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Rajon Rondo looks to drive against the Knicks.BOSTON -- Rajon Rondo might have finished Thursday's 89-86 loss to the New York Knicks with 23 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, but he was in no mood to discuss his fourth triple-double of the season in the wake of the Celtics' fifth straight defeat.
"[The loss] wipes it out," Rondo said matter-of-factly. "It's kind of irrelevant. Say you score 40 or 50 points, if you lose, you lose, so all that matters is [wins] and [losses]."
Rondo is right about the lofty stat line losing some of its shine without a victory to show for it. But he should give himself a bit more credit for helping the Celtics dig themselves out of a 10-point, fourth-quarter hole and at least have a fighter's chance at stealing Thursday's game.
Though he didn't play a perfect fourth quarter -- two costly turnovers and only two free throw attempts were his main blemishes -- Rondo did what some have criticized him for not doing enough this season: With the Knicks ahead 82-72 with 6:46 remaining, he took Boston's offense over by having a hand in the team's final 14 points. He scored 10 himself (on 4-of-5 shooting) and assisted on the other four -- back-to-back layups for Avery Bradley and Kevin Garnett.
Rondo's effort was needed, quite frankly, on yet another night when Boston's offense disappeared for lengthy stretches.
After shooting just 39 percent in the first half, the Celtics connected on a mere 31 percent of their looks in the third quarter, somehow emerging with only a six-point deficit to deal with over the final 12 minutes. And once that hole grew to double digits, Rondo went to work on the comeback -- which was marred by two careless turnovers by Jason Terry and Paul Pierce on two of Boston's final three possessions.
"We gave them a 10-point lead and we were fighting back the entire fourth quarter," Rondo said. "At the end of the day they made more shots than us, they hit some big 3s. I turned the ball over, I think, two or three times in the fourth, which I can't do, that allowed them to score. So they just made the better plays."
Rondo wasn't in the mood for silver linings or moral victories after Thursday's loss. The Celtics gave the kind of effort head coach Doc Rivers has been campaigning for ever since the club's 15-point loss to the Detroit Pistons last Sunday. But, much like Rondo's triple-double, that effort was undermined by yet another loss.
"We don't want to keep saying that [we fought back]," Rondo said. "We lost the game. We put ourselves in the situation, so a loss is a loss. You can try to take some positives out of it, but at the end of the day, we lost the game. We have to move forward now and move on to Atlanta."
The Celtics last played the Hawks in Atlanta three weeks ago, and they rallied from a 19-point deficit to capture their second straight victory, which ended up as part of the six-game winning streak that had the club flying high two weeks ago. The other bit of good news heading into Friday? Rondo posted his second triple-double of the season in that game.
But if similar stats fall into place for Rondo on Friday night, they'll only mean something if the Celtics can come away with a win.