Celtics 116 - Lakers 95 (end of regulation)
The Lakers got Dwight Howard back from his shoulder injury but they met an ambush in Boston.
The Celtics scored a combined 68 points in the second and third quarters, blowing the game open early. The benefit of a big loss for the Lakers? Shorter minutes and fresher legs Friday when the Lakers visit the Charlotte Bobcats.
Howard scored just nine points with nine rebounds and four turnovers before fouling out. He struggled at the free throw line, making just one of six attempts.
Kobe Bryant led all scorers with 27 points but he didn't notch a single assist. While Bryant shot 9-15 from the field (60%), the rest of his teammates hit just 38%.
Jodie Meeks scored 13 on 5-12 shooting. Antawn Jamison chipped in 11. The Lakers missed 12 free throws (18-30) and 18 three-point attempts (5-23). Collectively, the team shot 41.4% from the field.
The Celtics were led by Paul Pierce with 24 points. While shooting 52.9% from the field, six players scored in double figures.
Kevin Garnett scored his 25,000th-career point in the game, finishing with 15 on 6-10 shooting.
Playing without Pau Gasol, out at least 6-8 weeks with a foot injury, the Lakers' (23-27) three-game winning streak comes to an end. The Celtics won their sixth game in a row, climbing to 26-23.
Celtics 95 - Lakers 69 (end of third quarter)
The Celtics took compete control of the game in the third quarter, outscoring the Lakers 37-25.
Holding a comfortable lead throughout the period, the Celtics went on a 14-3 run to head into the fourth with a 26-point lead. Boston shot 59.1% through three periods, led by 24 from Paul Pierce.
While shooting just 40% for the game, Kobe Bryant (27 points) and Antawn Jamison (11) were the only Lakers in double figures. Dwight Howard had seven points and seven rebounds in just under 21 1/2 minutes.
Seven Celtics scored eight or more points for Boston.
Celtics 58 - Lakers 44 (halftime)
The Celtics pulled comfortably ahead of the Lakers, scoring 31 points in the second quarter to the Lakers 21.
Kobe Bryant led all scorers with 14 points but the Lakers shot just 37.8% from the field as a team. Even more concerning was their 10 missed free throws. The Lakers also struggled to his from the outside (2-12).
The Celtics shot 51.1% from the field in the first half with just two turnovers. Paul Piece led Boston with 12 points. Jeff Green chipped in 11 off the bench.
The Lakers did a better job on the offensive glass (eight to Boston's seven) but they just couldn't put the ball in the basket.
Celtics 27 - Lakers 23 (end of first quarter)
Dwight Howard made his return after a three-game lay off (shoulder), scoring five points in the first quarter against the Boston Celtics.
Despite getting Boston into the penalty about two minutes into the game, the Lakers missed seven free throws (5-12), turned the ball over three times and gave up five offensive rebounds to the Celtics.
Boston shot 46.4% from the field, led by 10 points from Paul Pierce.
The Lakers shot just 38.1% with eight from Kobe Bryant.
Kevin Garnett picked up his second foul after just a couple of minutes. Jason Collins collected three fouls in just 5 1/2 minutes.
The Lakers (23-26) visit the Boston Celtics (25-23) on Thursday night with a three-game winning streak on the line.
Boston is playing well of late, despite losing both Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger for the season.
The Lakers are dealing with injuries to Pau Gasol (foot) and Dwight Howard (shoulder). Gasol will be out for a few weeks; Howard is a game-time decision.
For a more in-depth breakdown, check out Preview: Lakers at Celtics.
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Email Eric Pincus at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.