Rondo steals spotlight with triple double

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Rondo steals spotlight with triple double

BOSTON -- Before the start of Game 3, Doc Rivers was asked if he thought Rajon Rondo would be affected by his one-game suspension served on Tuesday night.

He shouldnt be, but who knows, Rivers said. You never know how that goes. You really dont. You dont know if hes going to try to do too much or do too little. A lot of guys, when they come back, they dont want to get in the way. And we want him to get in the way. We want him to have the ball and be aggressive.

Fortunately for the Celtics, there are two halves of basketball.

Its just a matter of timing, Rondo said following the Celtics 90-84 overtime win. A lot of turnovers in the first half. I missed a couple of shots, but my teammates believed in me, told me to keep going. And thats what I tried to do for my team, was hang in there. And we found a way to get the win.

Rondo came out looking, well, not like Rondo in the first quarter. He shot 0-for-3 (two points off free throws), dished two assists, grabbed a rebound, and committed two turnovers in 10 minutes.

He did not attempt a single shot in 9:29 second quarter minutes, dishing three assists but committing three turnovers and drawing a foul.

For a point guard, they get mixed up sometimes, executing, running the stuff, said Rivers. Sometimes for them it means not being aggressive. And its funny, we had an exchange in the third or fourth quarter. I said, Hey, youve got to be aggressive. And he said, Well, I thought you wanted me to run the stuff, I said, Yeah, and be aggressive. You have to do both at the same time. Then finally I just told him, Be a scorer. Just attack. And I thought that freed him up a little bit.

Rondo listened. He became more aggressive offensively out of halftime, attempting seven field goals and making two. He began picking up the pace on what he does best -- dishing the ball (three assists) and sneaking in for rebounds (four boards).

With the Celtics up 60-58 after three quarters, Rondo turned it on in the fourth. Just over three minutes into the quarter, Rondo drove the lane, pulled off a spin move at the basket on Jannero Pargo, then dished the ball to Paul Pierce to put the Celtics up, 70-64. On the next possession, Pierce picked off Tracy McGrady and passed it off to Rondo, who finished it off with a reverse layup to build the Celtics lead to eight. Before regulation had ended, Rondo had recorded his seventh career postseason triple-double.

Rondo added another five points and two rebounds in overtime, bringing his game total to 17 points (7-22 FG), 14 rebounds, 12 assists, four steals, and six turnovers.

It started with defense, he said. In the second half, we got stops and allowed myself and my team to run on the fastbreak. The floor opened up, guys were trailing in for jump shots, I was able to attack the paint, KG was sealing it. It was a matter of a good flow, but like I said it started with defense and getting stops.

The night started off one way for Rondo and finished another. The end result was the difference in two halves of basketball and five extra minutes of overtime.

Theres going to be nights like tonight where I miss a lot of shots, said Rondo. But I try to continue to fight through it, continue to grind, and get the win for my team.

Thomas shines again in fourth quarter, Celtics beat Hornets, 108-98

Thomas shines again in fourth quarter, Celtics beat Hornets, 108-98

BOSTON –  Late in the fourth quarter, the TD Garden was rockin' when the fans charted chanting, 'M-V-P, M-V-P' which is become a nightly serenade of sorts for Isaiah Thomas. 

It's extremely wishful thinking on Celtics Nation's part, but there is no denying his status as one of the game's best players this season. 

He delivered yet another work of art on Monday, scoring 17 of his game-high 35 points in the fourth quarter in leading Boston to a 108-98 win against Charlotte. 

And he did the way he always seems to do it, mixing in 3-pointers with drives to the baskets and an occasional assist to keep the collapsing defenses that surround him relatively honest. 

But the numbers he's consistently posting only tell part of the narrative to what has been a fairy tale of a season for the 5-foot-9 guard who continues to defy odds on a nightly basis. 

Not only is he producing at a high level, but he's elevating the play of those around him which is reflected in the team's overall success.

Boston (26-15) hits the halfway point with its best record under fourth-year coach Brad Stevens and best by the franchise since a 32-9 start to the 2010-2011 season.

The Celtics have now won eight of their last 10 games, and 13 of 16 as they steadily pull away and establish themselves at worst being the third-best team in the East.

