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Rondo’s return was a little rough around the edges

By Frank Dell’Apa
Globe Staff / February 5, 2012
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WALTHAM - Yesterday, Rajon Rondo was still feeling the discomfort of a sprained wrist, plus swelling under his right eye from a clash with New York’s Iman Shumpert during the Celtics’ 91-89 win over the Knicks Friday. But what really pained Rondo were missed free throws and committing turnovers against the Knicks, his first appearance since Jan. 18.

“It wasn’t the cause of a couple turnovers,’’ Rondo said of his facial bruise. “It was just the timing and me trying to get back throwing regular passes.

“But I’m trying not to get too down, too negative on myself. I was pretty critical last night but, realistically, I haven’t touched a ball since Toronto because of the wrist.’’

Rondo injured his wrist on a drive against Toronto’s Linas Kleiza. He was fitted with a brace and avoided shooting while recovering.

“I didn’t shoot free throws,’’ Rondo said. “And I’m beating myself up because I missed free throws and some turnovers I made. I wasn’t strong enough to make the pass, but you know that was the sacrifice I made to go out there and play.’’

Against the Knicks, Rondo was 3 for 8 shooting, twice scoring on drives, once on a jumper; 1 for 4 foul shooting; and committed five turnovers.

Asked if the wrist was sore, Rondo replied, “It was, but it felt 100 times better than it was a couple weeks ago. It’s just something I have to get used to again. Not necessarily tolerate the pain but, at the same time, I have to tolerate it a little bit.’’

Rondo has been treating the injury with ice and wearing a brace.

“That’s about all I can do,’’ he said. “I mean, you’ll see this on me, maybe one or two more games. I would say it kind of bothers me, I want to say, mentally. It’s really tight but I have to wear it because of the support and I do hit the ground a lot. I did a better job [Friday], I think I only hit it twice. If I can stay off the ground, my body feels a lot better the next day.’’

Rondo’s return allowed the Celtics to return to their regular offensive sets and made them more effective in the half-court near the end of the game.

“I won’t say a mental block,’’ Rondo said of his reluctance to shoot. “I took a jumper and I hit it, that’s not an excuse. I have to get back to getting shots up, a lot more repetition, and getting a rhythm back.

“You can run and do cardio all you want, but when you get on the floor, go through pick-and-rolls, you hit the floor, you get up, do transition back and forth, it’s a different type of game.’’

O’Neal has an MRI

Jermaine O’Neal missed practice to undergo an MRI on his right knee but could be available for today’s game against Memphis. The MRI had been scheduled before Friday’s game, according to coach Doc Rivers . . . Keyon Dooling (hip pointer) and Marquis Daniels (ankle) were in uniform yesterday but did not participate in drills. “Keyon is close,’’ Rivers said. “But he just can’t break through. We thought he would be back a couple games ago. He did stuff and got sore again, so we just don’t know.’’

Tough task today

Rivers on the Grizzlies: “They’re a great rebounding team and they force turnovers, the best in the league. They want to get out in transition, open the game up and get into a one-on-one game. And if you fall into that, you’re going to lose to them. So, they’re a difficult team to prepare for.’’

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

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