Granted Rajon Rondo is a point guard and Paul Pierce a small forward, but the new Celtics captain passed his predecessor for fourth on the team’s career

Granted Rajon Rondo is a point guard and Paul Pierce a small forward, but the new Celtics captain passed his predecessor for fourth on the team’s career assists list in 644 fewer games.

After stealing the ball from Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love, Rondo found Kelly Olynyk for a layup 1:27 into the contest, recording his first assist of Friday’s game and the 4,306th of his nine-year career in Boston.

Pierce amassed his 4,305 assists in 1,102 games over 15 seasons on the Celtics. Rondo still trails Larry Bird (5,695 assists in 870 games), John Havlicek (6,114 in 1,270) and Bob Cousy (6,945 in 917) on the career list. Judging by the company he keeps, Rondo’s not so bad.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

Following Wednesday’s home loss to the Thunder, Brad Stevens took the Celtics through a practice that lasted almost two hours on Thursday afternoon and not surprisingly, the focus was on defense after the C’s let up 109 poi

Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart

Following Wednesday’s home loss to the Thunder, Brad Stevens took the Celtics through a practice that lasted almost two hours on Thursday afternoon and not surprisingly, the focus was on defense after the C’s let up 109 points to a severely short-handed Oklahoma City squad.

“I think we wanted to talk about some things we were doing defensively and not doing defensively,” Stevens said. “We watched a lot of film of that. And then, you know, we’ll see what the carryover looks like. [But it clearly] was a defensive oriented film session and review session.”

Stevens added: “We did some good things. But we did not sustain them, and that was the other emphasis [Thursday].”

There was some positive news coming from the session.

Marcus Smart was up and walking around at the Celtics‘ practice facility, and also spoke to the media for the first time since spraining his left ankle during last Friday night’s game.

“I’ve sprained my ankle before, plenty of times,” said Smart. “It’s a part of the game, it’s a part of being an athlete. But I’ve never been in that type of pain with my ankle before, so it was something new to me.”

The pain was obvious since Smart was ushered off the court on a stretcher, but even though the sprain turned out to be less serious than what seemed at the time, the rookie is being cautious about how he handles the injury moving forward.

“I’m just taking it slow, taking my time, [I want to] make sure I’m 100 percent,” Smart said. “I don’t really want to rush anything right now. Even though I’m going to feel better before I really am, I’m just trying to make sure that, you know, I’m 100 percent before I step on the court again.”

Marcus Thornton was able to practice Thursday after leaving Tuesday’s practice with a minor ankle sprain that kept him out of Wednesday night’s game.

“He’s good. He practiced and he was fine,” Stevens said.

It appears Thornton will be in uniform going forward, while Smart will miss about another two weeks.

Next up for the C’s is a visit from LeBron James‘€™ Cavs on Friday night — a matchup that had Stevens questioning the motives of some of his family members.

“They’re really good,” Stevens said of the Cavs. “My in-laws are from Cleveland, and for some reason, they decided to fly in this week. Shocker. I didn’t see them last year around this time.”

Obviously, Friday will be a challenge, but the Celtics will look to climb back to .500 against a 3-3 Cavs team.

Blog Author: 
Julian Edlow

When Rajon Rondo plays great defense, the Celtics usually play great defense. That’s been a fact since Rondo arrived on the scene in Boston in 2006.

Wednesday night was an example of what can go wrong when he doesn’t. As a point guard and captain, Rondo has often been responsible for calling out defenses for the likes of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Avery Bradley. Rondo, by his own admission after a 109-94 loss to the Thunder, is still working his way back to form after missing training camp and preseason with a broken bone in his left hand.

“I think around Game 6 for me and still kind of preseason but everything counts,” Rondo said. “I’m still trying to get my rhythm, my wind and my timing with my teammates. I’m still a long way from where I want to be so I’m just going to continue to work.

