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Celtics notebook

As always, Nash stays on point

Rondo (wrist) doubtful tonight

By Frank Dell’Apa
Globe Staff / January 20, 2012
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WALTHAM - A high-level duel of point guards with contrasting styles had been anticipated for tonight’s Celtics-Suns game at TD Garden. But that was before Toronto’s Linas Kleiza floored Rajon Rondo in the third quarter of the Celtics’ 96-73 win Wednesday.

Rondo hurt his right wrist and went to the locker room for treatment. He remained out of action while the Celtic reserves finished things off.

Yesterday, coach Doc Rivers termed Rondo doubtful for tonight, but Rondo held out hope of playing, saying, “We’ll see tomorrow.’’

If Rondo is out, the Celtics will counter the Suns’ Steve Nash with Avery Bradley and E’Twaun Moore, who played most of the second half against Toronto. Nash had 26 points and 11 assists as Phoenix took a 91-88 win over New York Wednesday.

“I watched him when I got home,’’ Rivers said of Nash. “And he’s - you laugh, because he’s just destroying people. He put on a clinic in New York. When you factor his age and the speed he’s doing it now, it’s laughable. He’s hard to guard because he’s so crafty.’’

Rondo postponed an MRI on his wrist to tutor Bradley and Moore.

“Two young point guards,’’ Rondo said. “Not that they need help, but encouragement, things I can try to tell them and teach them. I just want to be there for them.’’

The fact Rondo was in no hurry to have his wrist examined seemed encouraging.

“Hopefully, I’ll get a good night’s rest and I’ll be in treatment pretty much all day,’’ Rondo said. “Other than that, we’ll see.’’

Rondo called Nash “one of a kind - he’s a great point guard, he’s been doing it for a long time, and he knows the game.’’

Bradley and Moore also have not shown a convincing ability to shoot. But Rivers is telling them to concentrate on defending Nash, whom he compared to Michael Jordan.

Asked what you need to defend Nash, Rivers said, “A defiant attitude. He’s going to make some of those shots, he’s going to do some things. And you have to be defiant about it, keep going.

“It’s like guarding Jordan. He made 10 in a row on me and in a timeout I said I need some help. [Former coaches] Dick Harter and Pat Riley said, ‘You’re the help, do something about it.’

“That’s the attitude you have to have. You’re supposed to try and stop him.’’

Rondo expects “probably over 100 pick-and-rolls’’ from the Suns.

“He’s one of the best at it,’’ Rondo said of Nash. “He’s one of the best at exposing other people, as well. We’re pretty confident and we’ll do a good job.’’

Bradley, who is expected to get more time than usual with the starters, is a defensive-minded guard.

“What helps me is my defense,’’ Bradley said. “It lifts everybody, including the team. You see [Kevin Garnett] and the guys go crazy when I’m picking people up full-court.’’

Both the Celtics and Suns snapped five-game losing streaks Wednesday. But Rondo remains confident about the Celtics’ chances of making an impact in the playoffs.

“I think we can get it done,’’ he said. “We’ve got good chemistry, we have guys coming along to bond in the system. Other than that, it’s still early in the season.’’

Still ailing

Center Jermaine O’Neal (wrist) watched practice and is probable for tonight, according to Rivers. Guard Keyon Dooling (knee) missed practice and is doubtful for tonight . . . Rivers on the possibility of trading captain Paul Pierce, an issue that was addressed this week by president of basketball operations Danny Ainge: “You don’t ever like hearing that. Danny and I are always on the same page. Danny, I don’t think, meant in any way he was trying to trade anybody. That was the way it was looked at. I would say it’s a very strong possibility we’re going to get this together and a stronger possibility every single guy will be here.’’

No rein on Rondo

Rondo took a shoot-first, pass-later approach to the Toronto game. “I just want him to be aggressive,’’ Rivers said. “If it’s something we have to figure out - other guys aren’t involved - I would rather figure that out. Because a lot of times he is our best option. Drawing fouls, we’re in the penalty eight minutes [remaining] in the first quarter. That benefits everyone because now when Kevin gets fouled, Paul, and Ray [Allen], it’s two free throws, and that’s a made basket.’’ . . . Rivers on Rondo’s durability: “Rondo has a slighter body. Chris Paul, Deron Williams, they are aggressive. Derrick Rose. That’s how this game is played now. You just hope Rondo can hold up. He is a very tough guy.’’

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

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