Boston Celtics

No more denying Rondo's an improved shooter

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No more denying Rondo's an improved shooter

BOSTON Even with a fourth all-star berth under his belt, even with his impressive field goal percentage this season, teams still aren't convinced that Rajon Rondo has turned into a decent perimeter shooter.

While pouring in a season-high 30 points in Boston's 100-99 overtime loss to Chicago, Rondo shot 12-for-21 from the field with most of his shots made being jumpers.

Rondo played with the kind of aggressive demeanor offensively that was needed on a night when the Celtics just couldn't get much offensive punch from the bench or from most of the starters.

That is, everyone except Rondo.

While he remains a pass-first point guard, he continues to blossom into a more reliable scorer who can also score with jumpers, too.

"I thought he kind of surveyed the game and thought, 'I have to go get this for us,"' Rivers said. "And I thought he did that with his speed."

And the C's needed every point he could muster up with so many core guys struggling.

That's why Rivers had no problem with Rondo being more of a scorer on Friday.

"Guys were struggling; you could see Kevin (Garnett) early missing shots but playing hard. Paul (Pierce) ... he (Rondo) saw that and went and got points. I thought tonight was exactly what he should have done."

Rivers said opponents do recognize that Rondo's shooting the ball better than he has in past years from the perimeter.

"They don't believe it," Rivers said. "At the end of the day, that's not going to change this year. He can make 30 in a row, and that's not going to change."

That's not a problem for Rondo who came into Friday's game as the third-highest shooting percentage among guards in the NBA, and is currently shooting 49.6 percent from the field.

Celtics guard Courtney Lee remembers how his former teams in Houston, Orlando and New Jersey, would prepare to face Rondo and the C's.

"When we played against him, we wanted him to shoot the jump-shot," said Lee, who added that Rondo's play of late will change that.

"Teams are going to have to start respecting it," Lee said. "Because he's been putting in a lot of work after practice. I try to be the last one out of there, but he's in there shooting shots, too. You can see it's paying off."

Rondo said he wasn't surprised that teams continue to give him open looks from the perimeter.

"I just try to take what the defense gave me," said Rondo, who has had 13 games in his career of 25 or more points with four coming against the Bulls. "Our bigs got the rebound out to me early in transition, I was able to attack and create cross-matches were (Joakim) Noah or (Carlos) Boozer were picking me up. I just try to use my speed to go past those guys."

Not only does Rivers not anticipate teams changing up their approach to Rondo now, he believes the same strategy will apply to whoever the C's might face in the playoffs.

"That's just how our league works. You have to make them a believer for about year before they believe it."

Marcus and Markieff Morris assault trial began on Monday

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Marcus and Markieff Morris assault trial began on Monday

PHOENIX - NBA players Marcus and Markieff Morris go on trial Monday on felony assault charges stemming from a beating outside a Phoenix recreation center more than two years ago.

The twin brothers could face a maximum of nearly four years in prison if they are found guilty. A conviction would also result in discipline from the NBA, including a minimum 10 games of suspension.

Opening arguments begin Monday following the selection of an eight-member jury panel last week in what is expected to be a 10-day trial.

The trial threatens to disrupt the start of their 2017 NBA season with training camp set to begin for both players on Sept. 26. The Boston Celtics acquired Marcus Morris from Detroit in the offseason as part of an overhaul of their roster, while Markieff was a solid contributor for the Washington Wizards last year.

The Morris brothers are accused of helping three other people beat 36-year-old Erik Hood on Jan. 24, 2015. They were indicted by an Arizona grand jury that year on felony aggravated assault charges. Two of the other co-defendants pleaded guilty Wednesday to the same charges.

Police say Hood was leaving a high school basketball game when he was approached by a friend of the Morris brothers. Hood told Phoenix police the man was speaking to him when he was punched in the back of the head.

Hood ran to his car but fell down, before five men, including the Morris twins, punched and kicked him repeatedly, authorities say. All five left in a Rolls Royce Phantom as bystanders began to appear. Police say Hood was assaulted for sending an inappropriate text message to the Morris brothers' mother.

Hood told police he suffered a fractured nose, abrasions and a large bump on his head because of the incident.

Hood is an acquaintance of the Morris brothers and reportedly had a falling out with them in 2010.

At the time of the attack, the 6-foot-9 Morris twins were teammates on the Phoenix Suns. They starred at the University of Kansas.

Marcus Morris averaged 14 points last season in Detroit, where he was a mainstay in the starting lineup. He joins Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward as a group of new acquisitions for Boston this year. Markieff also averaged 14 points per game for the Wizards.

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30 teams in 30 days: Spurs remain in title conversation out West

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30 teams in 30 days: Spurs remain in title conversation out West

We’ll take a look at all 30 teams in the next 30 days as they prepare for the 2017-2018 regular season, which is when the real fireworks begin! Today's team: The San Antonio Spurs

There is no finer organization in the NBA than the San Antonio Spurs, a franchise that seems to always be in the title-contending conversation regardless of who is – and who isn’t – on the roster.

For years, conventional wisdom was that the San Antonio dynasty would take a major step back once Tim Duncan FINALLY retired.

Instead of taking a step back, the Spurs continued to do what they did with Duncan – win a lot of games and scare the bejesus out of any and every team they saw in the playoffs.

To read A. Sherrod Blakely's 2017-18 team-by-team NBA previews, click here

One of the forgotten subplots in Golden State’s run towards a title last spring, was the ankle injury Kawhi Leonard suffered when he landed on the foot of Warriors big man Zaza Pachulia.

For those who don’t remember, the Spurs were beating the crap out of Golden State in Game 1 of their second-round series with Leonard getting anything and everything he wanted at both ends of the floor.

Prior to him landing on Pachulia’s foot (something that was debated for weeks as a dirty play), the Spurs were ahead 78-55.

After Leonard’s departure, Golden State went on an 18-0 run and eventually wound up edging the Spurs 113-111 before going on to sweep the series to become the first team in NBA history to open up the playoffs with 12 straight wins.

Well, Leonard’s back and will once again be on the short list of league MVP candidates due to his ability to dominate games at both ends of the floor.

For years his defense has been at an unmatched level. But it is the growth of his game offensively that has made him such a difficult and at times, dominant performer.

Leonard has finished in the top-3 of the league’s MVP voting the past two seasons.

Last season, he averaged a career-high 25.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game which was also a career high.

But the Spurs have proven through time to be more than just a one-man operation even when the face of the franchise (Tim Duncan) received a lot of credit for the franchise’s success.

San Antonio brings most of its core guys back, but recognized the need to add at least one more legitimate scorer to the mix.

In comes Rudy Gay, an 11-year veteran who has averaged 18.4 points per game throughout his career.

Golden State remains the team that everyone, including the Spurs, is chasing this season.

But the depth of San Antonio’s roster coupled with the addition of Gay, means the Spurs will once again be in the title-contending conversation.

Key free agent/draft/trade additions: Rudy Gay (Sacramento); Joffrey Lauvergne (Chicago).

Key losses: Jonathan Simmons (Orlando); Dewayne Dedmon (Atlanta); David Lee (free agent); Joel Anthony (free agent).

Rookies of note: Derrick White.

Expectations: 56-36 (2nd in the Southwest Division, 3rd in the West).

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