Powe's patience has paid off
WALTHAM - Rajon Rondo learned about biding his time in his first season with the Celtics, when the team won 24 times and Rondo started 25 games. So Rondo has spent this season preaching patience to Leon Powe, who experienced a breakout week by averaging 21.3 points and 10.5 rebounds in four games.
"Doesn't surprise me," Rondo said of Powe's 30-point, 11-rebound performance in Friday's 102-92 win over Memphis. "He's a great finisher and he's very strong around the basket. We kind of expect that out of Leon, especially when he's getting the minutes he's playing now. I've been telling him all year you have to stay positive, and when it's time to start, he's had great games."
Powe's career-high point total coincided with Rondo's return to the lineup. He missed two games with a sprained right ankle.
"I wanted to get us into the offense," Rondo said while preparing for today's game at Milwaukee. "As far as getting my touch and timing back, other than that, I felt pretty good. We didn't get off to a great start but we got off to a great start in the third quarter and finished the game. I tried to be aggressive and get into the paint - I was aggressive from the start and my ankle felt pretty good. I'm taped up but other than that it's fine."
Rondo added composure to the Celtics' offense, which had been out of synch with Stephon Marbury as the starting point guard in losses to Orlando (86-79) and Miami (107-99).
Only Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Powe have played in all 66 games this season. Tony Allen (thumb), Glen Davis (sprained right ankle), Kevin Garnett (right knee), and Brian Scalabrine (concussion) are out and Eddie House missed practice because of a family issue.
"Once we get back in the rhythm, get in the swing of things, get Kevin back in the lineup," Rondo said, "we'll start rolling again."
"Early in the year we got on him about that," coach Doc Rivers said of Powe's promptness.
Powe shot a career-high 14 free throws Friday and is second on the team (behind Pierce) with 253 foul shots attempted.
"And he's been doing it without us giving him a lot of sets," Rivers said. "He's doing it through energy and being in the right spots and execution on offense. He's learning more and more the better picks he sets for Ray and Paul, the more Leon will be open."
"It's different systems and trust," Rivers said of Moore. "He's coming from a team [Sacramento] that is not a great defensive team, so I guarantee there was not a lot of trust, and so we have to break him of that mental barrier.
"He's late on a lot of the shows on picks-and-rolls and he's late because he's worried about his guy slipping - and we are trying to convince him there will be somebody there for him. You can see the hesitation, but it will come. There will be a point in the game or practice and it will just break through."
Moore credited a Garnett pep talk with motivating him before the Memphis game.
"I talked to KG early [Friday] morning," Moore said. "He was like, 'You're a veteran. We know you're going to be all right. Just take your time. Concentrate on your stuff. Get yourself ready. We don't really care what you're doing right now. This is the period where you're going to get right for the playoffs.' "
Marc J. Spears of the Globe staff contributed to this report