The Lakers made their only trip of the season to the TD Garden on Friday night, and the fans turned out to see them.

Tyler Zeller dominated in the Celtics' lopsided win over the Lakers. (Getty Images)

Tyler Zeller dominated in the Celtics‘ lopsided win over the Lakers. (Getty Images)

The Lakers made their only trip of the season to the TD Garden on Friday night, and the fans turned out to see them. But in a building with a surprising number of Laker fans, the home team delivered a commanding performance against Kobe Bryant‘s squad, as the Celtics won, 113-96.

Tyler Zeller and Jared Sullinger had huge nights for the C’s (more on them later), while all five starters scored in double figures for Boston. Rondo was back to his old self, but Jeff Green and Avery Bradley were big contributors as well with 19 and 16 points respectively.

Bryant, of course, led the way for the Lakers. He finished with a pedestrian 22 points.

Here’s five things we learned in Boston’s victory:

TYLER ZELLER NEEDS TO REMAIN THE STARTING CENTER

Zeller was phenomenal in this game. In 17 first half minutes, he put together a near double-double with 14 points (on 7-for-8 shooting, no less) and nine boards. Zeller and Rondo have been fantastic together on the floor all season, but even more so on Friday. Five of Zeller’s seven first half field goals were assisted by Rondo. His combination of always being a pick-and-roll threat along with running the floor play perfectly into Rondo’s passing skill set.

Zeller wound up with a game-high 24 points and 14 rebounds — probably the best game of his career. His miss in the first half turned out to be his only one, as he went 10-of-11 from the field for the night.

Friday was Zeller’s fourth start this season in place of Kelly Olynyk, and Stevens claimed before the game that it remains a temporary role. If Stevens is watching what everyone else has seen, he should officially hand the starting center job to Zeller.

RAJON RONDO BROUGHT SOME MUCH NEEDED AGGRESSION

Rondo has scored two points in each of his last three games. He recently said that he hadn’t been himself during those games. Something evidently changed between then and the start of Friday’s game. Rondo got off to a hot start, scoring six first quarter points to go along with five assists. Rondo’s impact was clear: his plus/minus was +14 when he came out of the game for the first time, while the Celtics‘ lead was trimmed to as few as three points before Rondo reentered with his team up seven.

Rondo may have even taken it too far, attempting 17 shots in the game (and making six), but his attacking style represented a noteworthy departure. Even with all the misses, Rondo turned in a pretty effective game, scoring 12 points along with eight rebounds and 16 assists. On the other side, the Lakers only had 14 assists as a team.

JARED SULLINGER WAS A BEAST

Sullinger’s performance was easy to lose track of behind Zeller’s big night, but the front court duo was not one to mess with against the Lakers. Sullinger brought it in the second half, scoring nine points and grabbing five rebounds in the third quarter alone.

He finished the game with an energetic and efficient 17 points on 5-for-9 shooting with 13 rebounds. Sullinger has said that starting alongside Zeller or Olynyk doesn’t matter to him, but things seem to be going pretty well at the moment.

THE ROOKIES ARE OFFICIALLY OUT OF THE ROTATION

After all three were sent to the D-League on Thursday (and recalled Friday), none saw any meaningful minutes against the Lakers. James Young and Dwight Powell had only been playing in blowouts, but Marcus Smart had been a considerably large part of the rotation (especially for a rookie) prior to his ankle injury on Nov. 7.

Young ended up playing the final couple minutes with the game out of reach, but the DNP for Smart carries some meaning. Stevens has either under the belief that Smart is not healthy enough to play yet, or is going to make Smart earn his minutes once again. This is going to be something to keep an eye on, especially with Young knocking on the door for minutes after a some impressive performances for the Red Claws.

IT’S STILL CELTICS VS. LAKERS

Yes, both teams can be painful to watch at times, but people still care about the rivalry. Stevens is honored to be a part of it, Byron Scott is excited to once again be a part of it, and the players look forward to playing in it. And, maybe most of all, the fans get pumped up for it.

