Celtics top Lakers, secure All-Star coaching job for Stevens

Los Angeles (AFP) - Isaiah Thomas scored 38 points to lead the Boston Celtics to a milestone win over the Los Angeles Lakers, a 113-107 triumph that earned Boston's Brad Stevens an All-Star coaching job.

Thomas produced his usual fourth-quarter pyrotechnics, scoring 21 points in the final frame to help the Celtics stretch their NBA winning streak to six games.

And they took the franchise's total of NBA regular-season victories to 3,253 -- taking the all-time lead in wins from their longtime rivals the Lakers.

It was the first time since the 2000-01 season that Los Angeles hasn't at least been tied atop the list of all-time victories.

Before the game, Celtics coach Brad Stevens called it "unbelievable" that the clubs who boast a long and storied rivalry came into the contest tied at 3,252 wins apiece.

"I think it's a unique enough rivalry that 100 years from now it will probably be tied again," he said.

But the current Lakers and Celtics players are far removed from the 12 championship series between the two clubs -- a rivalry that flowered first in the 1960s and again in the 1980s and the 2000s.

The Lakers are still trying to find their way after plunging to a franchise worst 17-65 record last season. But Stevens said a game against the Lakers was always a challenge.

"They've got a bright future ahead and I like their young talent," he said. "They're a scary team to play against."

The win had an extra repercussion for Stevens. Less than an hour earlier, the Toronto Raptors fell 102-94 to the Orlando Magic. That means the Celtics are assured of second place in the Eastern Conference as of Sunday, so that Stevens will coach the East in the All-Star Game this month.

The honor would go to Tyronn Lue, coach of East-leading Cleveland, but he coached in the midseason exhibition last year and therefore isn't eligible this time around.

"Well, first of all, it should be Ty Lue, but the way the rules work then it's the next-best record because he did it last year," said Stevens, whose team is 32-18. "But what's nice about it is there's no politics in it. There's no subjectivity -- it's what your team has accomplished."

Thomas, who leads the league in fourth-quarter scoring with more than 10 points per game in the final period, scored his 37th and 38th points with 2:25 left in the game but didn't take another shot. He just missed becoming the first Celtic to score 40 points in three straight games.

"I didn't know about the three games in a row," he said. "I didn't know about it or I would have had the last shot."

"I'm glad we won," he added. "That's all that matters."