Bruins

Rivers, Celtics help Rondo extend assist streak

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Rivers, Celtics help Rondo extend assist streak

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers has been hearing about Rajon Rondo's double-digit assists streak for weeks and has done nothing unusual to help it along - until now.

With the Celtics well on their way to a blowout loss at Detroit, Rivers elected to keep Rondo on the floor in the game's final seconds with a clear goal in mind - to keep his double digit assists streak alive.

"Why not? You guys keep talking about it, so I figured give him a shot at it."

Rondo's streak - 34 games and counting - remains intact by the slimmest of margins as his 10th assist did not come until a 21-foot jumper by rookie Jared Sullinger with 51 seconds to play.

Moments after he had his 10th assist, Leandro Barbosa was making his way to the scorer's table to replace Rondo.

The idea to work towards keeping Rondo's record going strong was apparently hatched during a time-out with 1:38 to play.

"When I called a time-out," Rivers recalled, "I said, 'guys, we're going to lose the game by the way.' Let's not play crazy, but if we can get him two more (assists), let's do it. If not, that's it. First time we've done that."

But the basketball gods that Rivers so often mentions, seemed as though they weren't going to allow the record to extend beyond Sunday night.

One after another, Rondo would make a good pass to a teammate who would have a great look at the basket.

Too short. Too long. Wide right. Off to the left.

That is, until Jared Sullinger delivered two of his team-high 16 points in the game's final minute.

"It's funny," Rivers said. "The harder we tried (to keep the record going), the worse we got at it."

But it's alive and well, with the only players in NBA history with more consecutive double-digit assists games being John Stockton (37 straight) and Magic Johnson (46).

"Anytime any player is mentioned with those two guys," Rivers said. "That means he's done something special."

Rondo is on track to break the record at Chicago on Dec. 18.

"I'll look back on it one day and realize what I'm doing," Rondo said following Boston's 103-83 defeat to the Pistons. "I'm upset we lost, but the streak is alive. It is what it is. I don't think much about it. I'll look back one day and realize what I've done."

Rondo is hearing more and more these days about Stockton and Johnson, a pair of Hall of Famers who dominated the game many years ago.

"I didn't really watch it when Stockton (was playing), and I don't think I was born when Magic was (setting records)," Rondo said. "It's been a long time since this type of streak has happened. It's a great honor. It's a credit to my teammates."

And while Rondo racking up double-digit assists seems like child's play most nights, the C's clearly went that extra mile - and then some - to try and keep the streak intact.

In Rondo's eyes, that should not deter in any way from what he's accomplished.

"You don't know when Stockton got his, if he stayed in the game when they were up 30 or down 30," Rondo said. "Now we're in the present, you probably look at it, a lot more attention as far as wins and losses. But you never know."

Morning Skate: Cheers for Boyle as he returns to practice with Devils

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Morning Skate: Cheers for Boyle as he returns to practice with Devils

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while determined to go see Foo Fighters at Fenway Park this time around. 
 
-- In the great news department, Hingham native Brian Boyle hears cheers at practice as he returns to work for the New Jersey Devils after his cancer diagnosis. Boyle might be wearing a Devils uniform, but he knows he has all of Boston in his corner along with many, many other corners of the hockey world. 

-- There is no panic with the Maple Leafs over the slow start for Mitch Marner, who has been dropped to the fourth line in the early going.
 
-- Wellesley native Chris Wagner is beginning to get recognized for his big hits and physical play with the Anaheim Ducks

-- Senators prospect and Massachusetts native Joey Daccord makes an unbelievable game-saving stop for his college team. 

-- For something completely different: Greg Nicotero talks about the Walking Dead premiere, and a character thought dead that might actually still be alive.
 

'Forgotten man' David Harris plays key role in win over Falcons

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'Forgotten man' David Harris plays key role in win over Falcons

For the first six weeks of the season, Patriots veteran linebacker David Harris was little more than an insurance policy.

At $1.25 million guaranteed this season, he was one of the pricer policies on the team, but his playing time told the story of where he stood on Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia's depth chart. His seven total defensive snaps slotted him in behind Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts and Dont'a Hightower among off-the-ball 'backers. 

So when Harris saw 19 snaps -- making three tackles in the process -- against the Falcons and their speedy offensive weapons on Sunday night, it caught our attention. Here are a few of the elements that came into play, leading to Harris' increase in playing time. 

1) Injuries to other Patriots linebackers created an opening for Harris. Roberts was announced as inactive prior to kickoff due to an ankle injury. Later in the night, Hightower suffered a shoulder injury that knocked him from action. That left Van Noy, Harris and Marquis Flowers as the team's linebackers in uniform. Harris got the nod over Flowers, who's primarily a special-teamer.

2) Falcons personnel called for the Patriots to use their base defense at times. The game opened with the Falcons going with a two-back set, encouraging Belichick to go with bigger personnel. The Patriots didn't have to stick with their regular group because the Falcons used primarily one-back sets over the course of the night, But even with Hightower healthy and available, what happened early in the game proved that there were certain packages that called for Harris to be on the field. He saw one early, picking up his first start as a member of the Patriots. 

3) The work Harris has put in during practices and off the field allowed the Patriots coaching staff to trust him when he was called upon. Belichick has lauded Harris all season for his professionalism, and on Monday morning he continued to heap praise on the 33-year-old. "As always, I think David works hard and is very well prepared and did all of the right things that we would want him to do from an assignment standpoint," Belichick said. "He gave us some good plays, was in on a few plays. Again, handled the communication in the front well. We’ll see if we can build on it. We’ve got a lot of good play from a number of guys and he’s certainly part of that group."