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“I felt pretty good,” he said. “When I got back in the second quarter, I got pretty winded, but that was expected. Other than that, I didn’t feel like I was limited to anything tonight. I missed my first two shots and got to the post, got comfortable, and went from there.”
After a rust-filled five-minute stint to start the first quarter, Rondo bounced back by scoring all eight of his points in a dazzling second quarter. He went classic for his first bucket of the season, coming off a Kelly Olynyk screen on the left block, Rondo did his familiar fake-behind-the-back deke in the paint to create enough space to kiss a layup off the glass overPau Gasol with 5:43 to play in the second quarter
The hardest part, though, for Rondo was simply navigating the lulls between his court time. The Celtics were committed to playing him in five-minute bursts each quarter, but as coach Brad Stevens lamented, that meant 14 minutes between shifts for him to start and finish each half.
“The minute deal makes it really tough, because I want to make sure I get him in at the appropriate times,” Stevens said. “But it’s five minutes at the start (of the half), five minutes at the end, there’s 14 minutes in between that he had to sit and I didn’t love that. So we’re going to have to figure out how best to manage those minutes going forward if there continues to be a minute restriction.”
Added Rondo: “Hopefully this [minute restriction] won’t be too long. It’s my first game in a while. … I just have to stop looking at the clock and just play.”
We saw glimpses of Rajon Rondo’s brilliance last night but it’s obvious he’s going to need another week or two to get close to full speed. Rust and stamina are his biggest challenges right now, challenges he must face on limited minutes.
Kobe Bryant can relate:
“It’s frustrating,” said Bryant. “But from what I understand, he’s an a—— like me, so I think he’ll manage.”
Apprised of Bryant’s remarks, Rondo noted, “That’s a great compliment coming from Kobe. I feel the same way about him.”
The best news is that Rondo looks and feels good. There is no hitch in his step on/off the court. He’s expecting to play Sunday vs Orlando and Tuesday vs Miami (NBA TV has added the game). There is some uncertainty about whether he’ll play Wednesday (back-to-back) against Washington.
Related links: Herald – Captain Comeback | Globe – Rondo considers captaincy an honor | CSNNE – Rondo feels good in return | WEEI – Despite disappointing ending, Rondo’s return a success
On Page 2, the rookies stole the spotlight.
Though Rondo’s debut was respectable, with eight points and four assists in 19 minutes, the breakout lines belonged to a pair of rookies.
Kelly Olynyk, at one point scoring 10 straight Celtics points in the fourth quarter, kept his team within reach most of the way and finished with team and career highs in points (25) and assists (seven).
Equally strong was Phil Pressey, who absorbed some extra minutes as the result of Rondo’s strict minutes ration. Pressey not only accelerated the pace on a Lakers team not always comfortable being pushed down the floor, but once again played mistake-free basketball.
Pressey’s nine-assist, two-trey performance came without a turnover, giving the rookie 19 assists and zero turnovers in his last two games.
Glad to see KO have a breakout game. In his previous 6 games, he combined for 26 points. Pressey his generating some staggering assist to turnover numbers. Enough to make you forget about his 23% FG on the season.
I don’t know how the Celtics lost to this Lakers team. The roster is loaded with no-names.
Related: CSNNE – Olynyk’s career high paces monster night
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