Rondo shows improvement in shooting, agressiveness in win

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Rondo shows improvement in shooting, agressiveness in win

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.

Warriors force Game 7 with 108-101 win over Thunder

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Warriors force Game 7 with 108-101 win over Thunder

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Klay Thompson made a playoff-record 11 3-pointers and scored 41 points, and the defending champion Golden State Warriors forced a seventh game in the Western Conference finals with a 108-101 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night.

Stephen Curry bounced back from a slow start to finish with 29 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.

The Warriors, who set the league's regular-season record with 73 wins, will host Game 7 on Monday. The winner will play Cleveland in the NBA Finals.

Oklahoma City dominated Games 3 and 4 at home, but the Warriors made 21 of 44 3-pointers on Saturday, while Oklahoma City was 3 of 23.

Kevin Durant scored 29 points and Russell Westbrook added 28 for the Thunder. But Durant made just 10 of 31 shots and Westbrook was 10 of 27.

Trying to become the 10th team to overcome a 3-1 deficit, the Warriors trailed much of the game and trailed by eight going to the fourth quarter.

Thompson kept them in it with four 3-pointers in just over seven minutes to start the period. Curry then hit two 3s, the second of which tied the game at 99 with 2:47 to play.

Thompson's 3 with 1:35 to play put the Warriors up 104-101.

The Thunder, who blew a number of fourth-quarter leads during the regular season, fell apart in the final minutes after Golden State had finally gone ahead for good.

Westbrook lost control of the ball, and after Thompson missed a 3, Westbrook turned the ball over again. Curry's layup with 14.3 seconds to play put the Warriors up by five, the Thunder turned it over again, and the Warriors were in the clear.

The Thunder led 23-20 after one quarter, then seized momentum early in the second. Steven Adams' powerful one-handed dunk on Draymond Green drew a roar from the crowd and gave Oklahoma City a 37-28 lead. Green, who had hit Adams in the groin area twice during the series, was a constant target for the vocal Thunder fans.

Thompson opened the second half with back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Warriors a 54-53 edge, but the Thunder closed the quarter strong and led 83-75 heading into the fourth.

Pelicans guard Bryce Dejean-Jones shot and killed

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Pelicans guard Bryce Dejean-Jones shot and killed

By Kurt Helin, NBC Pro Basketball Talk

This is a sad and stunning development.

Bryce Dejean-Jones, the rookie guard of the New Orleans Pelicans, has died, the Dallas, Texas, County Coroner has confirmed to NBC Sports. Travis Hines of the Ames Tribune broke the news.

Dejean-Jones was just 23.

The coroner’s office would not give a cause of death, but Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports had the tragic detail.