Missing the first 40 games of the season isn’t the only reason the Boston Celtics are terrible, but Rajon Rondo coming back didn’t really change much, as he wasn’t enough in the 107-104 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, finally finding a team that defends more poorly than they do under the basket.
Seeing guys like Kelly Olynyk, Brandon Bass, Jarred Sullinger and Kris Humphries guarding the paint made Pau Gasol grin widely, continuing with his impressive form, finishing with 24 points, 13 rebounds and 6 assists. There really wasn’t anyone to both him underneath, allowing him and Kendall Marshall (19 points, 14 assists, 7 turnovers) direct the game easily. No Nick Young (suspended) didn’t get in the way, as the Lakers won only for the second time in 14 games.
At the end we did a better job. We still have to do better. Let’s not get carried away. It is one night and let’s see if we can repeat it.
A great rivalry, always, but one that has lost it’s luster since the teams met in the 2010 NBA finals, their second finals clash in three years. Both won’t be making the playoffs this season, and the lack of star power on the court (Everyone has left the Celtics over the last two years but Rondo, while Kobe Bryant remains on the bench, watching a faded Pau Gasol star because the opposition is weak) is another example that it’s seen better days than this. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, their combined winning percentage of .354 (28-51) was the lowest ever for the longtime rivals in a head-to-head matchup (after the first five games of the season).
Ryan Kelly had his best game as a pro with 20 points off the bench, hitting twice from beyond the arc. There isn’t a lot Kelly can do: A good stretch 4 on a team that can spread and create mismatches, but when used correctly, and he should be in the D’Antoni system, the Lakers might have themselves another useful role player for more than just this season.
The Celtics are focusing on improving while ignoring the win column. Seeing Rajon Rondo back on the court, tricky but slower than before, as expected, was probably worth losing once again, s they fall to 14-27 this season, losing for the 13th time in their last 15 games.
Rondo finished with 8 points in 19 minutes, doing a faimilar trick to score his first basket, pulling the ball behind his back to open up things in the paint and get an easy layup. A few more of these and he’ll be back to normal, with the assist numbers (although there are less good players to pass to) we’re used to, and everyone will be complaining again about his outside shooting instead of his absence or being the one who is to blame for the Celtics falling apart in the last two years.
I thought he made a lot of plays down the stretch. Just came up a little bit short. But I was glad he had the ball.