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A Game Fit for Celts-Lakers Rivalry

February 8, 2019
Lakers forward LeBron James stumbles as he grabs a loose ball during action in Thursday night s game against the Celtics at TD Garden. AP PHOTO

BOSTON -- Behind the scenes, it’s been an active week for the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics.

For the Lakers, it was all about trying to pry superstar forward Anthony Davis away from the New Orleans Pelicans after Davis made it known that he has no intention of staying there long-term once his contract is up in 2020.

The Celtics, meanwhile, spent the week trying to convince the Pelicans to hold off on dealing Davis until the summer when they can be involved in the proceedings. The Celtics were unable to trade for Davis during the season because of the Rose Rule, which essentially means they can’t add Davis until guard Kyrie Irving leaves Boston or agrees to a new deal.

Irving will become an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of this season.

Long story short, the NBA trade deadline came and went on Thursday and Davis is still in New Orleans, and the Celtics and Lakers didn’t make a move of real significance.

You could say that the C’s got the better of their longtime West Coast rival in the much-discussed negotiating contest by convincing New Orleans that their best offer for Davis will trump LA’s best. And as fate would have it, the Lakers and the C’s renewed their on-court rivalry on Thursday night at rowdy TD Garden and provided a classic.

In a wild, seesaw battle that sent the sellout crowd into multiple frenzies and saw 13 combined players score in double-figures, the Lakers earned a dramatic 129-128 win when former Celtic Rajon Rondo scooped up a loose ball after a helter-skelter sequence and calmly swished an 18-footer at the buzzer for the win.

Rondo finished with 17 points, 10 assists and 7 rebounds against his former team.

The fourth quarter featured haymaker after haymaker from both teams. Kyle Kuzma (25 points) put the Lakers up 127-126 with a 3-pointer with 19 seconds left. Then Irving responded with a drive and tough bucket with 11.5 seconds left to put the C’s up 128-127.

Boston led 66-57 at the half. Los Angeles led 99-93 after three quarters, thanks to a 42-point third.

LeBron James had 28 points, 12 assists and 12 rebounds for LA.

Irving had 24 points for the Celtics, while Jayson Tatum had 22 points and 10 rebounds, and Daniel Theis had 20 points off the bench.

The Garden had a large contingent of Lakers fans and the building erupted in a combination of disbelief and excitement when Rondo made his game-winner.

Follow Matt Langone on Twitter @MattLangone