Less than an hour before Monday's game in Indiana, coach Doc Rivers ruled Rajon Rondo out for a second straight game because of a sore right little finger.
Rondo's world has grown quite cloudy of late, with injury issues and generally lackluster play adding up to growing discontent.
There was also the feeling that Rondo was pouting after his friend Kendrick Perkins was traded.
But things seemed to change quickly Monday as Rondo talked his way into the lineup and made 9 of 13 shots on the way to 22 points. It was his first 20-plus game since February 6 against Orlando.
The Celtics fell to the Pacers, but Rondo was back to his old ways, driving to the basket and getting the offense in gear after 10 straight games under 100 points.
Rivers explained the change in the lineup, saying, "He came in after I talked to (the media) and said, 'I feel great. My hand feels great. The swelling's all gone. And I know you want to sit me one more game, but I don't know what the difference would be.'
"And he's right. If he gets hit on it today or Thursday, it's still going to hurt. I told him to bring Eddie (Lacerte, the trainer) in, and once Eddie agreed, I was good."
Rondo had eight assists, moving up to ninth on the Celtics' all-time list. He has 2,832, 72 behind KC Jones. Bob Cousy leads with 6,945.
PACERS 107, CELTICS 100: The Celtics again saw a big early lead get worn away, and this time they weren't able to save themselves from a defeat Monday at Indiana. The Celts scored 33 points in the first quarter and 36 in the third, but they had a total of 31 combined in the second and fourth periods. Kevin Garnett and Nenad Krstic combined for 13 points, while Pacers center Roy Hibbert had 26.
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