Terry on Rondo: 'It was great to have him back; he's our leader'

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Terry on Rondo: 'It was great to have him back; he's our leader'

BOSTON And so the streak begins ... again.
Rajon Rondo was back on the floor for the Boston Celtics, doing what he does better than anyone else in the NBA right now -- racking up double-digit assist totals.
His 37-game streak of such games -- the second longest in NBA history along with Hall of Famer John Stockton -- is back to square one after racking up 11 assists along with 17 points in Boston's 104-94 win over Minnesota.
Rondo's double-digit assists streak came to a screeching halt courtesy of an early ejection against Brooklyn on Nov. 28 which was followed by a two-game suspension for a pushing incident involving him and Kris Humphries.
In his return on Wednesday, Rondo was not the best player on the floor.
But it's hard to argue that in so many ways he was the most important -- a role that he has been cast in throughout this season.
"It was great to have him back," said Celtics guard Jason Terry. "He was pushing that ball. He had fresh legs. He was at a good pace out there. And that's what we need. He's our leader. It definitely felt good to have him back."
Said C's coach Doc Rivers: "I thought what Rondo did at the beginning of the game ... he advanced the pass, like the first three or four times down the floor ... it was a pass, to a pass, to a post. There's no help for that."
And there's no help for teams when Rondo is scoring along with delivering his usual double-digit assist effort.
Rondo was especially good in the third quarter when the Celtics began to pull away for the win.
After Rondo turned the ball over with 4:23 to play, Minnesota's Kevin Love had a tip-in basket that cut Boston's lead to 67-65.
From there, Rondo hit a 21-footer followed by a 19-foot step-back jumper to push Boston's lead back to a solid lead of 71-65.
The Celtics would finish the quarter strong and lead 79-72 going into the fourth quarter. In the quarter, Rondo had six points along with three assists and a steal.
"Ball movement; we got some stops and guys made plays" was how Rondo described the C's play in the third.
It was the kind of bounce-back game both Rondo and the Celtics needed as they try to get on track after what has been a less-than-stellar start to this season.
The problems experienced by the Celtics (10-8) have in large part been attributed to the fact that they have so many new faces.
And while several players have contributed to the team's struggles, most agree their chances of snapping out of their early season funk rest heavily on the shoulders of their three-time all-star, Rajon Rondo.
At times Rondo looks and plays well despite the pressure of his position and status with the Celtics.
But then there are times like the Brooklyn game on Nov. 28 when his intent -- to protect Kevin Garnett who took a hard spill to the floor against the Nets after he was fouled hard by Humphries -- becomes misplaced loyalty that costs him court time and maybe more important, the Celtics a chance at a victory.
The Celtics split the two games he missed which could come back and haunt them if they wind up a game behind another team for playoff seeding.
Rondo told reporters on Tuesday that he didn't learn anything from the suspension, his third in just nine months.
Maybe not, but the Celtics learned a few things about themselves that Rivers is convinced will make them better equipped to handle Rondo missing a game or two down the road, which seems more likely than not.
Rivers saw some different combinations among his starters and reserves, like Courtney Lee and Jason Terry together, that showed promise.
Garnett became more of a facilitator out of the post, a job that he does most nights, but did with more regularity with Rondo's absence.
But even with a couple positives that developed during those two Rondo-less games, the C's know all too well that their success -- now and moving forward -- rests heavily on the play of talented and at times troubled point guard, Rajon Rondo.