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Lakers 118, Celtics 111

Lakers get past Celtics in overtime

Isaiah Thomas steals the ball from the Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson during his Celtics debut on Sunday night. Chris Carlson/AP

LOS ANGELES — Point guard Isaiah Thomas’s first time on a court with the Celtics came at shootaround Sunday morning, and his first time in a game with them came that same night. Coach Brad Stevens had, by necessity, kept things simple, but he also knew that Thomas was a player capable of thriving even without an in-depth tutorial.

In the Celtics’ 118-111 overtime loss to the Lakers, Thomas showed why his new franchise was so thrilled to acquire him in a trade. The 5-foot-9-inch guard scored by swirling through the lane, by draining high-arcing jumpers, and by making the Lakers chase him until they couldn’t chase him anymore.


But his first game in a Boston uniform will probably be most remembered for how he left it. Thomas was ejected after receiving consecutive technical fouls with 5:27 remaining in regulation.

The Lakers’ lead quickly swelled to 9, but Avery Bradley scored 8 points in the final 27 seconds of the fourth quarter—including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, to send the game to overtime. In the extra session, however, the run could not be sustained.

Thomas finished with 21 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 1 ejection. He left the locker room afterward without speaking to reporters, but Stevens said he apologized to his teammates and seemed to be accountable.

“He understands that he made a mistake,” Celtics guard Marcus Smart said. “You can’t fault him for that. He was passionate.”

Still, when asked about Thomas’s impressive performance that preceded the ejection, Stevens made it clear his early departure resonated most.

“He’s got to be there at the end,” Stevens said. “I think that’s No. 1.”

Jae Crowder added 22 points and 7 rebounds for the Celtics. Boston made just 8 of 33 3-pointers. Jeremy Lin had 25 points to lead the Lakers, who shot 51.2 percent from the floor.


With 5:29 left in the fourth quarter, a 3-pointer by Thomas pulled the Celtics within 88-87. After Nick Young drained a 3-pointer at the other end, Thomas came back and probed near the top of the key. He was called for an offensive foul.

Stevens said he was told by an official that Thomas received the first technical foul for slamming the ball, and the second one for rolling it to the referee. Whatever the reason, he was gone.

“He’s a good player, but we’re going to need him,” Stevens said. “We’re going to need everybody on board, especially when we’re shorthanded.”

After Thomas was ejected, the Lakers took control. The Celtics trailed, 103-96, with 30 seconds left, and it appeared their hopes were dashed. But over the next 12 seconds, Bradley had a dunk, the Lakers were whistled for an offensive foul, and Bradley canned a 3-pointer to make it 103-101.

With the Lakers leading, 105-103, Nick Young made one of two free throws with 8 seconds left. The Celtics were out of timeouts, so they rushed the other way, and Bradley calmly drained a long 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded, sending the game to overtime.

“I was just able to make a big shot,” Bradley said. “My teammates believed in me.”

But the Celtics shot just 2 of 12 from the floor in overtime, and the Lakers had their win.

It was Boston’s first game since learning that forward Jared Sullinger would be lost for the season with a stress fracture in his foot, and Thomas’s inspired play served as a counter to that letdown.


In Phoenix, he was stuck behind talented guards Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe. With the Celtics, he has a chance to become a star. He entered Sunday’s game with 5 minutes, 27 seconds left in the opening quarter. Less than a minute later, he drove through the lane and made a layup.

His first jump shot was a fadeaway 20-footer, and it went in without touching the rim. And then with 19.9 seconds left he unfurled an ankle-buckling crossover dribble, stepped back and hit a 3-pointer.

Even with just this short sample size, it was evident that he will bring this team a different gear. Stevens has maintained that he is not concerned about the starting lineup, and that it will figure itself out, but if Thomas’s play on Sunday was any indication, it will not be easy to keep him on the bench for sustained periods.

Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @adamhimmelsbach.