Laker Grades is a new weekly feature that examines the best and the worst of the purple and gold from the last seven days.
Lakers beat Boston, 107-104:
Having lost 12 of their last 13 games heading into their showdown with the Celtics, the Lakers desperately needed a win no matter who their opponent was. Breaking through against a rival like Boston made it only sweeter, especially with how the Lakers spoiled Rajon Rondo’s long-anticipated return from injury the same way the Toronto Raptors did to them when Kobe Bryant made his season debut in December.
Nick Young's fourth quarter in Toronto
Fresh off a one-game suspension for his involvement in a shoving match against the Phoenix Suns, Young took over in Toronto, scoring 15 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter as L.A. erased an early 19-point deficit to string together its first winning streak in nearly a month.
Ryan Kelly, stretch 4 starter:
After coming up clutch with 12 of his career-high 20 points coming in the fourth quarter in Boston, Kelly was awarded a spot in Mike D’Antoni’s starting lineup. Kelly averaged 15 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists in his first two starts against Toronto and Chicago, but the bloom came off the rose a bit in Miami, as he totaled seven points on 3-for-10 shooting, five rebounds, three fouls and two turnovers (however he did draw a charge on LeBron James).
Porous defense against the Heat:
L.A. gave itself a shot to win in Miami, trailing by only four points late in the fourth quarter, but the final defensive numbers were ugly: Miami scored 109 points on 57.7 percent shooting from the floor and 40 percent shooting from 3. The final score would have been even uglier too if not for the Heat shooting just 11-for-23 on free throws.
L.A.’s inbound defense in Chicago:
All the Lakers had to do was play 0.9 seconds of defense in overtime in Chicago with the game tied at 100-100 and they would be heading to a second extra session with a chance to steal a win on the road. Instead, new Laker Manny Harris got caught watching the paint dry as Taj Gibson cut down the lane to receive an inbounds pass from the baseline for a game-winning layup as time expired.