'Playoff Rondo' delivers for Bulls with near triple-double in Game 2

'Playoff Rondo' delivers for Bulls with near triple-double in Game 2

BOSTON – For most of his career with the Boston Celtics, Rajon Rondo's play was always building towards this time of year.
There’s regular season Rondo who puts up pretty decent numbers most of the time.
And then there’s playoff Rondo who morphs into one of the best players on the planet when it matters most – the playoffs.
Rondo was indeed in "playoff-Rondo" form Tuesday night in helping lead the Chicago Bulls to a 111-97 win that now puts the Bulls ahead 2-0 in the best-of-seven series that now shifts to Chicago for Games 3 and 4.


On Tuesday, Rondo had a near triple-double before finishing with 11 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds.
“He was the key early in the game as far as getting us up the floor,” said Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg. “I thought his pace was terrific.”
Said Rondo: “I just tried to stay aggressive. I was pretty aggressive (Game 1), but I got myself into some foul trouble. Isaiah (Thomas) is a really crafty guy and I just wanted to go out and play as hard as I could.”
He did just that, playing with purpose, poise and precision of the likes that the Celtics could not match.
“He’s playing with a lot of leadership out there,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder. “He’s putting guys in position, calling out sets, he’s been a very good leader out there for those guys. They feed off that. I think he’s always had that leadership mentality. He’s a veteran. He knows how to win and he’s doing a good job of leading those guys.”

Rondo’s strong play is in stark contrast to what has been a difficult season for the veteran guard.
He began the season as a starter, then found himself out of the rotation and soon out of the lineup altogether.
But as the Bulls made their late season run just to be playoff eligible, Rondo’s floor leadership was instrumental in Chicago closing the regular season out with wins in seven of their last nine games.
While Rondo and the Bulls know how important he has been to them getting to the playoffs, they know all too well that there’s still plenty of work to be done.
Their attention now is squarely on getting Game 3 at the United Center on Friday.
“Definitely Game 3 is just one game, but it’s going to be the biggest game of our season and we want to approach it with that mindset and try to go out there and get another ‘W,’” Rondo said. “It’s one game at a time, one possession at a time.”

Isaiah Thomas isn't ruling out return to Celtics

File Photo

Isaiah Thomas isn't ruling out return to Celtics

Isaiah Thomas back in green? Maybe there's a chance after all.

The former Celtics guard, now with the Lakers, started a Q&A session on Twitter and was asked whether he'd consider returning to Boston this offseason. This was his answer...

That's not a no.

Thomas has had a rough go of it since leaving the Celtics. His brief tenure in Cleveland didn't go according to plan, and things haven't gotten a whole lot better out in L.A. The 29-year-old is averaging 15.3 points per game just a year after averaging 28.9 with Boston.

Let the speculation begin.


Horford not making any excuses after C's rough outing vs Pelicans

Horford not making any excuses after C's rough outing vs Pelicans

Al Horford understands that there’s plenty of blame pie to go around following Boston’s 108-89 loss to New Orleans. 

Considering how Pelicans stud Anthony Davis dominated the game on so many levels Sunday night, Horford was quick to acknowledge his role in the loss. 

“[Davis] was able to get behind our defense a lot,” Horford told reporters after the loss. “Some mistakes on my end; gotta give him credit. He dominated tonight. I’ll definitely take the blame for that.”

Davis finished with a double-double of 34 points and 11 rebounds, a total that would have been higher if not for the game being so lopsided which allowed Davis to head to the bench early in the fourth. 

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And Horford’s struggles defensively were just as problematic on offense as the five-time All-Star tallied just six points on 3-for-11 shooting to go with four rebounds and three assists. 

Boston has been a team whose collective sums have fueled their success. 

But Horford understands he has to be a high impact performer, a job that’s even more vital when key starters like Kyrie Irving (left knee soreness) and Jaylen Brown (concussion) are out as well as top reserves Marcus Smart (right thumb) and Daniel Theis (torn meniscus). 

And by Horford’s own admission, he just didn’t bring it on Sunday at a level to give him and the Celtics a legit shot at winning the game.

“Defensively we had too many breakdowns,” Horford said. “And the game got away from us in the second half. So there’s no excuses. I didn’t give us a chance, either; missing a lot of looks offensively. I just need to be better.”

And he’ll have to be if Boston (47-23) is to get back on track with a win on Tuesday against a talented Oklahoma City squad led by Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. 

At full strength, the Thunder would be a significant challenge for the Celtics. 

But having a roster with a number of key players out with injuries, it becomes even more imperative for Boston’s top players to elevate their play. 

And as you scan this Celtics roster and examine those who are healthy enough to play, it’s clear that Horford more than any other Boston player, has to find a way to become more impactful.

Certainly, more points and rebounds would help. 

But as we’ve seen time and time again with Horford, often his greatest contributions to winning games don’t necessarily show up in the final box score. 

That being said, a six-point, four-rebound game doesn’t cut it. 

Horford has to be better, something he knows better than anyone. 

“I’ll definitely look at the film and see how I can be better individually,” Horford said. “The good thing about the NBA, is we have a chance to play on Tuesday. Hopefully we’ll learn from this game and be ready to go Tuesday at home.”