Undermanned Lakers spoil Rondo’s return to C's
BOSTON — The depleted Los Angeles Lakers staged a nifty rally down the stretch and defeated an old foe on Friday night.
Spoiling point guard Rajon Rondo’s return to the Boston lineup, the Lakers scored the game’s final 11 points and pulled out a 107-104 victory over the Celtics.
The Lakers, who signed a player Thursday just to get up to the NBA minimum of eight, ended a six-game overall losing streak and a seven-game road skid. The team is missing a slew of players, including Kobe Bryant, and also played without leading scorer guard Nick Young, who was suspended a game for throwing a punch Wednesday night.
Swingman Wesley Johnson and guards Jodie Meeks and Kendall Marshall hit successive 3-pointers to wipe out an eight-point deficit and rookie forward Ryan Kelly hit two free throws with 9.4 seconds left before Rondo missed a 3-pointer in the final seconds.
Rondo, out since tearing his right ACL last Jan. 25, became Boston’s 15th captain before the game.
Playing four five-minute “shifts,” he scored eight points — all in a row in the third quarter — and had four assists and two rebounds. He missed two key shots in the final minutes as the Celtics failed to score over the final 3:12.
The Celtics have lost 10 of their last 11.
With Bryant on the end of the bench in street clothes, center/forward Pau Gasol led the Lakers, who added Manny Harris on Thursday, with 24 points, 13 rebounds and six assists. Kelly, breaking double figures for the first time as a pro, scored 20 points. Johnson had 11 points and a career-high 11 rebounds. Marshall had 19 points and 14 assists and Meeks added 17 points and seven rebounds.
Rookie forward Kelly Olynyk, coming off the bench, scored 12 of his season-high 25 points in the fourth quarter and added five rebounds and seven assists for the Celtics. Forward Gerald Wallace also came off the bench and scored 14 points and five assists and forward Jeff Green added 12 points and nine rebounds.
Asked before the game about his expectations for Rondo in his first game back, Celtics coach Brad Stevens said, “My expectation level is this is part of his rehab.”
Rondo then went 0-for-2 on his first tour, shooting on air ball on a jump shot for one of his misses.
He heated up on his second five-minute stay, scoring eight points in a 93-second span. He then picked up his first three assists on Boston’s first three second-half baskets.Notes: Guard Nick Young, the Lakers’ leading scorer, served a one-game suspension for throwing a punch at Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic. Young was upset that his teammates didn’t come to his defense during the fight, saying, “It was one-on-five.” ... The Celtics had two new faces — center Joel Anthony, who joined the team from Miami after the three-way deal with the Heat and Golden State Warriors, and guard Chris Johnson, signed to a 10-day contract. Boston guard Keith Bogans, who rarely plays, was granted a leave of absence for personal reasons. ... Injured Lakers starter Kobe Bryant dropped in on a marketing class at Boston College during the day. ... The Celtics open a three-game road trip in Orlando on Sunday and the Lakers are at Toronto for the third stop on a seven-game trip.