Rondo shows improvement in shooting, agressiveness in win

Rondo shows improvement in shooting, agressiveness in win
December 22, 2011, 5:48 am
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BOSTON For as long as Rajon Rondo has been in the NBA, the offseason has consisted of -- in some shape or form -- him working to improve his jumpsuit.

It's still early, but Rondo certainly showed the kind of jump-shooting promise that the C's will need in order for this season to be another successful one.

Rondo led all Celtics with 17 points on 6-for-10 shooting, as the C's closed out the exhibition season with an 81-73 win over Toronto. It was a game that featured a number of highlight-worthy performances.

There was Jermaine O'Neal dominating the interior defensively. Rookie center Greg Stiemsma had a strong performance as well with seven points, five rebounds and a couple of blocked shots. And rookie guard E'Twaun Moore once again came up with big shots when called upon, as he finished with 11 points.

But the man who set the tone on Wednesday - and to some degree, sets the tone most nights - was Rondo. Not only was he knocking down jumpers, but he was pulling up for them without any hesitation - something he did not do nearly enough of last season.

"We want him to just shoot it," said coach Doc Rivers. "I don't care how many times he shoots."

When you look at Rondo's numbers shooting from the field last season (47.5 percent) and throughout his career (48.6 percent), it gives the impression that he's a pretty good shooter.

He is . . . when driving to the basket or tossing up one of his hard-to-block scoop shots in transition.

But when it comes to hitting jumpers from 15-feet or further away, Rondo hasn't been nearly as efficient.

As good as Rondo is in breaking down opposing team's defense, he becomes even more effective when teams have to be concerned with his jumpshot. That forces defenders to play him more closely.

With his speed and ability to draw contact, there's the potential for him to get to the free throw line often.

Against the Raptors, Rondo had six free throw attempts (he made 5) while playing about 23 minutes. To put that in perspective, Rondo only had five games all season last year in which he attempted six or more free throws.

"That's . . . we need that," Rivers said.

Especially with Paul Pierce (right heel) out indefinitely.

The Captain has missed all but one preseason practice, and his status for Sunday's season opener at New York is questionable.

Either Marquis Daniels or Sasha Pavlovic will get the starting nod if Pierce is unable to play. Daniels filled in for Pierce in the C's first preseason game against Toronto, and Pavlovic got the starting nod on Wednesday against the Raptors.

"I think it's just a thing, confidence with (Rondo)," said C's guard Keyon Dooling. "He's fun to watch. I was telling him earlier, I got a 2-year-old son and I want him to play ball like Rondo."

Playing like Rondo can be a very good thing - especially when it includes knocking down jumpers and free throws.