NBA: Tatum scores 37 as Celtics down Lakers on James' return
- The Boston Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers 130-108
- Marcus Smart had 22 points and Dennis Schroder 21 for Boston
- Anthony Davis led the Lakers' scoring with 31 points and James finished with 23
Marcus Smart and Dennis Schroder scored 22 and 21 points respectively for Boston (8-8), which climbed back to .500. Tatum had 11 rebounds and Al Horford added 18 points.
Anthony Davis led Los Angeles with 31 points and James finished with 23 in 32 minutes. They each had six rebounds and two assists.
James, who has won the championship with the Lakers, Miami Heat and the Cleveland Cavaliers, missed eight games through an abdominal strain. The Lakers lost five of those games, inluding four consecutive on the road.
The teams who have accounted for nearly half of the NBA's championships with 17 apiece renewed their rivalry in front of a raucous TD Garden crowd that made it seem like a playoff atmosphere from the opening tip.
Hall of Famer Bill Russell — introduced as a “true Celtics legend” when he was welcomed back by the PA announcer and shown on the Jumbotron midway into the opening quarter — was seated courtside wearing a hat with the initials “KB” encircled in a yellow heart on the front for the late Lakers star Kobe Bryant.
The Celtics led by 11 points entering the final quarter and opened a 109-94 lead on Tatum’s three-point play with 6:59 remaining. His 3-pointer from the left corner increased it to 116-99 with 5:02 to go.
The Lakers made nine of their initial 12 shots en route to a 38-30 lead after one quarter.
James’ first basket came on a thundering dunk off a drive down the lane 2 ½ minutes into the game.
Boston erased a 14-point deficit in the second quarter and took the lead before James’ fast-break layup gave the Lakers a 61-60 halftime edge.
The Celtics opened the second half with a 14-4 surge and led 93-82 entering the fourth.
(With inputs from the Associated Press)