The Los Angeles Lakers weren't going to let Dr. Jerry Buss' legacy be tainted by any Boston Celtics magic in the team's first game since his tragic passing.
In irony so fitting it's almost poetic, the Lakers used a wave of emotion and team ball to down one of Buss' long-time rivals, and they did so with ease—winning 113-99 on Wednesday night in Los Angeles.
After an emotional ceremony that featured Laker great Magic Johnson getting choked up at the thought of life without Dr. Buss, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash made sure this night wouldn't go down as a loss in the Laker record books.
Dwight Howard also had it going, scoring 24 points and looking more like the player that came over from Orlando in the offseason. Nash and Bryant combined for 30 points and 14 assists, and three other Lakers (Metta World Peace, Earl Clark and Antawn Jamison) also finished with double figures.
Paul Pierce led the way for Boston, but he's about the only player that did anything for the Celtics. Pierce finished with 26 points and Courtney Lee added 20, but Doc Rivers' defense let him down yet again—surrendering 113 points on the road in LA.
The Celtics (28-26) continue to struggle with playoff-level competition, although they had been playing much better since losing Rajon Rondo to injury. It's back to the drawing board now, though as they'll have to gear up for the long road of trying to sneak into the playoffs.
The Lakers (26-29) continue to roll, and the extra rest from the All-Star break clearly benefited this team in the short-run.
Although Buss' life was the focus of the night, Steve Nash also wound up with some notoriety, passing Magic for fourth place on the all-time assist list after his third quarter dime to Clark.
Player of the Game: Lakers C Dwight Howard
Howard got it done in this one, ditching his headband and usual flash in favor of a better stat line and a Laker win. He also looked more like his former self in the process.
D12 had 24 points, 12 rebounds and shot 10-of-13 from the field in the process. As Jeff Van Gundy noted on the ESPN broadcast, he was setting better screens, being more active in the rebound game and overall looked like he wanted to be wearing purple and gold for one of the few times this season.
Here's hoping he builds on this game going forward—the league isn't the same without Howard dominating like he did on the East Coast.
Up Next for Boston
Boston has three games left on this West Coast swing, starting with Phoenix on Friday night and ending with the Utah Jazz next week. It will be a good test for Boston's playoff chances, and where it stands down the stretch of this season.
Up Next for Los Angeles
The Lakers have one more home game against Portland on Friday night before hitting the road for a two-game swing against Dallas and Denver. They'll then return home for a two-game set, starting with Minnesota next week.
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