Rondo dazzles with 18 assists, zero turnovers vs. Pistons

Rondo dazzles with 18 assists, zero turnovers vs. Pistons
March 9, 2014, 10:30 pm
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BOSTON - There aren't many players who can put up 18 assists and have that be the second-most impressive personal stat of the night.

Rajon Rondo is one of those players.

On a night when Rondo dished out 18 assists, with the 18th one putting him ahead of Celtics legend Bill Russell on the Celtics all-time list with 4,101, it was what Rondo didn't do that stood out even more to him.

He didn't turn the ball over once. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Eighteen assists - some of which were in the crazy Rondo variety - and not one that led to a turnover.

For Rondo, it was about making up for all the turnovers his last time out.

"I had seven of those 28 [turnovers] last game, so I made a conscious effort to try to do a better job of taking care of the ball," Rondo said. "Me being the point and having the ball so much in your hands the entire game, it starts with you."

The Pistons aren't exactly the epitome of team defense, but they do possess players who can certainly get in the way of things particularly around the basket.

"Tonight especially, against the Pistons those guys have two, basically three seven-footers clogging up the paint," Rondo said. "To go the game without a turnover means a lot to me."

Rondo wasn't the only one who protected the ball. The team as a whole only had seven turnovers. Jeff Green was the only one with multiple turnovers (two). And behind Rondo, Boston's 38 assists as a team was a season-high, and eight more than the previous high this season against the Nuggets on Jan. 7.

"I think it was a trickle-down effect," Rondo said. "When one guy has it going as far as passing the ball, it's contagious. Guys kept moving the ball. Granted we scored a bunch of points tonight, but we kept on pushing, play free and just have fun."

So if you still don't think Rondo is a player who makes his teammates better, it might be time for a pair of glasses or a stronger perception. The fact is that as each day goes by, Rondo gets better. He's averaging 15.8 points per game over his last 10 games, too. That's more than two points more than he was averaging last season prior to his injury.

So, is Rondo "back"? It's not that simple of an answer.

"Well I think it's hard to say that he's there," Brad Stevens said. "First of all he's there from the standpoint that he's really impacting the game. There's no question about that. But it's hard for me to say that he's ultimately where he can be, because every game he gets better. I kind of like the steady climb that we're on, and hopefully he just continues to feel better and better. His wind is good, which is good. And as a result his defense has risen and gotten a lot better with his conditioning being better."

Guys like Kris Humphries are getting their first taste of the real Rondo, having not played with him prior to this season. But it looks like the feeling out stage is in the past. Humphries scored five of his first-quarter baskets off Rondo assists. The two have come a long way from wrestling in the crowd one season ago. (What, you thought I could resist?)

"He's a tricky guy, because sometimes as a big you don't know when he's going to throw you the ball," Humphries said. "He's breaking down the D and making passes that you may not even see coming. So it's taken a while to kind of get used to being ready when he breaks down the defense."

Even though his name is mentioned in trade rumors whenever possible, Rondo continues to etch his name among Celtics greats in the history books. It's not every day you pass a legend in a statistical category.

"Yeah, anytime you pass up arguably the best Celtic of all time, and your name is mentioned in the same sentence it's definitely an honor and a compliment," Rondo said of passing Russell. "He wasn't a point guard, but he played here I don't know how long (13 seasons), and to get on the same list and to pass him up is definitely an honor."