The building was packed before tip-off more than any game so far this season, including when LeBron James came to town. When Bryant decided to show up fashionably late for warmups, the crowd responded with a flurry of cheers (and some scattered boos). The ovation was amplified when Bryant was announced in the starting lineups.

But it wasn’t all Laker love. Fans brought the energy when the lights dimmed down before the game. The crowd initiated a “Lets go Celtics!” chant during the opening minutes of the game. There was a notable buzz in the building, and it can only be attributed to the green and gold uniforms that were on the court.

If there’s a sixth thing you need to know, it’s that much to the crowd’s delight, we got some Geno time at the Garden on Friday night.

Blog Author: 
Julian Edlow

As most know by now, Kobe Bryant and Rajon Rondo shared breakfast together in Boston on Thursday, but as Ramona Shelburne of ESPN reported, there was nothing to the breakfast — it had actually been planned for weeks.

That doesn’t mean there haven’t been any trade conversations between the two legendary franchises recently, though.

According to one of Shelburne’s sources, the Celtics and Lakers did briefly discuss a Rondo deal a few months ago, but talks have since ended. The Lakers don’t have much to offer, and are not keen on including a first-round pick in a deal — something Danny Ainge would require at least one of one of in order to ship Rondo out. Although the odds of Rondo being traded are slim, a deal along the lines of a first-round pick, rookie Julius Randle (who is out for the year with a broken leg), and an expiring contract would be something Ainge would at least be forced to ponder.

But even at season’s end, assuming Rondo has not been dealt, it’s been no secret that the Lakers plan to pursue the crafty point guard in free agency. Rondo has long been one of Bryant’s favorite players.

However, Thursday’s hangout session had nothing to do with Rondo giving up Boston for Los Angeles. “It was a basketball geek conversation,” Bryant said to reporters earlier on Friday.

And as for Kobe’s thoughts on the breakfast? “It was delicious,” he said.

For more Celtics news, check out weei.com/celtics.

Blog Author: 
Julian Edlow

James Young played the best game of his professional career, scoring 31 points and pulling down nine boards for the Maine Red Claws in Thursday’s 110-106 win over the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. Young was efficient, shooting 9-for-15 from the field, including 7-for-10 from beyond the arc. He still had some defensive lapses, but his shooting stroke was quite impressive.

Fellow Celtics rookie Marcus Smart struggled in his first Red Claws appearance. Turns out he can’t shoot in the D-League either, as he missed his first 11 shots.

Dwight Powell had a great fourth quarter, getting to the rim with ease. He was an efficient 9-for-14 and finished with 21 points.

Blog Author: 
Sam Packard

With the Lakers in town for Friday night’s game against the Celtics, Rajon Rondo and Kobe Bryant were spotted having breakfast together earlier on Thursd

With the Lakers in town for Friday night’s game against the Celtics, Rajon Rondo and Kobe Bryant were spotted having breakfast together earlier on Thursday.

With Rondo set to become a free agent following this season, could Bryant be doing some recruiting?

Blog Author: 
WEEI

When Pistons starting forward Josh Smith fouled out with 6:47 remaining against the Celtics on Wednesday night, Detroit trailed by nine. Enter backup Greg Monroe off the bench.

When Pistons starting forward Josh Smith fouled out with 6:47 remaining against the Celtics on Wednesday night, Detroit trailed by nine. Enter backup Greg Monroe off the bench. Over a 2:21 stretch in the final minutes of regulation, the 24-year-old big scored 10 straight points — all either within 4 feet of the basket or from the free throw line — during a furious comeback to force overtime.

“We played pretty well in a lot of the fourth quarter, until the very end,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “Monroe, obviously, that’€™s a tough spot, especially when you’€™re coaching, because you know what can beat you is the 3, and they keep chipping away with two after two. I thought [Brandon] Bass and Tyler Zeller guarded them about as well as you could, but he just made shot after shot after shot.”

