BOSTON (CBS) - Rajon Rondo usually saves his best performances for when the spotlight is brightest.
But on Monday, he showed he is still motivated even against one of the lesser-teams in the NBA.
With the 9-27 Charlotte Bobcats in town, the Celtics point guard found motivation a few different ways. First, Rondo was asked before the game if he noticed his assists were down as of late. He shrugged it off, saying all that matters is his team is winning.
But, just to prove he still had it, he went out and did it all. Rondo posted 17 points on eight-of-11 shooting, 12 assists and 10 rebounds for his 26th career triple-double as the Celtics won their sixth straight, 100-89 over Charlotte.
“Because you told me my assists were down and I just wanted to just go out there and prove it to you that I can step up my game when need be,” Rondo sarcastically told the reporter after the game.
There was also a question about Charlotte’s young guard Kemba Walker. Rondo knows younger players in the league are now looking to him, as both inspiration and motivation. So Rondo himself draws some motivation when going up against some of the young guns in the league.
“I’m getting a little bit older, so the younger guys are coming in and I may have a mark on my back being an older guy,” he explained. “I made a couple All-Stars, but I’m a target every night and I just want to go out there and defend what I do best, which is run the show. I made a lot of lucky shots tonight.”
When asked who his targets are, he casually said “myself.”
Rondo had his best shooting night of the season on Monday, while Walker shot just four-of-16 for 12 points. The C’s play caller led the Boston on a hot start, as they jumped out to a 28-18 lead after the first quarter. In that first frame, Rondo had nine points, six rebounds and five assists, and had a hand in Boston’s first 19 points of the game. The Bobcats made a push in the second half, tying the game at one point, but Rondo and the Celtics took control again to win their sixth straight.
That win streak has not only seen the Celtics climb in the standings, but also a much lighter mood in the locker room.
“Our spirits are better, obviously,” Rondo said after the victory, which has Boston three games over .500 for the first time in a month. “It’s not fun losing. And since we’ve been winning, our locker room has been a little bit more relaxed, not so tense. Guys are smiling again and joking. So it’s back to where we’ve been from the start.”
“We lost a couple games; we never got down, we just tightened up a little bit in the locker room,” Rondo continued. “But I wanted to be the guy that just tried to get us back as far as how we play. We play loose, we might smile out there on the floor sometimes. Well, I don’t, but some of my teammates do. Guys like Courtney (Lee), he loves to smile. Jeff (Green) as well. Just get that swag back, and I think we’ve done that the last couple games.”