BOSTON Rajon Rondo has a birthday coming up next month.
He'll be 27 years old which is still relatively young by most people's standards.
But players that age, especially those who have accomplished all that Rondo has in his NBA career, are indeed targets every time they step on the basketball court.
Aware of this, Rondo made a point -- make that several points -- on Monday to remind folks why he is firmly entrenched on the short list of the NBA's elite point guards.
Rondo's all-around game was among the keys in Boston's 100-89 victory over Charlotte, a game in which Rondo tallied his third triple-double of the season and 26th of his career.
He finished with 17 points along with 12 assists and 10 rebounds in helping the Celtics (20-17) win for the sixth straight game.
"He controlled the game from the start," said Boston's Courtney Lee. "He came out aggressive; he was getting to the hole. He was finishing lay-ups and pressuring the ball. He was setting the tempo early."
During the C's most recent string of victories, Rondo hadn't filled up the stat sheet as he normally does.
The league's leader in assists, Rondo came into Monday's game averaging 8.3 assists per game during the team's winning streak -- about three fewer assists than he has averaged this season.
Charlotte's Kemba Walker was the latest up-and-coming playmaker in the NBA who was hoping to test his skills against the more seasoned Rondo.
"I'm getting a little bit older, so the younger guys are coming in, I kind of have a mark on my back being an older guy, making a couple all-stars," Rondo said. "I'm a target every night. I just wanted to go out there and defend what I do best -- run the show."
For most of the 37-plus minutes Rondo was on the floor, it was classic Rondo. He made an array of acrobatic shots, sprinkled in a slew no-look passes and of course, snared more than his share of rebounds both around the basket and those that took a long bounce away from the rim.
"He's just very crafty," said Bobcats guard Ben Gordon. "He knows the game, he has a very high basketball IQ so he's a mismatch for most guys. Even if he's not scoring he's able to find his teammates. He's a true point guard."
A big part of being a point guard is finding different ways to impact the game.
Despite his numbers being down during the C's recent winning streak, teammate Courtney Lee is quick to come to his defense when it comes to explaining Rondo's impact on the Celtics' success.
"You're used to Rondo impacting the game through assists, getting to the lane and making floaters and lay-ups and what-not," Lee said. "But as you've seen of late, he's picked up his defense and his communication. He's more of a vocal leader out there, so he's impacting games in more ways."