Lakers spoil Rondo's return, 107-104

Lakers spoil Rondo's return, 107-104
January 17, 2014, 10:00 pm
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BOSTON — This was why the Boston Celtics so desperately wanted a healthy Rajon Rondo back.

In close games, there are few better at orchestrating what has to be done in order to emerge victorious.

But that Rondo isn't around - not yet, anyway.

When the game mattered most, Boston couldn't come up with the necessary shot or stop as the Los Angeles Lakers rallied for a 107-104 win.

Rondo had a chance to tie the game and force overtime, but his 3-pointer, defended by 7-footer Pau Gasol, rimmed in and out.

The ending was certainly not what the Celtics would have wanted, but the play of Rondo was promising.

Playing in his first game since suffering a torn right ACL injury on Jan. 25, he finished with eight points and four assists while playing 20 minutes - the maximum amount of time the Celtics plan to play him in the short-term.

There were some not-so-great moments for Rondo, like when Kendall Marshall - not known for his speed - blew past him for a lay-up in the first quarter.

And then there was Rondo's dribble-penetration into the lane followed by a no-look, over the shoulder pass to 6-foot-9 Jared Sullinger that was nearly a foot above Sullinger's outstretched hands which resulted in a turnover.

But those moments fell well short of the positive plays made by Rondo, like his fast-break basket or the up-and-under lay-up against Marshall.

Even with the return of Rondo and the positives it brings out, there's little doubt that this defeat falls under the "bad loss" category.

Boston played a relatively close first quarter which ended with the Lakers clinging to a slim 25-23 lead.

The Celtics bench took over in the second, pushing Boston's lead to as many as 13 points before Los Angeles closed out the half with a 9-2 run that trimmed Boston's lead at the half to 58-52.

Boston maintained a relatively stable lead most of the third quarter, in part because Rondo started doing what Rondo does best - find teammates for easy baskets.

Three of Rondo's four assists came early in the third which ended with the Celtics leading, 82-76.

Rookie Kelly Olynyk had a career-high 25 points for Boston, along with five rebounds and seven assists. Gerald Wallace (14 points, five assists, four rebounds) also played well for Boston off the bench.

For the Lakers, Pau Gasol had a team-high 24 points and 13 rebounds while point guard Kendall Marshall had 19 points and 14 assists while Ryan Kelly chipped in 20 points off the bench.