Doc Rivers says he didn’t know the details of Rondo’s assists streak, no one believes him

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Remember Rajon Rondo playing through to the end of a garbage-time blowout his Celtics were suffering at the hands of the Pistons on Sunday?

Sure you do.

It was a disappointing display of individual stat-stuffing, and it couldn’t have happened without the complicity of Rondo’s head coach, Doc Rivers.

After the team practiced on Tuesday, Rivers claimed to have no knowledge of the particulars of what Rondo was trying to accomplish.

From Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe:

“I don’t even know what it is, I swear to gosh,” Rivers said. “I have no idea what he’s chasing. I just hear that he’s got a streak going. Who is he chasing? I don’t even know that.”

Magic Johnson owns the NBA record of 46 straight games with 10-plus assists. Rondo trails John Stockton by three games.

Rondo extended the streak in Sunday’s 103-83 loss to the Pistons. Rondo recorded his 10th assist with 51 seconds left in the game. The streak would have ended had Rivers not sent Rondo back out in fourth-quarter garbage time.

“We were getting blown out, and I just told him, ‘Stay in and get it,’ ” Rivers said. “I didn’t know what. I knew it was a 10-assist streak.”

Anyone believe Rivers here? Didn’t think so.

Without knowing exactly what streak was being chased and how close Rondo was to breaking a record held by Magic Johnson, why would Rivers risk injury to his team’s best player by leaving him in to pile up otherwise meaningless statistics in a game that had long since been decided?

The answer, obviously, is that Rivers definitely knew there was a streak in play. And even if he didn’t know the exact details of the record Rondo was chasing, he absolutely was aware that whatever it was, it carried a certain level of significance.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”

 

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.