“I’m OK defensively,” Rondo said. “I think it’s a team effort. I’m just trying to do my job in getting to the ball, contest shots. We didn’t do a great job of that, including myself. [Anthony] Morrow hit some tough shots but we still have to make them more uncomfortable off the ball. Give them credit. They made plays. They made the shots. They had our defense scattered all over the court. They went inside with dunks with Adams. And they went outside with Morrow and [Nick] Collison. They had us all over the place.”

The Helter Skelter defense allowed the Thunder to shoot 62 percent in the second half as the Thunder outscored Boston, 67-43, to cruise to just their third win in nine games.

“We let one slip away,” Rondo said. “They come off a back-to-back. They got in around three in the morning and we’ve been waiting. It’s a disappointing loss but we continue and have to move forward.”

Moving forward means LeBron James, Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers on Friday night at the Garden. The Thunder shot lights out without Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook Wednesday. Celtics fans shudder to think what might happen if Cleveland’s “Big 3″ get hot Friday.

“When I was out there playing, I thought guys played hard,” Rondo said. “Give those guys credit. They got into the teeth of our defense and made us collapse and had us running wild everywhere. I won’t be too critical of our defense or our effort. They made shots. That’s what NBA players do. Watch film and go from there.”

The Celtics have been good this season when the threes are falling. When they’re not, like in Houston (1-for-25), they’ve looked lost. Wednesday, they attempted 33 threes and made just nine. Rondo said the long rebounds and transition didn’t figure into the “scattered” Celtics defense.

“I don’t think so,” Rondo said. “It’s the same thing when you said that about the Houston game and we almost set the record. We had some good looks tonight, especially playing against a zone. A lot of our guys were shooting. Avery [Bradley] shot the ball, he’s one of our shooters. Jeff shot some threes. And our bigs as well. We’re a great 3-point shooting team. We didn’t make them tonight but it has nothing to do with our defensive intensity and why we weren’t able to get stops.

“They got hot in the second half and I guess when the rim is that big, it made it easy for them.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Brad Stevens isn’t the kind of coach to throw chairs or even raise his voice to get his point across when he’s ticked off at his team.

Brad Stevens isn’t the kind of coach to throw chairs or even raise his voice to get his point across when he’s ticked off at his team.

But Wednesday night, after a complete and utter no-show in the second half of a 109-94 loss to the undermanned Thunder at the Garden, Stevens came as close to publicly calling them out as you’ll see from the mild-manned coach.

“Well, I think it was, first of all, their energy and their togetherness, and their energy ‘€“ again ‘€“ and their passion was obvious and evident. And I don’€™t know if it was the fact that we missed a couple of shots that got us out of a rhythm, but the bottom line is we didn’€™t guard them at all in the second half. And they had a lot to do with that. They ran good stuff, and they made shots.”

Former Boston College sharpshooter Reggie Jackson and Anthony Morrow (28 points each) picked up the slack for a team missing Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. The Thunder, who trailed 51-42 at the half, outscored the Celtics, 67-43, in the second half, as Boston allowed Oklahoma City to shoot 62 percent (26 of 42).

“Credit to them,” Stevens said. “We talked about guys like Morrow; if you ever leave Morrow, he’€™s going to score,” Stevens began. “If you ever get hit on a screen and you’€™re lost, he’€™s going to score. And he scored a lot. And we let the bigs run down the lane and dunk it a couple times. I mean, 67 points in a half is pretty poor.”

Did the Celtics relax too much against a team that was missing its two big guns and playing its third game in four nights?

“Really talented. Just really long and athletic. I told everyone before the game ‘€“ at least I thought I did ‘€“ that I thought it was going to be really tough for us.

“I don’€™t really consider other peoples’€™ schedules in it. If I’€™ve learned anything in my short time in the NBA it’€™s that all that stuff is just food for thought, and it doesn’€™t always show itself true. I mean, I thought we played with way better energy Saturday night than we did in the second half today, and we were on the second of a back-to-back. So I don’€™t really get into that or think about that. I think you can muster up the energy to play a basketball game any night. And credit them, they did and we didn’€™t. We got out-performed big-time in the second half. In the first half we were pretty good. I don’€™t know why we were so’€¦.we were a sieve on defense.”

