Rajon Rondo Begins Contract Year with Classic Performance in Win over Nets

BOSTON–Kevin Garnett had heard that Rajon Rondo had been giving reporters an update on his recovery progress from a broken left hand prior to Wednesday’s regular season opener.

First, Rondo said he was 79 percent healthy on Monday. On Tuesday, he upgraded his status to 83 percent.

After watching Rondo post 13 points, seven rebounds and 12 assists in a Boston Celtics 121-105 victory over the Brooklyn Nets, Garnett wasn’t buying Rondo’s modest health evaluations.

“[Tonight was] classic Rondo. I don’t know what he said,” Garnett quipped about his former teammate. “He was 89, 83 percent? That’s a hell of an 82 percent. He played well and he led his team to a win tonight.”

NBA fans had not seen classic Rondo for a while prior to Wednesday night. The point guard returned to the floor following ACL surgery in January 2013, but never truly appeared to be in top form over 33 games last season.

Wednesday night’s opener was a different story. The fact Rondo was even playing in the first place following a procedure to repair a broken bone in his left hand just five weeks ago was a bit of a surprise. The Celtics had estimated his recovery time from the surgery would take 6 to 8 weeks.

Not only was Rondo in the lineup, the point guard set the tone for an aggressive Celtics offense that posted 101 points over three quarters against a disorganized Nets defense. Despite not playing a single minute of preseason action, Rondo fit in seamlessly within a well-balanced Celtics lineup that featured eight players that finished in double figures.  

“He’s our leader and he came out and he played amazing,” Avery Bradley said. “It’s like he didn’t miss a beat, almost like he hadn’t been off at all. He played great tonight and he definitely motivates everybody to continue to improve.”

While observers may have been surprised at Rondo’s lack of rust, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens had caught a sneak peak of Rondo at his best as the team prepared for the opener.

“He absolutely destroyed our team on Friday at practice. And I thought it was really great, until I watched the film and thought our team stunk. I thought the last couple days he looked like himself though.

“He kind of looks like what I’d seen on film before I got here; I don’t think he ever looked like that at any time last year, because he was coming back. And that’s just the way it goes with that injury. But he is back to full speed. He had a couple turnovers yesterday in practice when we were going up and down, but he was flying. It’s good to see. It’s really good to see. He made some great plays today.”

Rondo appreciated his coach’s high praise but still knows he has plenty gaps in his game for the time being.

“It’s definitely a compliment,” Rondo said of Stevens’ comments. “But I have a long way to go. I’m going to continue to work and get a lot better. I haven’t played ball in about seven months. The best thing about the NBA is that we have so many games.”

One element of Rondo’s game that was in top form was his play in the pick-and-roll. The veteran point guard picked apart the Nets’ defense repeatedly throughout the first half, setting up big men like Tyler Zeller and Kelly Olynyk for easy looks as their defenders focused their efforts on containing Rondo.

“He kind of stabilized our offense when we went high pick-and-roll with him at different times with him in the game, and that’s also a nice little change of pace,” Stevens said.

Rondo’s excellence Wednesday night went beyond his usual domination of the ball. Stevens’ offense is predicated on plenty of ball movement, and Rondo admitted after the game he is determined to become a more active player off the ball this season, modeling his game after fellow point guard Tony Parker.

“[Parker’s] a guy who usually dominates the ball like myself, but in the Finals he got off the ball a lot and he never stopped moving,” Rondo said. “I just loved the way he moved without the ball. It’s a credit to [Gregg] Popovich as well, and he accepted a role.

“I don’t want to watch a lot of basketball, but seeing him – he’s a great pick-and-roll player, he can dominate the ball, but in the Finals in particular he passed and he cut through, and got the ball in the weak side with a live dribble. He knocked down his corner threes. I have a lot of respect for a guy like Tony Parker.”

More than anything else though, Rondo was just happy to be back out on the floor, playing the game he loves after dealing with multiple injuries over the past 18 months.

“It was fun just being back out there,” Rondo declared. “I missed the game and it’s what I’ve been doing my whole life. It’s great to be back out there playing basketball again.”

With a clean slate of health, an improved supporting cast, and a new contract to play for, classic Rondo might just be making regular appearances at NBA arenas all season long. Stay tuned.

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Hornets’ Lance Stephenson Dunks over Bucks’ Larry Sanders

It’s only the first game of the season for the Charlotte Hornets, but Lance Stephenson is already making big plays.

Stephenson drove to the lane during Wednesday’s opener against the Milwaukee Bucks, then proceeded to throw down over big man Larry Sanders.

The dunk was nice, but the Hornets were still down 83-68 after the third quarter.

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Jordan takes over Hornets Twitter feed, MJ roast ensues

If you didn’t know, Michael Jordan is running the Charlotte Hornets twitter account today. #MJTakeover. The Hornets PR staff probably thought this was going to be a great way for Jordan to communicate with fans. It’s the exact opposite. This has slowly turned into the roast of Michael Jordan. Yes, it’s really me doing this [&hellip (Visited 6 times, 6 visits today) The post #MJTakeover On Twitter Is The Greatest Idea Ever appeared first on No Coast Bias.

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Rookie Patric Young seals Pelicans win over Mavs (Yahoo Sports)

DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 20: Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks shoots a jumper against the Memphis Grizzlies on October 20, 2014 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Danny Bollinger/NBAE via Getty Images)

Undrafted rookie Patric Young is working hard to make it in the NBA. The New Orleans Pelicans benefited from the University of Florida product’s efforts in the waning moments of the team’s preseason finale Thursday. After the New Orleans Pelicans’ 10 point fourth-quarter lead was cut to one in the waning moments, Young’s emphatic follow slam with 2.1 seconds remaining helped the Pelicans secure a 88-85 victory against the Dallas Mavericks at the CenturyLink Center. It was pretty cool.” Dallas guard Ricky Ledo’s 3-point attempt to tie the game caught the front of the rim at the buzzer.

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Pistons’ Josh Smith Dunks over 76ers’ Nerlens Noel

Philadelphia 76ers center Nerlens Noel is finally starting to get some playing time in the NBA after missing his rookie season, but he probably wasn’t expecting plays like this to happen over him.

During Thursday night’s preseason game against the Detroit Pistons, Josh Smith drove to the basket and dunked over Noel, letting him know that this isn’t college anymore.


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Celtics win preseason finale; 100-86 over Nets (Yahoo Sports)

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 22: Marcus Smart #36 of the Boston Celtics defends the basket against the Brooklyn Nets during the game on October 22, 2014 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

Rookie Marcus Smart scored 16 points and Jared Sullinger had 15 with 17 rebounds to lead the Boston Celtics to a 100-86 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night in the final preseason game for both teams. Gerald Wallace had 12 points for Boston, which finished the preseason 5-3 with its second straight win over Brooklyn. Mason Plumlee led the Nets with 15 points and 11 boards. Mirza Teletovic also scored 15 points.

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Griffin and Paul lead Clippers over Suns 108-105 (Yahoo Sports)

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 22: The Los Angeles Clippers huddle during a game against the Phoenix Suns on October 22, 2014 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles Clippers new owner Steve Ballmer attended his first home game Wednesday night at Staples Center and the Clippers broke out of their preseason funk with a 108-105 victory over Phoenix on Wednesday night.

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Utah’s Kanter runs floor in win over Thunder (Yahoo Sports)

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - OCTOBER 21: Enes Kanter #0 of the Utah Jazz shoots against the Oklahoma City Thunder on October 21, 2014 at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, OK. (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Utah’s Enes Kanter did it all against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night.

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