Rajon Rondo, who has missed the Celtics' last two games and three of the last four with a combination of back and right hamstring woes, went through practice yesterday and thinks he'll be ready to play this afternoon against the Knicks. His coach isn't so sure.
Rondo has been ailing for the last 10 days since taking a tumble in the Jan. 11 game in New Jersey. He sat out the Celtics' loss the next night in Washington, came back two nights later and couldn't do anything, then shut it down for the Celtics' victories over Portland and Philadelphia. But he looked pretty much like the Rondo of old yesterday.
"[I feel] a lot better," he said. "[I] ran a little bit. I'm not feeling as much pain. I'll get treatment and massage and see how I feel [this afternoon.]"
Doc Rivers said he thought Rondo looked "OK," and added he thought his point guard might be able to play in the Celtics' first visit of the season to Madison Square Garden. But, Rivers added, "OK is not good enough for me. I'll wait until [today]."
Rondo said he was encouraged by the workout: He took a couple of hits and didn't feel any pain in his back. But, he added, "I didn't take any falls, either. So, we'll see. I don't feel I was limited doing anything. Maybe my explosiveness, although I don't jump too much, except for rebounds."
The hamstring bothered Rondo as much or more last week, especially in the Monday game in limited minutes against the Wizards. But he said the hamstring also has improved, thanks in part to a compression pad.
Eye on Stoudamire
An NBA source said Memphis point guard Damon Stoudamire will meet with the Grizzlies today and is expected to have his contract bought out within the next few days. The source added that Stoudamire would have serious interest in joining the Celtics if he becomes a free agent. The 5-foot-10-inch, 171-pounder is averaging 7.3 points, 3.9 assists, and a .383 3-point shooting percentage in 21 1/2 minutes per game for Memphis. Stoudamire, who is the Grizzlies' captain, hasn't played since Dec. 30. Memphis has turned its point guard reins over to Mike Conley and Kyle Lowry. The 13-year NBA veteran has averaged 13.8 points, 6.3 assists, and a .358 3-point shooting percentage in 33.9 minutes per game during his career, which includes 46 playoff games.
Home away from home
Madison Square Garden has been anything but inhospitable to the Celtics, who have won their last four games there. The last Knicks win against Boston in The World's Most Famous Arena was March 23, 2005 . . . Don't expect Leon Powe to get any preferential treatment or extra minutes because of what he did Friday night (10 points, 8 rebounds) against the Sixers. "We have 12 guys on our team; nine are going to play," said Rivers. "The bigs are going to be by committee and at some point, every one of them will help us win games. They've been great accepting that. I don't think it's easy to accept, but they do." . . . The Celtics had a closed, 30-minute walkthrough and then opened practice for their television sponsor,
Marc J. Spears of the Globe staff also contributed to this report