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Rajon Rondo feels he’s ‘still a long way’ from where he wants to be 11.13.14 at 11:09 am ET
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When Rajon Rondo plays great defense, the Celtics usually play great defense. That’s been a fact since Rondo arrived on the scene in Boston in 2006.

Wednesday night was an example of what can go wrong when he doesn’t. As a point guard and captain, Rondo has often been responsible for calling out defenses for the likes of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Avery Bradley. Rondo, by his own admission after a 109-94 loss to the Thunder, is still working his way back to form after missing training camp and preseason with a broken bone in his left hand.

“I think around Game 6 for me and still kind of preseason but everything counts,” Rondo said. “I’m still trying to get my rhythm, my wind and my timing with my teammates. I’m still a long way from where I want to be so I’m just going to continue to work.

“I’m OK defensively,” Rondo said. “I think it’s a team effort. I’m just trying to do my job in getting to the ball, contest shots. We didn’t do a great job of that, including myself. [Anthony] Morrow hit some tough shots but we still have to make them more uncomfortable off the ball. Give them credit. They made plays. They made the shots. They had our defense scattered all over the court. They went inside with dunks with Adams. And they went outside with Morrow and [Nick] Collison. They had us all over the place.”

The Helter Skelter defense allowed the Thunder to shoot 62 percent in the second half as the Thunder outscored Boston, 67-43, to cruise to just their third win in nine games.

“We let one slip away,” Rondo said. “They come off a back-to-back. They got in around three in the morning and we’ve been waiting. It’s a disappointing loss but we continue and have to move forward.”

Moving forward means LeBron James, Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers on Friday night at the Garden. The Thunder shot lights out without Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook Wednesday. Celtics fans shudder to think what might happen if Cleveland’s “Big 3″ get hot Friday.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Rajon Rondo,
Brad Stevens wasn’t too pleased with his defense: ‘We were a sieve’ 11.13.14 at 10:02 am ET
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Brad Stevens isn’t the kind of coach to throw chairs or even raise his voice to get his point across when he’s ticked off at his team.

But Wednesday night, after a complete and utter no-show in the second half of a 109-94 loss to the undermanned Thunder at the Garden, Stevens came as close to publicly calling them out as you’ll see from the mild-manned coach.

“Well, I think it was, first of all, their energy and their togetherness, and their energy,” Stevens said. “Their passion was obvious and evident. And I don’€™t know if it was the fact that we missed a couple of shots that got us out of a rhythm, but the bottom line is we didn’€™t guard them at all in the second half. And they had a lot to do with that. They ran good stuff, and they made shots.”

Former Boston College sharpshooter Reggie Jackson and Anthony Morrow (28 points each) picked up the slack for a team missing Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. The Thunder, who trailed 51-42 at the half, outscored the Celtics, 67-43, in the second half, as Boston allowed Oklahoma City to shoot 62 percent (26-of-42).

“Credit to them,” Stevens said. “We talked about guys like Morrow; if you ever leave Morrow, he’€™s going to score,” Stevens said. “If you ever get hit on a screen and you’€™re lost, he’€™s going to score. And he scored a lot. And we let the big’s run down the lane and dunk it a couple times. I mean, 67 points in a half is pretty poor.”

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Read More: Anthony Morrow, Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Oklahoma City Thunder
Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins and a Celtics brotherhood 11.13.14 at 1:31 am ET
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Those 2007-08 Celtics share a bond that won’t be broken, so it wasn’t surprising to see Leon Powe waiting in the visiting locker room for Thunder center Kendrick Perkins to get dressed Wednesday night.

“Sometimes you just need a reality check,” said Perkins, who has worked through his share of ups and downs in Oklahoma City, coming off the bench in Wednesday’s 109-94 win over his former team. “Sometimes people you love just have to put you in place and talk to you, and that’s all you need at times, is just that one person to talk to.

“I go to a lot of people, man,” he added. “I talk to [Kevin Garnett] a lot. I talk to [Rajon] Rondo a lot. KG is the one who tells me the truth all the time. He’s going to tell me the truth whether I want to hear it or not.”

Rondo wouldn’t share exactly what he and he and his former teammate discuss.

“I can’€™t really say what we talk about, really,” he said. “He told me some things, too, but I won’€™t put him on blast.”

Perkins is a little more forthcoming about their relationship. They became best friends as the young tandem that filled out a starting five that featured Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, so when Perkins was dealt to OKC for Jeff Green at the 2011 trade deadline, it taught them both a less in NBA business. Still, they remain thick as thieves.

Naturally, as Perkins and Rondo approach unrestricted free agency for the first time in their careers, their conversations occasionally focus on the future. “I think it’€™s a great place for him,” Perkins told reporters prior to the game. “I think he wants to stay here. We talk on the regular, and I think he should stay. If I was him, I’€™d stay.”

Rondo didn’t disagree. “That’s about accurate,” said the Celtics captain. “From Media Day in the beginning, that’€™s what I said initially, so … my perspective hasn’t changed, and I love being a Celtic.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Kendrick Perkins, NBA, Oklahoma City Thunder
5 things we learned from the Celtics’ loss to the Thunder 11.12.14 at 9:54 pm ET
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Rajon Rondo's 20 points couldn't stop a Celtics meltdown. (Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

Rajon Rondo‘s 20 points couldn’t stop a Celtics meltdown. (Getty Images)

The Celtics are tough to figure out.

