami, where Jimmy Butler returned from a 10-game absence due to the league’s coronavirus protocols to score 30 points in the Heat’s 105-104 victory over the Sacramento Kings.
“You simply cannot put a modern-day analytic to Jimmy’s will to win,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who still had to make do without injured Goran Dragic, Avery Bradley and others.
Butler scored 20 points in the first half, but Miami couldn’t get ahead by more than one and trailed by two at the break.
The Heat led by 11 early in the fourth, before the Kings mounted a rally that would fall just short.
The Charlotte Hornets, with a career-high 27 points from rookie point guard LaMelo Ball, out-lasted two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks 126-114.
Antetokounmpo scored 34 points with 18 rebounds and nine assists.
But with Ball’s effort off the bench, and 27 points from Gordon Hayward, the Hornets followed up their victory over the Indiana Pacers on Friday with another win over a top-five Eastern Conference team.
And the Memphis Grizzlies, back after having five games postponed because of coronavirus issues, picked up right where they left off with a 129-112 victory over the Spurs in San Antonio.
De’Anthony Melton led the Grizzlies with 20 points off the bench and point guard Ja Morant added 19 points and 11 assists as Memphis posted a sixth straight win.