LOS ANGELES (AP) -Rajon Rondo wasn't hurting, but he certainly wasn't helping.
That was the message from Boston coach Doc Rivers, who played his point guard only 14 1/2 minutes Sunday night in the Celtics' 103-98 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5 of the NBA finals.
``Rondo is just not playing well right now,'' Rivers said. ``We still believe in him. They're doing a nice job to start games with Kobe guarding him and roaming, and the ball is ending up in his hands. And what we're trying to get him to do is just be aggressive to the basket.''
Rondo shot 1-of-7 from the field and finished with three points as Rivers went with backups Sam Cassell and Eddie House for a combined 32 minutes.
Rondo hurt his left ankle in Game 3, but hasn't had to miss any games. Apparently the injury wasn't the problem.
``He's fine,'' Rivers said. ``He's a second-year basketball player and I never lose light of that. There's a lot of pressure on him, I'm not going to put more on him. I'm just going to keep coaching him and trusting him, and he got us here. He's gotten us here. But clearly he's not playing as well as he would like to, but we believe in him.''
KOBE CHANGING SIDES?: A couple of days after claiming support for Boston's baseball rival, Kobe Bryant is now siding with the Red Sox.
Just kidding.
Told that Red Sox slugger David Ortiz was wearing a Bryant jersey on Sunday, the Lakers star responded: ``Really? Go Red Sox!''
Asked earlier in the week what he thought about Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling criticizing him in his blog after Game 2 of the series, Bryant pumped his fist and said, ``Go Yankees!''
So was this all it took to switch sides in the rivalry?
``I'm obviously joking,'' Bryant said. ``I'm a diehard Yankees fan.''
TALKING GOLF AT THE FINALS: On U.S. Open Sunday, Doc Rivers figured to hear some talk about golf during Game 5 of the NBA finals.
But it would have nothing to do with Tiger Woods. It would involve a Jack - that's Nicholson, not Nicklaus.
A seat near the end of the visitor's bench at Staples Center means a spot near Nicholson, and Rivers was asked what they talk about.
``Usually he tells me his golf score from that day, and I always question the number that he tells me,'' Rivers said. ``Other than that, that's about all we talk about.''
From his usual courtside seat, Nicholson often looks like he's yapping long after just a brief comment like that, but Rivers said he is not involved in any other conversations.
``Well, that's the beginning of games,'' Rivers said. ``Other than that, he's jawing, but it's not to me. He's just yelling out on the floor.''
WHERE'S THE NOISE?: Local bloggers and sports talk show hosts have made a big deal about the lack of crowd support during the Lakers' late-game slide Thursday night in Game 4, saying it contributed to the shocking loss.
A common belief was that those paying the highest prices weren't very vocal.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson chuckled when asked if the fans let his team down.
``The crowd is not going to make any shots for us, that's for sure, or play defense,'' he said. ``But I do think there's a lot of - you could hear the crowd get tense and worried when you're there. There was a sense at some point at the end of the third quarter that, gee, this is slipping away, and you could hear the crowd.
``That's not unusual for an LA crowd. We know how to play in front of an LA crowd, so that's not something that we need or we feel like we lost support of the crowd.''
The Lakers blew a 24-point lead in losing to the Celtics 97-91. It was the biggest recorded collapse in NBA finals history.
HAPPY FATHER'S DAY: Bill Walton spent part of his Father's Day on the court at Staples Center giving some last-minute advice to son Luke on playing in the NBA finals.
``I'm the proudest and luckiest dad in the world,'' the elder Walton said before Luke's Los Angeles Lakers played the Boston Celtics in Game 5. ``This is a golden moment for him. There's nothing I would like better than to share the joy of an NBA championship with him. And there's nothing I would like more than to shield him from the disappointment of defeat.''
Walton, who has four sons and three NBA titles of his own, had dinner with three of his kids on Saturday night and then went for a bicycle ride on Santa Monica beach with one of them on Sunday morning.
``Now I'm with one of my sons while he competes for an NBA championship,'' Walton said Sunday night. ``What could be better than that?''
BUSY BOSTON: The Boston Celtics played their 25th game of these playoffs Sunday night in Game 5 finals, equaling the most by any team in one postseason.
The New York Knicks in 1994 and Detroit Pistons in 2005 also played 25 games, ending with Game 7 losses in the NBA finals. New York fell to Houston, and Detroit was knocked off San Antonio in its bid for a second straight championship.
The Celtics were forced to seven games in the first two rounds before getting by Atlanta and Cleveland. They then beat the Pistons in six games in the Eastern Conference finals, but were well prepared to handle the fatigue
``It's the reason why you work out and you lift and you keep your body in great shape, not just good shape,'' forward Kevin Garnett said. ``It's the reason why the strength coaches are at your neck every day about getting cardio and lifting weights and proper hydration and nutrition. I mean your body goes through a lot. It's, I can't even explain it, but you go through a lot, and half the time it's more mental than physical.
``But it's what it is. When you're trying to achieve something, at least through my experience, it's never been easy, especially when it's something that everybody wants and it's something that you've been chasing for so long.''

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