The rundown (a quick look at postgame headlines)
--RONDO OK AFTER UGLY FALL, SAYS HAMSTRING INJURY IS LINGERING--
Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo admitted his third-quarter plunge to the Garden parquet was "scary," but said his left knee was fine and noted he only received postgame treatment on his ailing left hamstring.
"It was a little scary, I came down wrong," said Rondo. "I was fine."
Rondo's left leg appeared to get snagged as he fell awkwardly near the free-throw line during a Boston possession with about five minutes remaining in the third quarter. He immediately grabbed his left knee, but soon popped up and walked off the pain, staying in the game and making a 22-foot fadeaway a short time later.
Rondo finished with 12 points and 19 assists over 34 minutes, 44 seconds of action.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers admitted it looked worse than it turned out to be.
“I thought he was actually hurt pretty bad, actually," said Rivers. "I thought he tweaked his knee, so when he bounced up, I was happy about it."
Added Rondo: "It was an awkward fall... A tricky fall, but I didn’t put too much pressure on my leg, it just gave in."
Rondo initially asked if the fall looked bad to reporters and wondered if fans might have thought he was faking. Regardless, he's more concerned about his hamstring and feet than that his knee after the spill.
“Any time your point guard hits the ground, it’s always a scary moment," said captain Paul Pierce. "He’s the key to what we’re doing. So, I’m just glad he’s healthy; he was healthy enough to finish the game and we’ll see how he feels [Saturday]. I know he’s battling a lot of injuries right now; we just hope he gets through it.”
Said Rondo: "[The knee is] not even an issue. I'll get treatment on my hamstring and feet [Saturday before a flight to New Jersey for Sunday's game against the Nets]... It's mostly my hamstring."
That hamstring, which became a concern again during Wednesday's win over the Trail Blazers, proved to be so stiff at the start of Friday's game that Rondo initially motioned to Rivers to sub in backup guard Nate Robinson. Rondo ultimately stayed in the game, waving Robinson off soon after, and played all but one minute in the frame.
“Rondo signaled to me that he wanted out," explained Rivers. "I didn’t know if it was his foot, his hamstring. And then he said the next couple plays he got loose again, so he was just saying he was alright.”
After a modest first half (2 points, 9 assists), Rondo exploded for 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting (nearly all layups) and six assists while fueling a furious third-quarter outburst that pushed Boston's lead as high as 17 and put the Celtics on cruise control the rest of the night.
Rondo didn't fight to stay in to get his 20th assist, noting that Chicago's Derrick Rose (a chief rival) was off the court late in the game and there was no need to risk further injury (especially given his recent luck).
Rondo missed three games last week with a sore left hamstring and has been battling a case of plantar fasciitis that surfaced after the first meeting with the Bulls last month.
--LOOSE BALLS: NEED FOR 'SHEED?; BABY SHAKES OFF SHOT TO THE FACE--
* Need for 'Sheed?: Old friend Rasheed Wallace visited the Garden for Friday's game and made a couple of appearances in the Chicago locker room to see old friends Tom Thibodeau and Brian Scalabrine. First Wallace crashed Thibodeau's postgame press conference, shouting, "I need a job!" Soon after, he peeked into the Bulls' locker room and mimicked the often-heard chant of "Scal-a-bri-ne!" to his former teammate.
Did Thibodeau think he was serious? "I don't know," he said with a chuckle. "He's a good player."
Wallace retired during the offseason after the Celtics bought out the final two years of his contract and waived him in August. Mounting injuries have left some wondering if Boston might give Wallace a ring to bolster its own frontcout down the road.
No motivational speech here: Rivers said it wasn't anything he said at halftime that inspired his troops to kick the doors open in the second half of Friday's game. “Well, I didn’t inspire them at all. I told them that it was my fault; I messed the rotations up. The bench lost the lead for us. But, you think about it, we didn’t do anything different than we did in the first quarter. We played unbelievable the first eight minutes of the game, and then we got a sub and our bench gave up that lead. Our first unit started that third quarter and they wanted to get the lead back. You could see that they wanted to get that lead back and they did. But the layups and the passing was phenomenal, and the defense that stretch was awesome as well.”
Boston embarked on a 16-2 run early in the third frame, turning a tenuous one-point lead into a 17-point cushion which ultimately led to Gino Time with the lead still at 16 with little more than two minutes to play.
* Babyface: Glen Davis took a shot to the face during Friday's game, but, like Rondo, appeared no worse for the wear. “It’s just a hit to the face," said Davis. "It’s alright. One of them nose hits, you’re kind of like “Woah!" and your eyes get all watery."