Despite the return of Dwight Howard, the Los Angeles Lakers were beaten, 116-95, by the Boston Celtics Thursday night in the TD Garden.
Howard had previously missed the Lakers' last three games. He started Thursday night after being urged by Kobe Bryant to get on the floor regardless of whether he is feeling pain in his right shoulder (h/t ESPN.com).
Los Angeles might have been better off had Howard not played at all. He fouled out in the fourth quarter, scoring only nine points while grabbing nine rebounds.
To his credit, Bryant stepped up and played very well on the night. He scored 27 points on 9-of-15 shooting and brought down seven boards.
He was the only Lakers starter to score in double digits, as Jodie Meeks and Antawn Jamison were the only other players to hit double figures, scoring 13 points and 11 points, respectively.
Metta World Peace in particular was poor, shooting only 2-of-13 from the field.
For the Celtics, it's yet another solid performance despite the absence of Rajon Rondo, who's out for the season. It's Boston's sixth-straight win since he went down.
Everyone on the team has stepped up their games and been playing much better together on the floor.
Kevin Garnett did a little bit of everything, with 15 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals. He was one of six Celtics players who scored in double figures.
Garnett hit a milestone during game, recording his 25,000th career point. Celtics announcer Sean Grande had a very good stat he tweeted out during the game:
With his 25,000 points, 10,000 boards, 5,000 assists 1,500 blocks and steals, Kevin Garnett joins...no one. He’s all alone.— Sean Grande (@SeanGrandePBP) February 8, 2013
Boston got a very good performance from Jeff Green. He came off the bench to score 19 points and was just flying around the floor the entire game. His plus-minus rating of plus-21 was the second-highest on the team.
The highest plus-minus rating came from Jason Terry. His 15 points were huge. Terry looks to have finally gotten things going after struggling for much of the season.
The Celtics really dominated the paint, outscoring the Lakers 58 to 36 and killed Los Angeles on the fast break, scoring 22 points.
Player of the Game: Paul Pierce, SF, Boston Celtics
Paul Pierce had a fantastic game. With the game already decided by the fourth quarter, Doc Rivers was able to sit Pierce for the final minutes.
Pierce finished with 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting, six assists and seven rebounds. He's done a very good job picking up quite a bit of the slack since Rondo's injury.
Up Next for the Lakers
It couldn't be much easier for the Lakers in their next game. They stay on the road to take on the Charlotte Bobcats Friday night. The Bobcats have lost their last five games.
Up Next for the Celtics
The Celtics, on the other hand, have quite a test ahead on Sunday. They welcome in a red-hot Denver Nuggets team.