BOSTON -- Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo showed glimpses of his old self yet again Sunday, making a season-high 18 assists with no turnovers while leading his team to a 118-111 triumph over the Detroit Pistons. But there are reminders that he's still working his way back from major knee surgery.
Rondo said he plans to sit out Wednesday's visit from the New York Knicks on the second night of a back-to-back. Keeping with his typical approach, Rondo will sit out the tail end of a tandem set for the fifth time since returning on Jan. 17.
"If I was ready, I would play," said Rondo, who is likely further influenced by the fact that Boston plays three games in four days and is enduring a stretch that features eight games in 13 days in five different cities.
"It’s a combination of things that bother me in the lower part of my body -- my calves, my Achilles and then my knees," said Rondo. "It’s just a part of those three that are affecting me after games that, the next day, I need to rest."
Added Rondo: "I’m still pretty sore when I wake up. My Achilles bothers me the most when I get out of the bed. Throughout the day, it gets better, but I still don’t want to try to overdo it and [then] something else happens because of that."
Is Rondo surprised he's still sore at this stage of his return?
"It’s an NBA season. It’s tough," he said. "I’m up to 34-35 minutes per night now. I’m doing the right procedures. I’m taking the massage. I’m icing after the games. I’m doing what I’m supposed to do. It’s just, I have to listen to my body."
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said the team is allowing Rondo's body to dictate when he feels ready for back-to-backs.
"It’s really more how he feels the day after a game," said Stevens. "So like [Saturday,] I asked him, 'Are you sore? Are you tired? How do you feel?' And he’s still a little bit sore day after games. Obviously, when we have these 48 hours instead of 24 hours [between games], he can recover and it’s just another day to get his body right. That’s at least the thought. But it’ll be more his call than anybody else’s. He knows his body better than any of us."
Rondo is averaging 12.2 points, 8.8 assists and 4.7 rebounds over 30.8 minutes per game in 18 appearances this season. In four games in March, those totals jump to 14.3 points, 11.3 assists and 5.3 rebounds over 36 minutes per contest.
WALLACE DIVES INTO REHAB
Gerald Wallace dropped into the Celtics' locker room before Sunday's game wearing a heavy protective boot and walking with the aid of crutches after undergoing season-ending surgeries on his left ankle and left knee Tuesday.
Wallace said he plans to stay in Boston through the end of the 2013-14 season and navigate the early stages of his rehab with the team's training staff. In fact, he's already started mobility exercises with his knee after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus. Wallace hopes to ditch the heavy boot and crutches next week and will be fitted for a friendlier walking boot.
Asked about a timeline for getting back to full health, Wallace said, "Training camp. That’s my goal right now, so I’m not rushing it. ... Hopefully by training camp I won’t have any worries."
Wallace said bone spurs in his ankle have nagged him for 2½ seasons, while knee pain dates all the way back to high school (and surgeons found a bit of arthritis in the knee, which was expected after 13 NBA seasons). For a man nicknamed "Crash," this was, hard to believe, his first trip under the knife, but he hopes it helps him next season.
"Just mentally I know I will be [better]," said Wallace. "I think that’s the main thing. I’ve always had issues with my knee, so that’s taken care of. And my ankle for the past 2½ years has kinda bothered me with the swelling, the soreness and the stiffness. With that gone, I think I’ll feel a lot better, mentally and physically."
A couple of other nuggets after the Celtics closed a five-game homestand at 3-2 overall:
ASSIST-A-THON: The Celtics totaled a whopping 38 assists on 47 made baskets. Asked about the pass-happy outing, Rondo, who had 18 assists with no turnovers, noted, "I just think it was a trickle-down effect. When one guy has it going, as far as passing the ball, it’s contagious and guys kept moving the ball. Granted, we scored a bunch of points tonight, but we kept on pushing. We played free. We just had fun."
HUMP'S DAY: Kris Humphries had maybe his finest outing in Boston, putting up 20 points and 11 rebounds over 27 minutes. Going up against Detroit's monster front line, Humphries thrived in the midrange with feeds from Rondo. Meeting with reporters in a bold turtleneck-and-blazer combo (think Ron Burgundy) and sweating during his interview, Humphries deadpanned, "This turtleneck, it’s definitely warm."