Friday FT's: Rondo Makes a Call; Shaq Ranks Himself

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Friday FT's: Rondo Makes a Call; Shaq Ranks Himself

Welcome back to Friday Free Throws, a weekly recap of the most interesting news, notes, and information that have not made the headlines but are still worth a read. In spite of the NBA lockout, there's still plenty of hoops to talk about.

Rajon Rondo is used to making calls for the Boston Celtics. During the lockout, he is making calls of a different kind.

Rondo has been spending time at his alma mater, the University of Kentucky, and watching the mens basketball team closely. He recently called head coach John Calipari and asked if he could offer his input, WDRB.com reported:

I got an interesting call from Rondo after the game, who says, 'Do you mind if I call the kids? I took some notes about the game.' I'm like absolutely. Call them and tell them what you think. John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins and Patrick Patterson were at the game, and then they want to be there and be a part of it. It shows we're a family. This is what we're trying to build here."

On the topic of Rondo, let's revisit his series of videos for Foot Lockers Educators campaign. Monday's lesson was on the "Drama of Quickness." Rondo, er, "Mr. Rondo," explained, "To be in a Rondo production, you've got to stick to the script or be quick. If you can't do that, play golf, or chess, or taking a computer programming class or something." Point taken.

Shaq Doesnt Think THAT Highly of Himself

Shaquille O'Neal recently ranked his top five NBA centers on SportsCenter, and who he slated fifth was far more surprising than who he put first. Bleacher Report has the rundown, where Shaq ranked himself number five, followed by Hakeem Olajuwon, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Bill Russell.

In spite of ranking Abdul-Jabbar second, O'Neal expressed displeasure with him in his book, Shaq Uncut: My Story. The Los Angeles Times posted the excerpt: Kareem was never around. And, whenever I did see him, he usually ignored me. The disappointing thing to me was, being in LA all those years and trying to fill those shoes, I would have liked to have a conversation with him."

Like Father, Like Son

Before we get to former Celtic Sam Cassell in birthdays of the week below, lets start with a few notes on him and his son who is following in his fathers footsteps.

Cassell was recently inducted into the Maryland state Athletic Hall of Fame. "To go into any Hall of Fame is great," he said, wrote PressBoxOnline.com. Cassell said. "To go in with the men and women here tonight is beyond belief. Vince Bagli, I grew up watching Vince Bagli, and Sean Landeta. I grew up watching Sean win Super Bowls for the Giants."

While Cassell reflected on his career, his son is looking to start his own. Sam Cassell, Jr. The 6-foot-4 guard is ranked as one of Baltimore's top guards, according to the Baltimore Sun -- "The Nike Baltimore Elite prospect will likely end up at a high-major or mid-major-plus program."

Celtics Tweet of the Week

@CharleeRedz13: I ain't got no health insurance at the moment....nor do my ....13depemdents....kids get sick around this time of year....

Celtics Birthdays of the Week

Kevin Gamble turned 46 on November 13. Gamble played six seasons for the Celtics during the late 1980searly 1990s . . . David Wesley turned 41 the following day. He played three seasons for the Cs, including 1996-97 in which he averaged 16.8 points and 7.3 assists per game . . . Sasha Pavlovic celebrated his 28th birthday on November 15. Pavlovic played 17 games for the Celtics last season after signing as a free agent in March 2011 . . . Two-time NBA champion and seven-time All-Star Jo Jo White turned 65 on November 16. White is still involved with the Celtics organization as the Director of Special Projects . . . Sam Cassell turned 42 on November 18. Cassell signed with the Celtics during the 2007-08 season and lent his veteran experience to their championship run.

This Week in Celtics History

On November 18, 1969, the Celtics traded Bob Cousy to the Cincinnati Royals in exchange for Bill Dinwiddie. Cousy played 13 seasons for the Cs and won six world championships in Boston. Dinwiddie played one season for the Celtics before being traded to the Milwaukee Bucks in 1971.

Crowder on Cousins' style: 'Step up to the test or you get run over'

Crowder on Cousins' style: 'Step up to the test or you get run over'

BOSTON – There was a point in the fourth quarter when Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins was fouled trying to score which brought about an automatic, intense and angry scowl from the all-star center. 

He raised his hand as he were going to strike back at the potential assailant. 

And then he saw the man was Jae Crowder. 

