LOS ANGELES - Rajon Rondo suffered a left ankle sprain in the third quarter of the Celtics' 87-81 loss to the Lakers last night. Rondo, injured while driving to the basket with 11:15 left in the third, thought he turned the ankle stepping on someone's foot or landing on it the wrong way. He is awaiting X-ray results.
"It's sore," said Rondo, who returned to the game in the fourth quarter and finished with 8 points and 4 assists. "I'll get a lot of treatment.
"It was a little tender. I could run a little bit, but I wasn't sure that I could cut on it, so I didn't make any hard cuts.
"I'll get a lot of treatment done and keep on resting and staying off my feet. We have a great trainer, so I'm sure I'll probably be ready [for Game 4]."
House callEddie House was not expected to play much last night. But after Rondo was injured early in the third quarter, House helped spark a rally that appeared to put them in control.
His 3-pointer cut the Celtics' deficit to 49-47 with 6:44 remaining in the third during an 18-7 run.
"I expect to go in every game," he said. "My mentality is if I get called, I have to be ready. If you think like that, you'll be prepared if your number does get called. You have to expect the unexpected. That's my mentality - you have to be professional and try to produce."
Though House played 19:48 - about 19 minutes more than might have been expected - few could have predicted his 6 points would match Paul Pierce's total.
"We don't look at it like our big guys didn't have their normal game," House said. "Other guys stepped up."
But the Celtics failed to convert when it counted late in the final quarter. House was no exception.
The Lakers' Sasha Vujacic followed a House miss with a 3-pointer for an 81-76 lead with 1:53 remaining. Pierce then failed on a drive, and Derek Fisher extended the advantage to 83-76 with two foul shots with 93 seconds to go.
"I had some looks," House said. "I had a shot and missed, and [Vujacic] puts them back up 5. It's little things like that. We have to clean some things up, not give up threes, give ourselves a chance to get a good shot earlier in the shot clock.
"We made a good push at it. We made our run, then they made their run. They are a good team and they executed better than us and played a whole lot harder than us."
Thibodeau bypassedWith two more hires announced yesterday, it appears that Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau, who has been credited with turning them into the best defensive team in the league, is not going to get an opportunity to be an NBA head coach in 2008.
The Pistons formally introduced former NBA player Michael Curry as their head coach, and the Bulls said they will unveil Suns assistant general manager and former NBA player Vinny Del Negro today. Neither Curry nor Del Negro has head coaching experience.
Thibodeau has spent 18 seasons as an NBA assistant and is widely regarded as one of the best in the game. His teams have finished in the top 10 in team defense 15 times, and former Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy cited Thibodeau's individual work with Yao Ming as being crucial to the Houston center's development.
Thibodeau did not even interview for any of the eight openings in the NBA that have been filled. That perplexed Celtics coach Doc Rivers.
"Tom has been around this game for so long, I just don't get - the no interview part of it," said Rivers. "It's not what I'm thinking about right now and neither is he, to his credit."
One possible reason for the lack of interest in Thibodeau is that the Celtics' playoff run has prevented teams from talking to him.
"I hope that's the reason," said Rivers. "It would be a shame if it was, but I don't know the answer."
It is unclear whether any teams approached Thibodeau. Rivers consistently has pumped both Thibodeau and fellow assistant Armond Hill for jobs, but it would behoove Boston to keep Thibodeau focused on the playoff run.
Bittersweet daysPierce isn't the only Celtic from the City of Angels, but he's the only one that's expected to play here. Rookie point guard Gabe Pruitt is also a Los Angeleno. He grew up in Westchester, a neighborhood near Los Angeles International Airport, and played his college ball at Southern Cal.
Entering last night, Pruitt, who played in just 15 games during the regular season, had yet to play in these playoffs.
"I understand," he said. "We're here, we got a goal. It's disappointing for me to go home with the Finals, and I probably won't get to play. But some people don't even get a chance to do what I'm doing."
Winning an NBA title ring as a rookie is quite an achievement, and if the Celtics do go on to capture their 17th championship, Pruitt always will be able to say he was a member of the team.
"I'm the type of player where I don't like to get credit for stuff that I really didn't have much involvement with," Pruitt said. "The ring is fine. But I'll always know I wasn't a big part of that. I'll take it. I can say I always have an NBA championship ring.'
Marc J. Spears, Gregory Lee, and Frank Dell'Apa of the Globe staff contributed to this report.