It was almost as painful as the bulging disk in his back that caused him to wince at the opening of his press conference. Doc RIvers  took to the podium after his Celtics  lost a heart-breaker in overtime to try and put perspective on his point guard’s record-setting night.
Rajon Rondo  became the first player in the long, illustrious history of the Celtics to score at least 40 points and dish out at least 10 assists in a playoff game but his mood and the mood of the team was tempered after a 115-111 loss to the Heat Wednesday night that put the Celtics in a 2-0 hole in the Eastern Conference finals. Rondo finished with 44 points, 10 assists and was just two rebounds shy of his fourth triple-double of this playoff season.
“He was absolutely phenomenal,” Rivers said. “He put the whole team — at times — on his shoulders. It’s tough for him to play that way and not win the game, honestly, because he did basically everything right. We had a lot of opportunities to win the game.”
“It’s kind of irrelevant,” Rondo said. “We lost. It’s as simple as that.”
Rondo had three steals and just three turnovers, remarkable considering the point guard played all 53 minutes of the epic playoff contest. He became just the eighth player in NBA history to play all 53 minutes of a playoff game. But Rondo maintained that he was not tired in the late stages of the game.
“I felt fine,” Rondo said. “It was a mental grind for me, individually, and for us as a team. Kevin played extra minutes, we all did. There’s no turning back. It’s the conference finals so I wanted to play every minute. I thought I didn’t hurt my team by me playing every minute so I wanted to go out there and continue to do the best for my team.”
“It just happened during the game,” Rivers said of Rondo’s minutes. “You just read it. I don’t start the game saying I’m going to play Rondo the whole game. I just kind of read the situation. He was playing at a pretty good pace so we just rode him.”
Rondo said the Celtics are confident that the home crowd can help them get back in the series. The Celtics enter Friday’s Game 3 with a 6-1 home mark at TD Garden in these playoffs and have lost just twice in their last 21 home games dating back to Feb. 13.
“We have the next two at home,” Rondo said. “We had two tough losses on the road but it’s a seven-game series. We’re playing very well at home as of late. We’re looking forward to it.”