|Kevin Garnett left the court bloodied after taking an inadvertent elbow. (Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press)|
LOS ANGELES - After his right hamstring felt tight yesterday morning, Celtics guard Rajon Rondo missed last night's 110-91 victory over the the Lakers.
Rondo suffered the injury late in the first quarter of Boston's 104-98 victory at Utah Saturday night.
The second-year guard said he felt fine following a workout at the Staples Center before last night's game and had hoped to convince coach Doc Rivers to play him.
Rivers, however, decided to sit Rondo, who hadn't missed a game this season.
"I don't want to [sit out], but it's a long season," Rondo said before the game. "It's one game, but it's a big game.
"Still, it's a long season. I don't want to further my injury."
Rondo is averaging 9.4 points, 5.3 assists, and 3.9 rebounds through 28 games.
After hurting himself Saturday night, the 6-foot-1-inch, 171-pounder returned to the game and didn't show any effects.
"It felt bad in the morning, but it's feeling a lot better now," Rondo said.
Tony Allen started in place of Rondo last night and rookie Gabe Pruitt was activated. Allen responded to the opportunity by collecting 16 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 assists.
Are stars aligned?
There are a lot of games to be played before the coaches for the NBA All-Star Game will be determined. But Celtics guard Ray Allen is already thinking about how each win aids Rivers's chances of going to New Orleans.
The coaches who have the top records in each conference through Feb. 3 will guide the East and West teams in the Feb. 17 extravaganza. If Rivers's team earns the top spot, he'd be coaching the East All-Stars for the first time.
"I've thought about that for the last week," Allen said. "I said to myself, 'He's the All-Star coach', based on trend, our record [26-3 after last night's win], and how we're progressing. It's a no-brainer."
The Celtics' last coach in the All-Star Game was Chris Ford in 1991. The Celtics' record is impressive, but East rivals Detroit (23-7) and Orlando (21-11) aren't far behind. If Rivers does become the East's coach, there is a good chance he could have three Celtics with him in Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce.
"Detroit's still doing well," Allen said. "There is always an outside chance that it's not going to happen. I wasn't going to bring it up. I wasn't going to talk about that and how nice it would be to be able to say he was [the coach]."
Nearly two months into his first season coaching Celtics newcomers Garnett and Allen, Rivers seems to have built a strong relationship with both. Garnett and Allen have both sung Rivers's praises, too.
"Doc is a man. Doc respects us as men," Allen said. "He's not overbearing. He expects certain things out of us and we give it to him."
Doc on Phil
Skeptics have said Lakers coach Phil Jackson's nine NBA titles had more to do with coaching the superstar likes of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in Chicago and Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant with the Lakers than being a great coach. But on the flip side, Jackson also has had to manage superstar egos, too.
Rivers, coaching three superstars in Boston, believes Jackson doesn't get enough credit for that part of his job.
"He's been phenomenal," Rivers said. "He's one of the better coaches to have ever walked the Earth. He gets a lot of heat because he's coached with talent. But that's not easy to do. You have to keep all those personalities together and go on. It's my first time having talent and it's not easy. You have to manage a lot of personalities.
"He's been through so much more than me. I can't even think of what he's gone through, to be honest. He's gone through a lot of good. Whatever anyone can say, you can't take any of those championships away from him."
While the Celtics have a heated rivalry with the Lakers, they have no problems with the city they hail from and have several ties to it. Pierce is from the LA suburb of Inglewood. Garnett has an offseason home in nearby Malibu with neighbors such as ex-NBA star Reggie Miller and Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke, and he has a lot of family in the LA area. Pruitt is from Los Angeles and played at Southern Cal. Forward Brian Scalabrine also played for the Trojans. Rivers and guard Eddie House had stints with the Clippers. The Celtics didn't spend much time in Los Angeles, however, as they arrived after the game in Utah late Saturday night and planned to fly back to Boston after last night's game. Garnett and Pierce said before last night's game they planned on ringing in the New Year in Boston, not LA. "I'm taking that flight [to Boston]," Pierce said. . . . The Celtics have today off and resume practice tomorrow in Waltham.
Marc J. Spears can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org