Rajon Rondo Finds His Groove; The Denver Crazies Get A ‘W’

It took a couple of hours, but Rajon Rondo finally found his groove in the fourth quarter of Boston’s overtime 90-84 mercy win over ailing Atlanta. With the Hawks down to throwing anyone they could find into the game outside of the security guys along the bench, this was very nearly a must-win for the Celtics. Losing to this pickup squad from Atlanta wouldn’t fly. The Hawks had more talent on their bench in street clothes than they did on the court. They had to start Jason Collins, who proceeded to somehow score one-on-one against Kevin Garnett, and yet still is so bad offensively that he makes Greg Ostertag look like a once-upon-a-time low post beast. Then they came with Erick Dampier off the bench when Collins got into foul trouble. Dampier couldn’t even run, and at one point Paul Pierce stopped in front of the big center. Dampier ran right into him, didn’t even bother to try to slow down. You know it’s bad when Zaza Pachulia is watching from the bench, and Atlanta fans are all like “Damn, I CAN’T WAIT ’til Zaza gets back!” Outside of some money plays from Jeff Teague (23 points) in the second half, it was Joe Johnson (29 points) who kept Atlanta alive. Down five in the closing moments of regulation, Johnson scored five straight to cap a 15-4 run and force overtime. Then in the extra period, Kevin Garnett (20 points, 13 rebounds) came through with a couple of huge buckets. Yet none of it would’ve mattered had Rondo not taken over in the fourth. His aggression picked up, he started pushing the ball and lit the crowd on fire by finding Paul Pierce for a game-changing triple. Before long, Rondo had easily secured another triple-double (17 points, 14 rebounds, 12 assists) just as the Hawks’ offense slowly started to unravel … You want to know why everyone refers to Paul Pierce as a “professional scorer?” Just take a look at his box score from last night (three made shots, 14 made freebies) … Most playoff triple-doubles of all-time read like this: Magic – 30, Kidd – 11, Bird – 11, Wilt – nine, Oscar – eight, LeBron – seven, Rondo – seven. Not a bad list to find yourself on … Jeff Van Gundy was gushing over Tracy McGrady in the second quarter, and you know what was crazy about it? T-Mac was actually backing it up. He had a baseline spin and dunk, a fast-break layup and even a pull-up jumper that wasn’t a dead line drive at the front of the rim. By the end of the half, he had put in 10 points and several moves that had us checking the calendar to make sure this was really 2012 … This is where someone idiotically says if T-Mac never got hurt, he would’ve been better than Kobe and LeBron. The kid was a monster, but let’s calm down. He was arguably the best player in the world for about two years, and the majority of the rest of his injury-free career, he was only top 10 … Keep reading to hear how bad the Lakers sucked …

For the first time since we can remember, Philly played a close game and didn’t completely suck in the last two minutes. In games decided by four points or less this year, the Sixers were 1-8. In games decided by five points or less where they played Chicago without Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, they are now 1-0 after winning Game 3, 79-74. The Sixers went on a 19-2 run and held the Bulls to one basket over an eight minute stretch to destroy a 14-point deficit. But it might’ve never happened had Noah not rolled his ankle in a nasty fall, and then had to walk off to cheers from the obnoxious Philly crowd. He tried to come back in, but was moving like the alien zombie from “Men In Black” … Philly fell behind in the second quarter just because they couldn’t make a shot. It wasn’t exactly Chicago defense either; The Sixers were shooting blanks, 2-for-11 to start the period. In fact, the entire first half from both sides was a complete dud, like Nastradamus, just a bunch of misses, ugly shots, turnovers and content that was about as exciting as geometry class … It’s not exactly a blueprint for a championship, but in their series-changing 99-84 win over the Lakers, Denver followed the lead of their diminutive point guard and their wild backup big man. Someone sped up the tape of Ty Lawson (25 points) in the first quarter, and he was doing everything from making jumpers to bullying Jordan Hill under the basket. Aside from him, the rest of the Nuggets were raining triples, and even JaVale McGee (16 points, 15 rebounds) was hitting all sorts of acrobatic shots in the lane, getting Pam McGee to start getting crunk on the sidelines (When McGee was still putting in work in the fourth quarter, mommy starting mean mugging the cameras). By the time the Lakers looked up, it was a 24-point Denver lead with the crowd ready to start the party early after a 19-0 run … Andrew Bynum was due for 48 minutes of sulking, wasn’t he? In the first half, he didn’t score and probably didn’t sweat either as the Lakers got destroyed on the glass. He at least stepped it up in the second half to finish with 18 and 12, but struggled at times with the Nuggets’ double teams. Kobe also had problems, shooting just 7-for-23 for 22 points, and every run the Lakers made in the second half was halted by something ridiculous: a Faried (15 rebounds) jumper or a three from Andre Miller or a Lawson circus shot … And one night after Kyrylo Fesenko nearly got jumped at a bar by about 50 college creepers with beer muscles, he tweeted out this photo of himself being a boss at Disney World … We’re out like Atlanta’s frontcourt.

For breaking news, rumors, exclusive content, and contests sent right to your inbox, sign up here for the Dime Email Newsletter.

Follow Dime Magazine on Twitter

Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook