BOSTON — LeBron James won’t be playing alongside Anthony Davis this season. But he does have a team he’s hoping can build on a big win over its longtime rival.
Rajon Rondo hit a 20-foot jumper as time expired to lift the Los Angeles Lakers over the Celtics, 129-128 on Thursday night.
“I practice those shots all the time,” said Rondo, who hit his first career go-ahead field goal in the final 10 seconds of fourth quarter or overtime. “Couldn’t imagine it being in the Garden though. … This is one I’ll be playing for the rest of my life.”
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 8, 2019
According to ESPN, it was Rondo’s first career buzzer-beater and first go-ahead field goal in the final 10 seconds of the 4th quarter or overtime. He’d missed all 11 such shots in his career to that point.
James had 28 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists. Kyle Kuzma added 25 points and Rondo had 17 points and 10 assists to help Los Angeles bounce back after a 42-point loss at Indiana on Tuesday.
James is the third Lakers player with a triple-double in Boston, joining Magic Johnson and Elgin Baylor.
“I’m starting to get more and more back to myself,” James said. “Every possession, every quarter, every time I take a hit, I’m able to nudge it off and keep going. I’m working my way back and I’m getting better and better every single minute.”
Rondo was in the right place at the right time for his final shot against the team he won an NBA title with in 2008. Brandon Ingram had his layup attempt blocked by Al Horford, but Horford whiffed on the rebound and the ball bounced into Rondo’s hands.
“I thought the basketball gods rewarded the right team,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.
Kyrie Irving led Boston with 24 points and eight assists. Jayson Tatum added 22 points and 10 rebounds. Daniel Theis has 20 points off the bench but the Celtics had a five-game win streak snapped.
It ended a wild, speculation-filled day in which the NBA’s trade deadline expired with one of the players potentially on the wish list of both the Lakers and Celtics staying with his current team.
“I’m happy to still be on the team,” said Tatum, whose name has been the subject of recent trade speculation. “I’m glad that it’s over with for now.”
Boston led by as many as 18 in the first half. The Lakers erased it in third quarter, connecting on nine of their 13 attempts from beyond the arc and outscoring the Celtics 42-27 in the period to retake the lead entering the fourth.
But the Celtics responded with a 15-4 run to start the final period to get it back.
James and Irving traded shots down the stretch. In one exchange James’ 3-pointer cut Boston’s lead to 114-113. Irving then calmly responded with his own step-back 27-footer.
Later, it was Irving assisting on a big basket. With Boston leading 121-118, Irving drove into the middle of the Los Angeles defense and kicked it out to a wide-open Marcus Morris for a 3 with just 1:24 left.
But following an Irving turnover, James tied it with his own corner 3-pointer.