About Last Night

About Last Night: Rondo torments old team

Rondo stuns Celtics at buzzer; Antetokounmpo, Barkley enjoy some laughs at LeBron's expense

It hasn’t been a great week-plus for the Los Angeles Lakers.

In addition to falling short in their ill-fated quest to acquire New Orleans Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis, they entered Thursday’s action still licking their wounds from a 42-point stomping by the Pacers, the most lopsided defeat ever experienced by LeBron James and tied for the eighth-worst loss in franchise history.

Only time will tell if Thursday’s 129-128 victory over the Boston Celtics gets the Lakers back on track. But for one night, at least, all was well as Rajon Rondo, five teams and four-plus seasons after his final game with the Celtics, sank a buzzer-beating fling to torment the franchise that acquired him on draft day in 2006.

GAME SITUATION: Rondo’s bucket capped multiple comebacks by the Lakers, who persevered despite trailing by 18 midway through the second quarter and then by six with 1:24 remaining.

The latter comeback set the stage for a wild finish, including Kyrie Irving’s layup to give the Celtics their final lead, 128-127, with 11.5 seconds left.

Brandon Ingram took the ensuing inbounds and drove the length of the court, electing to do things himself instead of deferring to James. His reverse layup was blocked, and the loose ball somehow skipped through the crowd to Rondo.

DIFFICULTY: Never known for his shooting, Rondo came in hitting at 38.8 percent for his career between 16 feet and the 3-point arc. But his splay-legged 20-footer from the left wing was pure, giving the Lakers a much-needed victory as they look to right their floundering season.

(Incidentally, Rondo hit almost exactly the same shot to cap a game of one-on-one with son at shootaround that morning.)

CELEBRATION: Rondo’s winner put Celtics fans in a weird spot.

On one hand, it sealed a loss to the hated Lakers, led by one of the biggest villains in their history. (James finished with 28 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists for his 77th career triple-double.)

On the other hand, this was Rondo, the feisty point guard who helped them win their first championship in 22 years, became a fan favorite by never backing down from overpowering personalities like Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett and made four All-Star teams before his trade to the Dallas Mavericks in 2014.

As such, there was a sense of grudging respect for the former Celtic even as James lifted him off his feet amidst a crowd of Lakers teammates.

“Believe it or not, I always dream like this,” Rondo said. “But I couldn’t picture it being this sweet, coming back where it all started.”

GRADE: Other than the fact it was a relatively basic jumper, the first buzzer-beater of Rondo’s 13-year, 800-game career was about as good as it gets for the regular season. Four out of five Horrys.

Jokes on LeBron

James made a pregame appearance on Inside The NBA alongside fellow captain Giannis Antetokounmpo to pick his team for this year’s All-Star Game.

If he wasn’t ready for jokes, well, he should have been as Antetokounmpo and the Inside gang were only too happy to poke fun at the Lakers’ recent misadventures with the aforementioned Davis.

First came Giannis after James took Davis.

So now we know Giannis can do more than just dunk. But that was nothing compared to roastmaster general Charles Barkley, who knocked the softball straight out of the park when LeBron proposed a swap of Russell Westbrook for Ben Simmons.

And lest he be ignored — yeah, right — Joel Embiid couldn’t help but weigh in after learning that, thanks to the aforementioned trade, he’ll be on the same team as long-time antagonist Westbrook.



A streak of his own

Not to be overshadowed by James Harden’s ongoing 30-point run, Westbrook extended his own historic streak with his eighth straight triple-double (15 points, 13 rebounds, 15 assists) in Oklahoma City’s 117-95 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.

Westbrook now stands just one behind the NBA record of nine consecutive triple-doubles, set by — who else? — Wilt Chamberlain in 1969. (Remarkably, Westbrook also has two other streaks of seven straight triple-doubles.)

Even if he fails to match or break that mark, Westbrook is well on his way to averaging a triple-double for the third straight season at 21.2 points, 11.1 rebounds and 11.2 assists.


Besides his triple-double, Westbrook also produced this fun series of events:

First, a missed dunk. (Believe it or not, this happens fairly regularly for Russ; he blew 16 slams last season alone, which is probably unavoidable when you jam hard enough to end reality.)

Then, the makeup. You did it, Russ!

Bear trap

Just how short-handed were the Grizzlies following their deadline-day trade with the Toronto Raptors?

Bat cave

The NBA’s season-long battle with bats continued in Indiana, where another one of the winged nuisances made an appearance in the Pacers’ 116-92 victory over the LA Clippers. (According to an unofficial tally by SB Nation, that marks nine different appearances at three arenas this season, including San Antonio and Utah.)

We know this much: Pacers center Myles Turner is no Manu Ginobili. Then again, Ginobili — or any other player not named Hakeem Olajuwon or David Robinson — never tallied six blocks and four steals in 27 minutes or less, as Turner did against the Clippers.