BOSTON - Rajon Rondo knelt on the court, eyes fixated on his teammate.
Just a few feet away, Marquis Daniels lay on the parquet, having suffered a bruised spinal cord after colliding with Gilbert Arenas.
As other members of the team stepped away, Rondo stayed there until Daniels was lifted up in a stretcher.
I was wishing him the best, Rondo said following the Boston Celtics 91-80 win over the Orlando Magic. Hopefully nothing was really wrong with him.
While Daniels was taken to New England Baptist Hospital, Rondo and the Celtics retreated to the bench to regroup, down 24-17 with just over 11 minutes to go in the second quarter. At the time, Rondo had six points (2-for-4 FG) and no assists.
Thoughts of Daniels stayed with him. And he attacked.
Its crazy, its sad to say you have to wait for something like this to happen to get a boost, but its just how it is, he said.
By halftime Rondo had 13 points and three dimes. He led all players with 11 points in the third quarter, and finished the game with season-highs in points (26) and free throws made (7). He also added seven assists.
I thought Rondo took the third over, said Kevin Garnett. I thought after the Quis situation went on, I thought we started to get a lot more aggressive. Second half, Rondo controlled the game, controlled the tempo, and I thought he and Paul Pierce were aggressive early on and we just fed off that.
Rondo found himself open as the Magic focused their defense on Pierce and Ray Allen. The pass-first point guard decided to take advantage of the looks.
He began shooting the ball, and even when he missed, he kept at it (9-for-15 FG).
I still missed a lot of shots. All my misses were pretty much jump shots, he said. I just kept taking them. I think I missed my first two. They felt good but I had been shooting a lot more jump shots lately. Im going to continue to shoot them. Tonight the lane opened up more, even though Dwight Howard was down there.
More opportunities presented themselves for Rondo to score when Jameer Nelson fell into foul trouble. Knowing that the Magic had to be cautious on defense, the Celtics urged Rondo to be aggressive.
Doc Rivers went with an open spread, which created more opportunities for Rondo to score. Even though the Celtics dont use that strategy every game, Rivers was pleased to see Rondo take his shots when they did.
Whenever he does go to the basket, we want him to go with power and speed and be willing to get fouled, said Rivers. I thought over everything that was it. Obviously he made great shots and all that. I just liked the fact that he had no problem if he got fouled.
In the end, Rondo chalked up his performance to just playing basketball. But there was more to this game than simply Xs and Os.
I did notice a big change in Rondo after Daniels was injured, Kendrick Perkins told CSNNE.com. He came to play today. He was aggressive. I told Doc after the game, Shoot, Rondo really changed the game.
Jessica Camerato is on Twitter athttp:twitter.comjcameratoNBA