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Rajon Rondo drives at the basket against the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday at TD Garden.BOSTON -- Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo shouldered much of the blame for his team's early season struggles, including Friday's 99-88 loss the Milwaukee Bucks in the home-opener at TD Garden.
Rondo, who watched counterpart Brandon Jennings post 21 points, 13 assists and six steals over 29 minutes on Friday, said Boston's turnaround hinges on him.
"I’m the point guard -- I’m the first line of defense, I initiate the offense," said Rondo. "I gotta be better."
Rondo's stat line was solid: 14 points and 11 assists over 40:30 and only two turnovers. But Rondo admitted the defensive continuity isn't where the team would like, even this early in the season, and acknowledged that breakdowns have occurred when he gets beat off the dribble.
"We have to trust one another, defensively," said Rondo. "It starts me with me, I gotta do a better job on the ball. Then go from there."
With the team 0-2, Rondo was asked if he would change his mindset at all heading into Saturday's game against the Washington Wizards.
"I’m going to try to come out and set the tone defensively," he said. "It’s all I can do. We have to each look at ourselves in the mirror and try to find a way to get it done, bring a little more to the game than what we’ve been doing."
Jennings conceded that Rondo had "owned" him in the past, but said it was his own aggressiveness that allowed him to thrive Friday night.
“[Rondo] didn’t just have good games, he owned me, to be honest with you," said Jennings. "But this is a different year and I have to be more aggressive. You know we missed the playoffs two years in a row, so it started from tonight and I’m just trying to go out there and compete every night. Whether I shoot bad or not, just as long as they know I gave it my all.”
Even with old friend John Wall sidelined to start the season, Rondo needs to bring a similar intensity to the floor Saturday in Washington.