|Studs and Duds: Celtics blow 18-point lead in loss to Mavericks||11.18.15 at 10:09 pm ET|
For a while there, it looked like the Celtics were going to hand a third straight Western Conference foe a blowout loss. In the end, it was the C’s who blew an early 18-point lead and collapsed down the stretch.
The Mavericks went on an 11-4 run over a five-minute stretch late in the fourth quarter, turning a tie game into a seven-point lead with 30 seconds remaining. The Celtics had a chance to tie during a frantic final few possessions, but Isaiah Thomas turned it over in transition and Dallas went on to win, 106-02.
Thomas led the Celtics (6-5) with a team-high 19 points and six assists. Jared Sullinger (18 points, 12 rebounds), Avery Bradley (18 points), Jae Crowder (14 points) and David Lee (14 points) also reached double figures. Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavericks (8-4) with a game-high 23 points on 14 shots.
For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.
STUD OF THE NIGHT: Avery Bradley.
Comfortable in his newfound role as a sixth man, Bradley scored 12 straight points on five consecutive shots, and then dropped a behind-the-back pass to Isaiah Thomas on the next trip down the floor. In the process, the Celtics doubled their lead from nine to 18 and ignited the Garden crowd. When the Mavericks swung the momentum and erased the C’s lead early in the second half, Bradley’s put-back dunk (see below) stopped the bleeding, and his corner 3-pointer stretched the lead back to seven at the end of the third.
DUD OF THE NIGHT: Kelly Olynyk.
It’s not that Olynyk was bad. Despite underwhelming numbers (5 points, 3 rebounds), he owned the C’s second-best plus/minus rating behind Isaiah Thomas through three quarters (plus-14). It’s that Olynyk can’t stop fouling folks. After fouling out in 17 minutes against the Thunder on Sunday, Olynyk collected five fouls in his first 10 minutes against the Mavericks, forcing him to ease up on his already lax defense.
As is often the case, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban just said what we were all thinking.
Asked about the trade that sent Rajon Rondo to Dallas and brought Jae Crowder to Boston, the “Shark Tank” star told reporters before Wednesday night’s game, “[Expletive] happens, right? There are a lot of risks I’ve taken that have worked out just fine. They’re not all going to work.”
“Obviously, they had a really good player in Rondo, and it didn’t work out,” Stevens told a pool of reporters pregame. He added, “Crowder’s done well for us. That’s been pretty well documented. I’m not into judging or analyzing or rating how trades go; I’m more interested in who’s on our team.”
Both Stevens and Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle took time to properly credit Dwight Powell, the former C’s undrafted free agent who was thrown into the Rondo deal. The only piece remaining from the deal in Dallas, Powell entered Wednesday’s game averaging 10.5 points and 8.1 rebounds.
“After the trade, I talked to Brad, and Brad said, ‘Hey, we really like this guy and didn’t want to give him up,’ but they had to put some other things in the deal,” said Carlisle. “Powell’s worked extremely hard. He’s a guy with energy — he goes hard all the time — he’s got skill and he’s a great worker. We’ve really needed him this year, and he’s stepped up. He’s played well.”
Once again, Cuban cut to the chase. “I think when it’s all said and done, that Crowder for Powell trade will be a break-even,” said the billionaire. Well, don’t forget about that top-seven protected first-round pick the Mavericks still owe the Celtics. That’s when Cuban probably should have taken a cue from his television show and told C’s president Danny Ainge on Rondo: “I’m out.”
|Rajon Rondo may or may not be serious about latest coach feud||10.14.15 at 11:45 am ET|
Asked about his relationship with Kings coach George Karl during the preseason, Rondo said, “It’s not been going too well. We got into a couple arguments the last couple days, but hopefully we’ll continue to talk and get better.” OK, then, thanks for honesty, I guess?
Considering Rondo once threw a water bottle at former Celtics coach Doc Rivers and feuded during a game with Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle before being benched for the playoffs, you can see how someone would interpret Rondo’s comments as the logical next progression.
Then again, if you ever watched a postgame interview with Rondo, you’d know he often deadpans complete nonsense just to toy with the media. Just about Q&A with him left me wondering, Wait, is he serious? It sounds like he’s joking, but it wasn’t funny, so …
|Rajon Rondo has advice for young Celtics: ‘Stick with’ Avery Bradley and ‘listen to’ Brad Stevens||01.03.15 at 12:05 pm ET|
When Rajon Rondo was traded to Dallas in December, it left a void of leadership to a degree. Some may argue just what kind of leader the temperamental point guard was but he was the captain of the Celtics.
So after Friday night’s 119-101 win over the Celtics, Rondo offered some advice for the likes of Marcus Smart and Kelly Olynyk, who are left to look up to Jeff Green, Avery Bradley and Gerald Wallace.
“Their future’s bright. They’re a very young team and a lot of hard-working guys over there,” Rondo said. “You know, stick with Avery, listen to Gerald, listen to Coach Stevens. You know, he’s very positive. And he expects a lot out of the guys but he’s the right coach for these young guys.”
