Friday Free Throws: Rondo issues a challenge

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Friday Free Throws: Rondo issues a challenge

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com Follow @JCameratoNBA
Welcome back to Friday Free Throws, a weekly recap of the most interesting news, notes, and information that have not made the headlines. The NBA lockout may be one week underway, but there is still plenty of hoops to talk about.

Think itd be cool to play a game of H-O-R-S-E against Rajon Rondo? One fan will have the chance on July 15, thanks to Rondos fan contest. Last week Rondo announced on his Facebook page, I'm gonna fly a lucky fan to my camp in Louisville to play me in a game of HORSE. Fans then submitted photos to show why they are the ultimate fan. Of those, 20 fans were selected and now Rondo wants help in choosing the winner. Check out the entrants and cast your vote on Fantapper.

Rondo also promoted the contest on Twitter, where he has been giving shoutouts and retweets to his supporters all summer. From a photo of a young fan in a Rondo jersey to a woman who gave her son the middle name Rajon, to a fan who dedicated her 3,000th tweet to him, Rondo has been busy interacting via his account @RajonRondo.

The Truth is Tough
The Truth is, DIME Magazine thinks Paul Pierce is pretty tough. DIME recently ranked their list of the 10 toughest players in the NBA and Pierce came in at number five. Another player who deserves to be on this list for more reasons than one, wrote Sean Sweeney. Firstly, there might be 10 players in the league who have better minds than Pierce. Hes where he is today as arguably one of the two or three best Celtics ever because of his focus and mental fortitude. Thats a longer way of just saying hes really smart.

Other players rounding out the list include (in order from number one to ten) Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Manu Ginobili, Dirk Nowitzki, Pierce, Wesley Matthews, Carl Landry, Grant Hill, Anthony Carter and Udonis Haslem.

Custom Kicks for Kemba
Earlier in the week Kemba Walker signed with Under Armour, becoming the first player from the 2011 draft class to ink a shoe deal. Darren Rovell of CNBC, who first reported the news, caught up with Walker and Under Armour's senior vice-president of sports marketing, Matt Mirchin, about the endorsement. They talked about Walkers decision to sign with Under Armour, the possibility of a signature shoe (Right now, we're going to build custom shoes for Kemba, said Mirchin), and more. Check out the entire interview here.

A Piece of Celtics History for a Good Cause
The Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation is holding an auction to benefit the Mass Tornado Relief Fund through July 13. Fans can bid on a basketball autographed by 10 Celtics Hall of Famers, including Bill Russell, Larry Bird, Dennis Johnson and Tommy Heinsohn. Fans can also donate five dollars to the relief fund by texting CELTICS to 20222.
Erden to Represent Turkey
Former Celtic Semih Erden was named to the Turkish Basketball Team, which will compete in the European Basketball Championship taking place in Lithuania later this summer. Erden, who was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in February, will be joined by four other NBA players Omer Asik, Ersan Ilyasova, Hedo Turkoglu and 2011 third overall draft pick Enes Kanter.

Celtics Tweet of the Week
@Kevin Eastman: Success favors people who show the resolve 2 keep coming back from setbacks. Setbacks remind us 2 get set n back at it!

This Week in NBA History
The Boston Celtics signed Rasheed Wallace as a free agent on July 8, 2009. Wallace played one season of his multiyear contract, averaging 9.0 points and 4.1 rebounds in 79 games (13 starts), and was waived by the Celtics in August of 2010. Wallace has never officially announced his retirement, though, and fans buzzed with questions of his possible return during last season.

Birthdays of the Week
We have to go back in the day for this week's Celtics birthday -- Jim Barnett, who played 48 games during the 1966-67 season, turned 67 on July 7. He was the Celtics; first round draft pick (8th overall) in 1966.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.com!JCameratoNBA

Stars, studs and duds: Olynyk finding his stride off Celtics bench

Stars, studs and duds: Olynyk finding his stride off Celtics bench

BOSTON – It’s easy to forget that Kelly Olynyk went several months without doing anything basketball-related as he was on the mend from shoulder surgery.

His return had its share of ups and downs, but it seems the 7-foot center has found his stride and he’s making opponents pay for it.

For the second time in as many games, Olynyk came up big for the Celtics as Boston continued on its winning ways with a 108-98 win over Charlotte.

Olynyk, who scored a season-high 26 points in Boston’s win at Atlanta on Friday, had an efficient 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting against the Hornets on Monday.

Assertive. Aggressive. Contract year.

It doesn’t matter how you describe what or why Olynyk is ballin’ so hard lately.

The point is he’s doing it a better job of recognizing opportunities to make plays and executing whatever role he’s being asked to play.

“Just feeling good with the second unit,” Olynyk said. “I’m just trying to be aggressive and help the starters out.”

In the past, teams have mixed up their defensive coverages on Olynyk which frequently left him being guarded by a quicker but smaller player, or a big man with limited mobility.

Often Olynyk settled for long range shots and 3’s, regardless of the defender.

But as we’ve seen the last couple of games, he has hurt teams with his scoring around the rim which has in turn opened things up for his teammates or himself.

“We need him to play like that all the time,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “When he’s aggressive, looking for his shot, shooting open shots, even getting in there getting rebounds, offensive put-backs, that only helps us as a unit. And he’s done a great job of that the past couple games. We need that from him.”

And as he gets further removed from his offseason surgery, opportunities for him to be an impactful player for Boston will only grow.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Monday’s game.

 

STARS

Isaiah Thomas

The Celtics win, and Isaiah Thomas has another offensive flurry in the fourth quarter. So what else is new? He led all scorers with 35 points which included 17 in the fourth quarter.

Kemba Walker

He’s still playing at a level that puts him in the All-Star conversation, but it’s not going to happen with the Hornets continuing to struggle. They’ve lost five in a row now despite Walker’s 24 points on Monday.

 

STUDS

Al Horford

Boston is playing more inside-out basketball of late, and that’s opening things up for both Horford and his teammates. Against the Hornets he had 22 points on 8-for-14 shooting along with six rebounds and four assists.

Kelly Olynyk

For the second straight game, Olynyk had a strong, impactful performance for the Celtics utilizing his strengths as a perimeter threat and a 7-footer who can take advantage of smaller defenders around the rim. He finished with 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting to go with nine rebounds, four assists and a steal.

Marvin Williams

He was the only other Hornet besides Kemba Walker who really impacted the game significantly. Williams had 21 points on 8-for-14 shooting which included 3-for-6 shooting from 3-point range.

Jae Crowder

The 6-foot-6 Crowder continues to have a sneaky-good season for the Celtics, particularly with his 3-point shooting which ranks among the league leaders. On Monday he had 15 points which included a trio of 3-pointers to go with seven rebounds, three assists and a blocked shot.

 

DUDS

Nicolas Batum

Avery Bradley put most of his effort and attention into defending Batum and man, did it ever pay off. Batum grabbed 10 rebounds, but wound up missing nine of his 11 shots from the field to finish with just four points.