BOSTON (AP) -Young point guard Rajon Rondo played so poorly in Game 5 of the NBA finals that Celtics coach Doc Rivers used him for just 14 1/2 minutes. That all changed in Game 6.
Rondo was hesitant to shoot in Sunday night's fifth game loss in Los Angeles. He even passed up an easy layup to throw the ball out for a longer shot that missed. Rondo hit one of seven shots and, Rivers said, was ``just not playing well.''
The speedy second-year starter came of age on Tuesday night with a brilliant all-around game that helped Boston win its 17th NBA championship with a 131-92 victory over the Lakers.
His line: 21 points, eight assists, seven rebounds, six steals. With 18 steals, the Celtics broke the finals record of 17 by Golden State in 1975.
And there's more: Rondo had just one turnover in 31 minutes. And the reluctant shooter fired the ball up 20 times, more than any of his teammates.
Pretty amazing, especially since he hurt his left ankle early in the third quarter of Game 3 - a Celtics loss - and spent most of the second half of that game on the bench. But Rivers knew how important he was to the team.
``He's the one pure point guard on our team that has the ability to make plays, and that's what we would lose'' if Rondo didn't play in Game 4, Rivers said.
But he played in that game and again in Game 5. He saved his best for the clincher.
ONE VERY HAPPY BABY: Glen Davis made his first appearance in the NBA finals on Tuesday night. He finally got his chance to do what so many other Celtics reserves did - contribute to a win.
And this was Boston's biggest victory in 22 years, since their last NBA title in 1986.
Beefy ``Big Baby'' didn't play in the first five games but was on the floor for almost eight minutes in the second quarter Tuesday night when Boston opened up a big lead over the Los Angeles Lakers.
The 289-pound rookie with the easy smile went in for P.J. Brown with the Celtics leading 24-20 with 11:17 left in the second quarter. By the time Davis was replaced by Kendrick Perkins 3:37 before intermission, the lead was up to 47-34 - a 13-point bulge that never got smaller. Davis finished the game with three points and four rebounds in 15 minutes.
The bench made big contributions in the other Celtics wins against the Lakers. Sam Cassell had eight points in the 98-88 Game 1 win, Leon Powe scored 21 when in Boston's 108-102 win in Game 2. And James Posey scored 18 and Eddie House 11 when Boston won in Los Angeles 97-91 to go up 3-1 in the series.
Davis actually was drafted by Seattle, but his rights were included in the deal on draft night that also sent Ray Allen to the Celtics.
FLYING, FINALLY: The Boston Celtics needed three airplanes to get back from Los Angeles, and that's smelling a little fishy to coach Doc Rivers.
The Celtics were supposed to leave around 11 a.m. Monday, but they didn't take off until close to 3 p.m., and didn't land until 10:30 p.m. Asked about the travel problems, Rivers pointed a sarcastic finger squarely at Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and coach Phil Jackson.
``Why don't you call Mitch Kupchak and Phil? They'll probably tell you exactly what happened,'' Rivers said to laughter. ``It was a long day, it really was.''
When they played in the original Boston Garden, opponents used to complain that savvy Celtics patriarch Red Auerbach would turn off the air conditioning or the hot water in the visiting locker room. Although he maintained that the problems were the same for both sides - the old building didn't even have air conditioning - Auerbach loved the fact that it was getting to the other team.
Maybe it's payback time.
The original Celtics plane had a cracked windshield, so they were put on another one. After pushing back from the gate, the second plane developed mechanical problems so they had to come back.
``We had to unfortunately pull people off that one,'' Rivers said. ``And when we get there at the gate, we see the Laker plane taking off, and I was saying, 'Oh, this is nice.'''
Rivers said they sat on the plane for three to four hours before taking off.
Celtics rookie Gabe Pruitt, who said the team wound up on a plane that usually flies the Oakland Athletics, was also suspicious.
``Two planes?'' he said. ``What are the chances of that happening?''
Pruitt said he slept much of the time, while hurt players such as Paul Pierce and Kendrick Perkins received treatment for their injuries.
INACTIVE, BUT PAYING ATTENTION: Boston Celtics guard Gabe Pruitt, who played in just 15 games in the regular season and none so far in the playoffs, said he's trying to pick up anything he can from the experience so he'll be ready if called upon.
``I'm just learning a lot,'' he said before Game 6 of the NBA finals. ``I'm fortunate to be on a team that's one game away from a world championship.''
Pruitt, a second-round draft choice in his first year in the league, scored 32 points in 95 minutes this season. He also played in the developmental league.
``It's hard to sit here and not play, but I realize I need to wait my turn,'' he said. ``There are a lot of older guys ahead of me.''
TALL, AND TO THE POINT: Lakers coach Phil Jackson stopped by the interview room for the obligatory pregame media availability.
And he didn't dally.
Asked just three questions, Jackson stuck around for about two minutes before splitting. He gave little insight.
Asked about the Celtics injuries, Jackson said he was more concerned about his team. Asked about his team, he alluded to hockey injury reports that are notoriously uninformative, with descriptions like ``upper body.''
``Upper body is good,'' Jackson said. ``Legs are sustaining.''
End of interview.
BANK SHOTS: Sunday's Game 5 in Los Angeles drew a 12.1 overnight rating, the highest overnight rating in prime time on network television since the May 21 season finale of American Idol. That was 42 percent higher than the 8.5 overnight rating the U.S. Open drew from 3 p.m.-9 p.m. ... Paul Pierce (Games 1 and 4) and Kobe Bryant (Games 3 and 5) were both voted the NBA finals player of the game, presented by T-Mobile, twice in the series. Fans voted for their choice, either by text message or on, starting in the second half. Kevin Garnett won for the Game 6 clincher and the Celtics' Leon Powe was the other winner, after Game 2.

Top NBA Public Bets

NBA Top Stories

Thumbnail Pacers vs. Trail Blazers Pick Are the host Portland Trail Blazers going to cover the spread when they entertain the Indiana Pacers...
Thumbnail Timberwolves vs. Rockets Pick Will the Minnesota Timberwolves reward bettors tonight as an underdog at the Houston Rockets? Tip-off is at...
Thumbnail Magic vs. Cavaliers Pick Is the total set high enough tonight when the Orlando Magic take on the host Cleveland...
Thumbnail 76ers vs. Celtics Pick Can the Philadelphia 76ers pull off the upset tonight when they play at the Boston Celtics? Game time...
Thumbnail Nuggets vs. Clippers Prediction Will the L.A. Clippers hand the Denver Nuggets another ATS loss when the two teams meet at 10:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday night?

NBA Team Pages