Boston Celtics fans were treated to a dream come true tonight, as All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo returned to NBA action after a nearly year-long hiatus.
The dream gradually turned into a nightmare, however, as Boston let a game it should have won slip out of its grasp as the visiting team – none other than the hated Los Angeles Lakers – ended the game on an 11-0 to steal a 107-104 victory.
Party poopers – and I don’t mean the Lakers. This is a game the Celtics are going to wish they could get back . . . unless they finish the season with one more loss than LA, and wind up winning a better draft pick in the lottery, that is!
The game started out exactly the way you would expect it, with the crowd erupting when Rondo was announced as the starting point guard. In a nice touch, Rondo was actually introduced as the team captain, which I have to admit sent a little jolt of electricity through my body. I still live in fear that “Trader” Danny Ainge still views Rondo as trade bait, but naming him the captain certainly lends weight to Ainge’s argument that he fully intends to rebuild the team around the league’s best assist man.
Rondo looked rusty during his first five minutes of action, as one would expect, but he got the crowd off its feet in the second period when he scored 8 straight points, including his patented fake-pass pull-back layup, and a spinning move into the paint that resulted in another layup. All in all, Rondo appeared to be agile and on the cusp of regaining his old form tonight, a welcome sight for Celtics fans even though it won’t be enough to help this team make the playoffs this season.
The real stars of the show tonight, surprisingly, were rookies Kelly Olynyk and Phil Pressey. Olynyk scored a career-high 25 points, and added 7 assists, some of which were spectacular. Meanwhile, Pressey spent a second straight game taking advantage of the increased playing time he will see now that Jordan Crawford has been traded, dishing out a team-high assists, most of which were more than spectacular. Pressey truly has the court vision that a true point guard needs, and the thought of him being the back-up point guard is scary as hell. If he continues to improve, the Cs will have the luxury of having an All Star starting point guard and a back-up point guard who could be good enough to start on other NBA teams. That scenario is still a year or two away from becoming reality, but dammit if Pressey didn’t impress me tonight.
Sadly, there were many parts of the Celtics’ game that were NOT impressive tonight, which is why we are not celebrating a win right now. Three-point defense? Not sure that the Celtics employed that strategy, as LA hit 12-20 – that’s 60%! – for 36 points. Fast break points? Boston was outscored in this category 15-11. Did they not read Lakers’ coach Mike D’Antoni’s comments about how the Lakers had problems stopping athletic teams on the break? Allowing the Lakers to end the game on an 11-0 run?
Hold that thought. (Cue sound of stray cat being kicked across the front yard.)
Just kidding! I don’t have a front yard.
It’s a tough pill to swallow, but if it helps Boston get a better draft pick than those creeps in LA, I’m all for it. Thanks to those of you who hung out with me on Twitter tonight, and just be happy we have Rajon Rondo to watch now!