Rondo, Smith ready for friendly rivalry

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Rondo, Smith ready for friendly rivalry

Rajon Rondos friendship with former teammate Kendrick Perkins is well publicized. But before Rondo and Perkins met on the Boston Celtics, Rondo had already developed another close relationship with a player in the NBA, one he will face in the first round of the playoffs.

Rondo and Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith played high school basketball together at Oak Hill Academy. Rondo ran the point while Smith ran the floor, wowing spectators with his athletic moves.

Josh got a lot of attention here because he was a high-profile recruit, Oak Hill Academy head coach Steve Smith told CSNNE.com earlier this season in a telephone interview. He was supposedly going to go straight to the NBA right from high school, which he ended up doing.

Back then the pro scouts could go to the McDonalds games, they could come to our practices, they could come to our games because they could take kids out of high school, that was the last year. And I remember all almost all those guys telling me, Rajon Rondo is your best pro prospect. I was telling them that before they would come in. Then they would come in -- and I think the world of Josh Smith, hes a great player and talent -- I just thought Rajon was that good, too.

During Rondos time at Oak Hill, the team went to Spain to play basketball. Smith recalled a game in which Rondo scored 55 points and drew the attention of scouts, many of whom were there to watch Smith.

He got in foul trouble, Rondo told CSNNE.com. That was a game we needed to win. I had to step up. Our best player went down.

Smith entered the NBA straight from high school in 2004 and was drafted with the 17th overall pick by the Hawks. Rondo went on to the University of Kentucky, where he played two seasons. The Phoenix Suns drafted him with the 21st pick in 2006, and the Celtics traded for him that same night.

Rondo and Smith have battled in the playoffs before. Both were starters in the seven-game 2008 first round battle between the Celtics and the Hawks. Four seasons later, they are meeting again.

Rondo is now a three-time NBA All-Star who led the NBA in assists this season (11.7 apg). Smith is still an athletic threat, averaging 18.8 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.7 blocks, and 1.4 steals per game.

Were still the best of friends, Rondo told CSNNE.com. We just go at each other.

During the NBA lockout, Rondo invited Smith to participate in his charity basketball game at Harvard University. After a regular season game in Boston, Smith stopped in the Celtics locker room looking for Rondo.

So what is 6-foot-1 Rondos plan of attack against his 6--foot-9 friend?

Im going to try to block a couple of his shots.

All-Star backcourt leads Raptors down stretch to beat Celtics, 101-94

All-Star backcourt leads Raptors down stretch to beat Celtics, 101-94

BOSTON – With Isaiah Thomas, the Boston Celtics would have had their hands full trying to defeat the Toronto Raptors. 

But without him (right groin injury) and his 26.0 points and 6.2 assists, an already daunting task became that much harder. 

The Celtics played a good game, but against Toronto and their All-Star backcourt it just wasn’t enough as the Raptors did just enough in the fourth to hold off Boston for a 101-94 win. 

A 3-pointer by Marcus Smart brought the Celtics within 95-91 and following a defensive stop they had a chance to make it a one-possession game. 

But Jae Crowder’s 3-pointer rattled in and out of the rim. 

And on the ensuing possession, Al Horford was called for a foul while defending Kyle Lowry on a 3-point attempt with 30.6 seconds to play. 

Lowry's play down the stretch was indicative of the problems Boston had with the all-star guard all game. 

He finished with a game-high 34 points, 14 of which came in the third quarter which is when Toronto took over.

His All-Star backcourt mate DeMar DeRozan, ranked among the NBA’s top-5 scorers, had 24 points for the Raptors.

Meanwhile the Celtics were still trying to replace leading scorer Isaiah Thomas’ 26 points and 6.2 assists per game. 

Boston didn’t need one player to fill that void, but rather a collective effort by all the players to do what they normally do, only better. 

But that did not happen on Friday; not even close. 

In the fourth quarter, the Celtics would score and make a play defensively which then put them in position to score as well as get the crowd hyped. 

They consistently came up short until Avery Bradley drained a 3-pointer with less than three minutes to play that cut Toronto’s lead to 91-87.

He would finish with 19 points, sharing team-high scoring honors with Al Horford.

Raptors head coach Dwane Casey called a time-out with 2:53 to play. 

Boston was unable to get any closer for the remainder of the game, a game in which the Celtics led by as many as 14 points in the third quarter. 

However, the Raptors chipped away and eventually regained the lead with a 15-2 run capped off by a 3-pointer by Patrick Patterson that put the Raptors ahead 63-62. 

Toronto’s momentum continued as they closed out the quarter with a 12-6 spurt which gave them a 75-68 lead going into the fourth quarter. 

Despite spending the entire fourth quarter trailing, the Celtics continued to battle but it was to no avail as the Raptors executed at a high level at both ends of the floor to secure the win which was their eighth victory in their last nine games. 

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics go on second-quarter run

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics go on second-quarter run

BOSTON – The Celtics used a blistering run in the second quarter to propel them to a 50-42 lead over the Toronto Raptors after two quarters of play. 

It was the second straight game the Celtics had to play without their leading scorer Isaiah Thomas who remains out indefinitely with a right groin injury. 

As was the case in Boston’s 30-point win at Orlando, Avery Bradley took it upon himself to pick up some of the scoring slack as he leads the Celtics with 13 points at the half. 

Boston also got strong play in the first half from Al Horford who set the tone with a pair of 3’s in the first few minutes of the game. He would score eight first-half points to go with three rebounds. 

And then there was the Celtics bench seemingly picking up where they left off in Orlando.

Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier were once again making their impact early and often as they scored seven and four points, respectively. 

The game was relatively close until Boston, leading 32-31, went on a 14-0 run.

But the Raptors, once again among the top teams in the East, were able to outscore Boston 11-5 the rest of the second quarter which cut Boston’s led at the half down to eight points.

Here’s a look at the first half Stars, Studs and Duds from tonight’s game. 

 

STARS

Avery Bradley

Showing some serious two-way game tonight, Bradley was scoring the ball well in addition to doing a better-than-average job defensively on DeMar DeRozan. At the half, Bradley had 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting with three rebounds and two assists.

Kyle Lowry

He’s an All-Star but this kid doesn’t get enough credit for his talent. The Celtics had problems with him for large chunks of the first half as he led all Toronto scorers with 13 points on 5-for-8 shooting.

 

STUDS

Jaylen Brown

Very active at both ends of the floor, making the most of his chance to see extended minutes. At the half he had seven points along with two rebounds.

Kelly Olynyk

This was one of the more active games we’ve seen Olynyk play in, especially when it came to rebounding. At the half he had five points and seven rebounds. 

Norman Powell

He helped Toronto get off to a solid start, and finished the half with seven points. 

 

DUDS

DeMar DeRozan

He had eight points at the half, but the Celtics made him work a lot harder for it than he’s used to as DeRozan shot just 4-for-12 from the field.