By A. Sherrod Blakely
HOUSTON Rajon Rondo is hurting right now, but it's not the kind of pain you expect.
It's his game, not his body, that's sorely in need of getting healthy.
Friday's 93-77 loss to the Houston Rockets was yet another night when Rondo was among the Celtics players to deliver subpar performances.
He had four points on 2-for-11 shooting from the field. Rondo had just six assists. It was the seventh straight game Rondo failed to register double-digit assists, a first for him this season. Prior to this, Rondo had not gone more than two games without tallying double-digit assist numbers.
When you combine his assists numbers being down of late with some poor shooting (Rondo has shot just 30 percent in those seven games), it's hard not to harp on Rondo's woes.
Because he has the ball in his hands more than any other player. Because he's missing shots that he normally makes.
And defensively, point guards - the good and not-so-good - have been scoring in every way imaginable against him recently.
On Friday night, Kyle Lowry took turns lighting up him and Ray Allen before finishing with 20 points and nine assists. Indiana's Darren Collison had 10 points and nine assists in a Celtics win over the Pacers on Wednesday.
So with Rondo delivering a string of un-Rondo-like performances, he was asked on Friday night if there were any physical issues that were impacting his play on the floor.
"No, I don't think so," he said when asked. "Everybody is asking, but I'm fine."
When told that it was teammate Kevin Garnett who told reporters after the Indiana win that he was "hurting," Rondo said, "it's an 82-game season. Nothing is too serious. We all have aches and pains, but I don't think it's nothing that will keep me out from playing. I'm just not performing well."
Rondo has watched himself on video, just to get another perspective on what he may need to do in order to get his back on track.
The problem, he says, is obvious.
"It's missing shots," he said. "I try not to focus on offense, but that's probably the biggest thing that sticks out. For me, I haven't made my shots lately; shots or lay-ups. I'll continue to shoot them, and eventually I'll get through it."
As Rondo continues to struggle, Celtics coach Doc Rivers remains steadfast in his belief that Rondo is merely not playing as well as he usually does.
"I don't see that," Rivers said. "I know that you guys see that or something. I don't know what you guys see, but I don't see that. He's human. He hasn't played well. I think it's that simple."