Boston, MA (SportsNetwork.com) - Rajon Rondo's return to Boston's lineup nearly had a storybook ending, but his last-second 3-pointer was off the mark and the Los Angeles Lakers survived with a 107-104 win over the Celtics on Friday.
The Celtics welcomed back the four-time All-Star Rondo, who tore his ACL on Jan. 25, 2013. Rondo played around five minutes in each quarter, totaling eight points and four assists.
"I felt good. I felt pretty good. When I got back in the second quarter I got pretty winded, but that was expected," Rondo said. "Other than that, I didn't feel like I was limited to anything tonight. I missed my first two shots and got on the post and got comfortable and went from there."
Rondo checked in for the final time at 4:53 of the fourth quarter with the Celtics clinging to a three-point advantage. After Kelly Olynyk, who scored a career-high 25 points, potted a pull-up jumper and Ryan Kelly missed on the other end, Rondo fired a pass ahead to Avery Bradley for a wide-open transition 3-pointer to give Boston a 102-94 edge.
Boston went cold after that, missing eight of its final nine shots down the stretch while the Lakers connected on three 3-pointers, the third by Kendall Marshall giving the Lakers a 105-104 lead.
Kelly added two free throws, and without a timeout, Rondo pushed the ball up the court and attempted the game-tying 3 from the left wing, but it was off the mark as the buzzer sounded.
"A wide-open 3 would've been very, very preferable and we got one," said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. "Rondo dribbled down, Pau Gasol did a reasonable job challenging it, I thought, but it was still a good look. And just came up a little short."
Pau Gasol led the Lakers with 24 points, 13 rebounds and six assists while Marshall made 4-of-5 from beyond the arc en route to 19 points and 14 assists. Kelly scored 20 points, Jodie Meeks added 17 and Wesley Johnson totaled 11 points and 11 boards.
"Came down to getting stops. We hadn't had a problem scoring at all. Late in that fourth quarter we found a way to get stops, which was huge for us," Marshall said.
Gerald Wallace netted 14 points for Boston, which has lost 10 of 11 games. Jeff Green and Avery Bradley chipped in 12 points apiece in the loss but shot a combined 9-of-32 from the floor.
The Lakers led 25-23 after an even first quarter that featured five ties and four lead changes.
Phil Pressey assisted on three straight Boston buckets early in the second, including a no-look one handed seam pass to a cutting Wallace. Pressey then hit a 3 from the left wing and Wallace banked in a short jumper for a 40-32 Celtics edge midway through the period.
The lead grew to 13 on consecutive Rondo layups, but the Lakers ran off nine straight points late in the frame before Green's short hook gave the Celtics a 58-52 halftime lead.
LA controlled the early portion of the third quarter, with Marshall's late shot clock 3-pointer at 4:40 cutting Boston's lead to 68-66. Green and Bradley responded with back-to-back treys to restore Boston's margin, which was six points after 36 minutes.
Olynyk scored the first 10 Boston points of the fourth quarter. Johnson tied the game at 88-88 with a corner 3 from Marshall at 8:06, but Olynyk made sure the Lakers kept playing from behind with a pair of layups in the next minute. Jared Sullinger's triple had the lead at 95-89.
The win snapped LA's six-game losing streak ... Lakers guard Nick Young was suspended for the game after an altercation in the second quarter of LA's loss at Phoenix on Wednesday ... Manny Harris played in his first NBA game since April 26, 2012, when he was a member of the Cavaliers. He scored seven points in his LA debut ... Boston's bench outscored its starters, 59-45 ... Olynyk had seven assists and Pressey dished out nine.