Rondo dealing at record-setting pace


Rondo dealing at record-setting pace

BOSTON With a shade over a second left to play against Atlanta and the ball in Rajon Rondo's hands, it was a fitting image.

After all, when you break down this run that the Boston Celtics are on, it all starts -- and ultimately ends -- with the play of Rajon Rondo.

He delivered yet another monster game for the Celtics with his sixth triple-double of the season, tallying 20 assists along with 10 points and 10 rebounds in Boston's 88-86 overtime win against the Hawks.

The 20 assists marks the 19th straight game Rondo has had double-digit assists, 10 shy of tying the NBA record set by Utah's John Stockton.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers admittedly hasn't been keeping tabs on the record-setting numbers his point guard has been registering on a nightly basis.

"I know that means he's playing well," Rivers said. "But I don't need the numbers to tell me that. He's just playing extremely well. He's been spectacular. Not just in games, everywhere. That's why we're winning."

Rivers added, "It's not just him, it's everybody. But we need a locked-in effort from him every night, and he's doing that."

Part of Rondo's evolution involves recognizing what the team needs from him and delivering it when needed.

Boston came into Wednesday's game off an emotional win at Miami, and were clearly drained both physically and mentally against a well-rested Atlanta Hawks team.

It was the kind of game in which the Celtics needed a steadying force who could come up with big plays, when needed.

After falling behind by eight at the half, Rondo's dissecting of the Hawks defense in the third quarter was instrumental in the Celtics comeback. Of his 20 assists, seven came in the third in which Boston outscored Atlanta, 27-20.

"It starts with me," Rondo said. "If I take care of the ball I think we do as a team because I think I dominate the ball a lot, more than anybody, so I try to be more conscious when I am turning the ball over in the first half."

Said Rivers, "it was a fatigue game, and there's games when Rondo comes in in those games and struggles. Tonight, he willed that game. He begged to stay in in the fourth quarter - he didn't have to beg long - but he did."

And while Rondo's assists certainly are what he does best, he has made strides lately to become more of a scoring threat which has to some degree, given him even more opportunities to pass the ball.

"The fact he's trying to score is the most impressive," Rivers said. "Before he was just a facilitator. Over this stretch, while he's getting more assists, it's because he's an aggressive scorer and teams can no longer play off him for the pass."

Butler imitates Brown with post-interception dance: 'Nothing personal'


Butler imitates Brown with post-interception dance: 'Nothing personal'

Malcolm Butler didn't mean any disrespect. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. 


When the Patriots corner picked off a Landry Jones pass in the first quarter -- one that was intended for receiver Antonio Brown -- Butler stood up in the end zone, faced the Heinz Field crowd, stuck one arm in the air a and gyrated like someone had attached jumper cables to his facemask. 

He was doing his best to mimick one of Brown's well-known touchdown dances.

"Me and Brown had conversation before," Butler said, "and it was a joke to him once I showed him how I do it. Much love for that guy. Nothing personal."

For Butler, it was the highlight of what was a productive afternoon. The third-year corner was asked to shadow Brown for much of the day, and he allowed Brown to catch five of nine targets for 94 yards. He also broke up a pair of passes intended for Brown's teammates.

“Stopping Antonio Brown, that’s impossible," Butler said. "You can’t stop him. You can only slow him down. I just went out there and tried to compete today . . . Great players are going to make plays but you have to match their intensity.”
Even on the longest throw from backup quarterback Landry Jones to Brown, a 51-yarder, it appeared as though Butler played the coverage called correctly. 

Butler lined up across from Brown and trailed him underneath as Brown worked his jway from the left side of the field to the right. Butler was looking for some help over the top in that scenario, seemingly, but because Brown ran across the formation, it was hard for the back end of the defense to figure out who would be helping Butler. 

Belichick admitted as much after the game. 

"He was on [Brown] a lot the way we set it up," Belichick said. "Look, they've got great players. They're tough to cover. They hit us on a couple over routes, in cut where they kind of ran away from the coverage that we had. 

"The plays were well designed. Good scheme, good thorws and obviously good routes by Brown. They got us on a couple, but I thought we competed hard. We battled all the way. We battled on third down. We battled in the red area. They made some. We made some, but they're good. They have a lot of good players."

And Brown, in particular, is about as close as it gets to unstoppable in the NFL. Butler found that out in Week 1 of last year when he matched up with Brown in his first game as a starter, giving up nine catches for 133 yards to the All-Pro wideout. 

Though Sunday might not have been perfect for Butler, it was better than that day about 14 months ago. And at times, it was worth dancing about. 

SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Seahawks, Cardinals miss OT FGs, tie 6-6


SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Seahawks, Cardinals miss OT FGs, tie 6-6

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Seattle's Stephen Hauschka and Arizona's Chandler Catanzaro missed short field goals that would have won the game in overtime and the Seahawks and Cardinals settled for a 6-6 tie Sunday night.

Hauschka's 27-yard field goal was wide left with seven seconds left after Catanzaro's 24-yarder bounced off the left upright.

The tie was the Cardinals' first since Dec. 7, 1986, a 10-10 draw at Philadelphia when the franchise was based in St. Louis. It was the first for the Seattle since entering the NFL in 1976.

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