BOSTON -- Try to get past Rajon Rondo's triple-double. It's a story, but not the story.
When the final buzzer sounded, Rondo's stat line was 13 points, 12 rebounds, and 17 assists. Fine. Rondo hit some extremely clutch jump shots in the fourth quarter, and turned into the Rondo we all "ooo" and "aww" at. But perhaps the two biggest plays of Rondo's night don't affect his numbers at all.
With about eight seconds remaining in the game and the C's up three points, Paul Pierce rose up and tried to seal the game. The shot came up short and the 76ers recovered. Racing down the court in transition, it looked as though they were going to get a good look at a three before time expired.
We yelled, we were yelling, Foul! Foul! Foul!," Doc Rivers said after the game.
A foul occurred on Jrue Holiday, with just over three seconds to play.
I didnt hear Rivers honestly," Rondo, who committed the foul, said. "I didnt hear anything. I was just trying to make the right decision. I didnt try to over-think the game but at the same time I got a quick flash about how they beat Chicago the other day. You know off a rebound they didnt call a time out they just pushed the ball up the floor and we were in kind of a scramble defense, so I thought just to foul.
The heads-up play by Rondo that had his coach raving about his smarts may have saved the game for the C's. Keyon Dooling, an NBA veteran guard who's been blown away by Rondo since he joined the team this season, is just as impressed with his knowledge as he is by his skill.
"I think sometimes his basketball intellect is overshadowed by some of his moments," Dooling said. "He's the smartest person in our game. If you look, he's a coach on the floor. I watched him the whole last five possessions and he was just coaching everybody. It kind of reminded me of Doc, the way he was calling each person, getting the eye contact, telling them what to do, telling them what to look for. It's pretty amazing to see him on the court. He's not so quiet and reserved when he's dictating policy on the court."
Rondo's stamp on the game wasn't finished yet though. Holiday hit both free throws and the C's called timeout. The Sixers had a foul to give, which meant it wasn't necessary to find Allen or Pierce. So what did Doc Rivers do? Draw up a play for (who else?) Rondo to receive the inbounds.
The hope, according to Pierce, was that it would "probably take a second off" the clock. Then Rondo would inbound it. "...but he used his speed, his intelligence and he ran out the clock. I thought it was a great play.
It was a good play," Sixers forward Andre Iguodala said. "To run off the clock, we were expecting them toget it in the front court and get a foul. But I think we could have done a better job of scoping it out, with Paul (Pierce) taking it out of bounds. With him being a clutch free throw shooter, you kind of figured something was up. Doc does a really good job of drawing plays up to end the games. You can put that in one of his all time plays, it was a good play."
Asked about the triple-double after the game, Rondo said, "I didnt think I would play the way I played tonight. I didnt get a nap today so I didnt know what to expect. But I was struggling with my shot early, and I was turning the ball over, so I was trying to do the intangibles, and do everything I could to help my team. And I came up with some rebounds, I came up with some assists, and it just happened to be a triple double tonight.
Rondo may have missed his nap earlier, but his awareness and speed late in the game put the Sixers to bed.