AP Photo/Charles Krupa
Rajon Rondo races the other way with a steal as Derrick Rose chases.Judging solely on the box score, you might call the Rajon Rondo vs. Derrick Rose battle Friday night a bit of a push. Rondo came back to earth a bit (at least in terms of otherworldly ball distribution), registering 10 points, 11 assists, and four steals over 40 minutes, while Rose countered with 18 points, nine rebounds, and five rebounds over 46 minutes.
But a glance at the plus/minus is your first hint of Rondo's dominance. Boston's point guard finished a team-best plus-14, while Rose was a minus-8. The folks at ESPN Stats and Information crunched the numbers even further and found that, when the two guards shared the floor, Boston held a whopping 21-point edge. Here's how the numbers shook down over that span of 36:29:
Rondo and Rose also went 1-on-1 in the final play of regulation with the Bulls looking for the win. Rose appeared to make a move on Rondo, but he recovered in time to strip the ball before a potential shot, forcing the extra session.
"At first I thought it was going to be pick-and-roll," said Rondo. "But then I saw him wave guys off, so I just took it as a challenge."
Rondo, playing through plantar fasciitis that the team trainer suggested should have sidelined him for Friday's game, wasn't willing to back down against arguably his chief rival among young point guards.
"It's going to take a lot to keep me out of these type of matchups," admitted Rondo. "I like competing, especially against guys like Derrick."
Celtics coach Doc Rivers confirmed the two players were fired up for the matchup, but heaped praise on what his player was able to accomplish, particularly with the ailing feet.
"Down the stretch, [Rondo's] defense, his hands -- the steal on the inbound play, the deflection steal at the end of the game on the last shot -- he was great," said Rivers. "I mean, Rose got one drive in the overtime and he yells to the bench, ‘My fault!’ He was just locked in tonight. And that’s what we needed."
Added captain Paul Pierce: "He was locked in. When he goes against the top guards, he's so locked in on the defensive end, not that he's not every night. He takes it as a challenge and you see that in him before the game. You see his focus. He was phenomenal on defense on rolls. That late stop he had when Rose could have got a shot up to win a game -- I just thought it was phenomenal defense. He just gets his hands on so many balls throughout the course of a game. That was a big stop for us."