Mavs + Rondo Scratch Deep In Boston
It was Rajon Rondo's homecoming game in Boston on Friday, and the new Mavs point guard did everything he could to remind the Celtics faithful what they lost in the Dec. 19 blockbuster trade, scoring a season-high 29 points in Dallas' 119-101 pounding of the Celtics at the TD Garden.
“All around, it was a tough game,'' said Rondo. "It was a lot tonight. Emotionally, physically, I don’t think I’ve ever been this tired after a game before.”
Rondo, for eight years a foundation piece of a Celtics team that won a title with him making four All-Star games, was at his very best here, especially in beating the bugaboo that is his only downside: his reputation as a poor perimeter shooter. Rondo's response: 5-of-7 on 3-point tries and 12-of-19 overall.
“He did a great job,” said teammate Monta Ellis. “He handled it well. He was locked in. I thought he wasn’t going to miss a shot. He did everything he needed to do to come back and get a win. When you get those memories behind you, it made it easier for him.”
"Those memories'' were captured beautifully in Boston's video tribute to Rondo ...
Rondo made his first seven shots, scoring Dallas' first 10 points. The five 3-pointers are a career-best. He also pitched in six rebounds and five assists.
Said Dirk Nowitzki: "He was on fire. Early on, they left him a little bit and he stepped right into them. It’s got to be a hard situation to be in. He couldn’t have handled it better.”
The Mavs are 24-10 and 5-2 since the trade. The integration of Rondo is an ongoing project, but if he's able to work with coach Rick Carlisle to improve his shot (as Jason Kidd did before him) the "scratching the surface'' is going to get deeper and deeper ... and so might Dallas' playoff run.
“This is like a new marriage,” Carlisle said. “You got to learn about each other. It takes time, but both parties are working at it.''
As much as we endorsed the Rondo trade at the time, there were still questions -- about fit and potential and limitations -- to be answered.
*What impact would "The Dirk Effect'' -- how The Uberman opens up the floor -- have on him?
*Could Rondo, with all that space, improve his shot to an acceptable level?
*Could Carlisle work some magic to help Rondo him improve his 3-ball to a level where teams would eventually not be to sag off him?
*Would he over-pass?
*Is he fully past his nasty injury?
On Friday, Rondo admitted that in recent years he didn't play defense as hard as he normally would. That remark can be interpreted any of ways. We'll mix in health as one of them and say after watching him in Dallas for the last two weeks, he looks healthy -- and is certainly playing D. And Dallas' defensive team numbers are skyrocketing, too.
"The Dirk Effect'' is so real that Carlisle is talking about it in relation to Rondo.
“The history is that guys that come to Dallas and play with Dirk Nowitzki and play better because there’s more space on the floor and because of how teams have to play him,'' Rick said. "Some of that’s happening here. Teams have been playing off Rondo for years. We’re very vigilant about (urging Rondo to take shots).”
And so it's all fitting. Rondo is shooting 50 percent from the arc in his time here. The chemistry mesh with guys like Monta is obvious. The endorsement from Dirk means everything.
And we'll give you another endorsement: At this moment, the Dallas front office collectively deserves to win NBA Executive of the Year.
In one season -- the span of a few months -- the Dallas Mavericks signed Dirk Nowitzki for one-third of his arguable value, signed Devin Harris under-value, acquired Tyson Chandler, acquired Chandler Parsons and acquired Rajon Rondo ...
In exchange for ...
Spare parts (Dalembert, Calderon, Ellington, Larkin, Wright, Crowder, Nelson) and late picks (one that should be in the 20s and doesn't change hands for two years, one in the 30s, one in the 50s).
There is no guarantee this all adds up to a title (though it's nice to look at the standings and see Dallas pop ahead of Houston into fourth) and there's not even a guarantee Rondo and everyone re-signs here (Rondo makes that clear while noting Dallas has the inside track).
But this organization is white-hot when it comes to Asset Management and if it is able to add Jermaine O'Neal to the mix ... Executive-of-the-Year stuff, really, for Cuban, Donnie and Rick ... "The Triangle of Trust.''
Rondo was brilliant but so were others. Let's discuss the game on DB.com Boards and get your vote for "The Dirkie'' here!
“It was a great welcome from the fans and he obviously had his best game as a Maverick. It’s extremely difficult to come back in this kind of situation and play the way he did. He hit his first seven shots and set the tone. He showed a lot of class with the way he played and the way he acknowledged the crowd. We’re happy to have the win. And we’re happy to have this over with.” - Rick Carlisle on Rondo's Boston return.
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