Rajon Rondo ran rampant in his return to Boston, scoring a season-high 29 points to help Dallas to a 119-101 victory over his former NBA team.
Traded from the Celtics just a fortnight earlier, Rondo received a warm welcome from fans in Boston, where he played a key role in the Celtics’ 2008 title run.
The night was an emotional rollercoaster for the 28-year-old point guard, whose 15 first-quarter points included three three-pointers and perfect six-for-six shooting as he helped the Mavericks take a 31-17 lead.
He then was visibly moved when a video tribute to his eight-plus seasons in Boston prompted a standing ovation from the crowd between the first and second periods.
But on the floor nothing distracted him from the task at hand as he drained another three-pointer in a 7-3 Dallas scoring run to start the second frame.
The Mavericks led 59-46 at halftime and 92-64 after three quarters.
A 23-5 scoring run saw Boston pull within 97-87 midway through the fourth, but they didn’t get the deficit below double digits the rest of the way.
Monta Ellis scored 22 points and Tyson Chandler grabbed 16 rebounds for Dallas, who have won four straight.
They are now 5-2 since acquiring Rondo, who was dealt to the Mavericks in a four-player trade on December 18.
Rondo was the center of attention from the moment he arrived in Boston, and at Friday morning’s shootaround he admitted it was a bit strange to be back as a visitor.
“It’s obviously different being on this side,” Rondo said. “But I left here on great terms. It’ll be an exciting night.”
Rondo, who was the last of the core group of players that led Boston to the 2008 crown after the departures of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, also expressed his gratitude that the rebuilding Celtics traded him to a team that he can help contend for a title.
“They put me in a situation where I can still excel and win a championship with this caliber team,” Rondo said. “I’m grateful for that situation.”