Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo fired a shot across the bow of Celtics management with a historic performance yesterday afternoon. He also crushed a Knicks comeback in the process.
Much of the hype leading up to Sunday’s showdown — between the last two teams currently in the Eastern Conference playoffs — surrounded the future of both clubs.
Are the Celtics too old to compete for a title? Are the Knicks on the ascension to being a title contender?
At least for one day, the two teams played their familiar roles in a 115-111 overtime win by the Celtics.
Rondo, who has been mentioned in trade rumors for weeks now, put on a spectacular show. He had 18 points, 20 assists and 17 rebounds to become the first player to accomplish the 17-17-17 barrier since Magic Johnson in April 1989, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Current Mavericks guard Jason Kidd, who faces the Knicks tomorrow night in Dallas, has reached 15-15-15 twice — most recently on Feb. 26, 2010, when he went for 19 points, 17 assists and 16 rebounds against the Hawks.
Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said before the game that the team was not actively shopping their point guard, but that they were listening to offers like they would with every player.
Expect a lot more calls and a lot more hang-ups after Sunday.
“Rondo is the smartest point guard I’ve ever been around,” Rivers said after the game. “He knows plays from three years ago. He’s a brilliant player.”
The same old story for the Knicks means they still can’t get over the hump against Boston. They’ve lost two-of-three this season and were swept in the playoffs last season. That is losses in six-of-seven if you’re keeping track at home.
After Sunday, Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni may be chiding some opposing general managers into making a few more calls about Rondo’s availability.
Lin stumbles in return to Boston
No one knew who Jeremy Lin was on Feb. 3 when he played six minutes against the Celtics in a 91-89 loss by New York.
One night later, against the Nets, the Linsanity began.
Lin, who played four years at Harvard, returned to Boston for the first time as a starter and didn’t exactly wow a crowd that included his former Crimson coach Tommy Amaker.
He finished the game with 14 points, five assists and six turnovers. He shot just 6-of-16 from the field and was in early foul trouble.
The Knicks don’t travel to Boston again this season, unless they meet in the playoffs.
Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports.