Rondo: Pierce is 'Mr. Everything'

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Rondo: Pierce is 'Mr. Everything'

BOSTON -- Sidelined for the past five games with a sprained right wrist, Rajon Rondo has been forced to watch his team from a distance.

Without their floor leader and top ball handler, how would they respond?

The answer has been a four-game winning streak, one in which Paul Pierce has stepped up as the team's top distributor. Pierce has dished a total of 41 assists (average 8.2 per game) in this stretch without Rondo on the court.

Its not easy to make that transition from still scoring and running the point and rebounding, Rondo told CSNNE.com following the Celtics 94-87 win over the Indiana Pacers. Hes Mr. Everything right now for us, and thats what we need.

Pierce recorded eight assists on Friday night. Although he pointed out his turnovers have also increased, he is taking on the role of getting his teammates open shots.

I have to make more plays now that Rondos out, he said. Usually Im the recipient of a lot of Rondos passes, but with him out Im taking on some part in that role. Its just up to me to be responsible, when to know when to find guys and have a balance on when to score.

Pierce will look to continue his interim role while Rondo gets healthy. The point guard was vague about his expected return, offering, I am going to play -- one day. Maybe like next -- hopefully before All-Star Break. Thats my goal, to come back before All-Star. Im going to try to get February, like my birthday, like before Oklahoma.

After missing the first three games of the regular season himself, Pierce says he is feeling "83.7" percent healthy.

Im getting there," he said. "Im really getting used to the soreness of the playing and getting used to the back-to-backs. Usually in back-to-back situations, a few weeks ago I probably wouldnt have been able to play in this game, in the fourth game in five nights because of how my body was feeling after these games. But Im really getting used to it, Im really conditioned for these games to where its not really affecting me. Doc is doing a great job of giving us the rest in these type of situations.

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."