Game Preview: Kings at Celtics
While he's still getting back in the swing of things, Rajon Rondo is starting to find his form.
Rondo tries to lead the Boston Celtics to a third consecutive win for the first time in two months Friday night when they host the Sacramento Kings.
Playing in just his eighth game since missing nearly a year with a torn ACL, Rondo had eight points, 11 assists and nine rebounds in Wednesday's 114-108 win at Philadelphia. The four-time All-Star also came up with two steals as the Celtics scored 20 points off 16 76ers' turnovers.
"I'm getting back to my old self," he said. "I'm not there yet but I'll take the progress."
Jeff Green also came up huge with 36 points, and Jared Sullinger added 19 and 10 rebounds.
"Now that Rondo's back, he's pushing the pace. He's getting rebounds and pushing it," Sullinger said. "We can find him on the outlets, sometimes at half court, and sometimes right beside me. He's pushing the pace and looking ahead. ... It takes a while for someone to get back in game shape. Trust me, I know. Now he's starting to look like the Rondo we know and enjoy."
Rondo had 19 points, 10 assists and six rebounds three nights earlier as Boston beat Orlando 96-89. The Celtics haven't won three in a row since Dec. 3-8.
"His greatest strength is he makes everyone else better and that's really shown true the last two games," coach Brad Stevens said.
The Celtics now try to stay hot against the Kings, who have dropped five straight in Boston by an average 16.2 points.
Sacramento is also coming off back-to-back wins, 99-70 over Chicago on Monday and 109-101 over Toronto on Wednesday. DeMarcus Cousins had 25 points and 16 rebounds against the Bulls, then 25 and 10 against the Raptors.
Rudy Gay had 24 and 10 against his former team, and Isaiah Thomas scored 23 points while going 15 of 16 from the foul line. The Kings, who were outscored 29-17 in the fourth quarter, nearly lost all of a 22-point lead.
"We find a way to make it interesting," coach Michael Malone said. "Very happy with the win obviously. ... Hopefully we can build on it with our four-game road trip coming up."
The Kings have had a rough go away from home, where they have suffered a season high-tying four consecutive defeats. Sacramento is allowing 106.1 points per game as the visiting team, tied for 27th in the NBA.
Aside from trying to slow down Rondo, the Kings could have their hands full with Sullinger. The second-year forward has averaged 21.3 points and 13.0 boards during a career-best stretch of three straight double-doubles.
"I've just been letting go of everything," he said. "My dad came and told me face to face, 'Your body language sucks, and it looks like you don't really care.' He told me to get back to my old ways, and ever since I've done that, everything has been clicking for me."
Rondo is averaging 12.6 assists in his last five meetings against Sacramento. Gay has posted 22.3 points per game during his last six visits to Boston.
Kings guard Marcus Thornton is uncertain to be available after bruising his hip Wednesday.