Los Angeles Lakers have split their season series with Boston after a hard-fought 114-112 home win on Sunday in the latest instalment of the NBA's most storied rivalry.
LeBron James scored 29 points and put the Lakers ahead with a fall-away jump shot with 30 seconds to play in a frenetic fourth quarter to cap the latest chapter of this famed NBA conflict.
"We understand that this has been going on since the '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s ... all the way through," James said.
"So to be a part of a rivalry, to be a part of a historical two-franchise group, this is special. ... (We love) to represent this rivalry with the utmost respect and play this game the right way, as all the former players have done in the past."
Anthony Davis had 32 points and 13 rebounds in the Lakers' fifth-straight victory.
Davis hit two free throws with 12.3 seconds left and added one more with 6.7 seconds to play, before Jayson Tatum was called for an offensive foul in the final second as he attempted to steal the game with a three-point attempt.
Tatum matched his career high with 41 points for the Celtics, who had won 12 of 14 starting with a dominant victory over the Lakers in January.
The game was far more competitive than the teams' first meeting this season which the Celtics won by 32 points, with both taking small leads in the fourth quarter before the thrilling finish.
The Lakers lead the western conference at 43-12 while Boston (39-17) are third in the east.
Toronto tuned up for their looming showdown with Milwaukee by pounding Indiana 127-81 - the biggest winning margin in Raptors history.
The NBA champions have won 17 of their past 18 games to be second in the east behind only the Bucks, who have the best record in the NBA.
Denver downed Minnesota 128-116 to maintain second spot in the west while San Antonio ended their eight-game road trip with a 131-103 loss at Oklahoma City.
Zion Williamson had 28 points to guide New Orleans to a 115-101 win over Golden State while Bradley Beal scored a career-high 53 points but Washington still went down 126-117 to Chicago.
CJ McCollum scored a season-best 41 points, recorded a career-high 12 assists and also collected nine rebounds to lead the Portland Trail Blazers to a 107-104 victory over the visiting Detroit Pistons.
The result snapped a three-game skid for Portland, who sit ninth in the west.
Australian Associated Press