Rajon Rondo returns for Celtics

After missing seven straight games, Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo returned to the starting lineup Sunday evening against the Toronto Raptors. He played 34 minutes, posting four points and eight assists in the Celtics' 93-79 win.

Rondo, the league's top assist man (13.8 per game), had been sidelined by a sprained left ankle suffered in the fourth quarter of a mid-December triumph over the New York Knicks. The Celtics, 20-4 after that win, went a mere 4-3 without Rondo, including dropping three of their last four.

Celtics head coach Doc Rivers spoke with Rondo and trainer Ed Lacerte before the game and decided to let Rondo start to "see what he could do." Nate Robinson, who has started in Rondo's absence, returned to the bench.

Bothered by hamstring, feet, and ankle injuries, Rondo has appeared in only 20 games this season, but he entered Sunday averaging 11.2 points and 2.4 steals per game in addition to his lofty assist average. In the latest return on the NBA's All-Star balloting, Rondo ranked second among Eastern Conference guards, putting him on pace to start the game, and was Boston's top vote-getter thus far.

Rondo tried to play in Friday's loss to the New Orleans Hornets and warmed up before the game, but noted he "wasn't able to do what I normally do." He suggested he remained "day-to-day," but cautioned that his return might not come until as late as Saturday against the Bulls.

Despite initial reports that he would not play against Toronto, Rondo got himself in the lineup and should provide a much-needed boost for a Boston squad ravaged by injuries.

Chris Forsberg covers the Celtics for ESPNBoston.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.