January 18

Celtics: No happy return for Rondo

In his first game since the 2013 knee injury, the point guard misses a possible tie-maker at the buzzer.

The Associated Press

BOSTON — Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo returned from a knee injury and missed a 3-pointer that could have sent the game into overtime, allowing the Los Angeles Lakers to beat Boston 107-104 on Friday night.

click image to enlarge

Boston’s Rajon Rondo tries to drive past Los Angeles Lakers point guard Kendall Marshall during the first quarter of Friday’s game in Boston. Rondo collected eight points and four rebounds in 20 minutes, but it wasn’t enough as Boston lost again.

The Associated Press

UP NEXT FOR CELTICS

WHO: Celtics at Orlando Magic

WHEN: 6 p.m. Sunday

TELEVISION: CSN

Pau Gasol had 24 points and 13 rebounds for Los Angeles, and Kendall Marshall finished with 19 points and 14 assists. Ryan Kelly scored 20 points, and Wesley Johnson added 11 points and 11 rebounds, including a 3-pointer with 1:09 left to give the Lakers the lead for good.

Kelly added a pair of clinching free throws with 9.4 seconds remaining as the Lakers snapped a six-game losing streak.

Kelly Olynyk scored a career-high 25 points for Boston. Rondo, who was limited to 20 minutes in his first game since tearing his right anterior cruciate ligament on Jan. 25, 2013, had eight points, four assists and two rebounds.

The Celtics led by as many as 13 points in the second quarter and still held a 97-94 lead when Rondo, who played about five minutes each quarter, checked back in with 4:53 left. Olynyk soon made a jumper from the top of the key and then Rondo hit Avery Bradley for a 3-pointer on the wing to extend the lead to eight points.

It was 104-96 when Johnson made a 3-pointer, then two offensive rebounds gave the Celtics three tries to score, but they came away with nothing. Jodie Meeks made a 3-pointer to make it a two-point game, and with Rondo bringing the ball down the crowd rose to its feet.

But the four-time All-Star back-rimmed a long shot. The Lakers were forced into a shot-clock violation, but Bradley missed a runner. Boston forced a jump ball – and then a rejump when the tip went out of bounds – but Johnson got it to Kelly, who was fouled.

The free throws left the Celtics with a three-point deficit and less than 10 seconds left.

The crowd worked itself into a “Beat L.A.!” chant.

Rondo dribbled the clock down and was left alone for a 3-pointer, but it missed and in the scramble for the rebound the buzzer went off. In all the Celtics missed their last seven shots.

Rondo received a huge cheer when he was introduced before the game. The announcer called his name last, as the Celtics’ captain and only remaining star. Rondo then went to mid-court to receive a community service award.

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