Rivers, Celtics help Rondo extend assist streak

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Rivers, Celtics help Rondo extend assist streak

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."

First impressions of Red Sox’ 2-1 loss to Rays

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First impressions of Red Sox’ 2-1 loss to Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- First Impressions from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field:

 

* When the guy who was 0-for-34 produces the go-ahead RBI, it's probably not your day.

The Red Sox and Rays were tied 1-1 in the seventh when Drew Pomeranz singled to lead off the inning. That brought Mikie Mahtook, hitless in his last 34 at-bats to the plate.

Naturally, Mahtook roped a line-drive double to left field, scoring Steve Souza Jr. all the way from first basIt was that kind of day for the Red Sox, who were 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position and stranded five baserunners.

For a team that still leads the majors in runs scored, the Red Sox have shown an uncanny ability to go cold at the plate.

On Thursday afternoon, that happened again, while the most unlikely hero for Tampa Bay came through in an improbable spot.

 

* The Red Sox' struggles with the bases loaded is almost comical.

It happened again.

In the sixth inning, the Red Sox loaded the bases with no out. Mookie Betts then hit a sacrifice fly to left, scoring one run. Hanley Ramirez then walked, re-loading the bases, this time with one out.

But Jackie Bradley Jr. then swung at the first pitch and hit into an inning-ending, rally-killing 4-6-3 double play.

In two plate appearances with the bases loaded, the Sox failed to get a hit.

The Sox are hitting .216 with the bases loaded (24-for-111), ranking them 14th in the American League. Only Seattle and Detroit have had more bases-loaded opportunities, and yet the Red Sox rank in the second half in runs scored in such situations.

 

* Drew Pomeranz is showing no signs of innings fatigue

True, Pomeranz failed to provide a shutdown inning in the sixth after the Red Sox had gotten him a run in the top of the inning.

Still, Pomeranz pitched into the seventh and allowed just two runs while striking out a season-high 11 batters.

In his past five starts, he's compiled a 2.37 ERA, and both the power to his fastball and the sharpness to his curve offer no evidence that he's hit any sort of wall despite already establishing a career high at the major league level with five weeks remaining in the season.