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Kobe Bryant helps Rajon Rondo off the floor during last month's meeting in Boston.LOS ANGELES -- Forget the bright lights of LaLa Land, Sunday's Celtics-Lakers showdown (3:30 p.m., ABC) at the Staples Center finds itself under a national spotlight and that means it's time to activate the Rajon Rondo triple-double watch (heck, with Monday's battle against Chris Paul and the Clippers looming, consider this alert in effect for the next 48 hours).
A whopping 13 of Rondo's 17 career triple-doubles have come on national television, including last Sunday's ridiculous 18-point, 17-rebound, 20-assist effort in a win over Jeremy Lin and the New York Knicks. Now, as the Celtics kick off a season-long eight-game road trip with a doubleheader in Los Angeles, the first two games find themselves on national TV (Monday's game against the Clippers is on ESPN at 10:30 p.m.)
If a worldwide audience can't fuel Rondo, maybe all the trade rumors he's endured will. Rondo, of course, was at the center of Boston's preseason pursuit of Paul, then had his name surface in a report that the Lakers and Celtics were considering a swap involving Pau Gasol (coach Doc Rivers later made it clear that the rumored Boston-LA trade was completely unsubstantiated).
Regardless, Rondo is the only player in the NBA with multiple triple-doubles this season (he owns four of the league's 10). You'd have to go back to Antoine Walker in 2000 to find the last Celtics player to record at least four triple-doubles in a season, according to Elias Sports Bureau. Walker produced five that year, matching Larry Bird's total from the 1986-87 season. Bird posted a whopping 10 triple-doubles during the 1989-90 season, according to Elias.
For the season, Rondo is averaging a 13.6 points and 10 assists per game. It might be the assist number that's most noteworthy. The Celtics are 11-4 this season when Rondo reaches double digits in dimes, but just 4-10 when he doesn't, according to ESPN Stats and Info.
In 23 career games against the Lakers (both regular season and postseason), Rondo is averaging 11 points, 8.2 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game.
A few more numbers that jumped out in preview materials furnished by both ESPN Stats and Info (ES&I) and Elias (ESB):
* When the Lakers won an 88-87 overtime decision in Boston last month, it was the only game between these teams over the last 43 seasons in which both clubs had a field goal percentage below 40 percent (Lakers 39.6 percent; Celtics 39.2 percent). (ESB)
* Sunday's game marks the 276th regular-season meeting between the Celtics and Lakers. The Celtics lead the all-time regular-season series 153-122. But these longtime rivals are most known for their showdowns on the biggest stage. The Celtics and Lakers have met in the NBA Finals 12 times, more than any other Finals matchup in NBA history. (ES&I)
* The Lakers enter with a .895 (17-2) win percentage at home and a .333 (7-14) win percentage on the road. That .562 percent difference is the highest among all teams in the NBA this season. The last team to finish with a difference that large was the 2001-02 Bulls with a .586 percent difference (.659 at home, .073 on road). (ESB)
* The Celtics have scored 100+ points in four of their last six games after reaching the century mark just six times in their first 33 games. (ES&I)
* Kevin Garnett went 5-for-5 from the floor against Portland on Friday night and he’s made seven straight field-goal attempts over his last two games (two shy of his season high of nine straight successful FG attempts, Feb. 5–7). Friday was the third time in Garnett’s career (and the first time since Nov. 27, 2009) that he made five or more field-goal attempts in a game without a miss. (ESB)
* Paul Pierce has made at least one 3-point field goal in each of his 23 career regular-season games against the Lakers (the longest such streak against them in Lakers franchise history). (ESB)
* Andrew Bynum has been whistled for a league-high 21 traveling violations this season. That’s four more than any other NBA player. (Tyreke Evans ranks second in the league with 17.) (ESB)