At the end of the four game trip out west, Doc Rivers challenged his point guard to get to the free throw line at least ten times per game. While that is a tall order for most players, his message was clear: Rondo needs to attack the basket more, looking to score. In that game against the Sacramento Kings, Rondo was clearly taking Doc's message to heart, as well as his game to the rim. The Dallas Mavericks once again played a zone to stagnate Rondo's ability to penetrate and create, relegating the C's offense to having Rondo set up shop in the high post. But yesterday afternoon against the Orlando Magic, Rondo went right back into attack mode.
Rondo was whistled for two early fouls, sending him to the bench with 5:46 left to play in the first quarter. Rondo was called for a charge (drawn by Ryan Anderson) but that didn't deter him from getting back on that attack horse when he re-entered the game. For most of the season, Rondo has been cutting through the defense and setting up his teammates, piling up assists at exponential levels. Sometimes he's passed up easy lay-up attempts in what looks like stat padding.
Lately he's been looking to score, and it's paying off at the free throw line as well. In the past five games, he has shot 15 for 18 from the free throw line (83%), good for 3.6 FTA's per game. That's not even half of what Doc's prescription called for, but the intention is clear and the results are encouraging. Watch the video compilation below from yesterday's impressive win over the Magic, and you can tell that Rondo is looking to score more. It's good in the sense that this will keep opponents guessing even more, and it's also opening up his jumper (which he's been taking and making more). However, the negative aspect of it is that he hits the floor frequently. And hard. Just like John tweeted yesterday during the game, you take the good with the bad when Rondo decides to attack more, let's just hope there is more good.
Rondo starts attacking immediately on the C's first possession by sneaking in for an offensive rebound and tip-in off the Paul Pierce missed three. Other attacking clips include:
- Off a second option on the Floppy play, Rondo cuts to the hoop as Ray Allen gets double-teamed. Then as KG receives Ray's pass, he immediately passes to the cutting Rondo who scores off the Dwight Howard goaltend.
- Hedo Turkoglu airballs a three, and Ray gives it up to Rondo who takes it right at Jameer Nelson, drawing the foul. Rondo made both free throws.
- Ray plays free safety, intercepting the JJ Redick to Earl Clark alley-oop, allowing Rondo to get out on the break again. Then, with one of his signature moves, he side-steps Jason Richardson who is setting up to draw a charge but Rondo sneaks in a lay-up.
- Rondo gets out on the break again, taking it to Ryan Anderson who is moving and is called for a blocking foul.
- Rondo attacking Nelson again, drawing the foul and making 1 of 2 free throws.
- This time on a clear-out, Rondo takes it to Nelson again who doesn't even attempt to stop him in fear of picking up another foul. Somehow Rondo goes up-and-under to avoid Howard and scores.
- After KG gets double-teamed on the baseline, he swings it to Rondo who goes to the lane like a missile and scores with the left hand.
- Early in the second half, it's the same story: Rondo going right at Neslon, drawing another foul and making both free throws.
- Rondo is now setting up shop in the low post against Nelson, and makes a pivot move to his left, into the lane, scoring on a Howard goaltend. A lefty-jump hook spinning into the post is not a weapon we've seen him use all that often this year.
- Pierce drives to the free throw line and draws a triple-team then passes it out to Rondo on the left-wing. Rondo elects to take (and make) the jumper. Two reasons he took this: 1) shot clock was winding down and 2) his attacking was giving him confidence to take the jumper.
- Running Floppy again for Ray, KG elects to pass it to Rondo who drives baseline, looking to dunk it over Howard who fouls him hard. Rondo makes both free throws.
- With the shot clock winding down again, Kendrick Perkins kicks it out to Rondo who drills a three.
- KG and Rondo run the high pick-and-roll, where Rondo takes it to the basket, scoring the lay-up and drawing the foul on Anderson who was trying to help on defense by rotating to the hoop. Rondo would miss the free throw, but shot 7 for 9 overall from the line.