Blakely: This is Rondo's team now

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Blakely: This is Rondo's team now

BOSTON For years, the talk around town has been that sooner or later, this Boston Celtics team would be Rajon Rondo's team.

That time appears to be now.

Rondo continues to play at a level that none of his teammates - not Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett or Ray Allen - are at currently.

"This is his team right now," said coach Doc Rivers.

While Allen has been solid for the C's all season, Rondo has been far and away their best player.

"Rajon is amazing, period," said Kevin Garnett. "You talk about big things are coming; big things are here. Rajon is keeping us alive every night. We just have to make sure we follow his lead, and follow his effort, and we're going to turn this thing around."

Said Rondo: "I just try to attack, be aggressive, get us easy baskets, easy looks; if it's for myself or it's for my teammates. Right now, our offense is behind our defense. Getting easy looks is going to help."

To hear Rivers and the Celtics talk so glowingly about Rondo speaks volumes about how quickly things can change in the NBA.

Just a few weeks ago, the C's were diligently working on a trade that would have sent Rondo to New Orleans for Chris Paul.

Not only did the Hornets not like the deal, but Paul wasn't thrilled about the prospect of playing for the C's in part because of their steadily diminishing window of opportunity to be among the NBA's elite.

Boston's efforts at landing David West came up short as well, with West signing a two-year, 20 million deal with the Indiana Pacers.

So that leaves Rondo and the rest of the aging Celtics to see if they can do the improbable, which would be to somehow catapult themselves back into the conversation as an NBA title contender.

Rondo, who has showed no signs of ill will towards the franchise that just a few weeks ago was ready to ship him out of town, seems more than up for the challenge of putting the C's on his back.

But he can't do it alone.

It's very likely that at some point this season, Paul Pierce will get on track offensively, and Ray Allen will continue nailing dagger 3-pointers in the fourth and Garnett will become a defensive stalwart who can also hurt teams with his elbow-jumper.

But as they return to form, the C's will have to figure out how to continue getting major production from Rondo while at the same time, getting their core players to make major contributions as well.

Rivers has no idea how all this is going to play out. But what he does know is that Rondo is playing well; better than any other Celtic player.

And when the rest of the Big Three get on track, Rondo should still be their best player.

"Rondo's just playing terrific," Rivers said. "And we've got to allow him to be terrific. We shouldn't get in his way."

Barnes, Cousins trying to keep 'emotions and energy focused'

Barnes, Cousins trying to keep 'emotions and energy focused'

BOSTON – No one is proclaiming DeMarcus Cousins’ demeanor is all that radically different than past seasons. 

But the volatile nature that has often overshadowed his on-the-court-brilliance, doesn’t seem to shine as brightly as it used to. 

Maybe he’s growing up. 

Maybe he’s finally comfortable with his team. 

And then there’s the almighty dollar which was the incentive for one of his teammates, Matt Barnes, to clean up his act as far as racking up technical fouls and being fined by the league. 

I asked Barnes whether there was a light bulb moment or a teammate or player that helped him get on track and not draw so much attention from officials and the league office. 

“It was all the money I was being fined,” he said. “I think I lost like $600,000 over my career for fines. It was time to kind of wake and say ‘hey, they don’t like you so you have to stick to the book.’”

With Barnes returning to Sacramento (he played for the Kings during the 2004-2005 season), he finds an intense, kindred spirit of sorts in Cousins who like Barnes has had his share of technical and fines handed down by the league office. 

This season, Cousins is the NBA’s leader in technical fouls with six. 

“I’ve always had a good head on my shoulders,” Barnes said. “I’m just a passionate player. I play with my emotion on my sleeve. I think DeMarcus does the same thing. What I’m trying to show him now, we have to keep our emotions and energy focused towards the right things. That could be detrimental to the team if it gets out of hand.”

First-year coach Dave Joerger has been pleased to see how different Cousins is to be around on a daily basis as opposed to how he’s perceived. 

“He gets credit for his talent. He gets credit that he’s improved in the league,” Joerger said. “I think he doesn’t get enough credit for the way that his approach to the game and the way that he’s carrying himself and conducting himself has greatly improved. He’s a good person. Now being with him, I see improvement over the last three years, the way that he goes about his business. I think that’s very positive.”

Game notes: Celtics look to extend Kings’ Boston losing streak to nine

Game notes: Celtics look to extend Kings’ Boston losing streak to nine

BOSTON – Here are a few odds and ends to keep an eye on heading into tonight’s game against the Sacramento Kings: 
 
· The Celtics have won eight in a row over the Kings in Boston, with the last loss to Sacramento at the TD Garden coming on Jan. 19, 2007. Current Celtic Gerald Green was in the starting lineup that night. 

· Only six times in franchise history have the Celtics launched 38 or more 3-pointers in a game, four of which came in the month of November this season. 

· Speaking of 3-pointers, 36.2 percent of Boston’s shots are 3s. That ranks fifth in the league behind Houston, Cleveland, Brooklyn and Golden State.

· Don’t be surprised if Avery Bradley gets off to a good start tonight, especially from 3-point range. He’s shooting 59.1 percent on 3s in the first quarter which ranks second in the league. 

· Isaiah Thomas tallied 395 points scored in November, the most by a Celtic since John Havlicek had 406 points in November during the 1971-1972 season. 

· Boston leads the NBA in points scored (46.3 per game) by second-round picks. The Celtics’ second-round picks include Isaiah Thomas; Jae Crowder; Amir Johnson; Jonas Jerebko; Demetrius Jackson and Jordan Mickey.

· The Celtics are 5-0 this season when they outrebound an opponent. 

· Tonight’s game will be Boston’s fifth set of back-to-back games this season. In the first game, they are 3-1 this season. On the second night, they are 2-2.