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."

Amir Johnson a game-time decision for Game 4 with shoulder injury

Amir Johnson a game-time decision for Game 4 with shoulder injury


CLEVELAND – Brad Stevens won’t know until shortly before tip-off tonight if he will have to make another lineup change.
 
Amir Johnson, whose right shoulder was injured in the Celtics' 111-108 Game 3 win on Sunday, is questionable for tonight’s Game 4.
 
“It’s better for sure,” Johnson told CSN this morning. “Yesterday, it was hard to lift. Today, I can move it all around. In shoot-around, I’m going to get a couple shots, see how it feels and go from there.
 
He added, “it’s definitely going to be a game-time decision. I’m going to go and shoot around, just to get a feel. And then for the game-time, I’ll shoot around some more, see how it feels and take it from there.”
 
Healthy or not, Johnson being with the starting group is far from a given.
 
The 6-foot-9 veteran has consistently been the first starter subbed out and usually winds up playing the fewest minutes.
 
In Game 3, two of his backups – Kelly Olynyk (15 points) and Jonas Jerebko (10 points) – shined brightly.
 
Here are some other highlights from the Celtics’ morning shoot-around.
 
THOMAS UPDATE: Isaiah Thomas met with a hip specialist on Monday, according to Stevens. “Still collecting information,” said Stevens, adding, “We’ll wait and see or we’ll discuss second, and third, and fourth, and fifth opinions.”

Thomas injured his right hip March 15 and later re-aggravated it in the first half of the Game 2 loss Friday. Less than 24 hours later, he was deemed out for the remainder of the playoffs.
 
He was replaced by Marcus Smart in the starting lineup and Smart responded with a career-high 27 points in Game 3, which included seven made 3’s which is a career-best mark as well.
 
BOUNCE-BACK CELTICS: The Celtics winning Game 3 sent shockwaves throughout the league, especially coming on the heels of a 44-point home court drubbing at the hands of the Cavs. “If you’re in sports long enough you’re going to have clunkers,” Stevens said. “You’re going to have games that don’t go your way. And our guys took seriously the idea of responding and just playing the next possession as well as they could.”
 
ROZIER HOMECOMING: The second-year guard grew up in nearby Youngstown, Ohio (75 miles southeast of Cleveland), so you can expect he’ll have a decent contingent of fans at tonight's game.
 
While he’s all-in for the Celtics, the same is not true of his friends and some family members.
 
“My family does a good job of staying on my side except for my one younger cousin,” Rozier said. “She loves LeBron.”