Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo downplayed the muscle spasms that sent him to the locker room before the end of the first half of Boston's 96-92 overtime loss to Orlando on Monday, chalking up his quiet night to simply a poor personal performance.
"I'm fine, I just didn't play well," said Rondo.
Rondo, limited by three first-half fouls, registered only five points and four assists in 15:08 before the intermission and retreated to the locker room with strength and conditioning coach Bryan Doo with 1:16 remaining in the second quarter.
He returned to action to start the third quarter, but finished with nine points, eight assists, three rebounds, and three steals over 42:57 -- quiet for Rondo's lofty playoff standards. But both he and Rivers suggested the injury had little to do with any lack of production.
"I didn't even know [about Rondo retreating to the locker room]," Rivers said after the game. "I knew early on he said he was fatigued. He told, I think [trainer] Eddie [Lacerte] and maybe when he went in, that was the spasms he was talking about. Honestly, I didn't check. When I came in at halftime, he said he was good. I don't really ask. If the trainer comes to you, then you know it's something serious. If he doesn't, you just let it go."
Rondo struggled running through staggered double screens in the defensive end, as the Magic abused him in the pick-and-roll. Both Rondo and Rivers admitted he has to do a better job of fighting through them.
Rondo also seemed a bit steamed on the final possession of the game, which seemed disjointed and ultimately ended with Paul Pierce fumbling away the ball as he frantically tried to get off a potential winning shot. Rondo, who was open on the wing and calling for the ball, seemed upset that it never came and Rivers went out of his way to talk with Rondo before the extra session.
Asked his thoughts on the final play and not calling a timeout to set something up, Rondo noted, "That's what Doc wanted, we just didn't come up with the shot."
And did the play develop as it should have?
"Yeah, we wanted [Pierce] with the ball, [but] they made the play."
Rondo suggested that both he individually, and the Celtics as a team, needed to move past Game 4 and focus on the next chance to close out in Game 5.
"It's very frustrating," said Rondo. "We didn't get to close out, but we gotta move on to Game 5. We gave them confidence, now we gotta try to take it back away. They're pretty confident at home, so we gotta get off to a good start on the road."
Chris Forsberg covers the Celtics for ESPNBoston.com.