Rondo shows rust in return

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Rondo shows rust in return

BOSTON The Boston Celtics know they can win games without Rajon Rondo.

But around here, winning games - regular-season ones, at that - isn't enough.

Beating up on the Washingtons and the Torontos of the NBA, that's one thing. However, to enter the discussion as being a team to worry about, the C's (12-10) understand all too well that they'll need Rondo - a healthy Rondo.

The two-time All-Star had missed eight straight games because of a right wrist injury, but returned to action on Friday as the Celtics rallied for a 91-89 win.

He tallied seven points, seven assists and five rebounds in a very Rondo-like 34-plus minutes.

Coach Doc Rivers was pleased with Rondo's play, but knows it'll only get better as his health improves.

"I thought he played gingerly with his hand at times," Rivers said. "We'll assess it Saturday and see how he feels and keep going."

Paul Pierce had another big game, leading all scorers with 30 points on Friday.

And while most acknowledge that this is still Pierce's team, there's no question that having Rondo back only makes them that much tougher to deal with.

"Rondo really takes us to another level when you add him into the mix," Pierce told reporters after Friday's victory. "I said to somebody earlier, we're a playoff team without Rondo but with Rondo, we become a contender."

Pierce added, "He's our floor general. He knows the plays. It's just a different play set when he's out there because he knows the entire playbook. So there's a set of plays we run when Rondo's not in, but when he's out there it kind of expands our playbook a little bit more. So we start running plays that we haven't ran probably in the eight, nine games, and that's really what opened up Ray for those 3-pointers, a couple plays we haven't ran in probably over nine, ten games."

And while there's no way to ignore the success the C's had while he was hurt - they won six of the eight games he didn't play - you won't find any of the players or coaches lobbying for Avery Bradley to remain as the team's starting point guard which is role he served when Rondo was hurt.

Bradley told CSNNE.com that having filled in for Rondo has given him a newfound respect and appreciation for the job Rondo has done for the C's.

"It's hard being a starting point guard in the NBA," he said. "A lot of people don't know that. It's hard. You going up against good players every single night, and they're going hard every single game."

While the wrist was good enough to play on, it was clear that Rondo wasn't too comfortable about testing it out as far as durability is concerned.

"Tonight, he was kind of timid a little bit; didn't want to get his hand hurt and stuff like that," said Chris Wilcox. "He worked through it. He played hard. And we came out with a 'W.' "

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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