THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Rondo sure got his fill

By Frank Dell’Apa
Globe Staff / February 7, 2011

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Two years ago, Rajon Rondo might not have been capable of taking over a game against an elite opponent. At least not the way he did in the Celtics’ 91-80 win over the Orlando Magic yesterday afternoon.

Rondo scored 26 points, not only leading the Celtics in scoring but coming within 2 points of the combined total of the Orlando backcourt (starters and reserves). It was not a flawless performance, but it displayed how close Rondo is to reaching his potential as a point guard. There was plenty of choreographing and setting up teammates, but this was Rondo’s time to show he really can make opponents pay the price for leaving him to help defensively on Ray Allen and Paul Pierce.

It was a ragged game, with a couple of alarming collisions. The flow was interrupted early. It started after Rondo was called for a charge, his second personal foul, a play that altered the Celtics’ substitution patterns.

By the time things started to settle down, Glen Davis had been treated in the Celtics’ locker room, Dwight Howard had gone to the bench after taking a slap from Semih Erden, and Marquis Daniels had been admitted to New England Baptist Hospital with a bruised spine.

But there were still some hard hits to be administered, and Rondo absorbed a lot of them. Rondo was driving and posting up Jameer Nelson in the half-court game, flying down the court in transition. Rondo did hit jump shots, but he went inside as well, and paid a physical price.

“We got stops. I think that helped, it allowed me to get out in transition and make plays,’’ Rondo said. “They stayed on Ray and Paul’s body, so I really didn’t have outlets. My only outlet was to try and score the ball.

“I still missed a lot of shots. All my misses were pretty much jump shots, but I just kept taking them. I think I missed my first two, but they felt good. But I’ve been shooting a lot more jump shots lately. I’m going to continue to shoot them and [today] the lane just opened up a lot more even though Dwight was in there.’’

Asked if Rondo should be offensively aggressive more often, coach Doc Rivers replied, “It really depends on the game. You know, I want him to be aggressive every game. Whenever he does go [to the basket], we want him to go with power and speed and be willing to get fouled. Obviously, he made great shots and all that. I just liked the fact that he had no problem if he got fouled.’’

After Daniels went down early in the second quarter, the Celtics’ motivation seemed to go up.

“Scary moment,’’ Rondo said. “We still haven’t heard an update, so just wish him the best. Those moments don’t really happen in basketball. It’s crazy, that you have to wait for something to happen to get a boost, but that’s just how it is.’’

Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at f_dellapa@globe.com.

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