Jayson Tatum scored 37 points and the Boston Celtics defeated the Lakers 130-108 on Friday, despite LeBron James returning to the Los Angeles lineup.
Marcus Smart had 22 points and Dennis Schroder 21 for Boston (8-8), which returned to the .500 mark. Tatum had 11 rebounds and Al Horford added 18 points.
Anthony Davis led Los Angeles with 31 points and James finished with 23 in 32 minutes. Each had six rebounds and two assists.
James missed eight games with abdominal discomfort, and the Lakers were 3-5 in his absence. They lost their last four road games.
The teams that have won almost half of the NBA championships, with 17 each, renewed their rivalry in front of a fiery crowd, which made a postseason atmosphere felt from the start of the game.
Hall of Famer Bill Russell was introduced as a “true Celtics legend” when he was welcomed by the official announcer on the giant screen midway through the opening quarter. The former star was sitting on the side of the court with the initials “KB” in honor of Kobe Bryant, the Lakers figure who passed away in January 2020.
The Celtics led by 11 points in the fourth quarter and opened a 109-94 lead on Tatum’s 3-pointer with 6:59 left. His triple from the left corner increased the difference to 116-99 with 5:02 remaining.
The Lakers made nine of their 12 starting shots en route to taking a 38-30 lead after one quarter.
James’ first basket came in an electrifying dunk two and a half minutes into the game.
Boston erased a 14-point deficit in the second quarter and took the lead before a quick break from James that gave the Lakers a 61-60 lead at halftime.
The Celtics opened the second half 14-4 and held a 93-82 lead going into the fourth quarter.