Atlantic Notes: Rondo, Johnson, Nets

The Raptors have handed the Nets their only two losses in their last 12 games, with last night’s victory coming in exciting fashion off of a Patrick Patterson steal and basket in the final seconds. The Nets and Raptors are neck and neck atop the Atlantic Division, as the Knicks hope to continue inching back towards contention with a win against the Celtics tonight. Here’s some more from around the Atlantic:

  • Several general managers would be “surprised” if Rajon Rondo were traded prior to the upcoming trade deadline, according to Ric Bucher of The Bleacher Report. Until he fully returns to form following his ACL surgery, they doubt the Celtics would be able to receive enough value in return.
  • After the Celtics signed Chris Johnson to a second 10-day contract today, coach Brad Stevens tells Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald he first noticed Johnson in the preseason, when the small forward scored against the Celtics as a member of the Nets. Stevens says he values Johnson’s efficiency, as he’s scored 10 points per game in four games with the Celtics since signing his first 10-day contract earlier this month.
  • Both Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are feeling and performing better of late, helping the Nets during a recent 10-2 stretch after a miserable start to the season, they tell Tim Bontemps of the New York Post. The pair credit their increased roles on a depleted roster as the reason for the improvement. “The difference in the way we’re playing is we were thinking secondary as we come in,” Garnett said. “Then Brook [Lopez gets hurt], Deron [Williams] has been beat up, and we’ve had to be primaries now. When you’re secondary, which [we were for] the first time in our careers, you take a step back. You’re not as forceful … you don’t want to step on everybody’s toes.
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