Rajon Rondo’s status has not been determined for Thursday night’s game against the Brooklyn Nets after he injured his right ankle in the third quarter of a 98-93 victory over the Utah Jazz Wednesday night.
“I mean, [an injury is] going to happen,” coach Doc Rivers. “He’s not going to play all 82, I doubt it. It’d be nice. You know how I think, the next guy, just somebody, has to step up and we have to figure it out.”
Rondo (6 points, 10 assists) extended his consecutive double-figure assists streak to 32 games, third on the all-time list behind Magic Johnson (46) and John Stockton (37).
Rondo squeezed his assists into a 14:02 period spanning the halves, starting with an alley-oop for Kevin Garnett with 6:07 remaining in the opening half and concluding with a dish for a Paul Pierce 3-pointer before Rondo departed with 4:55 remaining in the third quarter.
Rivers said the Celtics have improved defensively.
“Defensively, we’re coming on,” he said. “First half, we made a lot of just bad mistakes, defensively. I mean, standing on the wrong side of a guy on a baseline out, and they get a layup – it was unbelievable to watch. But, in the second half, I thought we turned that around. We played with great focus.
“You know, we gave up a couple things that they shouldn’t have had. But, overall, I think we’re starting to understand this ‘single possession’ defensive team mentality. Every single possession. I don’t know if our new guys get that yet, but I think they’re starting to.”
Before the game, Rivers said: “We are at the point now, we know the mistake we’re making. That’s a step. Sounds crazy, but that is a favorable step. We were laughing on film today. You could see we made a couple of the same mistakes and the guys reacted.’’
Jeff Green appears to be regaining his aggressive approach to the game after a slow start, getting a tomahawk dunk and a technical foul in the fourth quarter. He scored 16 points in 27 minutes.
“It was huge, in a lot of ways,” Rivers said. “It was a great dunk. It was great for the team, it was great to see all the guys cheering for him. Great to see the crowd. So, those are the little plays that will just keep him going, and it keeps him aggressive.”
Before the game, Rivers said Green needed time to recover from heart surgery.
“He’s probably exhausted half the time,” Rivers said. “I don’t think people, including me, give a thought to how much he had to do to get back on the floor. His summer was harder than anybody else’s summer.
“He worked all summer long to get back to being a basketball player, then training camp came. He hasn’t stopped working. My guess is there is some fatigue, mentally and physically. He’s aggressive when we call his number. And we’ve got to get him aggressive when his number’s not called.”
Heading to Maine
Rivers expects center Fab Melo to excel with the Maine Red Claws of the NBA’s Development League. Melo and Kris Joseph joined the Red Claws before Wednesday’s game.
“We actually thought for a little bit of keeping [Joseph] up,” Rivers said. “But we have no practices, and that’s what we needed him for.
“Fab, he just needs to play, and [coach] Mike [Taylor] will do a great job with him. It’s a good experience for both of them.
“Fab hasn’t played basketball for a long time. I think he’ll be really good in the D League because there’s not a lot of bigs. I’m expecting him to be dominant. He has size very few guys have.’’
Guard Avery Bradley could be a candidate for a rehabilitation stint in Maine, once he recovers from shoulder surgery.
“If it’s a physical, crazy league, I don’t want Avery down there,” Rivers said. “It’s tough for us, because he needs to get back learning stuff, but it would be great to see him play a couple games before we get him out on the floor.’’
Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.