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Rondo may be a go

Injured guard travels to D.C.

By Frank Dell’Apa
Globe Staff / January 22, 2012
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Rajon Rondo could return to the Celtics lineup for today’s game at Washington. The point guard traveled with the team on an afternoon flight yesterday, a day after a wrist injury caused him to miss a 79-71 loss to Phoenix.

Without Rondo, the Celtics struggled offensively against the Suns, losing for the sixth time in seven games.

Last season, Rondo was slowed by plantar fasciitis in the early going, then struggled with ankle and hamstring injuries, missing 14 games. He began this season strong but injured his right wrist attempting to break his fall under the basket following a clash with Toronto’s Linas Kleiza Wednesday.

Despite missing a game, Rondo leads the Celtics in minutes.

The Celtics also have been missing backup point guard Keyon Dooling (knee), leaving the position to Avery Bradley and E’Twaun Moore. Bradley started against Phoenix, scoring 10 points and defending strongly against Steve Nash.

But the Celtics clearly missed Rondo’s choreographing on the perimeter and dribble penetration in what was their lowest-scoring home game since Jan. 5, 2004 (78-68 loss to Detroit).

“I thought he was definitely a bright spot out there,’’ Ray Allen said of Bradley. “He put a lot of pressure on Nash. You could tell [Nash] got his feet twisted a little bit because Avery was right there in front of him every time he turned.

“They had the pick-and-roll - but it wasn’t him picking us apart because Avery did a great job on him.’’

The Celtics did not practice yesterday, but they clearly were eager to return to action.

“It’s about improvement,’’ Allen said. “Even if we were sitting here on a 10-game winning streak, you still you have to go back in the gym and work on it. This is adversity, and you face it and everybody’s ready to do it.

“It’s almost like, if the sun comes up tomorrow, we want it to come up quicker, because we want to get back out there and figure it out.’’

Last season, the Celtics’ point guard position suffered with the absence of Rondo and Delonte West. But the team was able to adjust.

Coach Doc Rivers said the staff is responsible for making tactical alterations, which include defining the roles of newcomers such as Brandon Bass and Mickael Pietrus.

“Brandon was 5 for 10 and he didn’t make open shots,’’ Rivers said. “And I thought he started second-guessing his shots - second time that’s happened.

“And so, you know, you’re learning more about your players. We’ve got to unlock him when he misses a couple. It seems like now he’ll pass up and pump-fake and try to drive, instead of . . . he can shoot the ball.

“We kept spreading the floor with a small lineup and spreading to [Pietrus], where the floor was like the ocean, and we wanted him to catch and - and he was like, ‘You know what? I think you always give it back to the stars.’

“I can see what he says but I said, ‘No, we swung it to you to be aggressive.’

“So, right now, he looks like either he’s going to shoot the three or he’s going to pass the ball. And we need him to put it straight on the floor. So, he’ll get that.’’

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

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