The two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers faced off against the Boston Celtics to finish their regular season business for 2011, and the contest from TD Banknorth Garden in Boston did not disappoint.
In a back-and-forth battle that saw both teams play great and poorly for stretches of time, the Lakers left the parquet victorious and revitalized, beating the Celtics 92-86 to split their pair of games.
In recent days, both Laker personnel managers and the media had put a lot of significance on this marquee matchup.
Late last week, after General Manager Mitch Kupchak announced that he would pursue trade possibilities for the Lakers, coach Phil Jackson said that he would like to see how the Lakers played in Boston before moving forward in the trade market.
The media, ever eager to pump this matchup, pinned the Lakers' elite status on this game, citing their 1-6 record against the league's five best teams. If they couldn't win, or compete hard with the Celtics, they would be written off by many as title contenders in a top-heavy NBA season.
Well, something slightly unexpected happened on Thursday night: The Lakers beat Boston convincingly on their home court. Now everyone is forced to reconsider what the Lakers are capable of and be reminded that they are still the back-to-back defending champs.
While they'll tell you it was just another regular season game in February, this win looms large for the Lakers' trajectory for the rest of the season.
Here are 10 reasons why.