Pro basketball's most storied rivalry resumes in Beantown game homestand versus the despised Los Angeles Lakers.
The Celtics (17) and Lakers (16) have accounted for 33 of the 65 NBA championships. Boston, of course, won its last title in 2007-08, when it disposed of the Lakers in six games during the NBA Finals. LA rebounded from there to win two consecutive crowns, including the '09-10 title at the expense of the C's in seven games.
Neither team has played like a powerhouse so far this season, however, with Boston looking up at Philadelphia in the Atlantic Division and the Lakers playing second fiddle to the Clippers in the Pacific.
The Celtics, however, have come on recently and enter tonight's game on a five-game winning streak, including Tuesday's 94-84 triumph over Charlotte.
Paul Pierce passed Larry Bird for second all-time on Boston's scoring list in that one when he scored 15 points to go along with nine assists and eight rebounds. With 21,797 career points, Pierce now trails only John Havlicek (26,395) in Celtics' lore.
"It was a relief. So much was hanging over me the last couple of days. Just hearing about it and knowing that you've got a game to play," said Pierce about passing Bird. "Just to be mentioned with him, with this organization, is a great honor."
Kevin Garnett led the Celtics against Charlotte with 22 points and Ray Allen chipped in 17. Rajon Rondo added a double-double with 10 points and 14 assists for the Celtics, who have won nine of their last 10.
The Lakers, meanwhile, have fallen to 1-2 on their annual Grammy road trip after Monday's 95-90 setback to the Sixers in South Philly.
Kobe Bryant scored 24 points on 4-of-6 shooting from three-point range in the first half of that one but struggled after intermission. The superstar ended with 28 points and surpassed former teammate Shaquille O'Neal for fifth place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Bryant now has 28,601 career points. Wilt Chamberlain currently sits comfortably ahead in fourth place with 31,419 points.
"It's a huge honor," Bryant said of his latest accomplishment. "I've been very fortunate."
Andrew Bynum poured in 20 points and pulled down a game-best 20 rebounds as LA dropped its second straight contest.
"They just came after him immediately," assistant coach John Kuester, who was piloting the Lakers for the suspended Mike Brown, said, "and to Kobe's credit, what he did was try to get everyone involved. We had some great hits. When you are coming down to the end of the game, your margin of error is very small, and you have to take advantage of that. Things just didn't go our way."
Brown will be back on the bench tonight as LA tries to improve on its shaky 3-9 road mark.
LA has won three straight and five of its last six in Beantown during the regular season.
These two teams will meet again in Staples Center on March 11.