Rondo back on the court for Kentucky

191544.jpg

Rondo back on the court for Kentucky

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com Follow @JCameratoNBA
This week Rajon Rondo returned to Kentucky to put on a show in front of his hometown and college crowds. The Louisville native and former University of Kentucky player participated in the highly anticipated UK Pros - Dominican Republic basketball games organized by Wildcats head coach John Calipari.

Rondo was joined by fellow NBA players John Wall, Eric Bledsoe, DeMarcus Cousins, Keith Bogans, and Nazr Mohammed, among others on the Kentucky squad. The Dominican Republic team included Al Horford, Francisco Garcia, and Edgar Sosa.
A look back at Rondos week . . .

Getting Hyped on Twitter

With seats in high demand, Rondo held a contest to win a pair of tickets to the first game: Send me your best photo wearing your Kentucky blue to win the 2 UK tix to mondays game. Ill announce the winner tmrrw Noon ET Wildcats.

The winner impressed him with a room full of Wildcats gear and memorabilia and a splash of Celtics attire. (The fan later tweeted, @RajonRondo Thanks Rajon for the tickets! Best pg in the league! Wildcats BBN.)

Rondo later tweeted several messages expressing excitement, and even asked fans for their opinion on which sneakers to wear:

Game Day

"Which Shoe should I play in tonight? Uniform color doesn't matter http:yfrog.comh2nfagnj"

Thanks for the support tonight. Had a lot of Fun. Rematch tomorrow

Can't wait to do it again tonight taps.lapvOnv9"
Game Day(s)

In Monday's game in Lexington, a 106-88 victory by the Dominican Republic, Rondo scored three points (1-5 FG, 0-1 3PG, 1-2 FT), dished seven assists, and grabbed seven rebounds in 33 minutes. He led the team in assists (Wall and Bogans had two apiece) while finishing second in boards behind only Cousins (14).

The Dominican Republic earned another victory, 91-86, on Tuesday in Louisville. Rondo scored 14 points (7-18 FG, 0-4 3PG, 0-2 FT), pulled down five rebounds, and had four of Kentucky's six assists in 35 minutes.

Addressing the Media

Following Tuesday's game, Rondo sat down with Mohammed to address the media. And the interview wasn't without a classic Rondo one-liner either. After Mohammed offered a lengthy response to a question about the NBA lockout, Rondo concisely replied, "Correct. A few excerpts from his postgame interview:

On the NBA lockout:

"Right now we're just preparing as if it is a regular season. We've been working out together a little bit, just trying to stay ready, stay in shape, and get better each year. So it hasn't officially started as far as checks coming in stop coming in, but it's a dead period right now."

"Really just go with the flow, really. There's nothing we can do really right now, it's just a matter of waiting til both sides come to an agreement. It's just what it is right now."

On fan support at the games:

"I haven't even played here before but I had a good time. I had a great reception. Obviously it's a lot of Kentucky fans here, so I just tried to come out and give the guys a show and play hard."

"They come out back-to-back nights and support us. Great ovations, great fan participation, so we can't thank the fans enough and we tried to come out there and put on a show for them."

On camaraderie among Kentucky alumni:

"It's just a matter of respect. We all went to the same university and we're all in the league right now. We just have a lot of respect for each other. We all know what we've been through and the journey we took to get to where we are, and that's just what it's about."

Kentucky Camaraderie Continues

The camaraderie mentioned by Rondo was expressed by many of the players on Twitter before, during, and after the games, including:

Wall re-tweeted Lexington-nativeWashington Wizards rookie Shelvin Mack: Headed to Rupp later to support my teammate @jimmywa11 and big homie @RajonRondo......
Mohammed tweeted: We have a lot of great talent from UK in the NBA. It was fun to play with @jimmywa11 @boogiecousins @EBled24 @RajonRondo Jodie, Tay & Keith

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

No late-game heroics for Celtics as they lose to Knicks, 117-106

No late-game heroics for Celtics as they lose to Knicks, 117-106

BOSTON – Lately, shots seemed to fall for just about every player the Boston Celtics put on the floor. You knew sooner or later, Boston would have one of those nights when those same shots wouldn’t fall.

And then there’s the New York Knicks at the opposite end of that spectrum, a team that was overdue for a good night of basketball after having lost 11 of their previous 13 games.

Both worlds collided on Wednesday night, resulting in a 117-106 loss for the Celtics.

