El Segundo, Calif. Rajon Rondo often enjoys returning to his room at the Celtics’ hotel and watching tape of a Boston victory before he goes to sleep.
The losses, not so much.
Yet Rondo did just that after the NBA finals opener Thursday with teammate Kendrick Perkins, ordering room service and watching the replay of the Los Angeles Lakers’ decisive win. In his own room elsewhere in the hotel, Kevin Garnett did the same thing — twice.
“You learn a lot about yourself when you lose,” Garnett said. “You learn a lot about yourself when you’re down. This shows what you’re made of.”
While Rondo and Perkins muted the television, Garnett turned it up to hear every unflattering thing said about the Celtics. Yet all three came away from the film session with two conclusions: Kobe Bryant is awfully good, but Boston still can compete with the Lakers.
“That might be the first time after a loss that I watched a game again so quickly,” Rondo said Saturday before Boston’s workout at the Lakers’ training complex. “This isn’t the first round any more. You don’t have a lot of time to get things right. I think I correct my mistakes better when I see them.”
Rondo, Perkins and their teammates all promised increased intensity in every aspect of their considerable games when they look to avoid an 0-2 series hole tonight in Game 2. After staggering into this finals rematch with an unimpressive effort, Boston hopes focus and adjustments will make their trip out West worthwhile.
“Everybody gets punched,” Celtics big man Glen Davis said. “Everybody gets knocked out. It’s about how you get up. We got punched. We got dazed. It’s about how you react to it.”
The Celtics all realize that while Bryant’s offensive artistry is responsible for most of the attention directed at him, particularly after 12 30-point games already in this postseason, he’s a perennial all-defensive team selection for a reason. Rondo used his film session to analyze exactly what Bryant did to slow down both the Celtics and their young point guard.
“He’s a good defensive player, and we all knew that,” Rondo said. “He did a great job on me. A lot of what they do on both ends keys off Kobe.”
Bryant guarded Rondo at times during the 2008 finals largely because the matchup left him free to help out on other defensive matchups while daring Rondo to beat them.
After Rondo shredded Cleveland and Orlando in consecutive playoff series, he’s possibly the Celtics’ single biggest offensive threat. The Lakers concentrated on using Bryant’s superior size to direct Rondo into tough areas of the court.
“You don’t want to overcommit too much, but it’s a full-time job because he’s very smart,” Bryant said. “He gets after it quite a bit. It takes a great deal of energy and effort to key in on him.”
So everybody played a role. When Rondo slipped underneath the basket for difficult layup attempts in the first half of Game 1, both Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum rudely swatted away one of his shots. Lakers coach Phil Jackson drilled his big men on resisting the urge to pick up Rondo immediately, which would allow Rondo to pass to his own low-post players for dunks.
“We try not to commit too early, because that’s when they get you,” Bynum said. “You just have to stay disciplined, and we did that in Game 1.”
Boston ended up with playoff lows in field goals (29) and attempts (67).