Rajon Rondo had 18 points and eight assists, outplaying new Pistons acquisition Allen Iverson and leading the host Boston Celtics to a 98-80 victory over Detroit on Thursday night in a rematch of last season's Eastern Conference finals.
"I saw him play like this in the championship last season," Iverson said of his fellow point guard. "Rondo played great. He did an excellent job coming off picks and getting to the basket and making plays."
Iverson had 16 points and four assists for Detroit, which fell to 4-3 since he was acquired from Denver for Chauncey Billups and Antonio McDyess. Iverson helped the Pistons beat the previously undefeated Lakers and snap Cleveland's eight-game win streak, but he hasn't changed their lot when it comes to the defending NBA champs.
Kevin Garnett scored 15, and Kendrick Perkins had 10 rebounds before both teams emptied their benches down the stretch.
Sixers' Brand to face former team
Elton Brand, once the face of the Los Angeles Clippers, is about to face the team he bolted this past off-season. And his old coach wouldn't mind a chat before Friday's game in Philadelphia to figure out why.
"We had a great relationship the whole time he was here. ... I don't know why he left," Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy said. "All the e-mails we exchanged were positive. All of a sudden, it just fell off a cliff."
Dunleavy was upset because he said that he had a verbal agreement with Brand to remain with the Clippers for $70 million over five years.
But Brand moved on to Philadelphia and a five-year deal worth nearly $80 million. The two haven't spoken since.
"If we don't speak, it won't be because I don't want to speak to him," Dunleavy said. "I still respect him, he was a great player for us."
Brand still occasionally chats with Clippers assistants and keeps in contact "quite often" with former teammates Cuttino Mobley and Chris Kaman. But the All-Star forward hasn't reached out to Dunleavy.
"There's nothing really to talk about," Brand said Thursday.
Arenas aspires to finish ... last?
Gilbert Arenas is already thinking about the possibility of a last-place finish for his Washington Wizards — and finding the silver lining.
With Arenas still working his way back from a third knee operation in 1½ years, the Wizards are off to a 1-8 start heading into their game Friday against the Rockets.
"I don't want to see them struggle," Arenas said Thursday, "but if this is one of those years where we don't make the playoffs or we finish in last place ... that's what happened to San Antonio and that's how they got Tim Duncan and look at them now ... and that's for the better."
The Wizards haven't given a timetable for when their All-Star point guard might begin practicing or playing this season. He, though, now is targeting the start of 2009.
"It will give me time to get in shape," Arenas said.