The second half of the Los Angeles Lakers season is set to begin on Wednesday night, and the team is looking to quickly turn things around.
L.A. went 25-29 before the All-Star break, and is tied for the ninth-best record in the conference. The Houston Rockets hold the eighth seed in the West at 29-26.
Los Angeles will play its first game in nearly a week when they host the Boston Celtics. Tip-off is set for 10:30 p.m. eastern time on ESPN. Viewers can watch a free live stream online at espn3.com.
In the only other meeting between the two teams in 2013, Boston dominated L.A. At the TD Garden, the Celtics beat the Lakers 116-95. Boston led by as much as 32 points in the fourth quarter.
Dwight Howard had one of his worst games of the season. He scored just nine points and missed five of his six free throw attempts. The center played the game with a shoulder injury, after he was criticized for not playing hurt.
Paul Pierce had one of his better games of the year. He scored 24 points on 10 of 17 shooting. He also added seven rebounds and six assists.
Pierce, Howard and other players from both teams have been mentioned in trade rumors of late. The deadline for teams to make a move is set for 3 p.m. ET on Thursday. With the Lakers and Celtics having very little chance of making a deep playoff run, there’s been speculation that either could move one of their stars.
Bryant led all scorers with 27 points in the Feb. 7 meeting, but has been focused more on distributing the ball, lately. The shooting guard hasn’t scored 30 points in a game since Jan. 15, and put up less than 20 points in seven contests, during that span.
The Celtics will look to continue to play the way they ended the first half. Even after losing Rondo for the season, Boston won eight of their last 10.
The Lakers are heavy favorites at home. Los Angeles is giving Boston seven points at most Las Vegas Casinos.
Prediction: Los Angeles 100, Boston 96