Powered by a red-hot Austin Reaves, the Los Angeles Lakers improbably defeated the Boston Celtics, 114-105, at TD Garden on Thursday night, despite the absence of LeBron James (ankle) and Anthony Davis (hip).

The Celtics (now 37-12) entered Thursday with the best record in the NBA and a historic 22-2 mark at home. The Lakers (24-25) had just been bludgeoned on both legs of a back-to-back by the Houston Rockets and Atlanta Hawks. Darvin Ham's squad would be without LeBron and AD for the first time all season.

“Any time you don't have those two, it's gonna have to be a team effort. You're gonna have to come together collectively and just grind,” said Reaves, who finished with a season-high 32 points and made a career-high seven triples.

“This is an opportunity to show the world what you can do.”

The Lakers came out firing and never relented. Thanks to a low turnover rate, aggressive offensive rebounding, and rambunctious energy across the board (where has that been?), the Lakers took 12 more shots than the Celtics in the first quarter alone. LA led 60-46 at halftime and kept apace in the second half. The league's worst 3-point shooting team hit 19-0f-36 (52.8%) from long-range.

Five Lakers finished in double-figures, including spot-starter Jaxson Hayes (16 points, 10 rebounds), who posted his best game of the season.

“This man was amazing tonight,” said Reaves, sitting next to Hayes at the podium.

The Lakers were spirited on both ends for four quarters — in rhythm offensively and wreaking havoc defensively. They posted 30 assists on 38 made baskets. D'Angelo Russell compensated for a 5-for-20 shooting night with a season-best 14 assists and eight rebounds.

“Everybody was dangerous tonight,” said DLo. “It was a joy to watch.”


Jarred Vanderbilt, once again, generated productive chaos — 10 points, seven rebounds, three steals, team-high +17 in 16 minutes — before a lower leg injury caused him to exit before halftime. (X-rays were negative, per the Lakers.)

With the stars sidelined, Reaves took on a more active leadership role, in the scoring department and the huddles. Ham revealed postgame that he recently sat down with Reaves to express gratitude for his “scrappiness” and leadership.

“I think tonight showed, especially losing Vando when we did, the ability to overcome adversity,” added Ham. “When you're talking about who's out of the lineup and those guys, the best team in the league, making a surge after we got out on them by a big lead — that was the definition of ‘next-play mentality.' And he exemplifies that, Austin Reaves.”

Even Christian Wood, who followed up Tuesday's subtweeting with an abysmal 1-for-9 showing off the bench, was all smiles.

Ideally, the Lakers will get LeBron and AD back for Saturday's showdown at Madison Square Garden against a scorching New York Knicks, riding a nine-game winning streak. Or maybe they won't need them, after all.