Rivers, Celtics help Rondo extend assist streak

Rivers, Celtics help Rondo extend assist streak
November 19, 2012, 4:58 am
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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers has been hearing about Rajon Rondo's double-digit assists streak for weeks and has done nothing unusual to help it along - until now.

With the Celtics well on their way to a blowout loss at Detroit, Rivers elected to keep Rondo on the floor in the game's final seconds with a clear goal in mind - to keep his double digit assists streak alive.

"Why not? You guys keep talking about it, so I figured give him a shot at it."

Rondo's streak - 34 games and counting - remains intact by the slimmest of margins as his 10th assist did not come until a 21-foot jumper by rookie Jared Sullinger with 51 seconds to play.

Moments after he had his 10th assist, Leandro Barbosa was making his way to the scorer's table to replace Rondo.

The idea to work towards keeping Rondo's record going strong was apparently hatched during a time-out with 1:38 to play.

"When I called a time-out," Rivers recalled, "I said, 'guys, we're going to lose the game by the way.' Let's not play crazy, but if we can get him two more (assists), let's do it. If not, that's it. First time we've done that."

But the basketball gods that Rivers so often mentions, seemed as though they weren't going to allow the record to extend beyond Sunday night.

One after another, Rondo would make a good pass to a teammate who would have a great look at the basket.

Too short. Too long. Wide right. Off to the left.

That is, until Jared Sullinger delivered two of his team-high 16 points in the game's final minute.

"It's funny," Rivers said. "The harder we tried (to keep the record going), the worse we got at it."

But it's alive and well, with the only players in NBA history with more consecutive double-digit assists games being John Stockton (37 straight) and Magic Johnson (46).

"Anytime any player is mentioned with those two guys," Rivers said. "That means he's done something special."

Rondo is on track to break the record at Chicago on Dec. 18.

"I'll look back on it one day and realize what I'm doing," Rondo said following Boston's 103-83 defeat to the Pistons. "I'm upset we lost, but the streak is alive. It is what it is. I don't think much about it. I'll look back one day and realize what I've done."

Rondo is hearing more and more these days about Stockton and Johnson, a pair of Hall of Famers who dominated the game many years ago.

"I didn't really watch it when Stockton (was playing), and I don't think I was born when Magic was (setting records)," Rondo said. "It's been a long time since this type of streak has happened. It's a great honor. It's a credit to my teammates."

And while Rondo racking up double-digit assists seems like child's play most nights, the C's clearly went that extra mile - and then some - to try and keep the streak intact.

In Rondo's eyes, that should not deter in any way from what he's accomplished.

"You don't know when Stockton got his, if he stayed in the game when they were up 30 or down 30," Rondo said. "Now we're in the present, you probably look at it, a lot more attention as far as wins and losses. But you never know."