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Rajon Rondo: ‘I may have a mark on my back’ with NBA young guns 01.14.13 at 11:54 pm ET
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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.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, NBA, Rajon Rondo, triple-double
Fast Break: Rajon Rondo’s triple-double delivers sixth straight Celtics win at 10:01 pm ET
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Apparently, Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo doesn’t reserve his triple-doubles just for nationally televised games, since he recorded the 26th such night of his career in a 100-89 win on a Monday night against the Bobcats.

Rondo totaled 17 points (8-11 FG), 12 assists and 10 rebounds, leading the Celtics (20-17) to their sixth straight victory. Paul Pierce (19 points), Avery Bradley (16 points) and Jeff Green (11 points) all reached double figures while Kevin Garnett grabbed 10 boards on a poor shooting night (2-11 FG).

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Rondo from the get-go: The Celtics point guard assisted on the C’s first four field goals — getting Bradley, Pierce and Brandon Bass involved within the game’s first 1:45 — and then made their next four buckets, staking the home team to a 16-6 advantage midway through the first quarter. By the end of the opening frame, Rondo recorded nine points, six rebounds and five assists. Needless to say, Good Rondo was in the house.

Avery good night: With the possible exception of his 13-point, five-assist night against the Knicks last week, Bradley enjoyed his sharpest offensive performance of the season. His defense never relents, but his offense hasn’t quite rounded into pre-surgery form. The slashing backdoor buckets are still there, but Bradley connected on 56 percent (20-36) of his corner 3-pointers last season, and he started this winter 2-of-9 from the same spots. Against the Bobcats, however, Bradley made 4-of-7 triples, all from the corner.

Green light: Quietly, Green’s scoring numbers are climbing into double digits. He entered the game averaging 9.7 points per game and connected on four of his first seven shots off the bench, scoring all 11 of his points over a five-minute stretch in the second quarter. He’s now reached double figures in 17 games, including three of his last four. His rebounding numbers, while still not reflective of a 6-foot-9 hybrid forward, are also rising.

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Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Charlotte Bobcats, NBA
Rajon Rondo triples up on the Bobcats as Celtics win sixth straight at 9:58 pm ET
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Rajon Rondo recorded his 26th career triple double and sparked a second-half rally as the Celtics shook free of the lowly Bobcats, 100-89, for their sixth straight win Monday night at TD Garden. Rondo completed the triple double with a rebound with four minutes left in the game and finished with 17 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. Paul Pierce led the Celtics in scoring with 19 points while Avery Bradley had 16 points, including 4-of-7 shooting from 3-point range. Jeff Green added 11 points off the bench for the Celtics, who improved to 20-17 on the season. Charlotte lost for the 23rd time in 25 games and fell to 9-28.

The Celtics appeared to be in line for an easy night when they jumped out to a 11-2 lead in the opening three minutes. Rondo was red-hot early, scoring seven points, dishing out four assists and grabbing four rebounds in the first five minutes. The Celtics built their first quarter lead up to as many as 13 points, 28-15, before settling for a 28-18 lead after one. The Celtics shot 63.2 percent in the first 12 minutes while the Bobcats were ice-cold at 7-for-25 (28 percent). Rondo finished the quarter with nine points, six rebounds and five assists, all team highs.

The Celtics built their lead to 18, 50-32, on a Pierce three-point play with 4:31 left in the second quarter. The Bobcats made a bit of a run at the end of the first half, closing on a 13-6 spurt, as the Celtics took a 56-45 halftime lead.

The tables were turned in the second half as the Celtics came out ice cold and were outscored by the Bobcats, 9-0, to open the third quarter. Rondo’s jumper stopped the run but Charlotte eventually tied the game, 58-58. The Celtics then scored the next seven points to take the lead for good. Boston led 76-70 after three.

The Bobcats were within four, 78-74, when Jared Sullinger and Rondo made back-to-back baskets to start a 9-0 run and open a 13-point lead. The run was capped by a Courtney Lee 3-pointer.

The Celtics are now 3-0 on their season-long five-game homestand, which continues Wednesday with a game against New Orleans and finishes up on Friday against the Bulls. For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Charlotte Bobcats, NBA, Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce: Jared Sullinger at All-Star weekend is a ‘no-brainer’ at 9:15 pm ET
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Entering Monday, there wasn’t a hotter rookie in the NBA than Jared Sullinger. The first-year player out of Ohio State was a huge reason the Celtics bench had awoken from its slumber and helped the Celtics run off five straight wins. Sullinger had back-to-back double-doubles against the Suns and Rockets and is averaging 25.5 minutes per game in the first six games of January.

Sullinger is fourth among all rookies in rebounding at 5.9 rebounds per game and tied for fourth in double-doubles with three. But perhaps most significant to the Celtics is the contribution he’s made as a rookie on a team with championship expectations. Anthony Davis (New Orleans), Andre Drummond (Detroit) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Charlotte) are all on teams that will likely be watching the playoffs on TV in the spring.

Celtics captain Paul Pierce said there is no doubt in his mind Sullinger should be part of NBA All-Star weekend activities when a team of the best rookies take on a team of the best second-year players in Houston.

