Rondo's triple-double leads Celtics past Bobcats


Rondo's triple-double leads Celtics past Bobcats

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."

Celtics hope to rebound after being outplayed by Bulls on the boards

Celtics hope to rebound after being outplayed by Bulls on the boards

Following Thursday’s 105-99 loss to the Chicago Bulls, the Boston Celtics will be on the prowl to rebound – literally – from its first defeat of the season.

Because for all that did not go right in Thursday night’s loss, the way Boston was beaten on the boards stands out emphatically.

“They got 24 more shots than us. We only turned it over (12) times,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens told reporters after the loss. “So that’s the obvious place they’re getting their possessions, on the glass. That’s going to be the number one thing, that has been the number one thing. It’s something we’ve talked about. We have to get better at it.”


Boston was out-rebounded 55-36 on the boards which heavily factored into Chicago’s 18-5 advantage in second-chance points.

In the Celtics' 122-117 win over Brooklyn on Wednesday, Boston won the overall rebounding battle 47-44, but had just 12 offensive rebounds compared to Brooklyn's 15 offensive boards. Despite the close margin, the Nets won the battle on the offensive glass running away, outscoring the Celtics 23-13 in second-chance points.

Stevens decided to start Tyler Zeller ahead of Amir Johnson to begin the third quarter, hoping Zeller would be a better matchup on the glass than Johnson who did not grab a single rebound in the 11 minutes of court time he got in the first half.

While Zeller did do a few good things on the glass and scoring in half-court sets, it wasn’t enough to swing the momentum Chicago was steadily gaining due to its ability to control the boards.

“I wasn’t real surprised but at the same time I knew it could happen,” Zeller told reporters, referring to Stevens’ decision to have him start the second half. “They did a good job of coming out and setting the tone. They beat us up on the boards, especially the first half. It’s something we have to get better at and continue to grow at.”

And it’s not a one-player or one-position issue, either.

Usually we think of bigs when it comes to rebounding. But Boston’s guards need to step up their rebounding game as well.

The struggles thus far have to be put in the context of this being just two games, the latter being the season opener for the Bulls who were jacked up more than usual due to it being the first game for Chicago native Dwyane Wade and ex-Celtic Rajon Rondo.

“We have to focus on boxing out,” said Boston’s Jaylen Brown. “Guards have to do a better job. Guys like me, Al (Horford), Amir (Johnson), Tyler (Zeller) ... We have to do a good job of coming in the weak side and grabbing those; just focus on it, pay more attention to detail.”