Rondo's triple-double another sign of growth

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Rondo's triple-double another sign of growth

WASHINGTON If you didn't know better, you'd think Rajon Rondo's triple-double in Boston's 94-86 win over Washington was just another day on the job.

To his Boston Celtics teammates and most followers of the NBA, Rondo racking up triple-doubles doesn't generate much attention.

In fact, not an eyebrow was raised as Rondo had 18 points along with 14 assists and 11 rebounds. It was his 14th career triple-double, and eighth during the regular season.

"He's been a walking triple-double since he walked into the league," said Paul Pierce. "He's very unique, unlike a lot of point guards in the league."

Kevin Garnett added, "That's . . . the Golden Child. He fills every category up . . . including turnovers. You know what I mean? That's my dog, though. His influence on the game is so, so special."

Sunday's performance was yet another game in which Rondo's perimeter shooting seemed to open things up for him and his Celtics teammates.

In the third quarter, the Celtics were on the short end of a 15-7 run by the Wizards, which cut Boston's lead to nine points.

It was a tightly contested 17-foot jumper by Rondo that pushed the lead back to double figures.

"That wouldn't have happened last year," said coach Doc Rivers. "That was great to see."

Rivers added, "He's far more assertive. He's comfortable taking jumpshots."

Even on a night when Rondo's all-around game was exceptional, his comments were centered around doling out the praise - much like he does passes - to his teammates.

"Without these guys, I don't know where I would be," Rondo said. "Not just the vets; my ex-teammates that I played with. It's the coaching staff as well. They always been very high on me and praised me and continue to want me to do good. It's a team effort and we got the win."

Indeed, the more you watch Rondo, the more you see the growth in his game. While the jumper remains a work in progress, it's clearly better now than it has been at any time in his career.

He's even developed a low-post game, one in which he posted up John Wall who is a couple inches taller, and still managed to score in the paint.

"I've been trying to post all season," Rondo said. "It was one play."

And it worked. And chances are he'll look to it again at some point, well aware that it becomes another tool in Rondo's growth as he continues to emerge as one of the NBA's best all-around players.

Raptors, in pursuit of Celtics in playoff race, lose Lowry for perhaps rest of regular season

Raptors, in pursuit of Celtics in playoff race, lose Lowry for perhaps rest of regular season

The Eastern Conference playoff race, seemingly altered by the moves -- and non-moves (hello there, Celtics) -- of some of the contenders, just took another twist.

The Raptors, bolstered by the acquisition of Serge Ibaka and appearing poised to make a run toward the top of the standings after a come-from-behind victory over the Celtics on Friday, were hit with a body blow Monday when it was announced All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry needs surgery on his right wrist and may miss the remainder of the regular season.

ESPN reports Lowry is expected to be sidelined from four to eight weeks. Toronto hopes to have him back for the playoffs.

The Raptors are currently in fourth place in the conference at 35-24, trailing Cleveland (40-17), Boston (38-21) and Washington (34-23). Without Lowry, and facing a rough, six-of-their-next-seven-games-on-the-road stretch, Toronto may stop focusing on catching the Wizards and/or Celtics and focus on holding off Atlanta (32-26) in order to hold onto home-court in the first round.

Lowry, 30, who missed the last two games because of the injury, is averaging a career-best 22.8 points per game. He also is averaging 6.9 assists and 4.7 rebounds.

Dennis Schroder doubles down on claims Isaiah Thomas took family trash talk too far

Dennis Schroder doubles down on claims Isaiah Thomas took family trash talk too far

Dennis Schroder isn't backing down.

The Atlanta Hawks point guard again was asked about Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas, and the budding rivalry between the two players that's turned into a rivalry between the two teams. Thomas, of course, was accused by Schroder of taking his trash talking a bit too far during the teams' last meeting, a 103-101 Celtics victory last month in which Thomas hit the game-winning shot with just seconds remaining.

Thomas' comments allegedly were about Schroder's family, per Schroder himself. Thomas has since repeatedly denied the claims. So does Schroder still deny Thomas' side of the story?

“I mean, yeah. Everybody heard it, too," Schroder said. "My family sat courtside too. And (Hawks teammate) Thabo (Sefolosha) heard some things, you know, and he was involved in it. But it is what it is. Like I said, we just try to compete. And you know, it’s getting heated in the game. It is what it is."

Schroder didn't dive much deeper than denying Thomas' claims of innocence. But is there something about Thomas inparticular that gets under Schroder's skin or runs him the wrong way?

Nah, I mean he’s a great player, he’s showing it this year," Schroder said. "I mean, what he did in the playoffs last year was just not, you know, professional. And I think nobody wants to see that but it’s fine. We just try to compete and try to help our team win the basketball game."

Schroder was referring to the back-and-forth physical play between himself and Thomas that resulted in flagrant fouls for both during the first-round playoff matchup betweein the clubs, a series Atlanta eventually won four games to two. Thomas' status was in doubt for Game 4 of the series after a hit to Schroder's head in Game 3, but the now two-time All-Star ultimately was allowed to play.

"Everybody’s competitive. Everybody tries to get out, get after it," Schroder explained when asked if his feud with Thomas fuels his team any extra. "I think it’s a big game tonight and the team knows it. I’m pretty sure the Celtics know it too. It’s getting close to the playoffs and every game counts."

Boston and Atlanta tip off from TD Garden at 7:30 p.m.