Celtics notebook

Rondo? Mates swear by him

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By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / November 3, 2010

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — With 17 assists last night, Rajon Rondo’s numbers in that category are obscene, and when he was asked if Rondo could keep it up, so was Kevin Garnett.

“[Expletive], why not?’’ Garnett said after a 109-86 win over the Pistons. “You say he can’t. I say he can, you know. It’s all about the flow and all about if guys are hitting their shots. If he’s in a rhythm or a real good groove, he knows when to attack. He’s picking and choosing when to do certain things. He’s mixing it up really well. He’s keeping defenses off-balance. Who says he can’t?’’

It was the second time this season that Rondo had more assists than the opponent did as a team (Detroit had 13). He’s averaging 16.7 a night. The high-water mark among league leaders the past 10 seasons is Steve Nash’s 11.63 in 2006-07.

Rondo’s assists came without a turnover.

“It was unbelievable,’’ said forward Paul Pierce. “He’s just playing a perfect floor game out there. I look at the stat sheet, it has 17 assists, no turnovers; he just knows the game, knows his spots, knows how to get guys the ball. He’s just being a great floor general.’’

Rondo was realistic.

“Most likely it probably won’t continue to happen like this,’’ he said. “But if they make shots, then it will. I’m not going to put it all on them. But it starts out with the defense. We need the stops, and that leads to easy baskets.’’

The Celtics shot 51.9 percent; at that clip the assists come easy.

“I think he can keep it up,’’ Ray Allen said. “I don’t see why he can’t, but really it’s can we keep it up as a team? We have to all be playing and making sure we’re doing our jobs.’’

Allen doesn’t want Rondo to be consumed by the numbers.

“You never want to feel like it’s a disappointment if you have an eight-assist night,’’ he said.

Back and forth
Bob Delaney hit Glen Davis with a technical foul for running the other way with the ball after being whistled for a foul.

Davis was confused about the call, and from the bench coach Doc Rivers called the tech “crazy.’’

Then he and Delaney had a battle of words.

Rondo, who was standing next to Delaney, motioned at Rivers to drop it. He did. But he wasn’t happy about it.

“It was a good exchange,’’ Rivers said. “Rondo knew I was right, so he said, ‘You’ve made your point.’’

The Celtics have seven technicals (including defensive three second calls). Nate Robinson and Shaquille O’Neal picked up techs in the loss to Cleveland last week.

“I’m scared to comment anymore,’’ said Rivers, who continued to insist that the officials have to exercise better judgment.

Guard not let down
For a night, the Celtics were able to shed themselves of last season’s habit of losing to lesser opponents.

They had a bad loss to the Pistons at the Palace last season, and after running the lead up to 23 in the third quarter last night, it dwindled to 12 with 6:19 to go after an Austin Daye runner, which forced Rivers to put the starters back in.

“They did what they needed to do and they got right back out of the game,’’ said Rivers.

“Just coming in here doing what we were supposed to do,’’ Pierce said. “Detroit, they were 0-3. They’re definitely talented guys, but we feel like this is a game we’re supposed to win.

“This could be a game that could turn their season around, and we didn’t want it to be against us.’’

Erden debut OK
Semih Erden avoided a technical when he threw down a two-handed dunk and swung on the rim during the second-unit’s 10-2 run to start the second quarter. “I had to,’’ he said, “If I [let go], I would fall.’’

Asked if he had seen what happened to Andrew Bogut last season (who came crashing down on his left arm after letting go of the rim on a dunk, breaking it and ending his season), Erden immediately started touching his elbow and shaking his head.

The Turkish player’s Celtics debut impressed Rivers. He blocked two shots in his first two minutes on the floor and scored 2 points.

“Semih played great I thought,’’ said Rivers. “He got his body in the way a couple times. Again, it’s just really tough just learning this league and the language and all that. But he can help us. The first half, I thought he did some things defensively that were absolutely terrific.’’

Julian Benbow can be reached at

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