NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, January 17th (All times Eastern)
Los Angeles Lakers (14-25) at Boston Celtics (14-26), 7:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo will knock off the rust when he makes his anticipated 2013-14 debut Friday versus the Los Angeles Lakers at TD Garden.
Rondo has been recovering from knee surgery after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee against Atlanta last Jan. 25. Rondo posted his second straight triple-double in that game, recording 16 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, and will be in the starting lineup Friday.
Celtics general manager Danny Ainge cautioned when he said it will take some time for Rondo to get acclimated after an extensive period away from the game.
"What I've seen throughout my professional basketball career is that the ACL injury is something that every player has to overcome and come back mentally, not just physically," Ainge told reporters on Thursday. "So I anticipate some adjustments and just getting used to playing and confident in playing and returning to the player that he was."
Rondo is expected to play about 18 to 20 minutes, according to head coach Brad Stevens, and got some work in with the Maine Red Claws, the Celtics' Development League affiliate. The speedy Rondo is well known throughout the league as a distributor and will take some pressure off of some of his teammates who had been trying to carry the scoring load without the four-time All-Star and 2008 NBA champion.
Rondo, though, doesn't shoot the lights out much like Kevin Durant or LeBron James and averaged a career-high 13.7 points per game twice in his career. He is a great defender and a valuable asset in the trade market. Rondo has this season and next on his contract.
But as for basketball, Rondo is returning to a Celtics squad that has lost 12 of the last 14 games, but ended a season-high nine-game slide with Wednesday's 88-83 victory versus the Toronto Raptors. Jared Sullinger poured in 25 points and pulled down a career-high 20 rebounds, while Avery Bradley added 20 points, Kris Humphries had 12 and eight boards and Phil Pressey handed out 10 assists in his first career start.
"After awhile, when you lose so much and you're not used to losing, the competitive nature takes over, and that's what happens to me," Sullinger said.
The Celtics made a trade earlier in the day, as they shipped guards Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks to Golden State as part of a three-team trade that also involved Miami. Boston received Miami forward Joel Anthony and will also get a protected future first-round pick and Miami's 2016 second-round pick in the deal, as well as cash considerations.
Miami received Warriors guard Toney Douglas in the swap.
Boston will close out a three-game homestand Friday and is 9-11 at TD Garden. It will start a three-game road trip in Orlando Sunday and will also visit the Heat and Wizards.
The Lakers, meanwhile, will continue their season-long, seven-game road trip in Boston and have lost six in a row and 12 of 13 contests. They opened the trek with Wednesday's 121-114 loss at Phoenix, as Pau Gasol scored 24 points and Wesley Johnson added 22 in defeat.
Chris Kaman and Jodie Meeks scored 18 and 14 points, respectively, while Kendall Marshall added 10 for Los Angeles, which is winless in seven straight on the road and fell to 6-14 as the visitor.
"We're still trying to figure things out," Marshall admitted. "Hopefully we can cut down on a lot of things that we're doing wrong and it will turn into wins and we can get this ball rolling."
L.A. won't have leading scorer Nick Young (16.4 ppg) after he was suspended one game without pay for an altercation with the Suns. Young threw a punch at Suns guard Goran Dragic midway through the second quarter after he was fouled on a driving layup. Suns center Alex Len was ejected for his Flagrant Foul 2 against Young and has been fined $15,000.
Phoenix forward Marcus Morris was dealt a $25,000 fine for escalating the incident.
The Lakers still have Toronto, Chicago, Miami, Orlando and New York to visit, and split a pair of meetings with Boston last season. They are 10-5 in the previous 15 matchups with the Celtics and have the same mark in the past 15 trips to Beantown.
01/17 10:29:44 ET