Rajon Rondo Wins NBA Player of the Night by Tying John Stockton's Assist Streak
Rajon Rondo is in even better company than he was before.
On a night when Jrue Holiday torched the Phoenix Suns and Carmelo Anthony continued his string of dominance against the Detroit Pistons, there was Rondo's historical performance against the Orlando Magic.
Sure, the floor general essentially willed the Boston Celtics to victory, but his performance meant more. Much more.
With just under 10 minutes to go in the third quarter, Rondo dished out his 10th assist of the night, tying John Stockton as only the third player in NBA history to accomplish such a feat at least 37 times.
Stat Line: 15 points, 16 assists, nine rebounds and two steals on 46.7 percent shooting.
It wasn't long before we came to realize that Rondo's historic night had the potential to end in tragedy for the Celtics.
Though the point guard was able to tie Stockton's record and keep his streak alive, his stat line was not enough to push Boston past Orlando in regulation. Paul Pierce missed a jump shot at the end of the fourth quarter, and the game was pushed through to overtime.
While the Magic have played better basketball than most have expected them to thus far, the Celtics could not afford to suffer a loss at their hands. Boston is already struggling to hover above .500 and a loss to a lowly opponent like Orlando would have only added insult to injury. Plus, is that any way this team wanted to follow up a thrilling victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder?
Not at all.
However, Pierce redeemed himself and ensured the Celtics would not emerge anything but victorious by hitting a go-ahead three-pointer in the extra period to give Boston the lead for good.
Despite Pierce's late-game heroics, though, there's no way the Celtics win without Rondo's near triple-double. The game had the makings of an upset, had the makings of one that could rain on the point guard's assist parade, but he wouldn't let it.
Many would like to look at Kevin Garnett's eight points in the final five minutes as the effort that pushed the then trailing Celtics into overtime and subsequently to victory, but that's shortsighted. Sure, his points were key in forcing the game into overtime, but each of his baskets down the stretch came off assists from Rondo.
That's where Boston is currently at right now. It cannot win consistently, even against inferior opponents, without their crafty point man. Over the course of his ground-breaking streak, he has proved to be the one constant source of dependability; he has proved to be the one player the Celtics can turn down with the game on the line.
No, Rondo isn't the best of shooters or the most aggressive of scorers, but he dealt out just four less assists than the entire Magic team. That's not just the tell-tale sign of a point guard attempting to lead his team, it's simply incredible.
Which is why Rondo's importance to the Celtics is not to be discounted. Boston is off to a disappointing 8-6 start, yet few people are inclined to count them out of the title chase.
Because of Rondo.
His stat lines are capable of single-handedly willing the Celtics to victory every night. Sometimes it will take more than four quarters, but his stylings remain effective nonetheless.
Who was the NBA's top performer Sunday night?
So no, this night wasn't just about Rondo tying Stockton's record for consecutive games with 10 or more assists, it was also about him showcasing his talents as a leader, as an end-all for a struggling Boston team.
And now, as Rondo attempts to tie and eventually surpass Magic Johnson's record of 46 straight games with 10-plus assists, you also cannot help but be optimistic about Boston's immediate future.
This game didn't find the Celtics at their best, but there are always going to be night's like this one. All that matters is Rondo continues to be at his best; all that matters is he is able to remain unflappable and convert a less-than-perfect collective performance into Boston's second straight victory.
All that matters is that the Celtics have Rondo.
Streak or no streak.
All in this article are accurate as of November 26th, 2012.
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