Coaching Rajon Rondo is like a continuous wrestling match, and George Karl is fine with that.
“I love him,” Karl said of Rondo. “It’s going to be a love, anger, contradicts, and right now he’s our motor. He makes us go; he makes us go in a very good way.”
This is what Karl expected in working with Rondo, who is notoriously outspoken with coaches. Karl said it’s made for some interesting banter between the two.
“I think he enjoys my philosophies a little bit,” Karl said. “Not 100 percent in agreement, but I’ve always had wrestling matches with most of my point guards – and this is not a bad wrestling match – but we do have our wrestling match going on.”
Karl said the conversations with Rondo cover “everything” related to basketball.
“We talk about two seconds on the shot clock, philosophy of backdoor cuts, Princeton offense vs. Carolina offense, Kentucky offense,” Karl said. “He’s a very bright basketball guy and he’s fun to talk to. It is an enjoyable experience most of the time, but it’s a wrestling match at times due to philosophy of what happens in games and what we need to get better at and how we need to do it.”
Rondo believes sit-downs with Karl away from the court are important.
“The meetings that we have are beneficial to what we need to be successful,” Rondo said. “Our last meeting was in Milwaukee (Nov. 24), and that’s just too long. It has to be once a week, twice a week.”
Rondo and DeMarcus Cousins met with Karl that day, and Rondo said the communication between players and coach is vital.
“(It’s about) what the coach expects from us, DeMarcus, Rudy (Gay), being the leaders of this team and vice versa,” Rondo said. “Things we may see differently on the court. The best thing about it is an open game for us. No one dictates everything. Coach is very open-minded, and we want to continue to do the same as players.”
Impressed – Karl gave Toronto coach Dwane Casey his first NBA coaching job as an assistant in 1994 with Seattle.
Karl said he loves how Casey is “handling his team.”
The Raptors lead the Atlantic Division and are poised to challenge for the Eastern Conference title.
“The last two or three years, I’ve seen a confidence in him but also a courage,” Karl said of Casey. “I think sometimes young coaches get nervous, but he’s doing it kind of his way. I know what he believes in and his personality is in this team, and that’s a good sign, a good trait.”
Gone – Toronto’s All-Star point guard, Kyle Lowry, was ejected after being assessed two technical fouls with 7:22 left in the third quarter.
Karl said he wasn’t sure what Lowry did and thought he was close to an ejection himself, having already been called for a technical foul in the second quarter.
“I guess I was trying to explain myself,” Lowry said. “(I’m) trying to understand what I got the first one for. I guess it just happened that I was taking too long.”
Lowry had 13 points when he was ejected.