Rondo dealing at record-setting pace

Rondo dealing at record-setting pace
April 12, 2012, 6:03 pm
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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."