Rapid Reaction: Lakers 107, C's 104
January, 17, 2014
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com
BOSTON -- Rapid Reaction after the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics 107-104 on Friday night at TD Garden:
THE NITTY GRITTY
Rajon Rondo made his 2013-14 season debut after sitting out nearly a full year due to a torn ACL, but missed a 3-pointer in the closing seconds with a chance to tie the game after Boston watched the Lakers rally ahead in the final minutes. Rookie big man Kelly Olynyk scored a career-high 25 points on 11-of-17 shooting with seven assists, five rebounds, two steals and a block in 21 minutes (his night negated slightly by defensive struggles). Gerald Wallace added 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting with five assists, four rebounds, three steals and two blocks off the bench. Pau Gasol scored a team-high 24 points to go along with 13 rebounds, but Ryan Kelly sparked the Lakers with 20 points, providing two of the team's 12 3-pointers on the night (Los Angeles shot 60 percent beyond the arc overall).
Rondo, named the 15th captain of the Celtics before his 2013-14 season debut, finished with eight points on 4-of-7 shooting with four assists, two rebounds and two steals in just less than 20 minutes of action. Rondo labored through his first stint but had a really solid second quarter, scoring all eight of his points in the frame, including a little spinning scoop while backing down Kendall Marshall. But his 3-pointer from the left wing was off the mark in the final moments. Rondo's presence did lead to an assist-happy Celtics, who generated 34 assists on 44 field goals (77.3 assist percentage).
The Celtics couldn't gain much separation in the fourth quarter, the game rarely straying far from a one-possession contest. Boston was clinging to a three-point lead with five minutes to play when Rondo checked back in for his final shift of the night. Olynyk hit an 18-foot jumper before Rondo fed Avery Bradley for a 3-pointer in transition for a 102-94 lead with 4:12 to go. But the Lakers rallied back and three unanswered triples from Wesley Johnson, Jodie Meeks, and Marshall pushed the Lakers out front 105-104 with 69 ticks to go. Bradley missed an 8-foot jumper with 26 seconds to go. Boston forced a jump ball, but didn't win it, and put Kelly at the free throw line where he made both attempts for a 107-104 lead with 9.4 seconds to go. Rondo missed a last-possession 3-pointer searching for the tie.
Rookie Vitor Faverani and newcomers Joel Anthony and Chris Johnson all earned DNPs. Celtics coach Brad Stevens had previously said that Anthony and Johnson would likely dress but not play, having just joined the team in recent days. ... The Celtics turned the ball over just eight times for six points, while the Lakers gave it up 20 times for a whopping 30 points.
WHAT IT MEANS
The Celtics (14-27) went 1-2 on this three-game road trip. The good news is that Rondo is back and his minutes will soon ramp up. He looked good in bursts, but in other moments looked like a player who hadn't played in a year. Boston heads out on a three-game road trip with stops in Orlando, Miami and Washington. The Celtics are back at TD Garden next Friday when the reunion tour starts back up, as Kendrick Perkins and Oklahoma City visit on Friday before Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and the Nets invade on Jan. 26.