NBA: Shorthanded Lakers stun Celtics, Maxey scores 51 in 76ers win

AFP , Friday 2 Feb 2024

A Los Angeles Lakers team missing superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis barreled past the NBA-leading Boston Celtics on Thursday as Tyrese Maxey scored 51 points to lead Philadelphia over Utah.

Lakers vs. Celtics
Los Angeles Lakers center Jaxson Hayes (11) dunks the ball to score in front of Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) in the second half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024, in Boston. Photo: AP


Austin Reaves scored a season-high 32 points to lead the Lakers in their 114-105 victory, saying afterwards he and the rest of the Lakers had taken to heart James' blunt demand after Tuesday's loss to Atlanta that his teammates "just go out and do your job."

"It's a great message," Reaves told broadcaster TNT. "And coming from the greatest player ever, in my opinion, that's what we should do."

Elsewhere, 76ers guard Maxey and the Knicks' Jalen Brunson celebrated their first career All-Star selections with standout performances.

Maxey scored a career-high 51 points to lead the Sixers to a hard-fought 127-124 victory over the Jazz in Utah, an uplifting end to a day that saw the 76ers tensely awaiting word on how long they'll be without injured star Joel Embiid.

Brunson scored 40 points as the Knicks notched a ninth straight victory, 109-105 over the Indiana Pacers.

Maxey, who had missed three games with an ankle injury, returned to help the 76ers overcome the absence of reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Embiid.

The 76ers said Thursday Embiid had been diagnosed with a lateral meniscus injury and would be sidelined at least through the weekend as doctors devise a treatment plan.

The Cameroonian star was hurt on Tuesday when Golden State's Jonathan Kuminga fell on his leg as they scrambled for a loose ball.

Maxey said when he learned Embiid would be out he was determined to play, even though his ankle was still less than 100 percent.

"I was about to sit again," he told TNT. "But I was like, man I'm not leaving my team out there, I've got to go out there and compete and we've got to get one 'W' on this road trip."

Maxey improved on his previous career high of 50 points, set on November 12 against Indiana.

Knicks keep rolling

Brunson, who like Maxey was among the All-Star reserves named Thursday, had an emotional night at Madison Square Garden, where he drained the go-ahead basket with 1:46 to play.

The Knicks rallied from a 15-point first-half deficit and were up by six with less than five minutes to play. But the Pacers had grabbed a 100-99 lead with two minutes remaining.

"We kept fighting, man," Brunson said in an on-court interview. "No matter what, we're going to keep fighting. That's what we do."

In Boston, the latest meeting between the Lakers and Celtics, storied rivals who share the record for most NBA titles with 17 apiece, lost some luster when the Lakers ruled out James with a sore left ankle and Davis with hip spasms and an Achilles tendon injury.

In addition, the Lakers and Celtics are teams on different trajectories as the All-Star break approaches, with the Eastern Conference-leading Celtics boasting the best record in the league while the Lakers, ninth in the West, have struggled to find consistency and had dropped two straight since an overtime triumph over the Golden State Warriors last Saturday.

The crowd at TD Garden were stunned to near silence as the Lakers seized control in the second quarter, when Jayson Tatum's eight points were the only scoring from the Celtics' starters.

D'Angelo Russell and Jaxson Hayes scored 16 points each for the Lakers, with Russell adding eight rebounds and 14 assists. Reaves made seven of the Lakers' 19 three-pointers.

Tatum led the Celtics with 23 points. Kristaps Porzingis and Sam Hauser had 17 points each but Jaylen Brown -- also named an All-Star reserve -- scored just eight.

"Just playing the game the right way and competing at 110 percent," Reaves said of the key to handing the Celtics just their third home defeat of the season. "When we do that, we've proven that we can beat anybody."

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