Celtics miss their shot(s) against Lakers

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LOS ANGELES --  Jayson Tatum missed a lay-up in the fourth quarter.

Marcus Smart goes off for 22 points, but comes up short on a potential game-winner.

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And Jaylen Brown, one of the more athletic wings in the NBA who loves to play above the rim, missed a lob dunk that seemed to be the fourth-quarter spark the Lakers needed as they scored 9 of the next 11 points on their way towards a 108-10 win over their longtime East coast rival.

“We could have scored a lot more,” Brown told NBC Sports Boston. “I think that lob play was a small example of how the game went.”

He’s right.

It seemed every chance Boston had to take full control of the game was squandered due to a turnover or another missed assignment. 

And so now the Celtics (34-14) find themselves trying to gain some traction going forward after dropping four in a row.

Tuesday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers was supposed to be the easy one on this four-game West coast trip for the Celtics; the one game that they could afford to be less than their best and still find a path towards success . . .  or so we thought.

Which makes Boston’s 108-107 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers even more of a head-scratcher.

The day began with the news that Al Horford was going to be an All-Star for the fifth time overall and first as a Boston Celtic. The positive vibes continued to flow when coach Brad Stevens revealed that Gordon Hayward, who is in Los Angeles now, might be traveling with the team full-time beginning in March.

From there, things went downhill in a hurry.

While Stevens and the players said all the right things after the loss, like how the Lakers are improving and they have lots of young talent , Boston still had no business losing this game.

And the Lakers did damn near everything they could to give Boston the game in the fourth quarter.

In the final 19.8 seconds of play, the Lakers missed four free throws – four free throws!

“I know we haven’t made them, but we have guys that I trust at the line that need to step up and knock those down,” said Lakers coach Luke Walton.

Boston has picked itself up after disappointing performances before, but this felt . . . different.

In the past, you could look at the losses and chalk them up to something like a key player out, or a tough schedule, or the other team having a player or two that has a career night.

Kyle Kuzma was good for the Lakers, but anyone who has seen this kid play this season should not be shocked to see him drop 28 points. And Jordan Clarkson has been an instant-offense kind of guard off the Lakers bench for years. Julius Randle can be a man-child in the paint, but a 14-point, 14-rebound game isn’t all that surprising to see him produce.

A game that was supposed to provide answers to Boston’s recent struggles only produced more questions about whether this team, as constructed, is as good as we thought it was.

“It was one of those nights, I guess,” Tatum told NBC Sports Boston after the loss.

Unfortunately, Tatum isn’t alone as many more of his teammates have also been in a bit of playing funk.

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