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Rajon Rondo drives hard to the basket Sunday vs. the Bulls.BOSTON -- Celtics forward Kevin Garnett hinted during his postgame chat with reporters that Rajon Rondo had endured a "rough" day but, pressed on the topic, Garnett wouldn't elaborate after Rondo produced a triple-double in a 95-91 triumph over the NBA-leading Chicago Bulls Sunday at TD Garden.
Rondo scored a game-high 32 points on 11-of-22 shooting with 15 assists and 10 rebounds over 39 minutes 53 seconds of floor time while helping Boston snap a two-game losing streak in what Garnett admitted was a "huge game" for the Celtics.
"Nine [Rondo] was edgy today, man. I loved it," Garnett said. "I love the fact that he came out and he set the tone. And I thought he got guys involved and he was all over the place. When we win big, man, it’s because the little fella is aggressive like that. I told him after tonight’s game that I was proud of him. He had a bit of a rough day or whatever, but he played through it, he was professional, and I thought he came out and played with that edge. Any time he’s got that, that makes everybody’s job easier."
Reporters waited patiently for both Rondo and Garnett following Sunday's win, but 75 minutes after the final buzzer, the media was informed that Rondo would not be talking. Without his voice, we're left to analyze what Garnett and coach Doc Rivers said about his effort.
Near the end of his brief chat with reporters, Garnett was asked if he had said Rondo had a "bad" day. He laughed it off noting, "No, 32-15-10 is not a bad day. I wish I had a bad day." When a reporter followed up by asking if he said "rough" day, Garnett offered his trademark, "Y'all take it easy" and departed.
Earlier in the interview, Garnett said Rivers had put the team through a film session Sunday on the heels of Friday's lifeless loss in Toronto, and one can't help but wonder if Rondo was a focal point of that session. (Garnett noted that film is "always humbling.") Rivers admitted after the game that he resorted to old film to stress what the Celtics had done well in the past -- and what they hadn't been doing recently.
Chief among that was pushing the pace. Rivers was adamant he wanted the entire team running the floor and that starts with the point guard position.
Rondo was aggressive from the opening tip, putting up nine shots in the opening quarter while scoring 11 points in the frame, helping Boston established an early 11-point cushion. (Boston never trailed, but Chicago wouldn't go away quietly.)
Rondo's aggressiveness also resulted in 10-of-13 shooting at the free throw line. Asked if Rondo was extra motivated on Sunday, Rivers shrugged off the question.
“Oh, I don’t know," he said. "I’m going to let you guys be that deep. I wish I could get in someone’s head that deep. I just think he wanted to win. And I thought we played at a better pace today. You could see it. We were trying to run today. And that’s how we have to play. [If] we didn’t turn the ball over, we would have had far more points. But I just liked our pace and that’s all we talked about after the game in Toronto and today in our morning walkthrough, was enough of the walking.
"And it was not Rondo, it’s the team. The bigs have to run the floor. Paul [Pierce] and Ray [Allen] have to run the floor. And it does a lot of things -- we get early posts from our bigs, we get jump shots from the break, and we get Rondo in the open court. And when you walk, it’s easy to guard."
Celtics backup guard Keyon Dooling also hinted about Rondo being bogged down by previous poor performances and said he hoped he took time to savor the triple-double.
"An amazing performance, I hope he’s going to enjoy it," Dooling said. "Sometimes when things don’t go well, it can bother him. So I said, 'When you do well, you've got to enjoy that moment as well.' So hopefully he can enjoy this moment."