Monday, December 24, 2007
Santa Claus came early this year for Rajon Rondo
How good is Rajon Rondo? I'd say that Celtics GM Danny Ainge knew this all along when he drafted Rondo two years ago out of Kentucky and watched him struggle through a terrible Celtics season last year but come on. Ainge has to be as surprised as the rest of us. Last night at the Garden, Rondo and the Big Three all scored 21+ points as the Celtics (22-3) exacted revenge on the Orlando Magic, 103-91.
Rondo put an exclamation point on the end of the first half as he swished his first three-pointer of the season, giving the Celtics a 49-42 lead that they would extend to 19 and never relinquish in the second half.
Rajon added another three-ball in the third quarter, on his way to 23 points, six assists, four rebounds and four steals. Most impressive these days is his shooting. He went 8 of 11 from the floor and 5 of 6 at the line. Center Kendrick Perkins will clearly never be anything special (which is OK) but Rondo really could be something, you don't have to be a bat-shit crazy homer like Tommy Heinsohn to say that. There's options outside of the Big Three, who knew?
Paul Pierce continued his recent strong play as he submitted a game-high 24 points and six assists. Ray Allen similarly has looked great since he came back, he had 22 points and four assists. Kevin Garnett had 21 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and three blocks. Perk even had a respectable six points and 12 boards.
The Magic (18-11) got a strong game from Dwight Howard (23 points, 14 rebounds) but somebody has to teach the kid how to shoot free throws. Then again, he might suffer from the Shaq-syndrome of having hands that are too big to shoot free throws. Howard was a brutal 5 of 16 from the line. He's a force around the basket but if it's a close game, late in the fourth quarter, smart teams will foul him every time. Hedo Turkoglu (19 points) and Rashard Lewis (15 points) scored but are not anywhere near the level of Pierce, Allen and KG.
Boston shot 52.1% from the field and 19 of 24 from the line. Almost a third into the season, the Eastern Conference is clearly Boston, Detroit and everybody else. The C's get the next few days off for the holidays then travel to Sacramento for a four game in five nights West Coast trip. Boston faces the Kings, Sonics, Jazz and then Lakers. Nothing less than a 2-2 trip will be acceptable. The Jazz and Lakers will be tough on the road but the Celtics could beat anybody right now with the way they're playing.
Happy Holidays Big Three, Celtics fans have many things to be thankful for this season.