Jackson’s three at the end of the third quarter seemed to take the air completely out of the Celtics, as a one-point deficit turned into four heading into the fourth.

“I think it may add to their outlook, but it shouldn’€™t,” Stevens said. “I mean there’€™s so many possessions in a quarter; it shouldn’€™t impact you a whole lot. So again, very rarely do I feel like we were just out-efforted in a half. And we weren’€™t in the first, but we were in the second.

“Maybe they took it. I don’€™t know if we matched it. But at the same time, I don’€™t want to take away from them. So I thought they turned it up to a different level; you could hear their bench down at our bench. I thought that they were clearly ‘€“ I thought Lance Thomas probably made a couple of the biggest plays in the whole game, just by getting loose balls and coming up with rebounds and just running through guys. And, hey, that’€™s what you have to do to win.”

After racing out to an 18-3 lead to open the game, the Celtics were outscored 106-76 the rest of the way. Is that a teaching moment for Stevens?

“I think the leads are so overrated,” Stevens said. “We talked about that last week, whether it’€™s a lead at home or on the road if you’€™re ahead or behind, I think you’€™ve got to play the whole 48 minutes. It’€™s a good question but you know, I don’€™t need to learn it and there’€™s only a couple guys that have been in the league less than me, so hopefully it’€™s not something you have to learn. And the young guys I guess you do, but there aren’€™t very many of them.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Those 2007-08 Celtics share a bond that won’t be broken, so it wasn’t surprising to see Leon Powe waiting in the visiting locker room for Thunder center Kendrick Perkins to get dressed.

“Sometimes you just need a reality check,” said Perkins, who has worked through his share of ups and downs in Oklahoma City, coming off the bench in Wednesday’s 109-94 win over his former team. “Sometimes people you love just have to put you in place and talk to you, and that’s all you need at times, is just that one person to talk to.

“I go to a lot of people, man,” he added. “I talk to [Kevin Garnett] a lot. I talk to [Rajon] Rondo a lot. KG is the one who tells me the truth all the time. He’s going to tell me the truth whether I want to hear it or not.”

Rondo wouldn’t share exactly what he and he and his former teammate discuss. “I can’€™t really say what we talk about, really. He told me some things, too, but I won’€™t put him on blast.”

Perkins is a little more forthcoming about their relationship. They became best friends as the young tandem that filled out a starting five that featured Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, so when Perkins was dealt to OKC for Jeff Green at the 2011 trade deadline, it taught them both a less in NBA business. Still, they remain thick as thieves.

Naturally, as Perkins and Rondo approach unrestricted free agency for the first time in their careers, their conversations occasionally focus on the future. “I think it’€™s a great place for him,” Perkins told reporters prior to the game. “I think he wants to stay here. We talk on the regular, and I think he should stay. If I was him, I’€™d stay.”

Rondo didn’t disagree. “That’s about accurate,” said the Celtics captain. “From Media Day in the beginning, that’€™s what I said initially, so … my perspective hasn’t changed, and I love being a Celtic.”

Asked if Rondo was enjoying the spotlight with his own supporting cast, showcasing his talent without Garnett, Pierce and Allen sharing the stage, Perkins said, “I think he is. This is a great opportunity for him, the way he’s been playing, flirting with a triple-double. He’s just got to teach. It’s a learning process, but he’s got some nice pieces around him. He’s just got to keep building and playing well. It’s a good situation for him.”

Indeed, Rondo is averaging 11.3 assists, 10.8 points and 8.2 rebounds in six appearances this season, showing he’s capable of starring in the show, even if he isn’t yet satisfied after returning from the broken bone in his left hand.

