BOSTON (CBS) – Rajon Rondo picked up his 10th and final assist with just 23 seconds remaining against the Chicago Bulls on Monday night, making it 31-straight games he’s recorded double-digit assists.
While assists are his forte, Rondo did it all for Boston on Monday, helping them improve to 4-3 on the young season with a 101-95 win over the Bulls. His final line: 20 points, 10 assists, nine rebounds, five steals and a 10-for-16 shooting night.
Sure, Chicago was without all-world point guard Derrick Rose. Even his backup Kirk Hinrich was out, so it was up to Nate Robinson to stop Rondo. Given their time together on the Celtics from 2009-2011, it was a matchup that must have had Rondo salivating in the locker room before taking the floor.
And he took advantage of it, running the offense with ease throughout the game. He attacked the basket early and often (he had 10-5-5 by the time the Celtics hit the locker room at halftime), and then came through with key assists late in the game as the Bulls made surge in the final minutes.
More importantly, the Celtics offense actually looked like an NBA offense. With what was a double-digit lead for Boston down to just four with 2:31 left to play, Rondo hit Kevin Garnett for an alley-oop to put Boston up 95-89. While not as ferocious as the connection was back in 2007-08, the play got it done. And after the Celtics gave up an offensive rebound on a missed free throw — leading to two more Chicago points and making it a 95-93 game with just 49.5 ticks left — they ran the play again to the same success.
It’s amazing what can happen when the Celtics actually run plays on offense.
The Celtics enjoyed an all-around game from nearly all of their players; from Kevin Garnett’s 15 points, Jason Terry’s 13 points in 29 minutes, to 16 big points from Brandon Bass. But it was an aggressive Rondo on both offense and defense that got them going, and kept them going as the game went on.
While the Celtics have been inconsistent to start their new campaign, one of their constants has been strong play by their point guard. Over the first seven games, Rondo is averaging 15.4 points, 12.9 assists and 5.1 rebounds. He’s shooting an impressive 53-percent, thanks in large part to his aggressiveness in attacking the hole.
He didn’t log the triple-double everyone loves to see in the box score, but it was everything else he did that won’t show up in the box score that helped the Celtics beat the Bulls.
Follow Matthew Geagan on Twitter @MattyGWBZ