Christmas is the time to spend with loved ones, but yesterday you probably missed one of yours who couldn’t be with you. And for most of you, that person was Rajon Rondo.
Over the past two games without its floor general, the Celtics offense has been the unequivocal worst in the NBA. They’ve registered a 36.6 shooting percentage and an average offensive efficiency of 87 points/100 possessions, which is ten points worse than the bottom of the league (Cleveland). And as ugly as these stats are, they’re substantially exceeded in ugliness by actually watching the Celtics in these two games.
So let’s do what we do when our loved ones aren’t around: break open the scrapbooks and reminisce. Today’s Classic Box Score: February 2, 2007. Rajon Rondo’s first start. I’ll spare you the Groundhog Day metaphors. Yes, four years ago qualifies as a classic.
This was a blowout to a mediocre team that set a new Celtics record for consecutive losses.Paul Pierce was out. Brian Scalabrine started and fouled out in 27 minutes, during which he grabbed 2 boards. Gerald Green played 13 minutes and put up no stats other than shots, turnovers and fouls.
But the game is nonetheless deserving of celebration because Rajon Rondo went off. He was handed the ball for almost the entire game, and got to the rim with ease despite the monstrous chip he was carrying on his shoulder at that point. Rondo was unhappy with his role on the team and the DNP-CDs he’d been handed over the course of the season, so he played with that quiet rage that we’ve since seen directed at opposing point guards.
He was also dismissive of and condescending to his teammates, maybe because as a 21st pick he was the second-highest draft choice of all the starters on his team, and only six behind Al Jefferson. You know that’s the kind of stuff Rondo was thinking about back then. He probably shook his head like this 75 times a day:
23 points wasn’t even Rondo’s career high at the time. He’d done it against the Raptors three weeks earlier in 12 fewer minutes. But in this game he led the team in attempts, giving up point duties to Delonte West for stretches because he wanted to score. Delonte ended up with an awesome assists-boards double-double in this contest, but he concedes game ball ownership to Rondo, who also got after Cuttino Mobley and Sam Cassell for 4 steals.
Rondo made TWO OF TWO three-pointers, each from 24-feet at exact opposite sides of the arc. He’s only made two threes in a game six times in his career. The only outside shot he missed was a 3rd-quarter buzzer beater. And while he only shot about 50% at the rim, he certainly managed to spend a lot of time there.
The game was tied at 71 early in the 4th before Corey Maggette managed to get to the line ten times in the last ten minutes to end it. Rondo started the next three games, but it wasn’t until two months later that he would wrest that responsibility from Sebastian Telfair for good.
“We think [Rondo] has a chance to be a special player,” Ainge said. “We wouldn’t have done the deal if we didn’t think that he has a chance to be the quality of a player of an Al Jefferson, a Gerald Green, those kinds of players. We think he has that kind of upside.”
That’s Danny Ainge after the 2006 draft with the most/least perceptive quote of his career. Enjoy rest of your holiday, everyone. Hopefully we can all be together again soon.