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Licking their wounds, Lakers fall to Celtics

Los Angeles Lakers’ Rajon Rondo, left, dribbles the ball past Boston Celtics’ Marcus Smart during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 9, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Los Angeles Lakers’ Rajon Rondo, right, and Boston Celtics’ Al Horford, left fight for a loose ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 9, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Sound The gallery will resume in seconds Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James, center, passes the ball as he is double-teamed by Boston Celtics’ Jaylen Brown, left, and Al Horford during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 9, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Los Angeles Lakers’ Moritz Wagner, right, of Germany, is fouled by Boston Celtics’ Marcus Smart during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 9, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James, left, shoots under defense by Boston Celtics’ Marcus Morris, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 9, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Boston Celtics’ Kyrie Irving, left, passes the ball under pressure by Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 9, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James, right, and Boston Celtics’ Kyrie Irving chat during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 9, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James, right, and Boston Celtics’ Kyrie Irving chat with their mouths covered during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 9, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James, right, grabs a pass as Boston Celtics’ Marcus Smart watches during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 9, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Los Angeles Lakers’ Moritz Wagner, right, of Germany, and Boston Celtics’ Marcus Smart, left, fight for a loose ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 9, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
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LOS ANGELES – An hour before Saturday afternoon’s tip, in a locker room full of media and sparse on players, tape played from when the Lakers last played the Celtics in Boston. Right after the climactic moment, when Rajon Rondo hit a game-winning shot, the video froze.
It was a happier time for the Lakers — a moment when it seemed a frustrating season might turn around.
But the path the franchise has taken since then has taken a decidedly rougher turn, leading to the latest beating: a 120-107 loss at the hands of their cross-coast rivals, on the very day the Lakers declared two of their most important young talents out for the season. Related Articles





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With the playoffs no longer a realistic hope, the Lakers also implemented their policy of reducing LeBron James’ minutes. That had a very practical effect: In the third quarter as James helped shave the Boston lead to five points, he subbed out with 4:44 remaining in the frame. By the end of the third, the Lakers trailed by 17, thanks to a 19-7 Celtics run.
James wound up with a 30-point, 12-assist, 10-rebound triple double in just 28 minutes.
More minutes were given to the players who have been at the end of the bench all year, and by and large, they used them. Rookie Moe Wagner had a career-best 19 points, seizing on opportunities created by James and Rajon Rondo (9 assists). Two-way contract players Alex Caruso (8 points) and Johnathan Williams (18 points, 10 rebounds) also got many opportunities to shine, with both playing north of 29 minutes.
But in the face of players like Kyrie Irving, who dazzled with 30 points on 12 of 18 shooting, there was little the injury-stricken Lakers could do to stop one of the East’s deepest rotations. Six Celtics scored in double figures — only three Lakers could say the same.
In February when the trade deadline approached, the Lakers’ young core was often being compared to the younger group of the Celtics as potential trade chips for New Orleans big man Anthony Davis. It was telling for the franchise’s approaching uncertainty that three of that core sat out: Lonzo Ball (ankle sprain), Kyle Kuzma (ankle sprain) and Brandon Ingram ( deep vein thrombosis ).
The Celtics’ young core didn’t have a terribly impressive game as a group, as Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier combined for 9 of 27 shooting with 24 points. Of the group, Marcus Smart had the strongest effort, with 16 points on 6 of 8 shooting.
The result split the series between the Lakers and Celtics at 1-1, in a storied rivalry that always draws attention no matter the circumstances.

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