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Kuzma, Lakers hold off Celtics

By Field Level Media
January 24. 2018 2:42AM
Boston guard Marcus Smart reacts following his team's 108-107 loss against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on Tuesday. (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

Kyle Kuzma scored 17 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter to help the Los Angeles Lakers avoid a season series sweep against the visiting Boston Celtics with a 108-107 victory on Tuesday night at Staples Center.

Kuzma’s fourth-period point total was a season high for a Laker in any quarter. Jordan Clarkson finished with 22 points, Julius Randle had 14 points and 14 rebounds, and Brook Lopez scored 12 as Los Angles won its third consecutive game.

Kyrie Irving had a game-high 33 points, Marcus Smart added 22 and both Al Horford and Marcus Morris scored 13 for the Celtics, who dropped their fourth straight. Horford also grabbed 12 rebounds.

The Lakers trailed by as many as 14 in the first half and were down 53-45 at halftime before outscoring the Celtics 31-21 in the third quarter.

Los Angeles extended its lead to 99-96 on Josh Hart’s layup with 3:52 remaining, but Irving hit a 3-pointer followed by a finger roll layup with 1:51 to go to bring Boston within 102-100.

Randle’s put-back dunk at 1:12 pushed the Lakers’ lead to four, and Clarkson hit a pair of free throws to make it 106-100.

Boston’s Terry Rozier hit a 3-pointer with 23.8 ticks to go before Hart missed two free throws. Randle sent Smart to the foul line with 19.2 seconds left to make it 106-105.

Clarkson made two more free throws with 11.6 seconds to go before Rozier’s driving layup with 7.3 seconds left again cut it to one.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed both of his free throws with 5.7 left, giving the Celtics a chance to win it — but Smart missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer.

The Celtics held the Lakers to a season low in first-quarter points and led 21-15 after one. Los Angeles’ previous season low for the quarter was 16 in a 107-96 loss at Boston on Nov. 8.

Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball missed his fifth straight game due to a knee injury, and the No. 2 overall pick in last year’s draft is not expected back any time soon.

Before the game, Horford was named an All-Star reserve. It is his fifth career All-Star selection, and he joins teammate Irving — who was voted a starter — as the Celtics’ only two representatives in the game.

Boston stays in Los Angeles to face the Clippers on Wednesday night. The Lakers begin a five-game road trip Friday in Chicago.