This was supposed to be Rajon Rondo’s measuring stick against Chris Paul. It was supposed to be the night he proved his worth among the NBA’s top five point guards. People thought Rondo would be gunning to attack Paul’s throne, looking to establish himself firmly among the elite NBA point guards.
Instead, Rondo was willing to do just what he’s done the rest of the season. He facilitated the offense and found his teammates in spots where they could do damage. He didn’t take many shots (only 7 FGA), but he accumulated 10 assists and played completely selfless basketball yet again.
On the night Rondo was supposed to be the story, the Big Three reminded everyone why they are still the Big Three. Paul Pierce was more or less unstoppable, scoring 27 points on 10-14 shooting and making sure the world knew Julian Wright and Peja Stojakovic will never, ever be able to stop him from scoring. Ray Allen had a great third quarter, keeping the Celtics in the lead while they struggled to bring any energy on a night where they came out lethargic and stayed that way for the rest of the night. And Kevin Garnett was Kevin Garnett; his stats (14 points and 7 rebounds) might not look great, but he did everything the Celtics needed him to do and was a big facilitator of the offense as the Celtics held off Charlotte’s fourth-quarter charge.
The Celtics didn’t play their best, but they’ll come away with a win. To be honest, they should be happy there won’t be videotape of this one in the standings. Boston was lethargic, lackadaisical, and — searching for another L-word (just for the alliteration) — lame. They allowed Peja Stojakovic to return to the form he displayed back when White Chocolate was his point guard and Chris Webber his post man. Chris Paul didn’t do much in the first half, but ran a little wild in the second half and finished with 22 points and 8 assists, to go along with 9-13 shooting. The Hornets’ bench, which had been outscored 91-43 combined in the first two games, outscored the C’s bench 40-21.
All-in-all, it was a win. Rondo didn’t beat Paul statistically, but he kept his basketball intelligence and never tried to get into a one-on-one battle with the Hornets’ point guard.
Paul outscored Rondo, 22-6. But I think Rondo will take one stat in which Paul had nothing.
And that’s the W.
For those of you who need more analysis and maybe a few laughs, here’s a running diary of my thoughts during the game.