Cousins, who had a game-high 28 points, then went to the free throw line, incident-free. 

“I’m not one those other cats he be punking,” said Crowder with a grin.

That moment was one of many throughout Friday night’s game when Crowder made his presence felt when the game mattered most, and wasn’t afraid to mix it up with whoever stood between him and helping the Celtics win – even Cousins. 

But as Crowder explained following Boston’s 97-92 win, that moment was about two physical players who have developed an on-the-floor rapport that speaks to their intensity and desire to win at all costs. 

“He’s going to bring the game to you; his physicality,” said Crowder who had 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting. “He’s a very physical type of guy. If he senses you’re not physical at all, he’ll let you know. He’s a dog down there; he’s a bull. I love to go against a player like that. He’s going to give you his best shot each and every night. You either step up to the test or you get run over.” 

As soon as the two made eye contact, Crowder knew it was one of the many intimidation methods used by Cousins against opposing players. 

Crowder wasn’t having it. 

“That’s my guy; he’s my guy,” Crowder said of Cousins. “He plays a lot of tactics against a lot of other players. I’ve earned that respect with him. He knows I’m going to fight him just as hard as anybody else. We leave it on the court. He’s a good friend of mine. We’ve become friends, just playing ball, playing basketball the right way.”

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics make big plays down the stretch

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics make big plays down the stretch

BOSTON – When the fourth quarter rolled around on Friday night, the Boston Celtics found themselves in a down-to-the-wire fight with the Sacramento Kings. 

It was the kind of game that in the past has brought out the scrappy, get-it-done-somehow brand of basketball that has in many ways come to define the Celtics under fourth-year coach Brad Stevens. 

And it was on full display Friday night as the Celtics made all the big plays at both ends of the floor down the stretch to beat the Sacramento Kings, 97-92. 

After Sacramento cut Boston’s lead to 90-87, Al Horford drained a 3-pointer to make it a two-possession game again. 

Isaiah Thomas came up with a pair of free throws that turned out to be huge, because shortly after he made them the Kings got a 3-pointer from DeMarcus Cousins that made it a 95-92 game.

The Kings had a chance to tie the game late in the fourth when Horford was credited with his sixth block of the game, this time on DeMarcus Cousins.

Horford was immediately fouled and went to the free throw line where he sealed the victory by making a pair.

Those were the kind of plays we saw often last season being made by the Celtics who finished in a tie for the third-best record in the East. 

This year, not so much. 

“For the most part we got what we wanted (in the fourth quarter) and we got the stops we needed even,” Thomas said. 

Which is the kind of game Jae Crowder and the rest of the guys who have been here awhile, have grown accustomed to.

“We got back to being the aggressive team,” Crowder said. “We came out and imposed our will early; that helped. But if the game comes down to what it was tonight, we have to be the team that comes out on top. It was like a playoff game, real physical. We have to grit it out, grind it out.”

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

 

STARS

Al Horford

So this is what an ultra-aggressive Al Horford looks like? The four-time All-Star had a season-high 26 points which included knocking down four three-pointers to go with eight rebounds and six blocked shots – yes, six blocked shots.

DeMarcus Cousins

While his fiery temper hasn’t died down completely, his incredible offensive skills and brute strength is what folks are talking more about, finally. He led the Kings with a game-high 28 points to go with nine rebounds, three assists, a steal and four blocked shots.  

 

STUDS

Isaiah Thomas

His streak of being Boston’s outright scoring leader ended at 14 games, but he’s more than happy to take a back seat for one night if it means getting a victory. Horford led the charge on Friday night, but Thomas still chipped in with 20 points, seven assists and two steals. 

Matt Barnes

Although he missed eight of his 11 shots from the field, the 36-year-old Barnes was rewarded for his hustle and effort as he finished with a double-double of 12 points and a game-high 16 rebounds.

Jae Crowder

Boston needed tough plays to be made on Friday and Crowder was up the challenge all night. He finished with 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting to go with three rebounds, three assists and a steal. Good things happened when he was on the floor, evident by his game-high plus/minus of +15.

 

DUDS

Rudy Gay

He finished with 13 points on 6-for-14 shooting but the Kings needed more from their second-leading scorer who finished almost seven points below his 19.6 points per game average. That stands out on a night when the Kings lost by just five points.