By The Sports Xchange
LOS ANGELES — Coming off a big win Wednesday over the Cleveland Cavaliers, Isaiah Thomas and the Boston Celtics didn’t want to let their guards down Friday night against the struggling Los Angeles Lakers.
“We knew it was a big game for us,” Thomas said. “We knew the first game on the road trip, and after a huge win over the Cavs, most teams play down to the competition. But we know the Lakers are a good team. They play hard; they play together. We just happened to take this one from them.”
Thomas had 18 points and eight assists, and the Celtics rolled to a 115-95 victory over the Lakers at Staples Center.
Al Horford had 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field for the Celtics (31-22), who have won seven of their last 10 games. Rookie Jaylen Brown had 16 points and eight rebounds off the bench and delivered a highlight-reel slam on a pass off the glass from Thomas.
Avery Bradley had 15 points, Jae Crowder contributed 14 points and Amir Johnson finished with 13.
“We played very unselfish on the offensive end and we played really good on defense other than the third quarter. For the most part, we played (well) on both ends of the floor,” said Thomas, who rested in the fourth quarter.
Jordan Clarkson scored all 20 of his points in the third quarter and D’Angelo Russell added 17 points for the Lakers (19-43), who lost their sixth consecutive game. Los Angeles forward Julius Randle scored 13.
“They were playing really well in the first half,” Clarkson said. “I feel like we got down a little bit when those guys were hitting shots. When they went on their little run, we kind of got down and we just have to figure out a way to keep playing through that.”
Lakers rookie Brandon Ingram, who took only two shots, failed to score in 26 minutes.
“I don’t think I played well at all,” Ingram said.
The Celtics set a season high in points in the first half with a 70-45 advantage at the break. Their previous best was 68 points against the Orlando Magic on Jan. 27.
“We made shots and I think that obviously masks some other things,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “But we were really moving the ball, we were playing with great purpose and we got the ball to the right guys in the right situations.”
The Lakers have allowed 70 or more points in a half three times this season.
In the third quarter, Boston increased the margin to as much as 31 before Los Angeles cut the deficit to 93-78 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Lakers closed the gap to 13, but the Celtics prevented them from getting any closer.
Boston, which captured a 113-107 win at TD Garden on Feb. 3, swept the season series for the first time since the 2007-08 season.
“The guys and I wanted to win. As an organization, fans and players, we don’t ever want to get swept by our rivals,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said. “But this is very far down the list of things that I concern myself with.”
The Celtics shot 51.2 percent from the field compared with 42.5 percent for the Lakers. The Celtics dominated the boards with a 46-34 edge.
Although the Celtics committed more turnovers — 18 (resulting in 11 points) to 14 (19 points) for the Lakers — 15 of Boston’s miscues occurred in the second half.
Bradley said the Celtics’ transition game played a crucial role.
“It’s always good to get easy buckets. It all came from getting stops,” said Bradley, who played his third game since returning from an Achilles injury. “When you’re able to get stops, you’re able to get steals or get the rebound or push the ball out. It’s fun playing that way.”
NOTES: Lakers coach Luke Walton said the battle between team president Jeanie Buss and her brothers Jim and Johnny over control of the franchise has no impact on the team. “It’s easy for me (to ignore). I coach and I focus. We’ve got a lot of focus on with our players and what we’re trying to do. Stuff that’s not in my control I don’t spend much time thinking about,” Walton said. … The Celtics are 32-4 when leading or tied at the end of the third quarter. … Boston C Tyler Zeller (illness) missed the game. … Both clubs resume play Sunday. The Celtics visit the Phoenix Suns. The Lakers host the New Orleans Pelicans.