Rondo Dishes 16 Dimes in Game 2 Win
Rondo went to the rack hard and while he didn't pass off for one of his 16 assists here, he did get to the line.
Peter F. Stringer/Celtics.com
Surely, Leon Powe's 21 points will garner most of the headlines, but he was only half of the terrible twosome that thwarted the Los Angeles Lakers' attempt to steal Game 2 at the Garden. In fact, Rajon Rondo's understated playoff-high 16 assists might score higher on the significance meter in terms of how critical they were to the Celtics' 108-102 victory.
Both of these bash brothers got their dunks in, but it was Rondo who spread the love to the rest of the family.
Darting through the paint and along the baseline as he pleased while seeking ready hands, Rondo accounted for 37 of the Celtics' 108 points with his dimes, and 41 overall counting a fast break jam and two freebies. More important than the numbers, however, was Rondo's consistent ability to blow by Derek Fisher and get behind enemy lines – a trait that, when it shows up (usually at home) it often coincides with a Boston victory.
Now it has the Celtics up 2-0 as they venture into the Pacific Time Zone.
"It was great," Rivers said of Rondo's infiltration. "After Game 1, that was the one thing – the two things we didn't do well in Game 1. I thought we could have gotten into the paint more off dribble penetration, so that's what we worked on yesterday, and [Rondo] was terrific with it."
The second thing Rivers wanted to see more of is post play, which would induce better inside-out action, but Rondo got the Celtics there the unconventional way. By drawing the defense toward the lane, Rondo found Ray Allen and Paul Pierce for a combined five three pointers. Then, once the treys forced the D to stretch, Rondo got fancy, hitting Powe for an alley-oop and a behind-the-back fake then dumpoff for another one of Leon's crowd pleasing jams. Of Powe's six field goals, four of them were created by Rondo.
"We left [Powe] open a few times. Rondo got in the lane too many times and they found [Powe] pretty well," Pau Gasol said. "We were pretty sharp at times, then we had a lot of breakdowns, guys getting in the lane, especially Rondo. We don't seem to get him under control, and then he creates. He creates, he's a good passer, and they've got guys who can knock down shots and make plays."
The fluidity of Boston's offense, especially during their third-quarter run, shows the stakes of Rondo's performances quite clearly. Plainly, he needs to do it on the road. The Celtics home (12-1) and away (2-7) record this postseason has a direct correlation with their second-year point guard. Of the 11 times Rondo has dished seven or more assists, only once was on the road, when he had 12 in Game 4 against Atlanta (a five point loss).
It was no secret back in November that the Celtics would probably only go as far as their point guard. So far, he's got them halfway to another banner, and anyone worried about how 'youth' would take to the Finals can at least take solace in one fact – Rivers isn't. Since averaging 31.15 minutes through the first two rounds, tbe point guard's minutes have spiked to 39 MPG from the Detroit series onward.
Some reporters didn't get a chance talk to Rondo after the game tonight, but maybe they didn't need to. His numbers spoke for themselves tonight.