BOSTON -- Rewind 48 hours.
Rajon Rondo stood in the Boston Celtics locker room following the team's fourth straight loss. He talked about the team's lack of defense and trust in one another. He didn't have an explanation for it, but knew they needed to find a solution.
On Friday night, he delivered a different message. Following the Celtics 94-75 win over the Indiana Pacers, he spoke about improved D, a collective team effort, and players stepping up on the court.
"It was a good team win for us tonight," said Rondo (18 points, seven assists, five rebounds). "We did a pretty good job defensively. I think we held them to 35 percent in the first half, forced some turnovers. I've got to do a better job of taking care of the ball in the second half, but other than that, we got what we wanted offensively. We weren't standing around tonight, we had a lot of different play calls, different guys were aggressive, and we played well together."
The Celtics improved to 15-17 and showed progress in their victory. Avery Bradley played his second game since returning from double-shoulder surgery, scoring six points in 23 minutes and giving Rondo another tenacious backcourt counterpart.
"He's the best on-ball defender in the league," Rondo said of Bradley. "I let him pick up (D.J.) Augustin and he turned the game around. His energy picked up, we got a lot of deflections in the first half, created points for our offense."
Rondo also credited the Celtics bench, who maintained the lead when Kevin Garnett was ejected (Flagrant 2 Foul) in the fourth quarter. Noteably, Courtney Lee scored 13 points in 23 minutes, Jared Sullinger grabbed 10 rebounds in 30 minutes, and Leandro Barbosa chipped in six points in as many minutes.
"We're a really bad team if we couldn't hold a lead in the fourth quarter, and they didn't have their starters in either. But nevertheless, I don't want to discredit our bench," he said. "Courtney played great for us tonight, LB (Leandro Barbosa) came in and gave us some energy, and (Jared Sullinger) Sully fouled out but he played big in the stretch when he was in the game. It was a collective team effort tonight. We played great as a team and we've got to continue to build on this win."
The Celtics will face the Hawks in Atlanta on Saturday, where they are looking to continue their momentum before playing the Knicks in New York on Monday. They know there is still work to be done.
"We want to build on this game," said Rondo. "But it's only one game."