WALTHAM — The past few days were not a time of reflection or remorse for Rajon Rondo during his two-game suspension. His period of exile only made him miss the game and his teammates.
The Celtics point guard returned to practice Monday and spoke with the media Tuesday for the first time since being banned for two games for fighting with Brooklyn’s Kris Humphries last Wednesday, his third suspension in nine months.
Rondo offered no apologies the day after the altercation and offered none Tuesday, just a desire to return. Asked if he had learned anything from the experience, he flatly said, “No.”
“I wanted to be out there with my teammates but, obviously, a two-game suspension . . . like I said, I was glued in front of the TV,” said Rondo, who told reporters he went to Mexico during the break. “Hopefully I don’t feel too winded tomorrow. I think I’ve been off for about a week now.”
The Celtics split the two games, though Courtney Lee flourished in Rondo’s absence. The team’s ball movement was surprisingly crisp without their floor leader, but the Celtics now are focused on running off a string of victories starting Wednesday against the visiting Timberwolves.
“It was difficult,” said Rondo. “I love being around the guys. I love coming into practice and being around them on the team plane, but I had to miss that for a couple of days. But other than that, everything is back to normal.”
Asked if he was more motivated than before, Rondo said, “No. I want to get better. I want to run off eight or nine games straight. It starts in practice and it starts with staying in the game. So I just want to go out there and give it all for my teammates and get some wins.
“We’ve got to get this show on the road. We’ve got to have a great December. November is behind us and we didn’t play well. It’s a new month and I’m ready to go.”
“Rondo is important,” said coach Doc Rivers, "but Kevin [Garnett] is important and Paul [Pierce]. We should have won both games, you can make a case, without Rondo. Having said that, we need him.”
Rondo’s ejection during the Brooklyn game ended his streak of consecutive games with 10 or more assists at 37. Rondo did not seem troubled by that.
“It’s over with,” he said. “It may be [a big deal] once I get 40 or 50, but right now it’s a record. Records are meant to be broken. I think I was second, tied with John Stockton, so that’s a great accomplishment, but it’s about wins and losses.”
Rest for the weary
After giving Jason Terry, Garnett, and Pierce the day off, Rivers brought them back for Tuesday’s workout, hoping his 35-plus-year-old trio would be refreshed.
“Jason and Paul came [Monday] for sure and worked out, they were here early,” Rivers said. “They were here 9, 10 o’clock in the morning and both had sweats and left before practice started. They needed that. I thought that was good for them as well.
“In the long run, I think [the rest] is good. Maybe in the short run it’s good as well. But definitely I think throughout the season, if we can do that three or four times with certain guys, I think it will be good for them. Rondo just had his two days as well.”
The Celtics took a 17-0 lead Saturday night against Milwaukee but eventually lost, 91-88. Still, Rivers and the players came away feeling they made progress.
“We had a great shot to win the game and played well, I thought offensively we got a little stagnant,” Rivers said. “The ball movement still was terrific. We missed a ton of shots down the stretch.
“I was upset with the second-quarter defense and I think we gave up 36 points. That was the difference in the game if you want to point to one thing, but overall the last two games, I like where we’re at.
“But we’ve got to continue to do it. We’ve yet to be consistent, in my opinion. You can be consistent and lose a game. I think Milwaukee was an example of that.”
Rivers is still seeking that cohesion he believed would appear by now.
“We just have to have that consistent effort,” he said. “You think of those two games. Today’s practice was extremely hard. We’ve got to get that mentality.”
Under the weather
Leandro Barbosa did not practice Tuesday because of an illness, and he is uncertain for Wednesday’s game against the Timberwolves. Chris Wilcox left the game against the Nets with an illness but returned to play Friday against Portland . . . Rivers called Minnesota forward Kevin Love “one of the best rebounders of our era. I know that’s saying something early on in his career, but he is.”Gary Washburn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @gwashNBAGlobe