Somewhere between last season's personal best and his current meteoric pace is the new measure of Rajon Rondo.
"He's the best point guard in the league," said Shaquille O'Neal.
He could be. Rondo's 24 assists tonight were a career high, six more than his previous high of 18. They were second to Bob Cousy's franchise-record of 28.
"I'm sure I'll try to catch him," said Rondo, neither sarcastically or arrogantly. "Hopefully, I'll be here for the next five years. With these guys on my team, I should. They're doing a great job."
The most impressive thing about Rondo's night might have been how he reacted after how it started. The Celtics turned the ball over four times in their first five possessions. Rondo had 6 assists but turned the ball over three times in the first quarter. After the game, Rondo recalled individual plays where he made the wrong pass.
"I missed Ray [on one play]," said Rondo. "Kevin and I weren't on the same page."
But Rondo led by example the rest of the way. Doc Rivers talked to individual Celtics players this morning, telling them what they needed to improve on. Rondo said the list Rivers gave him would take "hours" to dictate. Rivers puts that pressure on Rondo, and Rondo puts that pressure on himself.
"I want to keep going," Rondo said of his poor start. "If my teammates see me down it lets the team down."
Rondo didn't let anyone down on this night. Afterwards, he talked nonchalantly of leading the league in assists this season.
"Right now, guys are making shots," said Rondo. "They've got to make shots. If they don't make shots we don't have team assists.
"I feel like I have a great opportunity with the talent around me."
-- Glen Davis is currently in the second year of a two-year, $6.3 million deal. He had this to say about his expiring contract to the Globe's Julian Benbow this summer:
"I don’t think about contract," said Davis. "When you think about contract, that’s when you really don’t focus on what you need to focus on. I’m just trying to focus on helping my team get back to the Finals and winning it."
Davis had 16 points and 6 rebounds in 24 minutes tonight against the Knicks, and he certainly hasn't mentioned anything about the contract. But Shaquille O'Neal acted like Davis's de-facto agent after tonight's game.
"He's playing well," O'Neal said of Davis. "He has certain motivation that he's playing for. I'm always in his ear, the LSU guy. KG's always in his ear. It's a learning experience for him."
O'Neal was asked to clarify what extra motivation Davis might be playing for.
"Not really a secret, but certain guys have certain motivation for why they do things," said O'Neal. "Certain guys may see another guy, may think he's better, but he's making more money. Something like that. And me being a leader, I know what to say to people to get them motivated."