Perhaps finding comfort with the trade deadline having passed, the Los Angeles Lakers played with better effort and energy than their last time on the court and came from behind for a 129-128 win that snapped the Boston Celtics’ five-game winning streak.
LeBron James notched a triple-double with 28 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists, but it was Rajon Rondo’s buzzer-beater on an offensive rebound that gave the Lakers a win. They finished with a franchise-record 22 made 3-pointers.
Kyle Kuzma made the first basket of the game but familiar struggles from the field and at the free throw line led to the Lakers falling into an early deficit. They still managed to keep within striking distance of the Celtics and trailed by just six.
Lance Stephenson was instrumental to keeping the Lakers close in the first quarter, and he carried that scoring punch into the second. After falling behind by as many as 18 points, the Lakers ripped off a 10-0 run.
LeBron James and Stephenson each had 14 points at the half. The Celtics had four players in double figures but only led 66-57.
With Kyle Kuzma connecting on four 3-pointers, the Lakers opened the third quarter on an 18-6 run to take a 75-72 edge. It was their first lead since early in the first when they went up 9-8.
Kuzma’s hot shooting rubbed off on others, as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, James and Rondo each found the mark from deep. The Lakers as a team went 9-for-11 behind the arc in the third quarter.
While their offense began to pick up, there was some slippage on the other end. That prevented the Lakers from pulling away and left them in a tight contest heading into the fourth quarter. Sure enough, a scoring drought and failure to secure defensive rebounds allowed the Celtics to reclaim the lead.
James and Rondo checking back in helped stabilize the offense but the Lakers were ultimately done in by a failure to convert at the free throw line. Brandon Ingram split a pair late in the quarter and while the Lakers corralled the offensive rebound, he then missed a corner three.
Boston maintained a one-point lead that Irving extended on the next possession by making two free throws. Following Kuzma’s floater rimming out, Irving found Marcus Morris for a 3-pointer that put the Lakers in a six-point deficit.
They battled back yet again, with James converting a near-turnover into his fifth 3-pointer of the game to tie it. Kuzma’s 3-pointer gave the Lakers a lead with 18.5 seconds remaining, only for Irving to answer with a layup.
That of course was wiped away by Rondo getting the last laugh in his homecoming.
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