The Celtics lost both games Rondo missed, and the local media – in particular sports radio – has ranted almost unceasingly about the point guard: He has no discipline. He can’t be coached. He’s a bum. Trade him.
No one, I notice, seems interested in why Rondo’s acting out. Everyone just sees a problem, and they want it excised immediately.
While no fanbase likes to lose, Boston sports fans (and media) hate to get beaten. We hate admitting that another team either played better than ours on a given night or simply is better.
And when faced with the reality that better teams exist, our reaction is always to redirect our frustration. Usually we focus on the behaviors of a particular player, making those behaviors reflect an attitude not conducive to winning.
Our self-esteem is salvaged: Since this fatal character flaw didn’t manifest until the final game, it wasn’t our fault for not recognizing it. And it wasn’t our fault the team lost.
We saw this entire thought process in the aftermath of Super Bowl XLVI – a game the Patriots lost because the Giants just played better that night. Instead of admitting that, fans cried foul over Rob Gronkowski’s partying and Gisele Bundchen’s complaining. Both were minor incidents blown completely out of proportion by a fanbase eager to blame anything but their own team’s deficiencies.
We’re see this same process with Rondo two weeks later. Once again, we’re choosing to blame a situation on a player for unrelated behavior.
Even the best teams can’t play their starters for 48 minutes, and neither the Boston Celtics nor the Detroit Pistons are among the best teams. Both teams needed contributions from their benches Wednesday night at TD Garden, and the Pistons’ reserves won.
Reserve guard Ben Gordon hit four fourth-quarter three-pointers, part of a 22-point night that helped the Pistons to a 98-88 victory over the Celtics.
Gordon Unguardable in Fourth
The Celtics entered the fourth quarter down just 73-72. With 1:30 elapsed, Gordon found himself with the shot-clock winding down and no one else open. Gordon took the 25-foot three-pointer from the top of the key and drained it. He hit a second two possessions later, extending the Pistons’ lead to 82-76.
Despite both Gordon’s success Wednesday and his reputation as a sharp-shooter from his days with the Bulls, the Celtics – in particular guard Avery Bradley – continued to play off him near the arch. In the zone and without much pressure, Gordon happily continued shooting from deep, knocking down two more for an insurmountable double-digit lead late in the game.
The other Pistons combined to match Gordon with four fourth-quarter baskets. Between far superior free-throw shooting – 24-of-29 overall, vs. 19-of-32 for the Celtics – and a suddenly effective defense, the Pistons never trailed in the fourth quarter and never looked out of control.