The Los Angeles Lakers (15-25) weren't exactly welcoming to Rajon Rondo as he returned to the Boston Celtics (14-27) lineup on Friday night. Pau Gasol scored a team-high 24 points as the Lakers escaped the TD Bank Garden with a narrow 107-104 victory, thus ending their six-game losing streak.
The Celtics didn't score a single point in the final 3:10 of the game as Los Angeles went on a late 11-0 run to retake the lead.
This wasn't exactly classic Lakers vs. Celtics basketball as both sides entered the game with a combined winning percentage of just .354.
Los Angeles turned the ball over 19 times to Boston's seven, but its 50 percent shooting from the field and 28 attempts at the charity stripe helped them emerge victorious
Key Players: Los Angeles Lakers
Pau Gasol, Center
The month of January has been very kind to Pau Gasol as he's put up consistently strong numbers through seven games, averaging a double-double of 19.7 points and 11.6 rebounds on 50 percent shooting.
He was a man of many skills in the first quarter, giving his Lakers squad terrific numbers across the board with eight points, six rebounds and three assists in his opening 10 minutes of action.
The frontcourt of Boston put up a fight against Gasol in the paint, but to no avail.
He flirted with a triple-double, scoring 24 points, grabbing 13 rebounds along with six assists.
Kendall Marshall, Point Guard
Over his past three games, Kendall Marshall is averaging a double-double of 12 points and 13 assists. The Lakers haven't been winning, but Marshall has done his best to contribute with both his passing and scoring.
By halftime, Marshall had already scored 10 points and handed out seven assists, so he was well on his way to his fourth straight double-double.
I'm curious what Kendall Marshall can do if he's passing to a full, healthy roster— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) January 18, 2014
A clutch three-pointer with 1:09 remaining in the fourth quarter gave Los Angeles a 105-104 lead. The Celtics were never able to recover.
His streak of double-doubles lives on as Marshall finished with 19 points and 14 assists, although he did turn the basketball over seven times.
Regardless, that aforementioned three-pointer was the most important shot of the game. It ultimately won it all for the Lakers.
Wesley Johnson, Small Forward
The last time Wesley Johnson had six or more rebounds in a game was on Nov. 29 against the Detroit Pistons. The fourth-year pro had six rebounds alone in the first quarter and eight in the first half.
This was the first time all season where Johnson had double-digit rebounds, grabbing 11 on the night.
Who was the Player of the Game for the Los Angeles Lakers?
He also was a factor from behind the arc, hitting two three-pointers in the fourth quarter.
Jordan Hill, Power Forward
Not much of Jordan Hill was seen Friday night for Los Angeles as the big man tallied 11 minutes of action for two measly points and a single rebound.
All of his playing time was tossed in the lap of Ryan Kelly in the second unit.
Head coach Mike D'Antoni must not have been impressed with what he saw from Hill early on.
Jodie Meeks, Shooting Guard
It was a quiet 17 points for Jodie Meeks, but a valuable 17 points.
For the most part, his efforts were overshadowed by what some of his fellow teammates were producing, but Meeks did his part by scoring the basketball and being physical on defense, even mixing it up with the larger Gerald Wallace a couple of times.
His seven rebounds were also a season high.
Ryan Kelly, Sixth Man
If this game is a sign of things to come for what lies ahead for rookie Ryan Kelly, the Lakers may have something worth building on.
Ryan Kelly breakout game? #Lakers— Ethan Norof (@Mr_Norof) January 18, 2014
Kelly was given plenty of time to produce, and he took advantage of it. His 20 points in 34 minutes were both career highs.
His two clutch free throws with nine seconds remaining in the game helped seal the deal for the Lakers.
The Los Angeles Lakers signed Manny Harris of the Los Angeles D-Fenders to a 10-day contract on Jan. 16, via NBA.com. He was the leading scorer of the D-League prior to his signing, averaging 30.6 points.
In his first action with the Lakers, Harris scored seven points and grabbed three rebounds.
Nick Young did not suit up for the team as he was serving a suspension for his role in a physical on-court altercation that took place against the Phoenix Suns on Jan. 15.
Chris Kaman and Robert Sacre combined for seven points and three rebounds in six minutes apiece. The Lakers played Gasol quite a bit at center with Kelly holding down the fort at power forward.
