Below are five things to take from the Lakers’ 101-92 win Friday over the Boston Celtics at Staples Center:
1. Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks provided impressive introductions with the Lakers. Two days after remaining nothing more than seldom-used players with the Golden State Warriors, Bazemore and Brooks combined for 29 points on 12 of 21 shooting. OK, so it’s pretty presumptuous to think they immediately secured a long-term future with the Lakers. But they surely etched themselves into the rotation. Bazemore provided plenty of dependable hustle (jumping over the bench to chase the loose ball) and swag (throwing down three fingers after making a three-pointer). Brooks lived up to his morning shootaround vow that he remains both a dependable scorer and improved defender.
The Lakers hardly knew what to expect what both could provide after acquiring them in exchange for Steve Blake. But even with minimal practice time and NBA on-court experience, Bazemore and Brooks proved they’ll be a great fit for the Lakers.
2. The Lakers’ defense prevailed. For far too long, this proved to be the weak link. They’d leave the paint unprotected. They’d let shooters roam free. They’d commit turnovers and fail to get back on defense. Not against the Celtics. The Lakers held them to 39.2 percent shooting and a 18.2 percent clip from three-point range.
3. Pau Gasol looked healthy. In his first game since nursing a strained right groin that sidelined him for nine games, Gasol looked effective with 16 points on 6 of 12 shooting and seven rebounds. He appeared comfortable with his movement and played aggressively.
4. Chris Kaman and Jordan Hill complemented each other well. Even with Gasol’s return to the lineup, Kaman and Hill received plenty of opportunities to play. Kaman showed off his offensive versatility with 16 points on 7 of 9 shooting. Hill provided endless energy with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
5. Lakers-Celtics rivalry remained fun. These two teams combined for 33 NBA titles. But they’re also currently combined for 38 regular-season wins. No matter. The two injury-depleted teams still competed with plenty of passion that makes this rivalry so great. So much that the Lakers fans at Staples Center shouted “Boston Sucks” chants much louder than the “Dwight Sucks” chants.
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org