From potential hero to villain in just 10 seconds.
Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo got a last-second steal during Game 5 of an Eastern Conference first round playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks but subsequently lost control of the ball in the closing seconds, allowing Atlanta to escape with an 87-86 home victory.
The wild finish unfolded as Hawks forward Josh Smith inbounded the ball with 10 seconds on the clock and Atlanta leading by one. He attempted to pass to Hawks guard Joe Johnson in the near corner but Rondo darted in the passing lane, picking the ball cleanly in front of the Celtics bench.
Rondo then pushed the ball upcourt in hopes of generating a potential game-winning basket.
He used a Kevin Garnett pick at the three-point line but then was swarmed by Hawks center Al Horford in the corner as the clock ticked down under four seconds. With Smith playing in the passing lane to Garnett, Rondo got stuck, eventually losing his dribble near the sideline. Rondo scooped up the ball just before it went out of bounds with less than two seconds to play and attempted to shuttle it to Garnett, but Smith stepped in front, deflecting the ball out of bounds as time expired and preserving the victory.
Rondo finished with 13 points, 5 rebounds, 12 assists, 5 steals and 5 turnovers in 44 minutes on Tuesday.
Atlanta now trails in the series 3-2 with Game 6 scheduled for Thursday night in Boston.