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Saturday, March 3, 2012
Postgame: Leader of the (head)band

By Chris Forsberg

Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesDon't call it a comeback: Rajon Rondo broke out the headband Friday night.
BOSTON -- Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo produced another solid effort Friday night in a 107-94 triumph over the New Jersey Nets, chipping in 14 points, 13 assists, and five steals over 31 minutes, 34 seconds of floor time. What's more, he spearheaded a defensive effort that saw Boston switch to a full-court press in the first half to aid the team in building a 21-point cushion.

So, of course, much of the postgame chatter centered on the unexpected return of his headband.

“I just felt like a change," Rondo said. "You may not see it ever again. It’s just what I feel like. I’m 1-0 with the headband this year, so I might try to keep it alive.”

Rondo ditched a headband after it was hinted that he got scolded by the league for turning their logo upside down in past seasons. The league went so far as to update its dress policy before the 2010-11 campaign, seemingly causing Rondo to ditch his previously trademark look.

The league logo was tucked on the backside of his all-white headband during Friday's win, but Rondo acknowledged the return to a familiar look.

“I think it was my signature statement when we won a championship, but who knows?" said Rondo. "People ask me all the time why I don’t wear it any more. I tried to get a petition, but it didn’t go through.”

After Nets superstar guard Deron Williams went off for 10 first-quarter points, Rondo suggested the Celtics ramp up the intensity with a full-court press. The Nets couldn't stop fumbling the ball away against the pressure and Williams mustered just two points after the first quarter. After the game he sighed, "We are an NBA team, we should be able to break a simple press, but that wasn’t really the case.”

Rondo, the center of another batch of trade rumors in recent days, got a vote of confidence from coach Doc Rivers on Thursday and it clearly meant a lot to him.

“I don’t know where people are getting there information from, but it was big of Doc to come out with a statement," said Rondo. "People are still going to say that me and Doc have problems; Even after that comment and statement he made, they are still going to say what they want to say. It’s just part of life.

"[President of basketball operations] Danny [Ainge] called me a couple days ago, but Danny and I always talk. Not just because of all the trade talk, we talk like once per week, and same thing goes for Doc. So our communication has gotten better over the years."

A few more postgame notes after the Celtics' triumph on Friday:

* GREEN SHINES IN BOSTON RETURN: Gerald Green, Boston's former first-round pick (18th overall in 2005 draft) who got dealt to Minnesota as part of the package that brought back Kevin Garnett, returned to his first NBA home Friday night while on a 10-day contract with the Nets. Green chipped in 11 points on 5-of-10 shooting with three rebounds and two steals over 25:30. Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he's rooting for Green: "Me and [Nets coach] Avery [Johnson] talked a long time about it [Thursday] night. I think there’s still a very good chance for Gerald Green. He was just so young when he was here. He’s skilled, [but] I think people just see this freak athlete that won the Dunk Contest. Gerald can make shots, he can really shoot the basketball... I hope it works out for him, it would be a terrific story, and I would probably be one of the happier guys."

* PIERCE BATTLES THROUGH CRAMPING: Celtics captain Paul Pierce had to fight through some first-half cramping, returning to the locker room before the intermission, but said he was feeling fine after the game. Said Rivers: “I think he had a stinger. I didn’t really play football, but I think that’s basically what it was. He got his hand caught. Both arms or forearms were cramping. And so I don’t even know what that is, but that’s what it was.” Pierce finished with a team-high 27 points on 10-of-14 shooting, his best shooting performance in recent weeks.

* PIETRUS MAKES MOST OF SPOT START: With Ray Allen sidelined due to the flu, veteran swingman Mickael Pietrus made the most of his time with the first unit. Pietrus chipped in 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting with five rebounds and two assists over 23:13. Said Pietrus: "We don’t have many games left so we are going to do everything we can to get above .500. I think every team in the NBA is going to try to make a run, including us, so we just have to get ready for the postseason and play Celtics basketball.” Pietrus later threw in a lighthearted guarantee that the Celtics would win the world title.