The Boston Celtics overcame a sloppy offensive performance to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers 107-96 at TD Garden on Wednesday night and capture their 10th straight win.
It wasn't a pretty effort—the C's were outscored 80-74 over the game's final three quarters—but 19 points from Kyrie Irving and a career-high-tying 21 from Aron Baynes helped Boston fend off a pesky Lakers team that steadily fought its way back from 20 points down.
Irving was particularly big in the fourth quarter, when he scored four straight points to put the Celtics back up 10 with under six minutes remaining in regulation, as NBA TV documented on Twitter:
"I thought we made timely plays," Boston head coach Brad Stevens said, according to MassLive.com's Jay King. "I didn't think we necessarily played good basketball over the final 30 minutes."
As a team, the Celtics shot 38.8 percent from the field and 24.1 percent from three.
Those numbers could be contributed, in part, to some solid defense from the Lakers.
According to The Ringer's Bill Simmons, Horford's absence was particularly glaring:
But even without the big man, Irving filled his highlight quota.
Although he didn't have his favorite pick-and-pop partner at his disposal and shot an inefficient 7-of-21 from the floor, Irving found ways to carry the Celtics offense for spurts as he carved his way through the Lakers defense with his signature handles:
CBSSports.com's Matt Moore noted Irving has been putting on an isolation clinic since the season started:
Marcus Morris (18 points) and Terry Rozier (14 points) also managed to crack double figures, but the Celtics offense was hardly sharp.
The same couldn't be said of the defense, which continued to serve as Boston's calling card, as the team's official stats account pointed out:
The Lakers were limited to 5-of-24 shooting from three in the loss, and their steadiest sources of offense came below the free-throw line as Julius Randle (16 points, 12 rebounds), Brandon Ingram (18 points) and Jordan Clarkson (18 points) spearheaded the Purple and Gold charge.
Noticeably absent from the double-figure club was Lonzo Ball, who once again struggled with his jumper as he finished with nine points on 4-of-15 shooting, including 1-of-5 from three.
He also received a rude awakening at the rim when he tried to finish over Marcus Smart:
Ball has now gone four straight games without topping 10 points and is shooting 10-of-45 (22.2 percent) from the field this month.
The 2017 No. 2 overall pick will attempt to remedy those woes Thursday on the road against John Wall and the Washington Wizards—who will undoubtedly be looking to exact revenge after the Lakers bested them 102-99 in overtime Oct. 25 at Staples Center.
The Celtics, meanwhile, will eye their 11th consecutive win Friday when the Charlotte Hornets come to town.