Rondo impresses with strong showing, play calling

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Rondo impresses with strong showing, play calling

BOSTON You know you're a pretty good point guard when you can have an 11 assist night, your team wins on the road, and most believe you had a not-so-great game.

Welcome to the world that Rajon Rondo lives in.

While his performance in Tuesday's win at Cleveland might have left some questions about his play (he was scoreless, missed all six shots he took and had five turnovers), there was no mistaking the strong showing he had in Wednesday's 102-96 win over Milwaukee.

Rondo had the kind of bounce-back game the Celtics desperately needed, tallying 15 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for his third triple-double this season.

And on top of that, he kept Milwaukee's high scoring guard Brandon Jennings in check most of the night.

Jennings, an 18.2 points per game scorer, had just six points against Boston on 2-for-11 shooting. The two shots he made, a pair of 3s, both came when Rondo was not on the floor.

As much as Rondo's numbers stood out, even more significant was the pace at which he played.

"Rondo's pace is important for us," said Kevin Garnett. "When nine (Rondo) in control of the ball, and he's not only rebounding but getting guys open shots and scoring the ball himself, it makes us a hard team to deal with."

Part of that pace had to do with Rondo's play-calling, which head coach Doc Rivers felt was particularly impressive in the second half.

"The first half we scored points," Rivers said. "But the second half was the first time in a while where he and the whole team he just kept calling different sets and we ran our stuff to score instead of just trying to play out of random and figure it out. That's what we did in the first half. Even though we had 50 points, it was almost happenstance."

In the second half, Rivers recalled Rondo calling out 12 different sets.

"And we got to the first option, the second option and it just looked organized and good," Rivers said. "That's who we are, and that's who we have to be. And I thought it was Rondo's doing."

Julien: 'A lot of problematic things' in Bruins loss to Avalanche

Julien: 'A lot of problematic things' in Bruins loss to Avalanche

BOSTON – The Bruins simply weren’t ready to play on Thursday night when the puck was dropped against the Colorado Avalanche at TD Garden. 

They fell down quickly by a 2-0 score, had a couple of completely inept power plays in the first period that sucked all the game’s momentum away from them and received some subpar goaltending from Anton Khudobin on the way to a 4-2 loss to the lowly Avs. About the only B’s person above reproach in this one was David Pastrnak after scoring a pair of goals in the second period to get Boston back into the game, but it all fell short in a very frustrating, lackadaisical loss to a Western Conference team that isn’t very good. 

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Needless to say B’s coach Claude Julien wasn’t too happy after a loss where the Bruins might have had more success with a smarter approach to holding the puck. 

“There were a lot of problematic things [in the loss]. No doubt that the power play could have helped us in the first period, and failed to do that. They’ve got to be better,” said Julien. “We needed some saves tonight, and we didn’t get them. [Anton Khudobin] has got to be better. 

“A lot of things here that we can be better at, and take responsibility [for]. But at the same time, you got to move on here.  It’s one of those nights that had we been smarter from the get go, we would have had a chance.”

Clearly it was about a lacking group effort when dissecting the loss, and the minus-3 for David Krejci on Thursday night marked back-to-back negative performances from the playmaking Czech center in big spots. The goaltending was shoddy with Anton Khudobin allowing four goals on 22 shots for Colorado, and unable to make plays on a couple of Colorado shots from outside the painted area that built up the Avs lead in the first place. 

But it was also very much about the inability of the Bruins to generate consistent offense outside of David Pastrnak’s offensive burst in the second period, and the complete breakdown of the Boston power play in the opening 20 minutes. The Bruins struggled to enter the zone in their first PP possession of the game, and then allowed a Nathan MacKinnon shorthanded goal after Torey Krug futilely dove at the blue line to try and keep the puck in the offensive zone. 

The Krug misplay at the offensive blue line gave MacKinnon a clear path the net, and he buried a wrist shot past Khudobin to get the one-sided loss rolling. Beyond the costly mistakes that ended up in the back of the net, the Bruins looked sloppy and slow-reacting in their breakouts and more than willing to settle for outside perimeter shots.

That doesn’t exactly make for a winning combo even when it comes against a flawed, underachieving team like Colorado, and especially when it comes less than 24 hours after a hard-fought road game in Washington DC. 

“I think we were still sleeping there early in the game and they were able to capitalize on their opportunities. We couldn’t claw our way back,” said Brad Marchand, who picked up an assist on David Pastrnak’s second goal of the night on a perfect dish for the one-timer. “I think it was definitely a mental [block]. You’re able to battle through that physical fatigue. It was more the mental mistakes and not being prepared right off the hop of the start of the game. Again, that’s kind of where we lost it.”

The sleepwalking Bruins lost Thursday night’s valuable two points as soon as the opening puck was dropped against the Avalanche, of course, and the Bruins never got out of lollygag mode at a time when intensity should have been automatic. 

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Chiefs hold off Raiders 21-13 to take control of AFC West

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THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Chiefs hold off Raiders 21-13 to take control of AFC West

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Tyreek Hill had touchdowns receiving and on a punt return, Kansas City's defense made life miserable for Oakland quarterback Derek Carr, and the Chiefs beat the Raiders 21-13 on a frigid Thursday night to take control of the AFC West.

Charcandrick West also had a touchdown run for the Chiefs (10-3). They moved into a first-place tie with Oakland (10-3) but holds the tiebreaker with two wins over their longtime divisional rival.

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