Pelicans shootaround update presented by HUB International: Rajon Rondo experiences memorable weekend in Brooklyn, Boston

by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

DETROIT – You can weigh the pros and cons of the NBA’s significant changes to its regular season schedule in 2017-18, but there was no debate in Rajon Rondo’s mind about the benefits of his itinerary this weekend. With New Orleans (29-26) playing a Saturday back-to-back in New York City and having Sunday completely off, it allowed the point guard to attend Paul Pierce’s jersey retirement ceremony in Boston, yet still make it to Michigan for a Monday morning shootaround at Little Caesars Arena. The starter from the 2008 NBA champion Celtics also got to spend time with the ‘08 team’s head coach, Doc Rivers, whose current Clippers squad also had an off day before visiting the Nets tonight.

“It worked out great,” Rondo said after Pelicans shootaround today. “With Doc’s schedule, they play Brooklyn today. It was kind of unfortunate that all of us had a quote-unquote off day at the same time. It was perfect, and everything happens for a reason.”

Ten years after Boston won its most recent league title, Rondo enjoyed seeing Pierce’s No. 34 jersey being retired, as well as the support from TD Garden, where Rondo remains extraordinarily popular.

“Just the love and energy from the fans on all sides,” Rondo said of his takeaway from attending Sunday’s Cleveland-Boston showdown. “A lot of love for Paul, (Kevin Garnett), myself, a lot of the other guys like Leon Powe and Antoine Walker. It was great to be around that type of family environment.”

While Rondo spent part of Sunday catching up with his old coach Rivers, the two coincidentally are now in close competition for the Western Conference’s final playoff berth. New Orleans enters Monday’s action half of a game ahead of the ninth-place Clippers (28-26).

Rondo said Cavs-Celtics was reminiscent of the postseason.

“The intensity from jump ball, the physicality, the way they reffed the game, it was definitely a playoff atmosphere,” he said.

The memorable trip to Boston capped a weekend that began with Rondo registering a triple-double against Brooklyn, which included a season-high 25 points, along with 10 rebounds and 12 assists.

Other notes prior to Monday’s interconference game between New Orleans and Detroit:

The Pelicans will face Blake Griffin for a second time in a three-week span, this time in a different uniform. Griffin’s final game with the Clippers was punctuated by him sinking a critical three-pointer in the last minute that doubled Los Angeles’ lead from three to six. Although Griffin won’t benefit from it now individually, the bucket helped even the season series between New Orleans and the Clippers at 1-1. …

Detroit (27-28) has gone 5-2 since the Griffin trade (4-2 when Griffin is in uniform), ranking eighth in the NBA in offensive efficiency (111.0 points per 100 possessions) and No. 13 in defense (104.9). That net rating of 6.0 is fifth in the league over that timeframe, via NBA.com, behind only Utah (7-0 in that span), Toronto (6-1), Houston (7-0) and Milwaukee (5-2).