Report: Rajon Rondo plans return Jan. 17 against Lakers

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Boston is 13-23 this season and has been a solid defensive team — signs that Brad Stevens can coach at the NBA level (Brandon Bass told PBT he was impressed with the young mentor).

The question has been: How good will the Celtics be with Rajon Rondo in the lineup?

We may find out sooner rather than later. Rondo is targeting a Jan. 17 return from ACL surgery in a game against the rival Lakers, reports Marc Spears at Yahoo Sports.

Rajon Rondo is targeting the Boston Celtics’ Jan. 17 home game against the Los Angeles Lakers for his possible season debut, league sources told Yahoo Sports….

“I feel like I’m ready now, but I’m not in shape,” he said. “I can go out there and I can give the team 10 minutes. I want to be productive out there. I don’t want to limp or drag behind because of my cardio. That would be hurting the team.

Earlier in the day Rondo had said he planed to return before the All-Star Break, reports CSNNE.com.

Rondo said that he is feeling confident, but that he needs to get his conditioning up to par. While there had been talk of him doing a rehab assignment with the Maine Red Claws of the D-League that seems to have faded.

Boston could use Rondo’s playmaking and skills on the court.

“We’re really looking forward to getting him back on the court,” Brandon Bass told ProBasketballTalk. “I think he’s huge for the team. He’s a veteran player, he’s been on winning teams, he’s won a championship, and he’s one of those pieces that when you add him to your team he simplifies things. He makes things easier for everybody. On good teams everybody doesn’t have to make all the decisions, Rondo simplifies things like he did for Hall of Famers and like he’ll do for second and third year players. And ninth year players like myself.”

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

Associated Press
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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.