With Friday out of the way, Rondo will be solely focused on getting back to the NBA finals, a place he hasn’t been since losing Game 7 to the Lakers in 2010. He did get to a Game 7 of the Eastern finals in 2012 but fell in Miami.
“I just want to win,” Rondo said. “I just want to win a championship. I’ve got to get to that feeling again and we have a great, talented group of guys in Dallas that I think we can do it, maybe one piece away. Our defensive rebounding, rebound entirely has to get better as a team, and coach Carlisle made an emphasis of rebounding the basketball and we did a pretty good job.”
Rondo has been known to play at his best with a chip on his shoulder. Is he playing with a bigger chip on his shoulder than in 2010?
“I wouldn’t say that,” he replied. “I’m very blessed to be playing basketball again. I took a long time off for my ACL injury and I think I took basketball for granted up to a certain point; being able to go out there every night and do what I love to do. So I don’t know if I was able to show it as much here while I was a Celtic, but now, I say I’m still just very humbled and blessed to be playing basketball. Something I love to do every night. So I don’t take it for granted, and this is how I play the game now.”
Read the rest of this entry »
|Rajon Rondo looks back on a day that leaves him ’emotionally tired’||01.02.15 at 10:49 pm ET|
After lighting his former team up for 29 points, including a career-high five 3-pointers, Rajon Rondo addressed reporters for about eight minutes following a 119-101 Dallas victory over the Celtics Friday night at an electric TD Garden.
“Obviously it was a special day today,” Rondo said. “I’m emotionally tired, physically tired, drained right now. It was a tough game to get through but my teammates came through for me and we got the win.”
Rondo started the game red-hot. He was 6-for-6 in the first quarter, including three 3-pointers and 15 points. His third three of the quarter came with 0.2 seconds left in the period and gave the Mavericks a 31-17 lead after one quarter.
That inspired performance led into a three-minute video produced by the Celtics, which ended with the words “Thank You Rondo!” wrapped around the video board. Rondo caught a peek at the tribute but didn’t want to get too distracted by it.
“I just tried to stay focused,” Rondo said. “It was a big game and it was already emotional enough. I just wanted to stay locked in and listen to the coach in the huddle and then obviously, go out and say thank you to the fans. So, I wasn’t too keyed in on the video. You know, I watched. I saw a couple of glimpses but I was just trying to stay focused.”
Was he close to crying?
“No tears,” Rondo said. “I think [Brandon] Bass blinked a couple of times. But I didn’t cry. It was a tough game, and they turned up the heat on us in the second half, defensively.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Rajon Rondo is introduced as a visitor back in Boston||at 7:51 pm ET|
The banner around the TD Garden video board read “Thank You Rondo!” And with that, a three-minute tribute to the former Celtics superstar point guard concluded Friday night. The Celtics showed their appreciation for Rajon Rondo, their most recent captain, in a stirring three-minute tribute featuring highlights of his eight-plus seasons in Boston, marking his return for the first time since the December trade that sent him out of town.
At the end of the tribute produced by the Celtics, Rondo acknowledged the standing ovation from the fans, and then went over to the Celtics bench, giving a hug to longtime trainer Ed Lacerte and others. Before the game, he had a hug with Celtics TV announcer Mike Gorman.
Rondo capped a 15-point first quarter with his third three-pointer in as many tries with 0.2 seconds remaining. Rondo connected on all six shots as the Mavericks raced out to a 31-17 lead.
Rondo cooled off a bit in the second quarter, connecting on 1-of-4 shots and finishing the half with 18 points, three rebounds and one assist as the Mavericks led, 59-46.
Rondo scored the first 10 points of the game for Dallas, including a pair of 3-pointers on his first two attempts from long distance.
|Irish Coffee: Just how bad did Rajon Rondo want out?||12.30.14 at 12:23 pm ET|
Despite his league-leading assists average, former Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo wasn’t the player over the past season we came to know during three trips to the Eastern Conference finals from 2008-12. That much is certain.
Rondo’s true shooting dipped to an alarmingly low level in 2014-15 (career-worst 42.2 percent), and his performance on the other end was no longer all-defensive worthy. As a result, the Celtics proved better both offensively and defensively without him on the court, per Basketball Reference.
While Rondo’s decline at the age of 28 appeared a result of a player once reliant on slicing and scrapping his way into the restricted area still struggling to recover both physical and mentally from a serious knee injury, there have been rumblings in the fortnight since his trade that the regression might have been the result of another factor entirely: Effort.
“He’s always up to stuff when he’s locked in, and I think that’s the guy that Dallas is getting,” Grantland editor-in-chief Bill Simmons told writer Zach Lowe during their podcast last week. “In Boston, he would just give up the ball and just stand there, and I do think they had to trade him. It was too bad that was the way it worked out, not just from what we were seeing from the games, but from what I was hearing. In practice, when you have your guy who’s the unquestioned best guy on the team and the quote unquote ‘leader’ of the team, and he’s just not going hard in practice at all, that puts a coach who is trying to get through to young players in a really bad spot. And I think they knew they had to trade him.”
That’s new information, and while some hearsay can be discarded as the customary smear campaigning from Boston teams in the wake of major trades, Simmons’ sources aren’t the only ones dropping hints.
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