“I think that’s like a no-brainer,” Pierce said with a smile. “In the rookie class, I can’t even name five quality rookies. [Sullinger] is playing well and playing significantly for the ball club. I definitely think he should be there.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Jared Sullinger, NBA, NBA All-Star Weekend
Doc Rivers: Rajon Rondo lower assist totals ‘just one of those stretches’ at 8:08 pm ET
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Celtics head coach Doc Rivers says he is not overly concerned about the lower assist totals of point guard Rajon Rondo in the last three weeks. Entering Monday’s game, Rondo averaged 8.3 assists over his last 12 games. He recorded double-digit assist totals in just four of those games.

“I don’t know. Maybe I’ll call [assistant GM, team counsel and stat guru] Mike Zarren and figure it out,” Rivers laughed. “Honestly, bench is playing really well and his minutes are down over the stretch as well. Ball movement is better and maybe it’s a by-product of that, but we can do that and he can still have high assist games as well. It’s just one of those stretches.”

Rivers also spoke about not taking the 9-27 Bobcats lightly. Charlotte started out the season 7-5 before losing 22 of their last 24 coming into Monday’s game in Boston. Rivers also confirmed that big-man Chris Wilcox (thumb) is getting closer to returning, and would dress but not play in Monday’s game as the Celtics need to dress 12 players for the game.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Charlotte Bobcats, Chris Wilcox, Doc Rivers
Irish Coffee: 10 things I heard about Celtics at 3:50 pm ET
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As the Celtics prepare to extend their season-long winning streak to six against the Bobcats at the Garden on Monday night, here are 10 C’s links of interest we discovered over the weekend.

10. Plenty was made of Celtics superstar Kevin Garnett‘s reported Honey Nut Cheerios remarks about Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony‘s wife, which Celtics coach Doc Rivers vehemently denied on Thursday, but the best take came, naturally, from Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert.

“Oh, snap, crackle and pop, you just got Apple Jacked,” said Colbert. “Kevin’s saying he had your wife, reality star La La Vazquez, as part of this complete breakfast. Folks, this brings me to a tip of my hat to Kevin Garnett for forging a bold new path in product placement. This isn’t just trash talk. It’s Hefty brand trash talk. Forget gym shoes or Sprite, from now on all NBA games should be filled with athletes incorporating national brands into their taunting. Yo mama’s so fat, she should switch to Chobani non-fat Greek yogurt now with active probiotics.”

Apparently, La La agrees, because she wants some free cereal out of the deal.

9. Two of Garnett’s most influential mentors, former Timberwolves coach Kevin McHale and longtime Minnesota teammate Sam Mitchell, also came to his defense. All things Kevin Garnett tend to be fascinating, and neither Mitchell nor McHale disappointed in separate stellar stories by The Globe’s Gary Washburn.

Mitchell: ‘€œKevin has always taken the attitude that he’€™s not good enough. The great players feel that way. After 18 years playing in the NBA, why does he play so hard? Not the money. It’€™s the love of it and the fact that he’s still proving to himself that he deserves to be in this league and he has to go out and earn it and prove it every night.”

McHale: ‘€œWe spent a lot of time in the gym together when I was not as gray and moved a little bit better. Great kid. Great work ethic. Turned himself into a fantastic player for years and years and years. With his energy level, what he’€™s still able to accomplish in the NBA, not so much his age, but look at the amount of minutes he’€™s played. It’€™s just phenomenal. I’€™m happy for him.’€

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett, NBA
Jared Sullinger ‘happy to hack’ while Celtics winning 01.12.13 at 1:29 am ET
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Jared Sullinger may be soft spoken but he certainly isn’t shy.

For the fifth time in 36 games, the Celtics rookie fouled out of a game. But all of the fouls are rolling off his back during a five-game winning streak that has transformed the Celtics from a 14-17 team to a 19-17 club that is starting to click and move up the Eastern Conference standings.

“As long as we’€™re winning I’€™m happy. Happy to hack,” Sullinger said with a big smile. “No biggie.”

Sullinger wasn’t laughing with 10:01 left in the game Friday when he picked up his fifth foul, with the Celtics leading 83-69. The Rockets scored the next 12 points.

But earlier in the game, Sullinger was the biggest reason the Celtics built a double-digit lead. He had 14 points and eight rebounds off the bench in the first half. That was the same number the Celtics starters had combined late in the first half.

“It’€™s coming easier,” Sullinger said. “Obviously, it’€™s been 36 games, so I should be used to the NBA by now. It’€™s just me and my comfort zone right now.”

“He’€™s playing better, so the coach has more confidence in him,” Doc Rivers added. “That’€™s [No.] 1. I said it early in the year, when he’€™s on the floor, he does the right stuff. And a lot of stuff you don’€™t see, just being able to throw him the ball. How many rookies have we ever thrown the ball to at the top of the circle, and he decides which way he wants to go with it? He just has a great calm about him. He helps us. Especially with that second unit, because you gotta always have a passing big in our offense, and he gives us that extra passing big.”

Sullinger finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds, his second straight double-double.

‘€œWe’€™re just playing hard, we’€™re in a groove right now. Five games, you know obviously we’€™re in a great groove right now,” Sullinger said. ‘€œI’€™m just playing hard, that’€™s all it is.’€

Read More: Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets, Jared Sullinger, NBA
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