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."

Isaiah Thomas continues to claim Celtics' franchise records

Isaiah Thomas continues to claim Celtics' franchise records

BOSTON – This continues to be a historic season for Isaiah Thomas as more records fell in Wednesday’s 103-100 loss to Milwaukee, and the company he’s keeping becomes even more exclusive. 

Thomas had a game-high 32 points on Wednesday which included five made 3’s on nine attempts. That gave him 223 for the season which is a new franchise single-season record for made 3-pointers. The previous record was 222 set by Antoine Walker during the 2001-2002 season.

And his 32 points scored gives him 2,012 this season. 

Only six players in franchise history (Paul Pierce was the last to do it during the 2005-2006 season) have scored 2,000 or more points in a single season. 

Oh, there’s more. 

With Wednesday being the 66th time this season he has had 20 or more points, Thomas has now tied Pierce (2005-2006) and Larry Bird (1985-1986; 1987-1988) for sixth on the Celtics’ single-season franchise list. 

“I didn’t even know that,” a visibly disappointed Thomas said following Wednesday’s loss. “It doesn’t feel that good right now. But when I look back on it, probably in the offseason, I’ll appreciate it a little more. But I’m just staying in the moment and try and play as best I can to lead this team to as many wins as possible.”

Other season milestones Thomas is in the mix for include the following:

  • The 5-foot-9 guard is one of three players this season to have 50 or more games of 25-plus points, joined by Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook (57) and Houston’s James Harden (54).
  • Thomas has made at least one 3-pointer in a franchise-record 50 straight games (Dec. 3 – March 29). That’s also the longest current streak in the NBA. 
  • With 66 games of 20 or more points this season, Thomas is second in the NBA to Westbrook (67).

Marcus Smart at center of yet another controversial call

Marcus Smart at center of yet another controversial call

BOSTON – One of the more bizarre plays in Boston’s 103-100 loss to Milwaukee came in the second quarter, requiring some explanation from the officials afterwards. 

With 3:55 to play in the second quarter, the officials had originally called a foul on Marcus Smart which he verbally protested that eventually led to him being whistled for a technical foul. 

After the officials reviewed the play, they changed the call to a personal foul against Khris Middleton but no change to the called technical foul against Smart who objected to a call that, upon review, they agreed was the wrong call to make. 

Official Sean Corbin, through pool reporter Ken Powtak of the Associated Press, acknowledged that the original call was a loose ball foul against Smart. 

“The (officiating) crew got together, we met prior to video and we decided that we needed to look at video because both players were on the floor bleeding so we went to the video for a hostile act,” Corbin told Powtak. “In the review we noticed that Khris Middleton initially made contact to Marcus Smart’s face. That’s how the original contact to the play occurred.”

Fortunately for the Celtics, Middleton missed his technical free throw while Smart split a pair of free throws which cut Milwaukee’s lead to 49-40.

Still, that’s no consolation for Smart who was whistled for a technical foul on a play that the official acknowledged was the wrong call to make. 

In the fourth quarter, Smart was at the center of yet another controversial call that was also reviewed by the officials. The verdict wasn't nearly as good for Smart who was whistled for a flagrant foul after getting his feet tangled up with Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo who was called for a non-shooting foul in the play with 4:46 to play. 

Antetokounmpo made one of two free throws and on the Bucks' ensuing possession, he was called for traveling.

Smart was unavailable to talk after the game in part because the aforementioned incident left an abrasion to his mouth and, because of the technical foul, a little lighter in the wallet as well.