In the wake of Rondo's suspension, not much has been said about the end of his double digit assist streak. We know it had to end sometime and in truth, it had begun to take on a life of its own in recent games. There was the controversy over Doc leaving him in the game to get his last two assists. And there had to be mounting pressure on Rondo and on his teammates.
No matter what rondo said, that streak had to be weighing on him. And it had to be putting added pressure on his teammates to make shots when he passed them the ball instead of passing to another teammate who might have been more open. That would just be human nature. I thought it was a good thing for Rondo to get the record, but I'm also glad that it's over and Rondo and the rest of the team can get back to playing basketball instead of chasing a record. And the best thing about it is that Rondo ended it himself and on his own terms.
This brings me to my regularly scheduled ref rant. I put that entire fight in the Nets game on the officials. It goes back to the first game against the Nets where they were allowed to literally throttle Barbosa and it was a regular foul. I've watched the latest game over again and they let the Nets get away with a lot of pushing, grabbing and hard fouls while the Celtics were called for everything. Just the fact that the Nets had shot 17 free throws to 2 (plus 3 technical free throws) for the Celtics in the first half bears this out.
It's no wonder Rondo was frustrated and went after Humphries. The refs weren't going to do anything and someone was going to get hurt. The last time Rondo was ejected, in the Hawks game in the playoffs, the same thing was happening. The refs were calling the game completely one sided and the frustration built up to where it boiled over in a bump against the ref. As long as the refs are inconsistent or incompetent, players are going to get frustrated and things like this will happen.
It's also crossed my mind that this was Stern's aim all along. The Nets and Celtics have a big matchup on Christmas. It's not the rivalry that the Celtics have had with the Lakers over the years. There wasn't much of a rivalry to market. So, he decides to make one. He knows how volatile some of the Celtics can be. He's seen it before. So, instruct the refs to let the Nets get away with all sorts of things from choking Barbosa to pushing and shoving to hard fouls while calling the Celtics for everything. Watch the frustration build and BANG you have an instant rivalry.
In a recent quote in the Globe, Danny reinforced what I have been saying about rebounding all along.
“It’s focus. It’s effort. It’s five guys doing it. All it takes is one guy to not be doing his job. That’s sort of where we are. We are not getting everybody to lock in on every possession, and until we do we’ll be ordinary.”
Rebounding is effort and desire and focus. That's the only way you can explain a 6'1" guard coming out of a game with double digit rebounds. Everyone on the team has to commit to it and they have to put out the effort to box out and beat everyone else to that rebound. Unfortunately we rarely have seen that type of effort out of everyone on this team. It's there in spurts, but not on a consistent basis. Danny's right. Until we get that effort, this team is not going to be anything special.
I can't help but feel a little bit warm down inside when I see that the Lakers are under .500 and kind of self destructing. First there was the debacle with Mike Brown, Phil Jackson, and Mike D'Antoni. They sure botched that one. Last night, they allowed the Magic to score over 30 points in just 6 minutes down the stretch. Their defense was the problem with Mike Brown and it's still the problem. And, getting Steve Nash back isn't going to change that since Nash is a defensive liability in his own right.
Last night D'Antoni benched Gasol down the stretch. Dwight couldn't hit the broad side of a barn from the free throw line. Gasol recently admitted to having painful and persistent tendinitis in both of his knees, which should throw a monkey wrench into any trade plans the Lakers might have had to ditch him and his weighty contract. So, Kobe called him out.
Put your big-boy pants on. Just adjust. Just adjust. You can't whine about it. You can't complain about it
In the meantime, the Lakers are 8-9 and the infighting is beginning. Next Kobe will be chomping at Howard's neck to improve his free throws, and Artest to quit being such a flake, and Nash for being so brittle, and D'Antoni for not coaching defense. To a long time Celtic fan and Laker hater, I can't lie, it's kind of fun to watch.