Celtics vs. Spurs: Rajon Rondo Dishes 22 Assists, Records Triple-Double
Rajon Rondo was the clear star for the Celtics, proving yet again why he is the best facilitator in the NBA. He finished with 12 points, 22 assists, 10 rebounds and six steals—just four takeaways from the elusive quadruple-double.
His 22-assist effort is the second-highest total of the season. Rondo previously recorded a 24-assist game (and triple-double) against the Knicks on October 29. Rondo has recorded 11 triple-doubles thus far in his young career.
Rondo was 4-of-5 from the field in the fourth quarter, including a 19' and 18' jumper, as well as a difficult 7' floater with about a minute left in regulation. He continues to make improvements on his mid-range jump shot, which is slowly becoming a part of his diverse offensive repertoire.
Ray Allen gave new meaning to the nickname "Sugar Ray." He led all scorers with 31 points on 13-of-16 shooting, including 2-of-4 shooting from beyond the arc.
Glen "Big Baby" Davis gave the Celtics 33 valuable minutes, scoring 23 points on 10-of-18 shooting. Perhaps his biggest contribution, however, came with 1:16 to go in the fourth quarter, when he drew a charge on Richard Jefferson.
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Davis continues to make the case as to why the charge should be an officially recorded NBA stat. There's simply no one better at it than him in the NBA, and by an unofficial count, Davis is averaging over a charge per game.
Jermaine O'Neal quietly had himself a very productive game as well. What he did won't show up on the stat sheet—four points, five rebounds, one block in 23 minutes of play—but he was the defensive center of the otherwise small Celtics lineup that excelled so strongly during the fourth quarter. He brought the Celtics the defensive intensity that they lose with Kevin Garnett out of the lineup.
This was one of those classic games between two great teams that might occur only once or twice a season. The score was close for pretty much the whole game, which even featured a little end-of-game drama.
The C's turned the ball over twice with a nine-point lead and just about a minute to go. On both occasions, it looked as if the Celtic ball handler was fouled, but no calls were made. The Spurs cut it to two points before Ray Allen was fouled with eight seconds on the clock. However, Ray uncharacteristically missed both free throws, the only blemish on his otherwise perfect night.
Paul Pierce blocked the final shot attempt by Manu Ginobli, and the Celtics were able to hold on for the win.
There may be some concern on the Spurs end after this one. They allowed the Celtics to score 105 points on 46-of-75 (61.3 percent) shooting, including 5-of-9 (53.3 percent) from deep. This comes one game after they allowed the Knicks to score 128 points on them, the highest total in the Tim Duncan era.
Gregg Popovich wasn't happy with his team's effort after the Knicks game, and he wasn't happy with his team from the get-go tonight. He pulled DeJuan Blair out of the game after only about a minute of play, and he used two 20-second timeouts within the first four minutes of the game to chide his group on their defensive play. Blair played just 11 total minutes; he was 1-of-7 from the field.
All in all, a great win for the C's. They're still about a week or so away from a Kevin Garnett return, and their hectic January schedule will be very important in determining whether or not they can achieve the best record in the NBA, therefore securing home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.
Other Game Notes
- While the Spurs had just a 37-36 rebounding edge over the C's, they out-rebounded the C's 15-5 on the offensive glass. While the Celtics' low total is not a surprise considering they shot 61.3 percent from the field, they could have done a better job keeping the Spurs off the offensive glass.
- Nate Robinson played very well in tandem with Rajon Rondo and a small lineup that featured Ray Allen at the 3, Paul Pierce at the 4 and Jermaine O'Neal at the 5. It'll be interesting to see if the C's experiment with smaller lineups in the future, as they were so effective on defense and in transition. In 17 minutes of play, Nate finished with seven points on 3-of-5 shooting. Most importantly, however, he came up with five rebounds (two offensive), two assists and a steal. He was very accountable on the defensive end of the floor, which will do wonders for his playing time if he keeps it up.
- Paul Pierce had a nice game: 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting, 2-of-2 from three. He also totaled seven boards, one assist, one steal and one block.
- Manu Ginobli led all Spurs scorers with 24 points (18 in the fourth quarter) on 7-of-12 shooting, 3-of-6 from deep.
- Next up for the Celtics are the Toronto Raptors this Friday at home. They have 13 games over their next 25 days.
For more news, stories, and opinion, follow Dan on twitter at danhartelBR.
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