The Celtics had few, if any, answers for Monroe or Andre Drummond, who combined for 56 points (21-35 FG), 21 rebounds and six blocks. (And, yet, somehow the Pistons still managed to lose to a Celtics team that shot a combined 39.8 percent from the field.) The C’s could sure use a guy like that.

Actually, the Celtics could sure use that guy. And it’s not out of the realm of possibility.

For some odd reason, the Pistons brought Monroe off the bench in favor of Smith and Kyle Singler alongside Drummond in the frontcourt. Detroit is 0-6 without Monroe in the starting lineup. The Pistons score 7.2 more points and allow 8.3 fewer points with Monroe on the court, according to Basketball Reference. If I were him, I wouldn’t be too happy backing up one of the league’s least efficient scorers. (For the record, the Pistons are 12.5 points per 100 possessions worse with Smith on the floor.)

After collecting 29 points (9-17 FG, 11-11 FT) and seven rebounds in the 109-102 loss to the Celtics, Monroe provided all the right answers to a line of questioning about his adjustment to a newfound reserve role, and then finished, “I just have to continue to get comfortable coming off the bench.”

When the Pistons and Monroe failed to reach a long-term extension this past summer, he opted to sign a one-year, $5.5 million qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent in 2015. With Detroit unable to find a trade partner for the three years and $40.5 million left on Smith’s burdensome contract, it seems increasingly likely Monroe could be the odd man out of the crowded Pistons frontcourt.

“I’m always trying to get quality,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said in his weekly interview with CBS Radio. “We’re trying to get better players, more impactful players. We do have a hole from a rim-protecting standpoint, and you can’t just add rim protection and then give up other things that you have that are solid. So, they’re not easy to find. A quality one, I should say, is not easy to find. Maybe through the draft or free agency, but we will continue to work all the way to the trade deadline to see if we can fix that hole in the meantime.”

Should the Celtics or any team seek a trade for Monroe, the 6-foot-11, 253-pound former No. 7 overall pick would have to waive his Bird rights, which diminishes the amount of money he could make this summer. Still, Ainge would have enough cap space in 2015 to offer Monroe a hefty contract, and Boston is made more attractive by the presence of Monroe’s fellow Georgetown product Jeff Green.

“We’re really good friends,” said Monroe. “Obviously, he’s originally from D.C., so he’s always home in the summer, and I spend a lot of time back at school, so we’re together a lot. We have the same agent and stuff like that, so we have a pretty good relationship. I would say we’re good friends.”

The Hoya fraternity is a close-knit group, as evidenced by Green, Monroe and Otto Porter making a trip to Indiana for Game 5 of last year’s Eastern Conference finals in an effort to support Roy Hibbert.

Accompanying the Georgetown foursome was their agent, David Falk, whose small list of active clients also includes Jared Sullinger and Evan Turner as well as former Celtics coach Doc Rivers‘ son Austin. Needless to say, Monroe has more ties to Boston than you might expect from a native of Harvey, La.

Should Green decline his $9.2 million player option for the 2015-16 season, he too would become an unrestricted free agent, and the Hoya duo has discussed joining forces on the Celtics, even if in jest.

“We joke about it,” said Monroe, who could command a max deal in the four-year, $60 million range this summer. “We all joke about it, man, but obviously it’s a lot more than us two coming here or us two talking about it. Right now, I’m just focused on where I’m at. Whenever the time is and if everything is right, then obviously I’ll always weigh my options, but right now I’m not worried about that.”

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

When Pistons starting forward Josh Smith fouled out with 6:47 remaining against the Celtics on Wednesday night, Detroit trailed by nine. Enter backup Greg Monroe off the bench. Over a 2:21 stretch in the final minutes of regulation, the 24-year-old big scored 10 straight points — all either within 4 feet of the basket or from the free throw line — during a furious comeback to force overtime.

