LOS ANGELES — The Celtics  tried to trade Rajon Rondo  for Chris Paul  back in December and the two have had a contentious history in the past. How would Rondo handle the matchup? Quite well as it turned out.
“Just wanted to get the win,” Rondo said.
He was in control of the matchup from the beginning, scoring 12 points on just eight shots — along with a perfect 4-for-4 at the free throw line — while handing out 10 assists in the Celtics 94-85 win. But it was his defense that caught his coach’s eye.
“Defensively he was sensational,” Doc Rivers said. “He was absolutely wonderful.”
At one point Rondo dropped Paul on a switch, but Rivers called timeout and reinforced the gameplan. “No, no,” the coach said. “We’re not switching you off of Chris Paul. Ever.”
Paul made just one of his six shots through the first three quarters and while he picked up his game in the fourth, his 3-for-12 shooting night told the story. Not that Rondo took any of the credit.
“It was a team effort,” he said simply.
But you’re the first line of defense.
“Yeah, but it was a team effort,” Rondo countered. “He wasn’t just going one on one on those pick and rolls. That involves two people, so, team effort.”
Before the game, Rivers was asked how he thought his point guard would approach the matchup. “I know how I would,” Rivers joked. “But I can’t tell you how Rondo would.”
Afterward, Rivers finished the answer. “He approached it just like we thought he would. He was more concerned with winning the game.”
Rondo didn’t have much to say about Paul, but he did question one aspect of a game that saw five technical fouls.
“It wasn’t really physical,” he said. “The flopping surprised me. They seemed pretty tough but there was a lot of flopping out there tonight. That was shocking, I couldn’t believe the refs kept going for it. But it’s part of it.”