Rajon Rondo predicts late January, early February return

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Rajon Rondo is back on the practice court with his Boston Celtics, but he’s still a ways away from a return.

Rondo spoke to the media after the Celtics were routed by the Indiana Pacers Sunday and for the first time gave a vague timeline for his return, reports A. Sherrod Blakely at CSNNE.com.

“My endurance is key for me,” he told reporters after Boston’s 106-79 loss at Indiana on Sunday. “I don’t want to come back and not be fully 100 percent as far as my health and me being in shape as well. The worst thing for me is to not be in shape and have another injury. I want to make sure I’m in basketball condition shape.”

After initially telling reporters a January return was not realistic for his return, he later said that, “it might be mid-January, late February. I’m going to come back when the time is right and when I get my stamina.”

So the second half of January, or maybe February. Rondo is giving himself a big window — but he’s allowed to do that.

It’s not about this season for Boston, who have lost three straight and slipped to 12-17 on the season, surrendering their Atlantic Division lead to Toronto (who doesn’t want it either). Brad Stevens and his team are not tanking, but if they make the playoffs even with Rondo back they are first round fodder for even teams like the Hawks or Wizards.

It’s about next season and the five after that for Rondo and the Celtics. He needs to be right and feel comfortable, then he still can’t be pushed too hard — do I really need to point out the star players who just came back from major injuries only to be lost for again with another one? Slow is good.

Rondo is no doubt one of the top point guards in the game (and that’s saying something considering the depth at that position around the league now). Slow and steady. Don’t return until he feels ready. That can take as long as he needs.

Clippers blow 18-point lead, lose in final 2 seconds on putback to Kings (VIDEO)

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The Los Angeles Clippers had a rough go of things against the Sacramento Kings on Sunday. Up by 18 with more than five minutes to go, LA blew their lead and were left to watch as the Kings sealed the game late.

The final possession for Sacramento came on a missed corner 3-pointer by Clippers guard Jamal Crawford. The Kings got the outlet pass out on the rebound, but Ben McLemore took it to the rack and missed. That’s when Willie Cauley-Stein stepped in, cleaned up the board, and put the game-winning shot home with less than two seconds left.

Los Angeles lost in spectacular fashion, and became the only team this season to lose given their game situation.

Here’s a compilation the NBA put together of Sacramento’s epic comeback:

Meanwhile, Chris Paul called it the worst regular season loss of his career.

The Clippers peaked too soon. Like, the first 20 games of the season too soon.

Russell Westbrook throws incredible halfcourt bounce pass vs. Rockets (VIDEO)

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Russell Westbrook had yet another triple-double on Sunday. The Oklahoma City Thunder star notched 13 assists in the loss to the Houston Rockets, 137-125, and one of them came on a nifty pass to teammate Victor Oladipo.

The play happened with the Thunder on the fastbreak early in the third quarter. Westbrook was moving from left-to-right across the middle of the floor with the ball while Oladipo streaked down the right wing.

With the Rockets defense collapsing, Westbrook reached halfcourt and fired a bounce pass that sliced through the opposition.

Oladipo finished with the clean dunk.

Still not sure it beats this one, but I think we’ll have to compare once the season comes to a close.

Kobe Bryant on race for Podoloff Trophy: “We might see our first co-MVPs this year”

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The race between James Harden and Russell Westbrook for the 2017 NBA MVP has narrowed to a two-man race toward the end of the season. The Oklahoma City Thunder star is averaging at triple-double this year, and the Houston Rockets guard is doing things nobody has ever done on a basketball court before.

It’s a tough decision to decide between them, so much so that even former Los Angeles Lakers great and 2008 NBA MVP Kobe Bryant can’t do it.

Speaking on ESPN on Sunday, Bryant said he thought the league might have to just bite the bullet on Westbrook vs. Harden.

“We might see our first co-MVPs this year,” said Bryant.

That would be a huge step for the league, but I’m not entirely sure they would do it. There have been co-NBA All-Star Game MVPs in years past, but never league MVP.

Still, can you decide between Russ and Harden? The Mamba can’t.

Watch Rockets C Nene lead the break, eurostep past Enes Kanter (VIDEO)

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Houston Rockets center Nene is from Brazil, but on Sunday against the Oklahoma City Thunder the South American native went full euro.

On a fastbreak possession, Nene took on Thunder big man Enes Kanter near the rim and absolutely shook him with a nasty eurostep.

The play was so good that it forced Oklahoma City to call a timeout as James Harden and the rest of the Rockets bench met Nene on the court to celebrate.