And against the Hornets, they got the victory with a nice blending of what they do best – shoot three-pointers and play solid, physical defense.

The game could not have gotten off to a better start for the Boston Celtics, opening with a 10-2 run that put the Hornets on their heels quickly.

Not surprisingly, the Hornets rallied to take the lead in the first quarter before Boston’s second unit stepped up.

Leading the way in the final minute of the first quarter was Jaylen Brown, just minutes removed from a moving pre-game speech honoring the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., on MLK Day.

With Boston trailing 30-29, Brown scored the final five points of the quarter to give Boston a 34-30 lead.

The second quarter saw both teams pull ahead by slim margins, neither showing an ability to pull away and take full control of the game.

But again it was the Celtics making all the necessary plays at both ends of the floor in the closing moments.

Trailing 50-48, Boston would close out the half with an 11-3 run to lead 59-53 at the half.

In the third quarter, Boston began to give itself a little more breathing room fueled in large part by their defense which not only limited the Hornets scoring but took advantage of great spacing to get open jumpers or baskets in the paint with little resistance or help-side defense.

A back-to-the-basket hook shot by Al Horford gave Boston a 77-67 lead, the game’s first double-digit margin.

The Celtics increased their lead to 12 points following a pull-up jumper along the baseline by Avery Bradley who was back in the lineup after missing the previous four games with an Achilles injury.

Going into the fourth, the Celtics were ahead 80-71.

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics get a boost from their bench

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics get a boost from their bench

BOSTON –  Questions about Boston’s second unit have lingered all season.

But in the first half of Monday’s game against Charlotte, the Celtics got a major boost from the second unit which paved the way for Boston’s 59-53 lead at the half.

They outscored their Charlotte brethren 21-10 which was instrumental in them fending off an always-tough Charlotte team despite the Hornets (20-20) coming in having lost four in a row – all on the road.

Boston opened with a 10-2 run, the kind of spurt that you knew would likely be followed at some point by a comparable run by the Hornets.

On cue, Charlotte began to chip away at Boston’s lead and eventually went ahead following a pair of Kemba Walker free throws with 3:39 to play.

The teams went back and forth until Boston’s Jaylen Brown, who delivered a moving pre-game speech in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, took over the game with less than a minute to play in the first.

Trailing 30-29, Brown scored the quarter’s final five points to lift Boston to a 34-30 lead going into the second quarter.

In the second quarter, it was Kelly Olynyk – another Celtics reserve - taking over with a slew of baskets and hustle plays including saving a ball from going out of bounds in front of the Charlotte bench and tossing it up court with the Celtics ultimately getting a lay-up from Brown.

With 7:24 to play in the half, Charlotte called a time-out with the Celtics leading 45-40.

The Hornets responded with an 8-3 spurt to tie the game at 48 following a dunk by Spencer Hawes which led to Brad Stevens looking for answers during a Celtics time-out with 5:18 to play in the half.

Boston’s starters eventually returned to the floor in the second quarter and seemingly picked up where their backups left off.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Monday’s game.

 

STARS

Kemba Walker

There was a definite sense of urgency on Walker’s part to do what he could to lead the Hornets out of their four-game funk. He did his part in the first half, scoring 18 points on 6-for-11 shooting from the field.

Al Horford

This was one of the better first halves offensively we’ve seen from Al Horford this season. He led the Celtics with 14 points on 6-for-9 shooting from the field.

 

STUDS

Isaiah Thomas

With what looked like an increased emphasis to get the ball to Horford, Thomas played the role of the other scorer and didn’t disappoint. He had 13 points in the first half along with three assists.

Kelly Olynyk

For the second time in as many games, Olynyk was assertive both on the perimeter and around the basket. And the results by and large, were positive. At the half, he had nine points off the bench to go with five rebounds and three assists.

Jaylen Brown

He provided a major lift at the end of the first quarter, which is when he scored five of his seven first-half points.

Marvin Williams

He gave Boston problems both inside the paint as well as on the perimeter as he tallied 12 points which included a pair of 3-pointers.

 

DUDS

Cody Zeller

His job is to roll to the rim, defend and rebound. He seemed to struggle in all three phases in the first half. He had three points and three rebounds, but when he was on the floor the Hornets had a plus/minus of -7.