Rondo: 'I should have took the layup'

December, 8, 2012
12/08/12
12:30
AM ET
ESPN ScreenshotRajon Rondo had a chance at a layup to win it, but slipped trying to pull up for a jumper.
PHILADELPHIA -- Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo lamented his decision to pull up for a baseline jumper on the final possession of overtime, admitting he likely had enough time and space to complete a potential winning layup.

Instead, Rondo airballed an off-balance 16-foot jumper at the buzzer, allowing the Philadelphia 76ers to escape with a 95-94 overtime triumph at the Wells Fargo Center.

"I should have took the layup," said Rondo. "I tried to make a plant and just slipped."

Rondo's inability to produce a key late-game hoop -- he missed a 19-foot step-back jumper at the end of regulation as well -- spoiled an otherwise outstanding effort. Rondo posted a ridiculous triple-double line of 16 points, 14 assists, 13 rebounds, 3 blocks and 3 steals -- joining only birthday boy Larry Bird (1982) and Magic Johnson (1983) as players to do that since steals and blocks became official stats in 1973-74, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

But Rondo wasn't in the mood for silver linings after the late-game miscues.

With 2.7 seconds remaining in overtime, Rondo delivered a lob to Kevin Garnett on the blocks. The play was designed to produce a shot for Garnett, who was 7-of-11 shooting with 17 points on the night. But Rondo keenly made a break for the basket when defender Evan Turner got caught tracking the trajectory of the inbounds pass. With LaVoy Allen hugging Garnett's hip, Rondo had a chance at the layup (there was about 1.7 seconds remaining when he took the handoff, as shown in the screenshot above), but Rondo was likely worried about the clock and attempted to plant for the baseline jumper. Instead, he lost his balance and couldn't get off a quality shot.

"I saw Rondo running hard and I thought he had a layup," said Garnett. "I kind of handed off to him and he stumbled -- stumbled out of bounds, end of the game."

Asked if the play was designed to get him a shot, Garnett reiterated: "I thought I saw something and I went with it. I thought [Rondo's] speed and momentum was going to a point where I thought he had the layup. ... I was indecisive, I should have been more aggressive in that situation. Things happen."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers didn't mind how it played out, but admitted Garnett was the target.

"We threw it to Kevin; Kevin had [Allen] on his back," said Rivers. "We really wanted Kevin to go for it, but he saw Rondo cutting. ... It looked like Kevin had the shot. We got him deep, right where we wanted him."

Rivers said neither the final play of overtime nor in regulation played out like the team anticipated. Rondo found himself isolated on Jason Richardson after taking an inbounds above the arc with three seconds to play in regulation, but his step-back was a bit too strong.

"I thought we gave it to Rondo to drive it, and I thought he had [Richardson], because he had really a good matchup on him, but he took a step-back and I can live with that," said Rivers. "I thought that was one where we probably could have gotten to the basket. And Kevin's -- listen, he should probably always shoot it, but if he thought a guy had a layup, then he made the right decision."

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jeff Green
PTS AST STL MIN
16.9 1.7 0.7 34.2
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.1
AssistsR. Rondo 9.8
StealsR. Rondo 1.3
BlocksB. Bass 0.9