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?
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.
“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.