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Celtics streaking, but Rondo still can't shoot straight

December 9, 2009 | 11:56 am

Rondo The Boston Celtics beat Milwaukee last night for their eighth straight win, matching Orlando for the best record in the East at 17-4. One reason for Boston's recent surge is that Kevin Garnett, coming off knee surgery, is looking frisky again on defense, a key reason why Boston has held teams under 90 points in five of their last six games.

However, the one season-long weakness among Boston's starters has been the spotty offense of point guard Rajon Rondo, 23, who nearly averaged a triple-double in last spring's playoffs. The Celtics signed him to a five-year, $55-million contract extension this fall as a reward, but Rondo has been erratic all season handling the ball.

Rondo's athleticism and speed are what make him a dangerous player to defend, but he is equally dangerous, in a bad way, when trying to shoot from more than 5 feet from the hoop. A career 25% shooter from the three-point range, this season Rondo is an embarrassing two for 15 for threes, or 13%, and his free-throw shooting is at a career-low 46.2% this season, even after making five of seven in last night's win.

At practices, Rondo has been trying to smooth out the kinks in his free-throw shooting, but as long as he's erratic at the line or outside the paint, the Celtics still face the problem of an opposing team's defense sagging off Rondo, daring him to shoot, while doubling one of Boston's big men inside.

Meanwhile, the Lakers and the Celtics won't get to test themselves against each other until Jan. 31 when the Lakers travel to Boston.

-- Barry Stavro

Photo: Rajon Rondo fights for the ball with Orlando's Rafer Alston in a playoff game in May. Photo credit: AP Photo / Elise Amendola.