“This is around Game 6 for me, so it’€™s still kind of preseason, but everything counts, so I’m still trying to get my rhythm, my wind, and my timing with my teammates,” he said. “So, I’€™m still a long way from where I want to be.”

Whether or not the Rondo-centric Celtics become a long-running production in Boston remains to be seen, but Perkins raved in his review after his first viewing of the latest version of the C’s.

“I think they’re at the level now where they should be looking to make the playoffs,” he said. “They’ve got a pretty decent squad — pretty solid for the East.” Considering Perkins becomes an unrestricted free agent in July and the unbreakable bond he shares with Rondo, the possibility remains he could return this summer, reversing roles as the elder statesmen on a Celtics team once again hoping to restore glory in the Garden. “If the opportunity presents itself, I will, but you never know,” Perkins added. “It’€™s not on me. You have to be wanted to come back.”

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

The Celtics are tough to figure out.

Rajon Rondo's 20 points couldn't stop a Celtics meltdown. (Getty Images)

Rajon Rondo‘s 20 points couldn’t stop a Celtics meltdown. (Getty Images)

The Celtics are tough to figure out.

Coming in riding a two-game win streak, the C’€™s raced to a 15-point lead in the first quarter but then struggled against a star-less Thunder team that picked up its first road win of the season by a score of 109-94 (click here for box score).

The win for Oklahoma City was reminiscent of Boston’€™s short-handed victory against the heavily favored Bulls on the second night of a back-to-back. The Thunder did not look like the team that lost Tuesday night in Milwaukee, beating the Celtics in convincing fashion.

Reggie Jackson and Anthony Morrow led the Thunder with 28 points each. Morrow came off the bench and was quiet much of the game until exploding for 19 points in the fourth quarter.

Here are five things we learned in a game that dropped the Celtics back below .500 (3-4):

ANOTHER RAJON RONDO RETURN

After sitting out the entire preseason with a broken left hand, but returning in time for the season opener, Rondo unhappily missed the team’€™s trip to Chicago this past weekend. It was decided during last Friday night’€™s game that Rondo would have minor surgery on Saturday morning to remove screws that were still in his hand from the initial surgery.

The point guard was able to practice on Tuesday, and was back in the starting lineup against the Thunder on Wednesday without missing a beat. Rondo finished the game with . . . wait for it . . .

ANOTHER NEAR RAJON RONDO TRIPLE-DOUBLE

It’€™s getting to the point where we might be on Rondo-triple-double watch every single game. He had 10 points to go along with eight rebounds and six assists at the half.

After posting a triple-double at home last Wednesday against the Raptors, Rondo was just one rebound away this time. He totaled 20 points, nine boards and 12 helpers by the end of the game.

ANOTHER MISSED GAME IN BOSTON FOR KEVIN DURANT

Durant suffered a fractured foot in October and is currently in the middle of his 6-8 week recovery. But missing games in Boston has been a theme throughout Durant’€™s career.

Coming into this season, Durant was somewhat of an iron man in the NBA. He missed just six total games in the past five years. But Wednesday marked the third time in six years that the reigning MVP sat out a game in Boston. 

ANOTHER HOT START AT HOME

Before the first quarter was halfway through, the Celtics held a lead of 18-3 over the Thunder, who at that time were shooting 1-for-10 from the field with no rebounds as a team.

The Celtics cooled off, though. They finished the frame with just 24 points, making it the only first quarter at home in which the C’€™s have failed to put 30 points on the board so far this season.

The Celtics were outscored 106-76 after their quick start.

FAILED REDEMPTION

The Thunder were without both Durant and All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook, not only on Wednesday, but last season when they played in Boston.

But Brad Stevens remembers that the Thunder were no easy opponent last year, even without their stars: “This is the same group that beat us by 20 last year,” Stevens said after Tuesday’€™s practice.

Unfortunately for Stevens, he got nearly the same result this year.

Blog Author: 
Julian Edlow