Boston coach Doc Rivers set the scene after his Celtics’ dramatic double-OT win over Miami. It’s Sunday afternoon, the NBA’s first national matinee game of the season, and the Celtics are prepping to play Miami when the team doctor pulls him aside right before the game. Everyone’s already gone through the walkthrough and looked fine but Rivers gets the word: Rajon Rondo‘s out. No, the doc says to Doc: Rondo’s OUT. As in the rest of the season with an ACL tear from an injury suffered Friday in Atlanta. It’s an injury that surely will cripple Boston’s season and possibly result in a playoffs without either Boston or the Lakers, and an injury so sudden Paul Pierce didn’t find out about it until his post-game interview with ESPN. But before any more endgame scenarios, the Celtics had a game to play, and their 100-98 win over the Heat was an instant classic. In the final minute of regulation not only did Ray Allen (21 points) hit a fall-away triple in the corner to get within one in his first game back in Boston, but LeBron (34 points, 16 boards) hit a three to tie with just seconds left. In OT Dwyane Wade (17 points) was gifted another possession at the end by another huge Chris Bosh (16 and 16) rebound (he kept one alive for ‘Bron’s triple, too) but the refs weren’t buying his hero-ball attempt and he had to miss a fading three. Finally in double OT, KG hit a couple jumpers and the C’s took the lead, one protected by a HUGE charge taken by Pierce (17 points, 13 boards, 10 dimes) on Wade â€” which reminded us of Jeff Green‘s huge charge he took on Allen in the final minute of OT with the game tied at 93. While LBJ was the constant in the equation, Wade didn’t score after 6:39 left in the game while Pierce came up huge with a jumper to win it with 22 seconds … We can’t mention this game without linking to Green’s facial on Bosh. … Still, it all comes back to this even after a nice win: How in the world do the Celtics move forward without Rondo? Is this a situation that they blow up or try to hold on until next January? Is Kyle Lowry available? … Across the country, Kobe Bryant is picking up the slack in L.A. He dished 14 assists for the second game in a row while getting nine boards and 21 points in a 105-96 win over Oklahoma City. His assists were more deadly than his scoring touch late, when he found Earl Clark (11 points) and Dwight Howard for buckets as they cut into the lane while Bryant was up in the air under the basket. … We also have to note Bean got bodychecked by Kendrick Perkins and fell directly on his back and yet got up and made free throws at one point. … Russell Westbrook‘s (17 points, 13 assists) most indelible aspect of his game isn’t his athleticism but his swagger. When he’s playing poorly and can’t make a field goal until almost halftime, like Sunday, he turns into Bad Russ even more (he was 6-of-22 shooting). We liked his unnecessary jump into Kobe’s grill on a steal attempt that actually got the Thunder a free throw on a bogus Kobe technical. Russ also glared into his hometown crowd after every made shot in the second half. … Hit the jump to read about ‘Melo’s big game. …
Josh Smith had a really bad last 30 seconds in Atlanta’s 106-104 loss to New York in primetime. He made a huge mistake with his offensive foul setting a moving screen for Jeff Teague with 30 seconds to go, up one. Given a chance to take a lead at the other end, Carmelo Anthony drove past Smith for an and-one iso that barely snuck over the rim but gave the Knicks a two-point lead. The third act in Smith’s Broadway tragedy was getting a good look at a three with seconds left to win. The shot hit the backboard and rolled off the front of the rim, too hard, off Atlanta’s last-possession carom. In a way it as interesting to see the Hawks (relatively) choke it away because the Knicks had been using that same strategy most of the second half — after trailing by eight in the third — outside of passing to Anthony, whose 42 points included nine threes (that’s his fourth 40 game of the season) … The Clippers have seen their season flag without Chris Paul but it’s still pretty hard for them to lose to the same team twice in two nights. After giving back a lead with just minutes left and losing Saturday night in Portland, on Sunday, the Clips went on a 13-0 run spanning halftime to get out in front of Portland and win this time, 96-83. The Blazers had 28 dimes on 29 field goals but what we really can’t take our eyes off of from this game is this GIF of Luke Babbitt trying to defend Blake Griffin (credit to BlazersEdge). … J.J. Redick (31 points) almost matched Carmelo by hitting eight threes, including five in the first quarter. However, no one on the Magic could make a shot on the final possession of their 104-102 loss to the Pistons. Brandon Knight had 31 points and Greg Monroe had a big block on Big Baby at the rim on the last possession, when Orlando had three chances within four feet. … Elsewhere, New Orleans beat Memphis, 91-83, on the road, with Ryan Anderson (22 points) getting seven threes. … Finally, Dallas sent Phoenix to last place in the West with a 110-95 win in Shawn Marion‘s 1,000th career game (18 points and nine boards), and against his old team. … If you haven’t seen it, Dime’s “Shoot Jumpers, Not Guns” shirts were worn Saturday in Chicago. Honored people are taking notice and spreading the word. … We’re out like optimism in Boston.
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