NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, February 5th (All times eastern)
Los Angles Lakers (39-9) at Boston Celtics (41-9), 8:00 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The NBA's two marquee teams meet for the final time in the regular season Thursday when the Los Angles Lakers continue a six-game road trip in Beantown against the Boston Celtics.
Two days after lighting up the New York Knicks for a Madison Square Garden record 61 points, Kobe Bryant finished with 36 points, and had a crucial basket and rebound in the final minute to lead the Lakers to a 115-107 win over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday.
Bryant also had nine rebounds and five assists, as the Lakers improved to 4-0 on their current trek and 16-5 overall as the visitor. After tonight's contest, Los Angeles, which sits atop the Western Conference, will wrap up the trip with a visit to the Central Division-leading Cleveland Cavaliers on February 8.
Pau Gasol contributed 31 points and 15 boards in Toronto for the Lakers, who have won eight of nine overall.
On the injury front, LA is without emerging center Andrew Bynum, who will miss eight to 12 weeks after tearing the medial collateral ligament in his right knee in Memphis last Saturday. The 7-footer was also forced to miss the entire second half of last season and the playoffs after suffering a partially dislocated kneecap last January -- also against Memphis.
The Celtics, meanwhile, won their 12th straight and improved to an NBA-best 41-9 in thrilling fashion on Tuesday when Ray Allen hit a pair of three- pointers inside the final 30.5 seconds, including the game-winner with 0.5 to go as Boston shocked Philadelphia with a 100-99 triumph at the Wachovia Center.
Allen finished with 23 points while Paul Pierce was instrumental in keeping Boston close down the stretch with 29 points, seven rebounds and six assists as the Celtics extended their winning streak to 12, including six in a row on the road.
Rajon Rondo had 20 points, eight assists and five rebounds while Glen Davis started and provided 12 points and 11 boards in the absence of forward Kevin Garnett, who missed a second straight game with the flu.
Garnett is expected to be back on the floor for Boston tonight as the C's aim to improve on their gaudy 24-2 mark at TD Banknorth Garden,
The Celtics topped the Lakers in six games to earn their 17th NBA championship last June, but LA earned a bit of revenge on Christmas Day with a 92-83 win over Boston in Hollywood.
02/05 10:22:16 ET