(LOS ANGELES) — Kobe Bryant stood in front of a sold-out crowd at the Staples Center and delivered a heart warming speech about the late Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss. Then Bryant and his teammates followed that up by beating their arch rival the Boston Celtics 113-99 Wednesday night.
The Lakers (26-29) have struggled all season to play as a team, but that wasn’t the case in this game. Seven Lakers scored in double figures with Dwight Howard leading the way with 24 points.
“We executed extremely well,” Bryant said of his team. “Are big fellow (Howard) came with a lot of energy and really altered the game for us.”
Buss died Monday at the age of 80. This was the first game the Lakers played since his passing. What made the game more special is the fact it was against the Boston Celtics, a team the Lakers have met in the NBA Finals a record 12 times.
“It’s personally very important,” Kobe said of beating the Celtics, “I know how much it meant to him everytime we played the Celtics…you know the history and tradition of both ball clubs, so this was an important game.”
Lakers guard Steve Nash had seven assists in the game passing former Laker Magic Johnson for fourth on the all-time assists list.
The Celtics (28-26) received 26 points from Paul Pierce in the loss.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Jill Martin, CNN