As awkward as Rajon Rondo's desperation 3-point heave at the end of regulation in Sunday's overtime win over the New York Knicks might have appeared, the fourth-year guard stressed Monday that he's OK with taking pressure-packed shots.
"I was very comfortable," said Rondo. "That's not the shot I wanted, I was trying to look for Paul [Pierce], then look for Ray [Allen], but with 4.7 seconds, I didn't have time for all that. They didn't get open, so I just took the shot."
For an offense that has struggled to generate quality scoring opportunities late in close games, it was another botched opportunity. Rondo swears he's comfortable with his shot in that situation, but admits he's always going to be a pass-first player.
"That's just how I play," said Rondo. "It's hard for me to get the mindset to shoot the ball when others are open instead. I always try to pass first. When I shoot the ball, I've got to think shot, I can't think sometimes pass. Sometimes I go into my shot and, say, [Kendrick Perkins] or Kevin [Garnett] is rolling, I'm going to [give it to them] rolling, regardless. When I think shot, I've just got to take the shot."
Rondo was asked if it was a sign of disrespect for teams to leave him open for shots. He admitted it was, but said he didn't feel any particular need to make the defense pay because "at the end of the day, I try to dominate the game in other ways."
"That's not our game plan," added Rondo. "I don't let it dictate how I play."
Rondo's shaky shooting has been amplified by his struggles at the free throw line. His free throw percentage actually climbed to 33.3 percent after Sunday's game, when he made only 4 of 8 attempts. Those four free throws matched his for the season entering the game; he's now 8 of 24 overall.
Rondo, who altered his shot all together in the offseason after working with former NBA great Mark Price, has spent added time at the charity stripe at practice and before games, but the results haven't translated to games quite yet.