MIAMI — Maestro, magician, enigma, visionary, ringmaster.
Rajon Rondo is hard to describe.
Con artist, contortionist, inventor, aviator.
But delectable to watch.
Rondo plays basketball the way jazzmen make music.
He improvises. He links unpredictable moves together like Thelonious Monk linked unorthodox notes together, creating a string of pearls. He ventures off on solos but always comes back to harmonize with his bandmates.
The Miami Heat could not silence Rondo’s virtuoso performance in the first half of Wednesday’s Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals. They used canny defensive methods to prevent him from soaring for most of the second. But Rondo led Boston into overtime and his remarkable riffs kept things suspenseful to the very end of Miami’s 115-111 victory.
Rondo, Boston’s sublime point guard, finished with a career high of 44 points, and added 10 assists and eight rebounds. He tallied 22, seven and four in the first half, which Boston dominated.
He played every second of a game full of dizzying reversals.
When the Heat was sighing with relief and AmericanAirlines Arena spectators were heading for the aisles, Rondo swished two three-pointers to keep alive Boston’s hopes of stealing one game in Miami.
With Rondo at the wheel Boston’s Big Three did not look like the "aging Celtics."
He found his creases, his tunnels and fifth-dimension planes. He found his teammates’ sweet spots that had been shut off in Game 1.
He defended LeBron James on the last-second jump shot in regulation that bonked off the glass, sending the game into overtime.
He juked past James and sped by Dwyane Wade for a two-point lead early in overtime, then sank a long jumper and two free throws - and should have been allotted two more free throws after getting swiped in the head by Wade. He tried to compensate for the absence of Paul Pierce, who fouled out.
In the end, Rondo’s marathon effort was not quite enough. The Heat will take a 2-0 series lead to Boston for Friday’s Game 3.
The Heat knew Mondo Rondo would be their primary matchup problem against Boston. Love him or hate him, Miami fans got a treat Wednesday - Rondo at his best.
For much of the game, the Heat had no solution for him. Guard him too close and he slithers right by you. Guard him too far and he has room to pass or shoot.
He mixed his usual acrobatic drives with a surprising array of jump shots and those uncharacteristic three-pointers.
"He has to keep doing that," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said of Rondo. "We need to get Kevin more involved. We had a lot of empty possessions. There are things we can fix, and we will."Next Page >
Copyright 2013 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.