Not even the usual late-game scoring heroics of Isaiah Thomas could save the Celtics this time. He led all scorers with 39 points but only eight came in the fourth.  

Trailing 88-83 going into the fourth quarter, Boston (26-16) had been within striking distance on a number of occasions earlier in the night, only to have the Knicks (19-24) rebuff them with a made basket, or a rebound or a rebound that led to a made basket.

It was that kind of game for the Celtics, seemingly playing uphill most of the night.

No player exhibited Boston’s struggles more than Al Horford.

The four-time All-Star had arguably his worst game as a Celtic, scoring just five points while missing 12 of his 14 field goal attempts.  

Even though Boston spent most of the game trailing, it was hard to not think the Celtics would do what we’ve seen them do time and time again of late and that’s find a way to win in the fourth quarter.

After all, the fourth quarter has been good to the Celtics – especially Isaiah Thomas.

He leads the NBA in fourth quarter points at 10.1 per game, the kind of fourth quarter scoring the league has never seen before.

But Thomas never found any kind of late-game rhythm, a similar experience felt by most of his teammates.

It wasn’t just bad shooting that ultimately sunk the Celtics.

Rebounding, which has been a problem for them all season, was a major factor in Wednesday’s outcome as well.

For the game, New York out-rebounded Boston 57-33. Many of those boards were on the offensive glass which was a major factor in the Knicks holding a 24-12 advantage on second-chance points.

And as impressive as Thomas has been in elevating his game in the fourth quarter this season, the Knicks were being led by an equally determined Derrick Rose.

The former league MVP looked like his old self instead of just old, dribble-driving his way in and out of the paint, raising up for stop-on-the-dime jumpers. He would finish with a team-high 30 points.

The Celtics led 34-31 after the first quarter, but spent most of the night afterwards playing catchup to a New York Knicks team that came in having lost 11 of its previous 13 games.

NOTE

Both Boston and New York were missing key players with a sore Achilles injury. For the Celtics, they were without Avery Bradley (right Achilles) and the Knicks were missing Kristaps Porzingis (left Achilles).

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Rose looking like his old self

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Rose looking like his old self

BOSTON – The New York Knicks have been in a massive funk of late, something the Boston Celtics had to know which, not surprisingly, would result in them playing with a heightened level of desperation.

That desperation left the Celtics a bit exasperated at the half which ended with a 10-2 run by New York that put them ahead 63-54 at the half.

After falling behind by as many as nine points in the second quarter, the Celtics rallied to within a single point (53-52) following a basket by Isaiah Thomas.

The second quarter was all-New York afterwards.

It was just a one-possession game (Boston led 34-31) for the Celtics going into the second quarter, which was exactly where Boston didn’t want to be against a Knicks team whose bench ranks among the NBA’s highest-scoring second units recently. In their last three games, the Knicks’ bench has averaged 43.0 points per game which according to hoopsstats.com, ranks sixth in the NBA during that span.

At the half, they had 33 points compared to just 12 for Boston’s backups.

Boston fell behind early 9-5, but the Celtics rallied following a time-out with a 15-4 run capped off by a 3-pointer from Isaiah Thomas.

The Celtics’ lead peaked at nine points on separate occasions in the first, but the Knicks closed out the first with a 12-6 spurt that cut Boston’s lead to 34-31 at the end of the first.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half.

 

STARS

Derrick Rose

The former league MVP looked like his old self tonight instead of just old. He led the Knicks with 14 points on 7-for-11 shooting.

Isaiah Thomas

The Knicks had great success inside the paint against all the Celtics minus Thomas who did much of his dirty work offensively on drives to the basket. At the half he had 19 points on 8-for-10 shooting.

 

STUDS

Willy Hernangomez

Boston had problems rebounding the ball, and Hernangomez was the main reason why. At the half he had 10 points and six rebounds, three of which were offensive boards.

Jae Crowder

Dealing with Carmelo Anthony is enough to keep Crowder busy tonight. But he’s doing that at a high level in addition to providing a nice punch offensively with 14 points.

Mindaugas Kuzminskas

You may not know his name, but his game was pretty impressive in the first half. At the half, he had nine points.

 

DUDS

Al Horford

We’ve seen him air-ball a 3-pointer, miss a lay-up and strguggle to get any shots to go down tonight. At the half, he had three points while missing nine of his 10 shot attempts.