Parker wins PG battle vs. Rondo

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Parker wins PG battle vs. Rondo

SAN ANTONIO There's little argument that Rajon Rondo and Tony Parker are among the NBA's top point guards.

But who's better?

That all depends on what you want in a playmaker, but on Saturday night it wasn't even close.

Parker had the better floor game, more points and most important, his team came away with the win as the C's go 0-for-Texas following a 103-88 loss to San Antonio on Saturday.

The 6-foot-2 all-star point guard led all scorers with 22 points in addition to tallying eight assists while turning the ball over just one time.

"Tony Parker got on a roll," said Rondo who added, "they outplayed us."

San Antonio played a solid all-around game, winning just about every individual matchup on the floor - including the battle at the point between these two all-star playmakers.

"Obviously Tony was unbelievable down the stretch," said Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich. "But a lot of guys like Gary (Neal), Danny (Green), and Tiago (Splitter) played very solid basketball."

But as Popovich pointed out, it was Parker who down the stretch proved to be the difference-maker for the Spurs who snapped a two-game losing skid with Saturday's win.

Meanwhile, the Celtics (12-11) will not take to the court again until Tuesday at Chicago.

With all that time to practice, it could not come at a better time with the Celtics seemingly in need of as much time to work out their problems on the floor, as possible.

The two losses come after what has been a solid stretch of play that had the C's winning three of their four previous games.

Many problems have surfaced in the last two games, including an unusually high number of turnovers committed by Rondo.

Because he racks up so many assists, it's a given that he will pick up his share of turnovers.

But Saturday's game was his second straight in which he turned the ball over seven times - a trend that the C's need to see come to an end soon.

Rivers isn't sure exactly why Rondo's turnover numbers have been so high lightly, adding that he wouldn't rule out that the 27-year-old might be dealing with some level of fatigue as well.

"We shouldn't be fatigued, really," Rivers said. "Kevin (Garnett)? Yeah, maybe. Paul (Pierce)? Maybe. Other than that, we shouldn't be fatigued."

But as much as the turnovers committed by Rondo hurt the team, even more troubling on Saturday night was the missed shots - one missed shot in particular - that were just as problematic.

With the score tied at 55 in the third quarter and the game's momentum clearly sway in the Green Team's favor, Rondo missed what would have been a go-ahead basket.

San Antonio responded to his miss with 11 straight points that gave the Spurs their first double-digit lead of the game.

Boston continued to battle throughout the rest of the night, but failed to get any closer than five points afterward.

A big part of keeping the Celtics at bay was Parker who consistently managed to break down Boston's trapping defense and either score or set up his teammates for easy baskets.

"He's able to beat the traps. He's so quick getting around a big guy. He takes them on," said Boston's Paul Pierce. "A lot of guards accept the trap and swing it. He takes it on. He's been in those situations many, many times and he understands when to take on the trap and knows when to get rid of the ball; he has a great in-between game. That's what makes him one of the premier point guards in the league."

Blakely: This could be the start of something big for Celtics

Blakely: This could be the start of something big for Celtics

BOSTON -- Prior to this year, the Celtics hadn't been to the Eastern Conference finals since 2012. That trip served as a curtain call of sorts for the last great C's dynasty.
 
But this one, which ended with Cleveland's emphatic 135-102 Game 5 victory Thursday at TD Garden, is very different.
 
Rather than closing another chapter in the Celtics' longstanding legacy of greatness, it could serve as the beginning of a new narrative in the franchise's steady growth.
 
"For us to be in the Eastern Conference finals after the first year of this team really being together, adding additions like Al Horford and Gerald Green . . . I can go down the list of guys that we needed to learn to play with, and for us to talk about where we wanted to be and actually make it, it's a big-time accomplishment," said Avery Bradley.
 
Boston has been among the younger teams in the NBA, with the 31-year-old Green being the oldest player on the roster.
 
But what the Celtics lacked in experience, they made up for with great effort.
 
"The great thing about this is the experience," Bradley said. "We were able to go to the Eastern Conference finals, learned a lot about being in this position, and I feel like it's going to help us for next year."
 
But as we all know, the Celtics will look to strengthen themsevles this offseason, which means there's a very good chance they'll have a different look when they gather again in the fall.
 
How different is anyone's guess.
 
"It's difficult every year whenever you don't have guys back," said coach Brad Stevens. "I think you share a bond (over the course of a season)."
 
Stevens and this group have been together for eight months. Eight months of struggles, successes, frustrating defeats and euphoric victories that brought them to the conference finals, which is where their season came to an end.
 
But as disappointed as the players and coaches are inow, there's definite excitement about this franchise in the very near future.
 
Boston has the No. 1 overall pick in next month's draft, with all indications -- for now -- pointing to Washington's Markelle Fultz as their choice.
 
And their top first-round pick from a year ago, Jaylen Brown, seemed to steadily improve as the season progressed. It was one of the few times in his life where minutes weren't just handed to him, which he admits was a learning experience unlike anything he had ever had, yet he adjusted and played better as the year went along.

"I've had ups, I've had downs, I've had opportunities, I've had mistakes," said Brown. "So I've been learning and growing and improving all year and I'm going to continue growing and improving and prove people wrong, prove doubters wrong."
 
Having the season end the way it did has indeed left a bad taste in the mouths of many Celtics.
 
"I can use it as fuel," Brown said, adding: "I want to get back to the same place I'm at now."
 
Bradley, who was on the 2012 team that lost to the Miami Heat in the conference finals, knows the Celtics are going to do whatever they feel is necessary to give them the best chance at competing for a title.
 
"It's out of our control as players," Bradley said. "We had a great year together. If guys are here, if guys aren't, we all wish the best for each other.

"But I do feel this is a special group. We all gave our heart every single night, played as hard as we could. I respect all my teammates, and I really appreciated playing with all the guys I had a chance to play with this year; a special group."