Lakers grease the skids for Celtics

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The Cleveland Cavaliers are not the only Eastern Conference heavyweight to be visiting "Strugglesville," as LeBronJames calls it.

The conference-leading Boston Celtics dropped their fourth consecutive game Tuesday night, bowing to the Los Angeles Lakers, 108-107, at Staples Center.

It's the Celtics' longest skid in nearly two years.

With the game on the line, Celtic MarcusSmart missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have won the game. Smart is shooting 29.4 percent from 3 this season, and is 29.2 percent from beyond the arc in his career.

KyrieIrving, who led Boston with 33 points, didn't sound especially fond of Smart's choice to take the final shot. Smart was next in line behind Irving with 22 points for the Celtics. AlHorford had 13 points and 12 boards.

"We have end-of-game plays that we're prepared for, but in basketball, decisions are made and as a team, we collectively have to live with the results," Irving said.

"Tough shot at the end. Marcus took one and that's that."

The loss reduces the lead of Boston (34-14) on second-place Toronto (31-14) to 1.5 games in the Eastern Conference standings.

Irving said the Celtics gain knowledge from the loss.

"It was a great game for us to learn from," he said. "Minor details, you know? Getting offensive rebounds and blocking out. Taking opportunities to force them into tough shots."

Rookie KyleKuzma led the Lakers (18-29), who have won three straight games and are 7-2 in their last nine, with 28 points, including 17 in the fourth quarter.

JordanClarkson backed Kuzma with 22 points for Los Angeles, which has won six consecutive games at Staples Center.

The game actually should not have been as close as it was. The Lakers' renowned horrific free throw shooting was almost enough to trump the five 3-pointer Kuzma hit in the fourth quarter. LA missed 10 of 17 from the charity stripe in the final period -- including four in the final 20 seconds -- allowing Boston to stay in the game.

The Lakers are the worst team in the league at the free-throw line and at the 3-point line. Other than Kuzma, LA was 2-for-19 from beyond the arc.

"I have confidence that those guys that missed them tonight will make them in the future," Lakers coach LukeWalton said. "But hopefully, we can remedy that sooner rather than later."