Rivers: Rondo calls a 'perfect game'

191544.jpg

Rivers: Rondo calls a 'perfect game'

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

LOS ANGELES There are many sides to Rajon Rondo's game.

On Sunday, we saw two of them.

In the first half he was in stealth mode, impacting the game without anyone really noticing it.

In the second half, he opted for more of a starring role.

You put the two together, and you have what coach Doc Rivers believes was one of Rondo's best games of the season.

And the Celtics certainly needed it in handing the Los Angeles Lakers a 109-96 loss.

Rondo had 10 points and 16 assists for his team-best 18th double-double this season.

But of the 16 assists, all but one came in the second half.

Even though Rondo wasn't putting up Rondo-esque assist numbers in the first half, Rivers loved what he was seeing out of his point guard.

"I thought he called an absolutely perfect game," Rivers said. "He's our pitcher. He called a sensational game. Coming out of time outs, he made sure guys were in their spots. Rondo played with great speed. When he plays with speed, he has power."

Rondo said the low assists total in the first half had more to do with his teammates making plays, than anything else.

"Tonight, it wasn't for me to make plays in the first half," Rondo said. "Paul Pierce had it going. Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen had it going. I tried to get those guys the ball in their spots, and those guys, they made it happen."

And that is the beauty of this Celtics team.

There's no disputing Rondo is the C's best playmaker.

But he understands -- and his teammates accept -- there will be times when others besides Rondo will have to establish themselves as a primary play-maker.

We saw that at Portland on Thursday when Garnett was one rebound and one assist shy of his first triple-double this season, and 21st (if you include the three he has tallied in the playoffs) of his career.

However, the way things were going on Sunday indicated that the Celtics would need Rondo to impact the game in the second half the way fans have grown accustomed to this season.

In the third quarter, Pierce erupted for 14 of his team-high 32 points. Lost in Pierce's scoring binge was some pretty solid passing by Rondo, who tallied six assists in the third.

The biggest difference in the third, Rivers said, was that the Celtics did a better job of defending and getting rebounds, and then quickly getting the ball into Rondo's hands.

"We just kept saying it in every time out," Rivers recalled, "'Find Rondo. Stop coming back to the ball. Run out and he'll find you.'"

Rondo said the biggest change in the second half was the game's pace become more to the Celtics' liking.

"We got stops," Rondo said. "Everything in the first half was a made shot or they were on the free-throw line. It's hard to run, and create the tempo if you're taking the ball out of bounds every time on made baskets or free throws."

With Boston's defense clicking once again, Rondo continued to dominate play in the fourth by scoring four points to go with nine assists.

Just to put it in perspective, Rondo's nine assists in the fourth quarter was just one short of the Lakers' team total of 10 for the entire game.

"The assists, they just came in the second half," Rondo said. "I was pretty much doing the same thing. It's just the tempo changed in the second half."

And that brought about a change in Rondo's game, from stealth to starring role.

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Lowry, Sullinger and Blount interrupt interview with DeRozan

Lowry, Sullinger and Blount interrupt interview with DeRozan

DeMar DeRozan didn't get a chance to answer one question in his postgame interview before being interrupted by Kyle Lowry, Jared Sullinger, and LeGarrette Blount.

Sullinger on Celtics: 'I watch from a distance, I support from a distance'

Sullinger on Celtics: 'I watch from a distance, I support from a distance'

BOSTON – The trip to the TD Garden is one that Jared Sullinger has made many times but never like this. 

The former Celtic was back in town with his new team, the Toronto Raptors who signed him to a one-year, $5.6 million deal after the Celtics rescinded their qualifying offer to him and thus made him an unrestricted free agent. 

MORE:

“I had a feeling it was going to go that way once they signed big Al (Horford), that they were going to let me go,” Sullinger said prior to Friday’s game.  “We were prepared for it. It is what it is. I’m happy these guys are doing well.”

And he hopes to say the same for himself sometime in the future after undergoing surgery to have a screw inserted in the fifth metatarsal of his left foot – the same foot he had season-ending surgery on during the 2014-2015 season with the Celtics. 

There’s no specific timetable as to when he’ll be back on the floor, and Sullinger is cool with that plan. 

“I don’t know. They’re hiding the protocol from me so I won’t rush; we’ll see,” said Sullinger who is still in a walking boot. 

The 6-foot-9 forward played well in the preseason and solidified himself as the team’s starting power forward. 

Now that he’s out with another injury, he’ll have to once again try and prove himself either later this season when he returns, or this summer when he becomes a free agent again.

For now, Sullinger is happy to be back in town, seeing lots of familiar faces, friends and ex-teammates that he says he still keeps in close contact with. 

“Some of these guys I considered like brothers to me,” Sullinger said. “IT (Isaiah Thomas), Jae Crowder to name a few. So I watch from a distance, I support from a distance. They’re playing well.”

In addition to his former teammates, the lines of communication remained open between him and Celtics head coach Brad Stevens as well. 

Stevens said the two exchanged text messages right before he had foot surgery, and afterwards. 

“Obviously, everyone here wishes a speedy recovery and hopefully he gets back on the court soon,” Stevens said. 

Sullinger has been an effective player during his time in the NBA, with career averages of 11.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. 

But this will be the third time in his five NBA seasons that he will miss a significant amount of time on the court due to an injury or recovering from an injury. 

Stevens acknowledged that he feels for Sullinger who once again has to go through rehabilitation in order to get back on the floor.

“I like Jared a lot,” Stevens said. “He’s a heck of a player, he’s a really smart guy. Got a lot of respect for him and it stinks that he’s got to go through that but he’ll come back strong I’m sure.”