No doubting Thomas' class

Point guard's 38pts, rich run of form the catalysts for Celtics' victory against Lakers

BOSTON • Isaiah Thomas, who seems to know everything on the court, had no idea he had just come within two points of becoming the first Boston Celtics player to score 40 points in three straight NBA games.

"I didn't know about the three games in a row," Boston's little big man said after scoring 21 of his 38 points in the fourth quarter as the Celtics won their sixth game in a row with a 113-107 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday.

"I didn't know about it or I would have had the last shot. I'm glad we won, that's all that matters."

They did win, the game ending less than an hour after the Toronto Raptors lost 94-102 in Orlando, clinching Boston's Brad Stevens' spot as the Eastern Conference All-Star coach.

Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue owns the best record in the conference, but he coached in the game last year and now Stevens and his Boston staff are going to New Orleans.

"Well, first of all, it should be Ty Lue, but the way the rules work then it's the next-best record because he did it last year," said Stevens, whose team is 32-18. "But what's nice about it is there's no politics in it. There's no subjectivity; it's what your team has accomplished.

"I almost feel bad that I'm the one that's going; I'd rather have another one or two of those guys playing in it."

The win also allowed the Celtics to break a tie with the Lakers and take over the all-time lead in regular season wins, with 2,353.

Thomas, the league leader in fourth-quarter scoring (10.5 per game coming in), scored his 37th and 38th points with 2min 25sec left but did not take another shot.

He was six of nine from the floor in the fourth quarter and went seven of seven from the foul line in the game, making him 46 of 47 in the last four games.

He has recorded 34 straight 20-point games as he continues to charge at John Havlicek's club record of 40.

Reminded his coaches are going to New Orleans, Thomas, Boston's All-Star picked as a backup, said, "Yeah, so they should put me in the starting line-up.

"That's going to be good, that says a lot. Says we are winning and we're doing pretty good and to get there says a lot. I'm happy for them."

Thomas raised his season average to 29.9 points a game. Larry Bird holds the Celtics record for scoring in a season, also at 29.9, but Bird was 29.934 and Thomas is at 29.891.

Asked about trying to stop the 1.75m Thomas, the Lakers' Larry Nance Jr said, "It has nothing to do with height. He's one of the best players in the league, period."

Jae Crowder added 18 points and six rebounds for Boston, while rookie Jaylen Brown had 12 points and seven boards.


Isaiah Thomas of the Boston Celtics taking on D'Angelo Russell of the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. Thomas scored 17 of his 38 points in the fourth quarter as the Celtics won 113-107. But he had no idea he was on the verge of becoming the first Celtic to notch three straight 40-point games. PHOTO: REUTERS

Lou Williams led the Lakers, who lost their 11th straight road game, with 21 points. D'Angelo Russell had 20 points, six rebounds and six assists.

  • 2,353

    Regular season games the Boston Celtics have won, breaking the NBA-leading tie with Los Angeles Lakers.

The Lakers, losers of five of their last six, fell to 5-23 on the road in the second game of a five-game trip. They are 17-36 for the season.

"I thought we were great to start the game," said coach Luke Walton. "Then it just kinda stalled out there in the second and we then were good again in the second half."

The Celtics reached 100 points for the 24th straight game, their longest such streak since achieving 32 straight in 1986-87.

REUTERS


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 05, 2017, with the headline 'No doubting Thomas' class'. Print Edition | Subscribe