NBA Preview: Celtics at Lakers

Celtics at Lakers

The Boston Celtics carry their longest losing streak of the season into a challenging four-game road trip, beginning with a visit to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday. The Celtics dropped all three games of their recent homestand, including the finale to an Orlando Magic squad that had lost 17 of its previous 19.

“I felt like they were shooting layups for the most part during tonight, even the ones they missed late,” coach Brad Stevens told reporters after the 103-95 setback. “And you know, you’ve got to play well. We haven’t played well consistently on both ends for a while now.” The one positive for Boston was the successful return of star guard Kyrie Irving, who scored 40 points after sitting out the previous affair with a shoulder injury. He will take aim at a Lakers’ team that has won six of its last eight on the heels of a nine-game losing streak. Behind 29 points from Jordan Clarkson and 27 from Julius Randle, Los Angeles pulled away for a 127-107 triumph over the New York Knicks on Sunday for its fifth consecutive home win.

TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT, NBCS Boston

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ABOUT THE CELTICS (34-13): Irving has a reputation for taking a philosophical approach to most matters and he’s doing the same with Boston’s current struggles. “You gotta hit some adversity,” he told reporters. “We have to hit something. Like, we need it as a team. There’s a lot more adversity down the road, and we’ve got to be able to weather the storm no matter what. That’s part of the game, and learning one another and being able to figure out how do you respond from that.” Getting a bit more out of the bench could help, as six reserves combined to produce eight points on 4-of-19 shooting against Orlando.

ABOUT THE LAKERS (17-29): Los Angeles had held three straight opponents at home to under 90 points prior to Sunday and while the Knicks ended that run they managed just 44 points in the second half. “Defense. That was the only message at halftime,” coach Luke Walton told the media. “During our home win streak, we have been really, really good defensively.” Clarkson is averaging 31 points, 8.5 assists and 6.5 rebounds over the last two games.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. Lakers PG Lonzo Ball (knee) has missed four straight games and SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Achilles) has sat out the last two.

2. Celtics PG Terry Rozier is 10-for-41 from the field – including 3-for-23 beyond the arc – over his last five games.

3. Boston C Aron Baynes tied a career high with 21 points in a 107-96 win over Los Angeles in November, running the Celtics’ winning streak in the series to four.

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