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Celtics notebook

Not in books till last second

Rebound put Rondo over top

By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / January 6, 2011

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Rajon Rondo was sitting on 12 points, 22 assists, and 9 rebounds, and even though the Celtics would walk off with a 105-103 win over the Spurs, it looked as if he would fall a rebound shy of his second triple-double of the season. But some generous scorekeeping gave him the 10th board as time expired.

After Paul Pierce swatted Manu Ginobili’s 3-point attempt away, Rondo gathered the loose ball and threw it in the air as time ran out.

“It wasn’t like it was 0.0 on the clock,’’ Rondo said. “But it’s a rebound, right?’’

The play gave him his sixth career triple-double in the regular season, and he wasn’t arguing.

“I didn’t expect a blocked shot, but I just tried to recover the ball,’’ Rondo said. “I don’t know if it was a block or a steal for me, I just tried to recover the ball.’’

No one questioned his assists, which he piled up at high volume, looking more like the player he was before a left ankle sprain cost him seven games.

“It was easy,’’ Rondo said. “Ray [Allen] shot 13 of 16 for the field. Paul shot 7 of 10. [Glen Davis] 10 for 18. Guys made shots. We just shot a great percentage from the field.’’

Rondo entered the fourth quarter with 4 points, but shot 4 of 5 down the stretch, being unusually aggressive in terms of looking for his shot with the Spurs giving him room on screens.

“I loved it,’’ said coach Doc Rivers. “It was awesome. [This morning] I watched Rondo take shot after shot after shot. You could see him getting himself mentally ready for what he thought was going to happen, and it did. They went under and he stepped up and made shots.’’

In his third game back, this was as close as Rondo has looked to his pre-injury form.

“I feel a lot better the past couple games,’’ Rondo said. “I’m in a little better rhythm, and I’m able to push off better on my ankle.’’

A guaranteed Wafer Von Wafer has deadline pressure down to a science.

The Celtics decided to guarantee the guard’s contract for the rest of the season, after he spent the past two weeks making a case for himself. His 10-point, 6-rebound performance against the Timberwolves Monday night likely made the decision to keep him a little easier.

“I think that might have helped,’’ Wafer said. “That one time [last season] in Houston, too. I was at the deadline, and I had 18 points in the fourth against Toronto, and then had another good game. I think that kind of sewed up my spot for the rest of the year.’’

The Celtics had until Monday to waive Wafer or guarantee the remainder of his contract. He’s had ups and downs, ranging from a preseason altercation with Delonte West, to spotty minutes, to his recent stretch of solid games.

“He earned the right to be here,’’ said Rivers. “He’s contributed to our wins. Even before he was playing, he was really working on being a better player in practice. He’s been good.’’

Fists over hands Former Celtic Tony Allen was involved in a fight with Grizzlies teammate O.J. Mayo over a card game on a team flight this week, and Rivers was hardly surprised. Not because it was Allen, but because fights happen.

Even though Allen was on his best behavior his last season in Boston, he had his share of issues, including an aggravated battery charge in 2005 in Chicago. But fights between teammates are hardly out of the norm.

“It happens,’’ said Rivers. “I think it’s a shame, honestly, that it did get out, because I think there are times when players are going to get into stuff. It just happens.

“I tell them to play cards and enjoy it. At some point, if they’re going to get into a fight over a card game, then that’s silly and then you would have to do something about it.’’

According to a Yahoo! Sports report, Mayo owed Allen more than $1,000 from a card game and their argument escalated into an altercation. The Grizzlies have a much younger roster than the Celtics.

“It’s just culture, teams that you’re on,’’ said Ray Allen. “Here, we know exactly what we’re playing for. We need everybody.

“They have a lot of young guys that are trying to find their way — guys trying to get contracts, trying to get more money, trying to get notoriety.

“We have young guys here, but everybody’s pretty situated and positioned. They follow the cues of the vets.’’

The league has had its issues with gambling incidents — including last year’s infamous blowup between the Wizards’ Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton — leading some teams to ban gambling on flights. The Grizzlies have done so, as of yesterday. Rivers has not.

“Listen, they’re grown men,’’ said Rivers. “If you cancel the card game on the plane, then if they want to play hard enough, they’ll go play in the rooms.’’

Garnett on court Just a week after suffering a right calf strain, Kevin Garnett returned to the practice court yesterday in Waltham to take some jumpers. He wore tights covering his legs, but there was no brace or added protection for the calf. Garnett shot for about 15 minutes after working out in the gym. Asked for comment, he said, “I got nothing for you, man, besides ‘happy holidays.’ ’’ Garnett was expected to miss two weeks when he strained the calf Dec. 29 leaping for an alley-oop pass. “He’s shooting now, so that’s good,’’ Rivers said. “Hopefully, he’s back in two weeks.’’

Gary Washburn of the Globe staff contributed to this report; Julian Benbow can be reached at jbenbow@globe.com.

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