Rivers: Rondo calls a 'perfect game'

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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

C's showed Patriots support in AFC semifinal game

C's showed Patriots support in AFC semifinal game

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens has a tremendous amount of respect for New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and what he has built in Foxboro.

But it wasn't until Sunday’s playoff game between the Patriots and the Houston Texans did he actually see them play at Foxboro.

And while Stevens is from Indiana and is indeed an Indianapolis Colts fan, the Patriots have his support for a multitude of reasons.

“It was fun to watch,” said Stevens who attended the game with his father and his son. “When you talk about rooting interest, you root for who you know. I was definitely rooting for them. I hope they can go all the way. It was fun to watch.”

He wasn’t the only Celtic in Foxboro cheering on the Patriots who pulled away for a 34-16 win over the Texans.

Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas was there watching from a suite.

“It was a nice. They won. I got a lot of backlash for switching up,” said Thomas, a Tacoma, Wash. Native who grew up rooting for the Seattle Seahawks.

“It was good, just to be on that field and be around those guys,” Thomas said. “You can tell, they’re focused on winning a championship, winning the Superbowl. You want to be around those type of players.”

That goes for coaches as well, which is why Brad Stevens has maintained a good relationship with Belichick who has created the kind of winning atmosphere that all coaches want.

“One of the things they’ve’ created is sustainability and culture,” Stevens said. “Any coach wants to be in a position where over the course of time every single year you suit up, you got a chance. Because of the commitment of doing things the way they want to do it … they’ve created that. I can’t say enough good things about the job that he’s done. I’ve got a chance to watch him up close. You feel pretty inadequate when you walk out of that building as a coach.”

Stevens has also been impressed with the way the Patriots have handled injuries and situations where  a key player has been down.

“There’s been a ton of change in the roster and he just keeps churning out wins regardless of who is on the field. Obviously (Tom) Brady has been a constant through all of that. But at the same time, there have been a lot of changes at a lot of significant positions. They just do their job well. That’s the bottom line.

Celtics being cautious with Avery Bradley's return from Achilles injury

Celtics being cautious with Avery Bradley's return from Achilles injury

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Before Sunday’s practice, Avery Bradley was off to one of the side courts working on his catch, two-dribble, pull-up game.
 
And once practice started, Bradley was on the floor with the rest of his teammates, participating in both contact and non-contact drills.
 
While his return on Sunday was certainly a positive, there’s still some uncertainty as to whether he’ll return to action on Monday against Charlotte after having missed the last four games with a right Achilles injury.
 
While he has made steady progress since suffering the injury earlier this month, the Celtics are being cautious about his return, knowing how a return too soon could set him and the Celtics back significantly.
 
Bradley’s value to the Celtics is not even up for debate, but the Celtics have managed to find ways to win despite being without their top on-the-ball defender and number two scorer.
 
“We’ve gotten good practice with not being with our key guys this year,” quipped Stevens. “So it’s just the next guy has to be ready to go. A lot of guys can fill in, and not try and replace one guy with another guy but rather by committee.”
 
Marcus Smart, a player Stevens has often referred to as the team’s sixth starter, has filled in for Bradley with the first unit.
 
In the last four games, Smart has averaged 14.0 points to go with 4.8 assists, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.5 steals while shooting 40 percent from the field and 43.8 percent from 3-point range.
 
Terry Rozier has seen an uptick in his court time as well with Bradley out, resulting in him averaging 5.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.0 assists while shooting 60 percent (9-for-15) and 40 percent (2-for-5) from 3-point range.
 
Indeed, Bradley’s absence has afforded other Celtics an opportunity to step up and do so in a meaningful way that’s helping Boston win games.

Bradley has missed a total of five games on the season. Boston has managed to hold their own in his absence, posting a 4-1 record.

This recent Achilles injury has been the only setback of significance this season for Bradley.

We’re used to seeing Bradley improve from one year to the next, but this season has been nothing short of sensational for the sixth-year player.
 
His 18.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game are both career-highs. He’s also shooting 41.7 percent on 3s which is also a new career mark for the 6-foot-2 guard.