Saturday, December 12, 2009
Bulls can't slow Rondo
By Chris Forsberg
Not even a clothesline from Chicago center Brad Miller on an early drive to the bucket could slow down Rajon Rondo Saturday.
Boston's speedy point guard was in another gear against the Bulls, dictating the entire flow of the game as he registered team-highs with 16 points and 14 assists in a 106-80 triumph at the United Center.
Knowing the Bulls were coming off an overtime win on Friday night, Rondo kept the intensity cranked, but also played in control, creating opportunities all over the court for his teammates. His distribution showed in the box score, where seven Celtics finished in double figures.
Rondo finished with a game-high plus-20 in the plus/minus category.
"[Rondo] was terrific," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "Good pace, he knew when to drive, he knew when to keep the pressure on. He also knew when we took too many jump shots and we got it down low. Just a great job by him. It's great where he's at mentally with our team. He understands that, he reads that. If we come down and take three or four shots without running our offense, he'll slow us down and get us in our set. That's a sign of a great point guard."
For the second time this season, Rondo outplayed Chicago counterpart Derrick Rose (19 points, 3 assists, minus-19 plus/minus rating).
Not even Miller's clothesline could detour Rondo from fearlessly attacking the basket. He popped right up from the hit -- which might have been a bit of revenge from last year's playoff series -- and seemed to only use it as motivation. A short time after the flagrant foul, Rondo drove to the hoop with Miller shuffling to defend in the paint. Rondo drew contact, made the layup (and ultimately the three-point play), and sent Millers to bench with two fouls.
"I think he tried to go for my face," Rondo said of the clothesline. "He hit me in my nose a little bit as well, but I've been hit harder.
"It's not the first time and it won't be the last time. I'm not going to be intimidated by it. The next time we play, I'm going to drive whether it's him or whether it's [Joakim] Noah or anybody. It could be Shaq [O'Neal]. I'm still going to drive low. That's what I do."
Said Miller: "It's not really payback, but everybody knows what happened."
Rondo also finished with three steals and a block. The Bulls had 12 turnovers on the night.
"When you have turnovers, Boston makes you pay," said Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro. "Rondo runs their team real well. They have a lot of weapons to throw the ball to."
(Note: Our tag-team partners over at ESPNChicago have more on Rondo and his run-in with Miller)