Celtics

Rondo's incredible return sparks Celts to victory

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Rondo's incredible return sparks Celts to victory

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Doc Rivers was ready to move on.

Rajon Rondo had what team doctors said was a dislocated elbow, and would be lost for the fourth quarter - and maybe the rest of the series - against Miami.

And then Rondo did what Rondo seems to always do - come up with the unexpected.

About 30 seconds after being told Rondo was done, there was Rondo back in the huddle.

"And it looked like he was going to play," Rivers said.

The C's medical staff gave Rondo the clearance to return to action and see if he could play.

"And that's what he did," Rivers said.

Did he ever.

Rondo's 6-point, 11-assist night doesn't do justice to the impact he had on the Celtics defeating the Miami Heat, 97-81.

His ability to return to the floor after what appeared to be a gruesome, potentially season-ending injury, provided just the kind of emotional spark the Celtics needed in what was clearly a must-win game.

Boston now trails the best-of-seven series, 2-1. Game 4 will be at the Garden on Monday, with Game 5 in Miami on Wednesday.

Kevin Garnett went into 2004 MVP mode with 28 points and 18 rebounds. Paul Pierce, still nursing a left Achilles strain, had 27 points for the C's.

As well as KG and Pierce played, their strong performances were overpowered by Rondo's return to the floor when all indications were he would be out for some time.

The injury occurred in the third quarter when Rondo and Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade got tangled up, eventually resulting in Rondo falling backwards.

He tried to brace his fall, but the momentum from his tussle with Wade resulted in his left elbow bending awkwardly.

After the play, Wade was booed every time he touched the ball.

"It's a physical game; the game of basketball is a physical game," said Wade, who had a sub-par night with 23 points on 8-for-19 shooting from the field. "I'm not a dirty player, it's physical. Everyone falls to the ground, everybody gets hurt, people get up."

Rondo didn't know the severity of the injury at first, but he knew it was something he would not be able to shake off with ease.

"I knew right away something was wrong when I went down," Rondo said. "But thank God for Kevin because I was having trouble breathing. I was worried about my elbow, but I was having trouble breathing. I kept hearing Garnett tell me to breathe."

It's a fitting image when you consider Saturday's win essentially breathed life into the C's fading chances of winning this series.

"That was a championship-caliber response," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. "No other real way to put it. They came out and played extremely hard.They played harder than us and played more efficiently than us."

Especially the Celtics' Big Three of Pierce (21 points), Garnett (28 points, 18 rebounds) and Ray Allen (15 points).

The C's opened with an 18-7 run, with all 18 points scored by the Big Three.

But bench play was once again a challenge that the C's seemed to struggle with most of the game.

Even the return of Shaquille O'Neal did little to help a second unit that continues to squander leads built up by the starters.

Miami's Joel Anthony continues to be the best non-starter in this series with his hustle, rebounding and on Saturday, scoring. He finished with 12 point and 11 rebounds off the Heat bench.

Miami led by as many as six points in the second quarter primarily behind the multiple possessions they were able to get - and points - from Anthony.

But the Celtics are a desperate team, all too aware that Saturday's Game 3 matchup was a must-win game.

That's why players were giving their all, with some like Rondo giving more than anyone could expect or anticipate.

"Shorty Rondo is a really tough, young individual and I don't know what he's going to be like when he's 35, but right now he's playing through a lot," Garnett said. "He's showing a lot of heart and a lot of grit. We see it. That doesn't go unspoken or unseen. We see he's out there giving his full effort. We're following his lead."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Jayson Tatum vs. Markelle Fultz debate

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Jayson Tatum vs. Markelle Fultz debate

0:41 - Michael Holley, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith give their reactions on the Celtics getting their first win of the season and a comparison between Isaiah Thomas and Kyrie Irving in the 4th quarter.

7:17 - Phil Perry joins BST to break down the tale of the tape between the Falcons and the Patriots as he breaks down the quarterbacks, offense, defense, coaching, and intangibles between the two teams.

11:57 - Our crew on BST discuss number 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz and number 3 overall pick Jayson Tatum going up against each other and debate who seems like the better pick so far. 

16:35 - In this segment of Irrelevant Questions, Tom Curran interviews Patriots WR Phillip Dorsett as he asks him a bunch of random questions. 

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Larkin rises to occasion, says he's ready when Celtics call his number

Larkin rises to occasion, says he's ready when Celtics call his number

PHILADELPHIA – Near the end of a preseason game against Charlotte, Boston Celtics guard Shane Larkin was killin’ the Hornets with pick-and-roll action.

It was a preseason game that at the time, didn’t seem to have much value other than to get some of the end-of-the-bench guys a little run up and down the court.

But as it turned out, Larkin's play in that game was one of those things head coach Brad Stevens tucked away, knowing at some point he would count on Larkin to provide similar play in a regular season game.

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Well, that game was Friday night at Philadelphia, a game in which several players for Boston stepped their games up in helping the Celtics get their first win of the season, 102-92.

But you would be hard-pressed to find a bigger game-changer for the Celtics in this game, than Larkin.

He finished with 10 points off the bench, eight of which came in the decisive fourth quarter when the Celtics rallied from five-down to get a hard-fought, much-needed victory.

“You have to always be ready for your name to be called, especially when you have injuries,” Larkin said. “You never know whose night it’s gonna be.”

Boston was playing without Marcus Smart who suffered a left ankle sprain in their 108-100 loss to Milwaukee on Wednesday. Smart was in the starting lineup having replaced Gordon Hayward who underwent left ankle surgery and is expected to be out for the remainder of this season.

“When coach (Stevens) called my name, I had to go out there and be aggressive, play my game,” Larkin said. “And it worked in our favor.”

And while Stevens had watched Larkin play prior to the Celtics signing him this summer, it was a preseason game against Charlotte that really convinced him that the 5-foot-11 guard could help when called upon.

“You’re always watching,” Stevens said. “And if you remember that exhibition game, he finished out that Charlotte game, just running simple spread pick-and-rolls. He’s such a handful with his speed and quickness, and he allows other guys to play off of him. He’s a small guy, but he makes up for it with his speed and skill.”

Al Horford benefited more than any other Celtic with Larkin’s pick-and-roll play which factored into Horford scoring nine of his 17 points in the fourth.

“Shane is a player who understands the game and for us, it was me trying to set a good screen for him and having him make a play,” Horford said. “He just made the right reads, when to shoot it, when to pass it. He just looked very comfortable in that position.”

And to think that Larkin’s big game came about in part because of how well he performed in a preseason matchup against the Hornets.

“I did not know it was that specific game,” Larkin said. “But whenever I step on the court I try to do my best. That’s offensively, defensively, and do what the team needs me to do.

Larkin added, “Whenever my number is called, if he (Stevens) calls it again, I hope he does. I’ll be ready to go out there and do it again.”

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