Rondo's triple-double key to Celtics' win

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Rondo's triple-double key to Celtics' win

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

NEW YORK Paul Pierce had it going strong as he led the Celtics to a 113-96 win and a game-high 38 points. Ray Allen was no slouch, scoring 32 points which included eight 3-pointers.

They were the perfect 1-2 punch for the Celtics in Friday's 113-96 win.

Often overlooked on nights when Allen is making 3s and Pierce is playing the role of a professional scorer, is Rajon Rondo.

Rondo racked up his first triple-double of the postseason with 15 points, 11 rebounds and 20 assists.

"I thought Rondo had one of those great catcher games," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "He called a terrific game. When he does that, it allows us to run pretty much when we want to run."

The Celtics were indeed in attack mode Friday night as they outscored the Knicks 11-6 in fast-break points.

And leading that charge was Rondo, who is quick to credit the Celtics big men for doing a good job of freeing players like Pierce and Allen.

"Our bigs were getting Ray and Paul open," Rondo said. "That is what Doc (Rivers) has been preaching about."

He's right.

Lately, Rivers has talked more about the need for his team to do a better job with the little things such as setting screens.

"Every team sets picks and somebody is getting open," Rivers said. "It makes us smarter to set picks for Ray and Paul but it was also the motion and ball movement, I thought, was even more important that got Ray shots."

Directing the C's motion and ball movement was Rondo, whose play on Friday was reminiscent to how he played at the start of the season.

"He is a good player," said Mike D'Antoni. "I am not going to take anything away from him, (but) when you have Ray Allen and Paul Pierce hitting shots like that, that is where your assists come from."

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

Thomas strains right groin, says he'll 'be fine for Wednesday'

Thomas strains right groin, says he'll 'be fine for Wednesday'

The bumps and bruises continue to pile up for Isaiah Thomas, adding a new one to the group during Boston’s 107-106 loss at Houston. 
 
The 5-foot-9 guard said he strained his right groin in the second quarter, but added that the injury won’t force him to miss any games. 
 
“I’ll be alright,” Thomas told reporters after the loss. “I’ll get treatment. I’ll be fine for Wednesday (against Orlando).”
 
The injury appeared to have happened shortly after Houston’s Trevor Ariza hit a 3-pointer that put the Rockets ahead 55-45.
 
At the time it didn’t seem all that serious as Thomas, who had 20 points on the night, came down and drained a 3-pointer. 
 
But after the game, Thomas acknowledged his groin did bother him during the game in which he played 33-plus minutes. 
 
“A few drives I didn’t have the lift,” said Thomas, who finished with 20 points. “It is what it is. I’ll figure it out.”
 
Thomas, who played in all 82 regular season games last season in addition to each of Boston’s 21 games this season, has dealt with an assortment of injuries including but not limited to, a swollen middle finger injury on his left (shooting) hand. 
 
Thomas, an All-Star last season for the first time, has played at an elite level that should once again position him to be represent the Eastern Conference. 
 
Following Monday’s game, Thomas is averaging a career-high 26.0 points per game which ranks ninth in the NBA along with 6.1 assists. 

Smart: 'Can’t blame the officials for the outcome of the game'

Smart: 'Can’t blame the officials for the outcome of the game'

The fact that the James Harden of the Houston Rockets went to the free throw line 18 times which was more than the entire Celtics roster (12 free throw attempts total) certainly fired up conspiracy theorists among Celtics Nation. 
 
But what seemed to draw the most ire was what appeared to be a 3-pointer by Avery Bradley late in the fourth quarter that was initially called a long two-pointer. 
 
And after it was reviewed by the good folks in Secaucus, N.J., they allowed the ruling to stand because there wasn’t enough proof in the many replay angles for them to overturn the original call. 
 
The missed lay-ups by Al Horford and Isaiah Thomas in the closing seconds stand out, obviously. 
 
But the 3-pointer that wasn’t a 3-pointer was one of the more talked-about topics in the Celtics locker room afterwards. 
 
“From the angle we saw, it was a three,” Boston’s Marcus Smart told reporters after the game. “We definitely thought it was.”
 
Said Jae Crowder: “I thought it was a three. Nothing we can do about it now.”
 
It was that kind of game for the Celtics, one in which plays that could go either way more often than not, went against them. 
 
And while Bradley’s questionable two-pointer certainly was a factor in the game’s outcome, as was the free throw discrepancy and the late-game misses, ultimately the blame for Monday’s loss falls upon the Celtics players who were still in position to win despite all those setbacks.

They simply didn't get it done, when it mattered.
 
Smart, who had 13 points off the Celtics bench, understands that fans like to blame the officials when a game ends like Monday’s loss to Houston. 
 
“Officials, they did their job,” Smart said. “You can’t blame the officials for the outcome of the game. We made some costly plays down the stretch. Give credit to the Rockets. They made plays and executed down the stretch.”