Rondo, Garnett two peas in a pod

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Rondo, Garnett two peas in a pod

WALTHAM -- The common opinion around the NBA is, players don't enjoy playing against Kevin Garnett but love being his teammate.

Rajon Rondo only knew Garnett as an opponent during his rookie season. Over the past five years, they have developed a close relationship as teammates, mentormentee, and big brotherlittle brother.

"I would probably say Kevin is my closest friend on the team," Rondo said Friday on Boston Celtics Media Day.

In spite of a ten-year age difference, the big man and point guard have clicked. They share the same intense passion to win, as well as other interests off the court. More importantly, Garnett has been in Rondo's corner since the first day they met in the summer of 2007.

"Kevin always wants to see me do well," said Rondo. "From day one, I think my second year, when he first came in he told me he would be disappointed if I wasn't the MVP of the league one day, if I wasn't considered the best point guard one day. He's always pushed me and expected more out of me than a lot of people did. He's always showed me how to become a better person each day. Whenever I mess up, Kevin's always the one to tell me, 'You should do this, you should conduct yourself this way or handle it that way.' So he's kind of like a big brother-slash-mentor and he's always wanted the best for me. We kind of gravitated toward each other. Obviously off the court we have a lot of things in common. We share the same interest in a lot of things and like I said, he's been like a big brother to me."

Rondo is entering his seventh year in the NBA and looks up to Garnett's career, which began in 1995 when Rondo was only nine. Now 26, Rondo is incorporating some of Garnett's proven methods to maintain and extend his playing years.

"The way he goes about the game and approaches the game, he's a future Hall of Famer and I consider him one of the greatest players to ever play the game that's been in front of me," said Rondo. "So he's inspired me to work hard, come in every day and put up extra shots, take care of my body, get the proper rest, get massages, get treatment, get stretching, I guess have longevity. He's played 17 or 18 years and only two or three players can say they've done it in this era. There's a way to take care of your body. It's not easy. I'm feeling it six years in, so 17, 18 years I can only imagine what his body feels like. He's very disciplined and he takes care of his business."

Last season Garnett scoffed when critics called him "old" and questioned how many years he had left in the league. He signed a three-year deal with the Celtics this summer, just months after turning 36. Rondo laughs at the skepticism of his teammate and mentor and big brother.

"I don't take Kevin for granted and our team doesn't as well," he said. "So we value him very much and he'll be a big part when we try to win a championship this year."

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

BOSTON – Prior to Saturday’s game, Terry Rozier talked to CSNNE.com about the importance of staying ready always, because “you never know when your name or number is going to be called.”

Like when trailing by three points in the fourth quarter with less than 10 seconds to play?

Yes, Rozier was on the floor in that scenario and the second-year guard delivered when his team needed it.

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But Rozier’s fourth quarter heroics which forced overtime against Portland, did not provide that much-needed jolt that Boston needed as the Blazers managed to fend off the Celtics in overtime, 127-123.

For Rozier’s part, he had 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting.

The 15 points scored for Rozier was the most for him since he tallied 16 in a 30-point Celtics win at Orlando on Dec. 7.

But more than the points, the decision by head coach Brad Stevens to draw up a play for him in that moment, a time when most of what Boston does revolves around the shooting of Isaiah Thomas who has been among the top-3 scorers in the fourth quarter most of this season, was surprising to many.

And at that point in the game, Thomas already had 13 fourth-quarter points.

Stevens confirmed after the game that the last shot in the fourth was indeed for Rozier, but Thomas’ presence on the floor was important to its execution.

“He (Thomas) also draws a lot of attention,” Stevens said. “So I think you just weigh kind of … what kind of shot you’re going to get, depending on who it is.”

Rozier had initially screened for Thomas, and Thomas came back and screened for him.

“I was open as soon as I caught … and I let it fly,” Rozier said. “Coach drew up a play for me and it felt good to see the ball go in.”

Being on the floor at that time, win or lose, was a victory of sorts for Rozier.

He has seen first-hand how quickly the tide can change in the NBA for a young player.

After a strong summer league showing and a solid training camp, Rozier had earned himself a firm spot in the team’s regular rotation.

But a series of not-so-great games coupled with Gerald Green’s breakout night on Christmas Day, led to his playing time since then becoming more sporadic.

Rozier, in an interview with CSNNE.com, acknowledged it hasn’t been easy going from playing regular minutes to not being sure how much court time, if any, he would receive.

But he says the veterans on the team have been good about keeping his spirits up, and one in particular – Avery Bradley – has been especially helpful.

Like Rozier, Bradley’s first couple of years saw his playing time go from non-existent to inconsistent. But Bradley stayed the course and listened to the team’s veterans who continued to tell him that his hard work would pay off sooner or later.

Those same words of wisdom Bradley received in his early days, he passes on to Rozier.

“It’s big,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “He (Bradley) tells me things like that. I felt I was ready for this (inconsistent minutes) after all that he told me. It’s big to have a guy like him that has been through it all with a championship team, been around this organization for a while; have him talk to you is big. It’s always good. That’s why I stay positive, and be ready.”

Which is part of the reason why Stevens didn’t hesitate to call up a play for the second-year guard despite him being a 33.3 percent shooter from 3-point range this season – that ranks eighth on this team, mind you.

“He’s a really good shooter,” Stevens said of Rozier. “I think with more opportunity that will show itself true, but he made some big ones in the fourth quarter. We went to him a few different times out of time-outs, and felt good about him making that one.”

And to know that Stevens will turn to him not just to spell Thomas or one of the team’s other guards, but to actually make a game-altering play in the final seconds … that’s major.

“It helps tremendously,” said Rozier who added that his confidence is through “the roof. It makes me want to do everything. You know defense, all of that. It’s great, especially to have a guy like Brad trust you."