Rondo dealing at record-setting pace

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Rondo dealing at record-setting pace

BOSTON With a shade over a second left to play against Atlanta and the ball in Rajon Rondo's hands, it was a fitting image.

After all, when you break down this run that the Boston Celtics are on, it all starts -- and ultimately ends -- with the play of Rajon Rondo.

He delivered yet another monster game for the Celtics with his sixth triple-double of the season, tallying 20 assists along with 10 points and 10 rebounds in Boston's 88-86 overtime win against the Hawks.

The 20 assists marks the 19th straight game Rondo has had double-digit assists, 10 shy of tying the NBA record set by Utah's John Stockton.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers admittedly hasn't been keeping tabs on the record-setting numbers his point guard has been registering on a nightly basis.

"I know that means he's playing well," Rivers said. "But I don't need the numbers to tell me that. He's just playing extremely well. He's been spectacular. Not just in games, everywhere. That's why we're winning."

Rivers added, "It's not just him, it's everybody. But we need a locked-in effort from him every night, and he's doing that."

Part of Rondo's evolution involves recognizing what the team needs from him and delivering it when needed.

Boston came into Wednesday's game off an emotional win at Miami, and were clearly drained both physically and mentally against a well-rested Atlanta Hawks team.

It was the kind of game in which the Celtics needed a steadying force who could come up with big plays, when needed.

After falling behind by eight at the half, Rondo's dissecting of the Hawks defense in the third quarter was instrumental in the Celtics comeback. Of his 20 assists, seven came in the third in which Boston outscored Atlanta, 27-20.

"It starts with me," Rondo said. "If I take care of the ball I think we do as a team because I think I dominate the ball a lot, more than anybody, so I try to be more conscious when I am turning the ball over in the first half."

Said Rivers, "it was a fatigue game, and there's games when Rondo comes in in those games and struggles. Tonight, he willed that game. He begged to stay in in the fourth quarter - he didn't have to beg long - but he did."

And while Rondo's assists certainly are what he does best, he has made strides lately to become more of a scoring threat which has to some degree, given him even more opportunities to pass the ball.

"The fact he's trying to score is the most impressive," Rivers said. "Before he was just a facilitator. Over this stretch, while he's getting more assists, it's because he's an aggressive scorer and teams can no longer play off him for the pass."

Spooner, Bruins nearly $2 million apart in arbitration figures

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Spooner, Bruins nearly $2 million apart in arbitration figures

The figures and briefs are in for the Bruins and Ryan Spooner for their arbitration hearing Wednesday, but both sides are still hoping that a deal can be reached prior to it. The Bruins have submitted a one-year contract offer for $2 million. Spooner’s camp countered with $3.85 million, creating a sizeable gap of almost $2 million between the two.

Spooner, 25, has averaged 12 goals and 44 points the past two seasons with the B’s, including 35 power-play points while working the half-wall for a Boston PP that’s been ranked seventh overall two seasons in a row.

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Spooner is coming off a two-year contract worth $1.95 million and his is a complicated situation for the Black and Gold. Spooner holds significant value as a trade piece and has been an important part of a very effective power play, but he also finished the playoffs as a healthy scratch after going quietly the past few months of the season.

Spooner was one of the major pieces discussed in trade talks with the Minnesota Wild around the draft prior to the Wild shipping Marco Scandella to the Buffalo Sabres and he's been involved in trade discussions with several teams the past couple of years.

The Bruins have prospect Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson waiting in the wings if/when the B’s decided to spin Spooner to another team, but they also enjoy his speed and playmaking when he’s on his game. There’s clearly a scenario where the Bruins start the season with Spooner installed as their third-line center and perhaps explore more trade discussions while seeing if a full season under Bruce Cassidy can unlock his significant offensive potential.

If that's still in the plan, they’d be wise to come to an agreement and avoid the hearing Wednesday where they’d ostensibly be bad-mouthing a player they’d want back on their team. The Bruins have the right to walk away from Spooner should he be awarded the full $3.85 million by the arbiter. Still, it’s hard to believe they’d do that given that he’s a homegrown asset with trade value.

The feeling at this address is that there’s a deal to be made between the two sides for something around the $3 million mark. That’s something that would be worthwhile for the Bruins if they have any designs on continuing on with Spooner. 

Report: Kyrie Irving believes LeBron James leaked trade request news

Report: Kyrie Irving believes LeBron James leaked trade request news

Noting that LeBron James "wants the world to know that he had absolutely nothing to do with Kyrie Irving deciding that he wanted to be traded," Stephen A. Smith said on ESPN Monday that Irving believes King James may have been the one who leaked the news last week. 

It was reported Friday that Irving wanted out of Cleveland in what's been a tumultuous offseason for the Cavs. Smith said that the timing of the leak has many close to the situation suspicious.

"According to my sources, they believe LeBron James had everything to do with news getting out that Kyrie Irving wants to be traded. Because Kyrie Irving and his representation and others met with the Cavaliers a couple weeks ago, and not a word got out until recently," Smith said.

"They believe that LeBron James got word of it and was put off by it and leaked it. I’m not going to accuse LeBron of such a thing. I don’t know that to be true at all, but I know that’s what Kyrie Irving believes. 

Still just 25, Irving has three seasons left on a team-friendly five-year, $94.3 million deal.