Maybe Kevin Garnett had the best perspective of all on the accomplishments of Rajon Rondo on Friday night. Not only did Rondo set a new career best with 18 assists in Boston’s 94-86 win over the Kings at TD Garden, the Celtics point guard set a new single-season steals mark with two in the game and 169 for the season.
“It’s a great accomplishment. He deserves a big pat on the back,” said Garnett, who promptly proceeded to take his left hand and give Rondo a playful shot to the ribs at the podium.
All of this while the Celtics were clinching their third straight Atlantic Division title.
‘I wasn’t even aware of that,” Garnett said. “I don’t think that anybody in the locker room said anything like that. I think tonight we were more appreciative of Rondo, and his accomplishments. Anytime you get any kind of record in this organization, on a team like what we have, is a huge thing. We are just of appreciative of being in the moment, being here, being a part of it. It is a very special moment, and no one even talked about the division title tonight. Tonight was Rondo’s night.”
Indeed it was. From the opening tip and continuing throughout a game that had the Celtics up 24 points five different times in the third quarter, Rondo set the tempo with another all-around great game. He now has 696 assists, just 19 shy of Bob Cousy’s mark in the 1959-60 season.
‘It may mean more to me once I retire or I am away from here,” Rondo said. “I am just focused on winning. It is a great accomplishment. This organization has won so many championships and has had some great players come through; so many all-stars have set records here, hopefully down the line another record. At the end of the day I am just trying to focus on getting wins and as an individual accomplishment, they come in the path of doing great things for the team.’
‘Any time you get any record, whether it be assists or steals, or rebounds,” Garnett added, “records don’t just fall in your lap. A great effort, and anticipation. I have never been nowhere near steals and all of that.”
Of course, part of the issue with Rondo has been that he sometimes gambles on defense, leaving his teammates to cover for him when the defense is left out of position.
“The anticipation is a gamble at times, but you know we understand Rondo’s game and we all do different things,” Garnett said. “We know that nine out of 10 times he is solid. He does gamble, eight out of 10 times he is right. The two we have to make up for, but at the same time when we mess up, he is there to help us, so it evens itself out at the end of the day. It’s a great accomplishment and a big pat on the back for him.’
Rondo is dishing the ball as well as he ever has and certainly is running the Celtics offense better than at any point during this season. In other words, he’s peaking at just the right time – with just 10 games left in the season.
‘Kevin made a lot of shots, Ray [Allen] made shots as well. The team made shots. I just try and give them the ball. Get easy position as much as possible, but what I was proud about were the turnovers, the turnover ratio,” said Rondo, who had 18 assists and just two turnovers. “I was just trying to take care of the ball. At times, I turned down a couple of shots because I was trying to pass it, but other than that, I was just happy taking care of the ball and keeping the turnovers down.’