It's official: Rondo is 2011-12 NBA assist king


It's official: Rondo is 2011-12 NBA assist king

BOSTON When you're 26 years old, it's hard to see the historically cool dynamic of doing what so few have ever done before you.

Rajon Rondo came into Thursday's game against the Milwaukee Bucks having already secured the NBA's assists title this season.

Following Boston's 87-74 win over the Bucks, Rondo left no doubt about who the best passer in the NBA is this season as he tallied 15 assists with one turnover in just 25 minutes.

Bucks coach Scott Skiles, who set an NBA record by dishing out 30 assists in one game, is among the many impressed with Rondo's playmaking ability.

"He plays at his pace," Skiles said. "Even if you're doing a good job, it's hard to get it out of his pace. That's the pace that he plays at. He's always seen the floor well and he made some nice passes."

Celtics head coach Doc Rivers has not spent a lot of time concerning himself with Rondo's impressive assists numbers.

With Rondo having missed the previous four games with a back injury, Rivers was more concerned on Thursday with his conditioning.

"He just needed his wind," Rivers said. "That's why we played him."

While the back still has some soreness, Rondo seems determined to play through it.

"I plan on playing as much as possible," he said.

And lately, he has been playing at a level that's seldom seen in Boston - or any NBA city for that matter.

By finishing the season as the NBA's assists leader, he becomes the first Celtic to do so since Bob Cousy in 1960.

"It's a great accomplishment, very humbling," Rondo said. "I gotta thank my teammates personally, they are the ones that made the shots."

But it's Rondo who finds a way of getting them the ball exactly where they need it in order to be effective.

That knack for making the right play more often than not is among the many reasons why Rondo continues to build a strong case for being the best point guard this franchise has had since Cousy.

And to now have one more thing in common with the Hall of Famer only adds more credence to Rondo steady climb atop the list of great Celtics players.

Rondo acknowledged achieving a feat that had not been done since Cousy more than 50 years ago is special.

"It means a lot," Rondo said. "Cousy has always had great things to say about me. I would be honored if he could present me with a ball if I got one (for the assists title)."

Bruins' Zboril uses criticism and Twitter hate as motivation


Bruins' Zboril uses criticism and Twitter hate as motivation

BRIGHTON -- It’s easy to see that Jakub Zboril , one of the Bruins' 2015 first-round pick, has come a long way in a year.

“I feel more comfortable,” said Zboril. “After last year, when all of the people saying something about what they didn’t like about me, it really pushed me forward. I told myself I wanted to be in better shape and so I worked really hard at it.”

The 19-year-old wasn’t in very good shape for last season's training camp after coming back from a knee injury, and that carried over into a junior season for the Saint John Sea Dogs (6 goals and 20 points in 50 games). That was a drop from his 13 goals and 33 points in 44 games prior to hearing his name called by the B’s on draft night.

Zboril was back at peak effectiveness in the playoffs for the Sea Dogs with a couple of goals and 10 points in 17 games, but the chain of events caused some to wonder if the Bruins had drafted something of a bust.

It seems ludicrous, considering Zboril is a 19-year-old talented enough to be selected 13th overall in the entire NHL draft, and even more so now that he’s showing much more in his second camp with Boston. It was some good and some bad for Zboril in his preseason debut against Columbus on Monday with a misplay leading to a goal against, but Zboril also kicked off the transition pass that helped the Bruins score their first goal of game.

“From last year I think he’s made big strides,” said assistant coach Jay Pandolfo. “He’s a young kid that’s only 19 years old, and he’s going to keep getting better. So that’s what you want. The structure in his game and the overall attitude [is better]. He was a little young last year. He’s in better shape. He’s done a lot of things that we got on him for last year, and he’s taken it and listened, he’s working hard. He’s done a good job.”

It’s a long shot for Zboril to crack the B’s roster this fall, so he’s likely headed back to Saint John for another junior hockey season after watching fellow prospect Thomas Chabot get a lot of the No. 1 D-man playing time last season. He quickly shot down any possibilities of playing in Europe rather than going back to the Quebec Major Junior League, and said there could still be plenty to learn in his final junior season.

“Right now where I am, I can just learn from myself and pushing myself,” said Zboril, of going back to junior. “What I can take from last year is that my role on the team changed, and I had to be more of a shutdown D. I had to show my defensive abilities, so I improved a lot from the year before. I think I can be more of a defensive defenseman too, so there’s that.”

Still, the so-so season last year had its impact in a positive fashion with Zboril really stepping up his game. But it’s also had its drawbacks as the Czech-born defenseman was forced to deactivate his Twitter account because of the harsh criticism and messages he was getting from hockey fans. Disappointingly, Zboril said most of it was coming from people in Boston that claim to be Bruins fans, and that it was like “people just spitting on you.”

“It was really pushing me down a lot,” said Zboril. “After some games when you know you weren’t playing really good, then you go on Twitter and you just see . . . people just spitting on you. So I had to delete it.”

Zboril said he’s much happier since getting off social media. But it’s a shame that a bright young prospect’s first impression of his future NHL city was the flaming dumpster of keyboard warriors that should forever be known as “Bruins Hockey Twitter.”