Rondo hit with two-game suspension


Rondo hit with two-game suspension

DALLAS The bad news just keeps pouring on to the Boston Celtics.

Point guard Rajon Rondo has been suspended for two games by the NBA for throwing a ball at an official and striking him in the chest.

The incident occurred in the third quarter of Boston's 96-81 loss at Detroit on Sunday.

Prior to the incident, Rondo drove into the lane and missed a shot. After the release, Pistons center Greg Monroe landed on Rondo.

The play eventually ended with a 24-second call on Boston, one of their season-high 24 turnovers.

After the play, Rondo had words for official Sean Wright.

With the ball in his hands, Rondo threw it forcefully towards Wright's midsection.

That is when Wright whistled Rondo for two technical fouls, which is an automatic ejection.

Rondo, who had never been ejected prior to Sunday night, will serve his two-game suspension - without pay - tonight against Dallas and on Wednesday at Oklahoma City.

Although the league did not make the announcement until Monday afternoon, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said the team was informed earlier in the day to plan on not having Rondo play tonight.

At that point, Rivers accurately assumed they were deliberating over how many games to suspend him.

"You're always disappointed when this happens," Rivers said. "You should never put yourself in front of the team. But the game is an emotional game."

As far as the play that set Rondo off, Rivers said, "we can all agree that it was a foul, a bad foul that wasn't called."

And with the C's getting beaten soundly at the time, Rondo's emotions clearly got the best of him.

"I can guarantee you, 30 seconds, 5 seconds after it happened, Rondo wishes he could take it back. That happens."

It serves as yet another reminder that despite the strides Rondo has made, he still has room - lots of room - to grow.

"We all do messed up things in our lives," Rivers said. "Unfortunately for Rondo, he does it in front of a lot of people ... and we don't."

While there's never a good time to be without your top assists man, losing Rondo now could not have come at a worst point in the schedule.

If you had to single out the toughest back-to-back matchups for the Celtics this season, these next two games would be it.

With Dallas, you have the reigning NBA champions. And with the Thunder, you have the best team, record-wise, in the Western Conference this season.

Making matters worse, Brandon Bass (left knee) is not with the team and isn't expected back until after the all-star break. And Kevin Garnett is questionable for tonight's game after missing the Detroit loss on Sunday, to attend to a personal matter.

Without Rondo, the Celtics gave Avery Bradley his ninth start of the season. The Celtics came in with a 6-2 record with Bradley starting.

Bradley, who grew up in nearby Arlington, Texas, had eight points in the first half.

WATCH: Celtics vs. Magic

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Celtics-Magic preview: Orlando's poor offense gives C's chance to bounce back


Celtics-Magic preview: Orlando's poor offense gives C's chance to bounce back

Talk about your basketball extremes.

After losing a 107-106 heartbreaker to Houston and their high-powered offense on Monday, the Boston Celtics will be in for a very different -- and less successful -- foe tonight in the Orlando Magic.

The Magic beat Washington 124-116 on Tuesday night despite John Wall’s 52-point effort, but have been one of the NBA’s most offensively challenged teams this season.

Orlando ranks near the bottom in scoring (29th, 94.6 points per game), field goal percentage (28th, .426) and Pace (24th, 96.71) this season.

But Frank Vogel’s crew has been a defensive force thus far in the East even if their record might suggest otherwise.

They rank among the league’s best in several defensive categories such as scoring defense (4th, 98.0 points per game allowed); opponent 3-point percentage (3rd, 33.0 percent), opponent 3-point attempts (4th, 23.6) in addition to allowing a league-low 8.0 made 3's per game.

That will be a stark contrast from the let-it-fly-all-night style Boston had to contend with against the high-scoring Rockets on Monday.

But this set of games is exactly why Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge made of point of trying to put together a roster that was heavy on athleticism and versatility both in the frontcourt as well as on the perimeter.

Against Houston, Tyler Zeller recorded his first DNP-CD (Did not play -- coaches decision) of the season which made sense considering Houston basically plays void of a traditional center.

Orlando, that’s a different story.

Serge Ibaka, Bismack Biyombo and Nikola Vucevic now coming off the bench form a physical triumvirate of big men that can cause lots of problems for a Celtics team that will look to attack the paint often.

When it comes to scoring in the restricted area, the Magic allow opponents to shoot 57.6 percent which ranks seventh in the league. They rank highly when it comes to defending mid-range shots (5-10th, 38.3 percent), corner 3's (6th, 34.5 percent) and above-the-break 3's (8th, 33.8 percent) as well.

And while they have had their issues offensively this season, their recent run of success has been in part aided by a much-improved offensive showing. In their last five games, they are shooting 48.5 percent from the field which ranks fifth in the NBA in that span. For the season, the Magic rank 28th while connecting on 42.6 percent of their shots.

Orlando’s improved shooting with a defense that’s stingy as ever, will make this a tough game for Boston to come away with a victory.

Just as the Magic seek to continue their successful ways, the Celtics come into this game with something to prove as well.

While the missed lay-ups by Al Horford and Isaiah Thomas in the final minute of Monday’s 107-106 loss certainly were factors in the game’s outcome, there were a series of miscommunications earlier in the quarter that fueled Houston’s late surge.

Following the game, Isaiah Thomas pointed out how he called out a play that Jonas Jerebko interpreted as another play the Celtics called.

The miscommunication led to a turnover and subsequent lay-up which in hindsight looms huge considering the margin of victory was just one point.

“The two play calls sound alike,” Thomas told reporters afterwards. “In the heat of battle, I have to do a better job of making sure everybody knows what play we’re running. He (Jerebko) handed the ball back to me when the play wasn’t to hand the ball back to me. That was one of the turnovers that was the key.

Thomas added, “It’s not his fault. As a group, as a point guard, I have to do a better job of letting my guys know what play we’re running. Those little things, especially on the road, those make you lose games. But that wasn’t the play that made us lose. I’m not putting this on Jonas at all.”

Indeed, this team’s success as well as their struggles are the collective efforts of all their core players, Thomas included.

And for them to get back on track, it won’t be one or two players that will make it happen.

It’ll be a team effort, the kind that will allow Boston to find success against different teams no matter how extremely different their styles of play may be.