Start Getting Used to the Rondo Jumper

What's that? Rajon Rondo dished out 22 assists last night? Yawn.

Kidding, of course. But lost in those 22 assists are the eight points Rondo scored in the fourth quarter of last night's win over the Spurs.

Game after game, teams decide to sag off Rondo. Last night was a prime example. The Spurs dared Rondo to shoot the ball, so he did. Those are shots that in previous years he would never have taken let alone make.

And in previous years Celtics fans wouldn't have wanted Rondo taking those shots. But that doesn't seem to be the case any more.

He's not a shoot-first point guard and probably never will be, but if he can get that jumper down consistently, teams will pay for cheating off him. The Spurs paid in full Wednesday night.

Rondo hit back-to-back jumpers midway through the fourth quarter as the C's and Spurs traded baskets. He could have just as easily dished the ball to Ray Allen, who was hot all night, or Paul Pierce, who thrives in pressure situations. But Rondo is one of the best in the league at picking his spots. He followed it up with a steal and a layup on the very next posession.

Nobody was happier than Doc Rivers, as he's been trying to get Rondo to think "shot" when the basket is staring at him in the face.

"I loved it," Rivers said. "It was awesome."

At the Celtics' training facility, Rivers can see the team's court from his office. He noticed Rondo putting up extra shots in anticipation that he would have to take some against the Spurs.

"You could see himself mentally getting ready for what he thought was going to happen, and it did," Rivers said. "They went under and he stepped up and made shots."

"He did it all - he rebounded, assisted," Pierce said after the game. "Doc's kind of been on him about taking that shot there and he steps up when he needs to and knocks down those shots confidently."

Rondo ended the night with 12 points, 10 rebounds, and 22 assists - just another triple double to add to the already impressive resume. He's slowly adding that 18-footer as well. On the year, Rondo's shooting a career high 52.5 from the field, including 44-percent from 15-23 feet. Those successful jumpers are up 11-percent from last season.

Allen, who also was left open a few too many times Wednesday night (13-16, 31 points, six assists), noted that while Rondo's main priority is keeping the ball moving, he also has to get his shots too.

"He has a dual job out there when he's looking to get the assists but he's got to be aggressive," Allen said. "There are some games where teams are telling him and our offense that he's going to have to shoot.

"I think last game when we played the Timberwolves they sat in my pocket and Paul's pocket and they were forcing him to shoot. I think anytime early in the game when he knocks his shot down it kind of forces them to be honest."

It's all coming around for Rondo. When he entered the league, he was going to make it because of his defense. Then the assists started to come... and come, and come. Now, he's improving on the next part of his game.

"Obviously they've been giving me that shot," Rondo said after Wednesday's win. "It's the best shot I think our team is going to get on those possessions, that's why I take them."

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