Key Players: Boston Celtics
Rajon Rondo, Point Guard
After 338 days on the sidelines after surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, four-time NBA All-Star Rajon Rondo was finally cleared to play and start for the Boston Celtics.
Head coach Brad Stevens said after practice on Thursday that Rondo would only play 18 to 20 minutes against the Lakers to help ease him back into the rotation, via Baxter Holmes of the Boston Globe.
He missed both of his attempts in the first quarter, playing in a little under five minutes before Stevens yanked him from the game. Rondo responded strong in the second, scoring eight points while getting to the basket and nearly faking Gasol out of his shoes.
Rondo missed a three-pointer that could have tied things up at 107 late in the game. Unfortunately for Boston, it clanked off the rim.
Coach Stevens stayed true to his word as his star guard played just 19 minutes in total. He didn't score in the second half.
Jeff Green, Small Forward
Jeff Green saw the floor the most for Boston on this night, playing 35 minutes.
He barely missed his third double-double of the month, finishing one rebound shy with 12 points and nine rebounds.
Green was rather erratic with his shot, but Boston needed him playing major minutes to help keep the Lakers wing players in check.
His highlight-reel stuff of Sacre at the rim was vicious and definitely worth a second, third and fourth look.
Avery Bradley, Shooting Guard
The one thing you can't say about Avery Bradley is that he's shy shooting the basketball as of late. He's attempted at least 19 shots in each of his past three games, averaging 23 points over that span.
His trigger-happy nature was evident in the opening quarter, taking eight shots while hitting just two.
Bradley finished with 20 total shots, but his percentages left a lot to be desired as he connected on just five of those attempts for 12 points, including 1-of-5 shooting in the all-important fourth quarter.
Jared Sullinger, Power Forward
It was going to be extremely difficult for Jared Sullinger to duplicate his performance from Wednesday night against the Toronto Raptors after dropping an insane double-double of 25 points and 20 rebounds.
He had just six points and six rebounds through three quarters but nearly doubled his scoring in the fourth by adding five more on the board.
Sullinger has proven to be fairly inconsistent with his numbers over the course of the season. He wasn't awful against the Lakers, but he certainly could have contributed more on the offensive end from start to finish.
Kris Humphries, Center
On both ends of the court, the veteran Kris Humphries was basically a non-factor.
Gasol basically had his way with him in the post, picking up fouls as he evaded Humphries with some elaborate footwork and positioning.
He had just two points and six rebounds in 11 minutes. Nothing special.
Kelly Olynyk, Sixth Man
Kelly Olynyk was a man possessed off the bench for the Boston Celtics, scoring a career-high 25 points on 11-of-17 from the field in 32 minutes.
The Ryan Kelly Olynyk game.— Rey-Rey (@TheNoLookPass) January 18, 2014
For a man of his size, Olynyk's court vision and ability to be a facilitator with the basketball is very impressive. He's well beyond his years in that regard. His seven assists are proof in the pudding.
Gerald Wallace was Boston's key contributor off the bench on this night, providing energy and hustle with his tight-nit defense. He even managed to snag a jump ball with Johnson late in the fourth quarter as the Celtics looked to retake the lead.
He scored 14 points, grabbed four rebounds and dished five assists in 24 minutes.
On the controversial out of bounds call after his jump with Johnson that was ruled indecisive by the officials, it appeared to the untrained eye that the ball did hit Johnson's hands on the way out, but I could also argue that Wallace's hand could have made contact as well.
Brandon Bass had 10 points and five rebounds for the Celtics, while Phil Pressey, who continues to improve as a floor general for this team, led Boston with nine assists in 22 minutes.
The Los Angeles Lakers will close out the week with a trip north of the border on Jan. 19 to take on the surging Toronto Raptors at the Air Canada Centre. They'll then play on the second night of a back-to-back on Jan. 20 on the road against the Chicago Bulls.
The Boston Celtics will play their next three games away from home against teams in the Southeast Division, starting with a matchup against the Orlando Magic on Jan. 19. The team will then battle the defending NBA champion Miami Heat on Jan. 21, while John Wall and the Washington Wizards await the following night.