Coming in riding a two-game win streak, the C’€™s raced to a 15-point lead in the first quarter, but then struggled against a star-less Thunder team that picked up its first road win of the season by a score of 109-94 (click here for box score).

The win for Oklahoma City was reminiscent of Boston’€™s short-handed victory against the heavily favored Bulls on the second night of a back-to-back last Saturday. The Thunder did not look like the team that lost Tuesday night in Milwaukee, beating the Celtics in convincing fashion.

Reggie Jackson and Anthony Morrow led the Thunder with 28 points each. Morrow came off the bench and was quiet much of the game, until exploding for 19 points in the fourth quarter.

Although Morrow’s contributions were well above average, the Thunder managed to take a 50-15 advantage over the Celtics in bench scoring. This was far from expected given that the Thunder’s depleted roster was facing off against a Celtics squad that prides themselves on depth. Perhaps the absence of Marcus Smart and Marcus Thornton (both out with sprained ankles) cost the C’s some bench production, but it would have been hard to predict such a stark difference from Saturday.

Here are five things we learned in a game that dropped the Celtics back below .500 (3-4):

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Read More: Oklahoma City Thunder, Rajon Rondo, Reggie Jackson,
NBA power and sour rankings: Top 5, bottom 5 11.12.14 at 2:32 pm ET
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Follow Sam Packard on Twitter @SPackGuy

In the NBA, the worst place to be is the middle of the pack. If you are not contending for a championship or tanking, in my mind, you are not relevant. Because of this, each week I will rank the top five and bottom five teams in the league. The rankings are based entirely on my own observations and opinions, so please feel free to call me names in the comments section.

FIVE BEST

1. Raptors (7-1)

First off, I am a Drake fan. I generally like his music, but more importantly he played Jimmy on “Degrassi: The Next Generation.” For some reason, I watched Degrassi on The N, the teenage version of the kids channel Noggin, religiously in middle school. I knew Drake before he was Wheelchair Jimmy, when he was just Jimmy Brooks, the basketball-playing eighth-grader who was trying to have sex with his girlfriend, Ashley. I was there when Ashley took ecstasy and made out with resident bad boy Sean, right in front of Jimmy’s face! I feel for Jimmy, therefore I will forever like Drake.

Also, The Raptors are a really good basketball team. I watched Kyle Lowry drop 35 on the Celtics and will his team to victory. DeMar DeRozan ain’t bad, either.

2. Rockets (6-1)

Last week I predicted the demise of the Rockets, chiding their soft early schedule. Then they came out and beat the Spurs by 17. James Harden did this to Aron Baynes.

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Rajon Rondo didn’t want to miss last Saturday’s game vs. Bulls 11.11.14 at 3:40 pm ET
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WALTHAM — The Celtics held practice at their training facility in Waltham on Tuesday as they prepare for a three-game homestand, beginning Wednesday night against the Thunder.

The most noteworthy news from practice was the fact that Rajon Rondo practiced in full after missing last Saturday’s game in Chicago to have screws removed from his surgically repaired left hand. Although minor, this certainly was not a procedure that was planned far in advance — nor did Rondo seem happy about missing the game.

“Danny [Ainge] made a decision at halftime [of Friday’€™s victory over the Pacers], I had no idea,”€ said Rondo when asked when it was made official he wouldn’€™t be joining the team on its flight to Chicago Friday night.

After Friday’s game was when Rondo was notified he would be staying back in Boston to get the screws removed. Even without Rondo Saturday night, the Celtics defeated the Bulls, 106-101.

“€œ[I] came in very pissed off, but, you know, the team got the win. … I just wanted to go travel with my team and play against Chicago,” Rondo said.

Rondo added he thought he would have had the surgery on Sunday — an off day.

“Well, I thought we would have the day off Sunday anyway, and I thought I could do it Sunday, but they [Ainge and team doctors] make the decisions,”€ Rondo said.

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Read More: Brad Stevens, Danny Ainge, Marcus Smart, Rajon Rondo
Magic 9-Ball: Rajon Rondo Trade Barometer v1.0 11.11.14 at 3:19 pm ET
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Let’s face it: This is the season of Rajon Rondo. As interesting as it is to evaluate the frontcourt progress of Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk, Avery Bradley‘s offensive potential and Jeff Green‘s surprising consistency, the biggest questions the Celtics must answer all involve Rondo. Just how good is he? Will he be traded? What can they get in return? In a weekly feature on Green Street, we’ll take stock of the Celtics captain’s status every Tuesday.

RAJON RONDO TRADE VALUE

When asked if Rondo looked like the player who earned four straight NBA All-Star Game nods from 2010-13, one of the players he’ll battle for a fifth trip to the exhibition didn’t hesitate.

“He had a triple-double tonight,” Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry said after Rondo collected 15 assists, 13 points and 10 boards in a 110-107 loss to Toronto. “That’s pretty good, ain’t it?”

It’s true. The most telling indicator of Rondo’s return to health has been his ability to hover around a triple-double on a nightly basis. He’s posted averages of 11.2 assists, 9.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in 33.2 minutes over five games. Oscar Robertson is the only player in NBA history to post those numbers over a full season (he did it twice … while averaging 30 points), so it’s unlikely he’ll maintain that pace through 82 games. Regardless, he’s been remarkable.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, NBA, Rajon Rondo, The Rajon Rondo Trade Barometer
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