Ravin’ bout Rajon
Published 2:38 am Monday, May 10, 2010
BOSTON — Those “MVP! MVP!” chants are usually reserved for LeBron James or one of Boston’s Big Three.
Rajon Rondo earned every one of them Sunday.
The Boston point guard had 29 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists, and the Celtics beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 97-87 on Sunday to even the Eastern Conference semifinal series at two games apiece.
Still sometimes overlooked among the Celtics’ other All-Stars, Rondo is the reason his team is two wins away from knocking off the East’s No. 1 seed.
“I think it starts with Rondo. He’s kind of the engine that really gets them going,” James said. “He does everything for them. His performance was unbelievable.
“Rondo was definitely the difference maker.”
Rondo had a playoff career high in rebounds and matched his best scoring night in his fourth postseason triple-double. He played 47 minutes with some of his bigger-name teammates in foul trouble, and fans serenaded him with the chants as he knocked down a pair of free throws with 17 seconds left.
“He was absolutely sensational tonight,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said.
Rondo became the third player in playoff history to have at least 29 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Oscar Robertson had 32 points, 19 rebounds and 13 assists in 1963, and Wilt Chamberlain had 29 points, 36 rebounds and 13 assists in 1967.
Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett scored 18 apiece for the Celtics, who rebounded from the worst home playoff loss in franchise history and ensured they’ll get at least one more game at home. Game 5 is Tuesday night in Cleveland before the series returns to Boston on Thursday night.
James scored 22 points — only one more than he had in the first quarter of Game 3 — and seemed frustrated during a seven-turnover performance. Shaquille O’Neal added 17 points, his high for this postseason, but was on the bench when the Celtics blew by the Cavaliers in the fourth quarter.