BOSTON For weeks, Courtney Lee has been the last man off the floor for Boston following practices.
During his post-practice time, you can often find him working with assistant coaches on his ball-handling, seemingly aware that he just might have to play some point guard for the C's in the very near future.
With Rajon Rondo serving a two-game suspension beginning with Friday night's game against Portland, Lee was back in the starting lineup in the backcourt.
And while Lee is a much different kind of playmaker than Rondo, it didn't hurt that he had a Rondo-like night in helping the Celtics to a 96-78 win.
Lee spent the second half trending towards a triple-double before finishing with 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
"Defensively he did a good job on his man," said Boston's Paul Pierce. "He's out there getting four or five assists tonight, he just shows you flashes of what he's capable of."
Said Lee, who has had only two double-digit scoring games this season with both coming when Rondo was out of the lineup: "That's what you gotta do. Rondo is a great playmaker, the guy's gonna rack up a lot of assists, so we just have to play within the offense, move the ball around, and you see the assists were spread out throughout the whole team."
Filling the void left by Rondo was just one of the many hats worn by Lee against the Blazers.
Defensively he spent time chasing around Portland's point guard Damian Lillard, shooting guard Wes Matthews and small forward Nicholas Batum who each present a different challenge that Lee proved he was up to handling. Those three combined to shoot 6-for-25 from the field.
"It's tough, man," Lee said of juggling so many different assignments. "You have to be in good shape. I take it as a challenge. Anytime Doc tells me to guard somebody, it's my personal challenge. That's one thing I can look at individually, if I can keep my man from scoring it's going to better the team defense. I accept those challenges."
Following the game, there were plenty of players that Rivers praised for their play, a group that included Lee.
"Courtney was great," Rivers said. "You could see Courtney is getting better and better at what we're asking him to do. He's bought in completely, which you can see that."
The one area that Lee has surprisingly struggled at is shooting the ball.
A career 38.2 percent shooter on 3s, Lee is connecting on just 21.7 percent of his 3s thus far this season.
When the C's traded for Lee, they added him in part because of his ability to shoot 3s. Only former Celtic Ray Allen was a better corner 3-point shooter than Lee last season.
"His shot will fall," Rivers said. "I feel like with him, with Avery (Bradley) last year, where I kept telling you guys 'Avery can shoot' and you guys were looking at me like I was a Martian. And then he started making them. And Courtney is proving he can. He's getting wide open ones, and eventually they'll fall."
Regardless of whether his shot is falling, Lee says his approach to every game has to be the same.
"I just gotta go in there with the mindset of being aggressive at all times," he said.