- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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AP Photo/Charles Krupa
Rajon Rondo drives to the basket against the 76ers.BOSTON -- Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo might not have produced one of his glitzier stat lines of the postseason, but his contributions to Monday's Game 5 triumph over the Philadelphia 76ers drew extraordinarily high praise from coach Doc Rivers.
“I thought the second half was one of the best games he’s had in my opinion this year for us," said Rivers. "Because I thought it was more than just the basketball part of it. I thought his will, his leadership -- we needed it. And he gave it to us. So, in my opinion, I thought it was one of the best halves he’s had.
"Whether he scored, I didn’t care what he did -- he played with a force. And he got us in our stuff. I can hear him barking at guys, demanding guys get into spots. And that’s not something he loves doing. So I told him that after the game, 'I thought that was as good of a leadership role that you’ve had with us in the playoffs.' He’s had better games, statistically, but I thought what he did was huge for us. Because, like I said, we needed somebody to lead us. I thought he did a great job with it.”
Rondo finished 13 points on 6-of-10 shootings with 14 assists over 38:48. In the second half, he produced seven points, nine assists, and two steals. But maybe the most noteworthy aspect of his second-half box score: Zero turnovers, which means Rondo played with force and took care of the ball.
In fact, much of the big nights from Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett can be traced to Rondo's aggressiveness, which wasn't lost on Sixers big man Elton Brand.
“It starts with Rondo," said Brand. "You have to stop Rondo. He’s being aggressive, scoring layups, getting into the paint. It leaves Kevin Garnett open for a jumper, it leaves Brandon Bass open for a jumper or a drive."
1141dGreg Payne and Chris Forsberg