“We played pretty well in a lot of the fourth quarter, until the very end,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “Monroe, obviously, that’€™s a tough spot, especially when you’€™re coaching, because you know what can beat you is the 3, and they keep chipping away with two after two. I thought [Brandon] Bass and Tyler Zeller guarded them about as well as you could, but he just made shot after shot after shot.”

The Celtics had few, if any, answers for Monroe or Andre Drummond, who combined for 56 points (21-35 FG), 21 rebounds and six blocks. (And, yet, somehow the Pistons still managed to lose to a Celtics team that shot a combined 39.8 percent from the field.) The C’s could sure use a guy like that.

Actually, the Celtics could sure use that guy. And it’s not out of the realm of possibility.

For some odd reason, the Pistons brought Monroe off the bench in favor of Smith and Kyle Singler alongside Drummond in the frontcourt. Detroit is 0-6 without Monroe in the starting lineup. The Pistons score 7.2 more points and allow 8.3 fewer points with Monroe on the court, according to Basketball Reference. If I were him, I wouldn’t be too happy backing up one of the league’s least efficient scorers. (For the record, the Pistons are 12.5 points per 100 possessions worse with Smith on the floor.)

After collecting 29 points (9-17 FG, 11-11 FT) and seven rebounds in the 109-102 loss to the Celtics, Monroe provided all the right answers to a line of questioning about his adjustment to a newfound reserve role, and then finished, “I just have to continue to get comfortable coming off the bench.”

When the Pistons and Monroe failed to reach a long-term extension this past summer, he opted to sign a one-year, $5.5 million qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent in 2015. With Detroit unable to find a trade partner for the three years and $40.5 million left on Smith’s burdensome contract, it seems increasingly likely Monroe could be the odd man out of the crowded Pistons frontcourt.

“I’m always trying to get quality,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said in his weekly interview with CBS Radio. “We’re trying to get better players, more impactful players. We do have a hole from a rim-protecting standpoint, and you can’t just add rim protection and then give up other things that you have that are solid. So, they’re not easy to find. A quality one, I should say, is not easy to find. Maybe through the draft or free agency, but we will continue to work all the way to the trade deadline to see if we can fix that hole in the meantime.”

Should the Celtics or any team seek a trade for Monroe, the 6-foot-11, 253-pound former No. 7 overall pick would have to waive his Bird rights, which diminishes the amount of money he could make this summer. Still, Ainge would have enough cap space in 2015 to offer Monroe a hefty contract, and Boston is made more attractive by the presence of Monroe’s fellow Georgetown product Jeff Green.

“We’re really good friends,” said Monroe. “Obviously, he’s originally from D.C., so he’s always home in the summer, and I spend a lot of time back at school, so we’re together a lot. We have the same agent and stuff like that, so we have a pretty good relationship. I would say we’re good friends.”

The Hoya fraternity is a close-knit group, as evidenced by Green, Monroe and Otto Porter making a trip to Indiana for Game 5 of last year’s Eastern Conference finals in an effort to support Roy Hibbert.

Accompanying the Georgetown foursome was their agent, David Falk, whose small list of active clients also includes Jared Sullinger and Evan Turner as well as former Celtics coach Doc Rivers‘ son Austin. Needless to say, Monroe has more ties to Boston than you might expect from a native of Harvey, La.

Should Green decline his $9.2 million player option for the 2015-16 season, he too would become an unrestricted free agent, and the Hoya duo has discussed joining forces on the Celtics, even if in jest.

“We joke about it,” said Monroe, who could command a max deal in the four-year, $60 million range this summer. “We all joke about it, man, but obviously it’s a lot more than us two coming here or us two talking about it. Right now, I’m just focused on where I’m at. Whenever the time is and if everything is right, then obviously I’ll always weigh my options, but right now I’m not worried about that.”

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

After finishing 1-for-6 from the field against the Pistons, Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo has now scored just two points in each of his last three games.