Ah, the sweet taste of revenge for Anthony Davis. The rivalry between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics has been relatively dormant for the past decade.

Since the two traditional clubs met in the 2010 NBA Finals, the two organizations have restructured – at different rates – over the past decade and gradually built up contenders for their respective star-studded duos: LeBron James and Anthony Davis for the Lakers and Jason Tatum and Jaylen Brown for Boston.

“It won’t be the same without the Boston fans, without the loyal Lakers,” LeBron James told reporters Friday about the Lakers-Celtics game. “It won’t be the same on Saturday. It will be nice to play another game against a very good team, but it won’t be a rivalry. The fans are part of that rivalry.

Well, maybe. Yet, sadly, without the strength and enthusiasm of the fans at the TD Garden on Saturday night, the Lakers and Celtics faced each other as if it were the finals – and as if the rivalry meant anything.

In the end, the Lakers won 96-95 thanks to a frosty Kemba Walker (1 in 12 from the field) and Daniel Theis failed to score in the closing seconds to seal the win for Los Angeles.

The victory ended a two-game losing streak for the Lakers and enabled the defending champions to win 15-6 for the season and 4-2 for the seven-game tournament.

INSANE finishes in Boston with Kemba missing at the buzzer, Lakers win 😳pic.twitter.com/lZe9lkyfM2

– ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) January 31, 2021

Los Angeles seems to have no interest in losing three games in a row. After Wednesday and Thursday’s losses against the Philadelphia 76ers (physical duel, last second) and the Detroit Pistons (generally uninspired performance), Kyle Kuzma, among others, admitted that the Lakers have not maintained their “mantra” by losing back-to-back games. (Their first two “L-road” seasons).

“We certainly haven’t lost three in a row,” Davis told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols after the Lakers’ win in Boston.

Anthony Davis didn’t want to lose 😤 pic.twitter.com/0RZ0iQBxR8

– LakeShow (@LakeShowCP) January 31, 2021

It is possible that the Lakers’ efforts on Saturday were inspired by the current state of the team and, perhaps to a lesser extent, the history of the NBA. However, it is more likely that this group of Lakers – and Davis in particular – were thinking about Saturday’s recent past rather than Kobe and Pierce, Bird and Magic or Russell and West.

The last time the Lakers faced the Celtics, they won 114-112 at the Staples Center on February 23, 2020. However, Los Angeles’ previous visit to New England also failed. On January 20, 2020, Boston defeated Los Angeles 139-107, perhaps the worst performance of the year for the champions.

“We got a little revenge on this team,” Davis told Nichols. “They came here last year and beat us by about 30 points the last time we were in this building.”

Davis in particular struggled in that game, scoring just nine points for the Lakers (-24). LeBron James (15 points) also had one of the lowest point totals of the 2019-20 season.

Of course, the Lakers would eventually tie with the Celtics for the number 17 title. Either way, last season on the floor clearly has the ADs in the lead.

“One of our most memorable races of the past year,” Davis added.

Davis – who was allowed to play just minutes before kickoff after being sent off Thursday due to a quadriplegic concussion with the Lakers – scored 27 points (11 of 25 FG) and 14 rebounds in one of his best performances of the season. After the game, he admitted that he “went back to the good old days” in terms of his aggression.

“It was a tough win against a team that beat us by 30 points last year in this building,” Davis said at the Lakers’ post-game press conference. “Losing twice in a row is something we don’t like, but we managed to take this one.”

James was a Laker for two seasons, but he often expressed his appreciation for the legends of the Laker-Celtic rivalry.

“It’s pretty cool to know the story,” he said after the Detroit break. “You know the Lakers-Celtics game in the league and what it means to this league, to the history of this league. And to see some of the best games, some of the best opponents, some of the best players that have ever played this game, to be a part of that rivalry, it was pretty cool to be a part of history.”

After Saturday’s win, James acted like a Laker and focused more on a possible game against Boston.

“When you see Boston, all you see is green. It doesn’t matter,” James told reporters during Zoom’s post-game session when asked if it would be the first time he would see his buddy Tristan Thompson in Celtics gear.

LeBron James talks about the rivalry between the Lakers and the Celtics 🔥 pic.twitter.com/N4MOKdYH61

– LakeShow (@LakeShowCP) January 31, 2021

James finished with 21 points, seven rebounds and seven assists (plus five turnovers) in the one-point victory over the Lakers, going 7 of 17 from the field and 4 of 11 from the three-point line. Remarkably, his first hat trick of the night gave him an edge over his former teammate James R. Smith and moved him into 13th place in the three-point championship standings (the closest is Joe Johnson, with 47 points ahead of him).

LeBron drops the hammer early against the Celtics 🔨pic.twitter.com/9MImiEpFgf

– ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) January 31, 2021

Of all the factors that motivated the Lakers Saturday, one stood out, Davis said.

“I think we’re just happy to be back in the winner’s column.”

Tatum (30 points, nine rebounds) and Brown (28 points) shined, but were not helped much by Walker (four points) or anyone else in the scoring department. The Celtics dropped to 10-8 on the season.

The next stop for the Lakers is Georgia on Monday night when they end their journey against the top-ranked Atlanta Hawks (10-9).

Warriors, Klay Thompson

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