Rajon Rondo: ‘I may have a mark on my back’ with NBA young guns
|01.14.13 at 11:54 pm ET|
Rajon Rondo doesn’t need much to get motivated, so when he was asked by longtime Worcester Telegram & Gazette beat writer Bill Doyle before the game why his assist totals were down over the last 12 games, he had all the fuel needed to burn the Bobcats on Monday night. And burn them he did, recording his third triple-double of the season and 26th of his career, scoring 17 points, dishing 12 assists and grabbing 10 rebounds in Boston’s 100-89 win.
Doyle, to his credit, asked Rondo after the game if he were inspired by the pregame line of questioning.
“Because you told me my assists were down and I just wanted to just go out there and prove it to you that I can step up my game when need be,” Rondo said. “Greg [Dickerson] was asking me about Kemba Walker. I’m getting a little bit older and so the younger guys are coming in and I may have a mark on my back, being an older guy, made a couple of All-Star [Games], but I’m a target every night and I just want to go out and defend what I do best, and that is run the show. I made a lot of lucky shots tonight.”
And who are Rondo’s targets?
“Myself,” he said without hesitation.
As Doc Rivers pointed out pregame, he wasn’t that worried about Rondo’s assist totals. Rondo had just four double-digit assist games in his last 12 but was still averaging 8.9 assists in that stretch.
That changed Monday night when he had nine points, five assists and six rebounds in the first quarter alone.
“They made some shots and the ball bounced to me,” Rondo explained. “My bigs did a good job of blocking out and I was able to start quickly.”
The Celtics managed to regain control after blowing an 18-point lead to a 9-27 team that was on the road.
Rondo was asked point-blank: Do you think you should lose an 18-point lead against anybody?
“No, but I mean that’s basketball,” Rondo said. “We’ve come back from 18-point leads. You’re never safe in this league, you can have a double-digit lead, but it’s a matter of time before guys make shots. They were struggling in the first half and hitting shots in the second, hitting some tough shots, they banged a couple in, got rhythm 3′s and got to the free throw line.
“I think our defense is creating … when guys are wide open on transition, its easier for me to pick the teams apart, and sometimes when I would end up with a big on me, and I attack the big, other times another big was on JET [Jason Terry] or Avery [Bradley], that leaves room for corner 3′s, and they were knocked down tonight. Like I said, we had good a mismatch in transition and we were able to get the lead early on.”
But the biggest difference over the six-game winning streak is the team’s morale, much of which Rondo credits to Keyon Dooling, who as a team adviser has been telling everyone positive thoughts.
“Besides myself? Keyon Dooling has helped, he’s been in the locker room, amping guys up, his personality … I think it started with him,” Rondo said. “Our spirits are better, obviously. It’s not fun losing, and since we’ve been winning, the locker room has been a little bit more relaxed and guys are smiling again and joking, so its back to where we’ve been from the start. We lost a couple of games, we never got down, we just tightened up the locker room to try and get us back to the way we play. We play loose, we’re smiling out there on the floor sometimes — well, I don’t, but some of the teammates do, guys like Courtney [Lee], Jeff [Green] as well. So they get that swag back, and I think we’ve done that the last couple of games.”