Rajon Rondo loves numbers and the flair for the dramatic.
And Monday night, after the Celtics lost, 104-92, to the Houston Rockets at TD Garden, the Celtics point guard tweeted a string of numbers that seemed to give a clue as to when he will make his much-anticipated season debut.
Late Monday, Rondo, who has been sidelined all season while recovering from knee surgery, tweeted the following: “29,233,380 secs”
That time equates to 338 days, 8 hours, and 23 minutes.
It appears to be the exact duration of time between when he had reconstructive surgery on his right knee to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament (Feb. 13, 2013) and this Friday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers at TD Garden.
In fact, Rondo appears to have calculated the exact time between his surgery and tipoff — 11:07 a.m. on Feb. 13, if you factor in Friday’s 7:30 p.m. tipoff.
It had been reported that Rondo had been targeting that date for his return, but Rondo denied it and has continued to do so, including before Monday’s game.
Rondo has only said that he planned to return before the mid-February All-Star break.
Before the game, Celtics coach Brad Stevens didn’t offer any specific dates on when Rondo would return, but he did say that, “I get the impression it’s sooner than later.”
Stevens didn’t rule out a possible return for this week, saying, “I think you could say possibly. It wouldn’t be anything where I would be speaking with certainty.”
Jeff Green said he sprained his shoulder in the first quarter and Jared Sullinger said he had neck spasms during the game.
Green, who had 4 points, sat out the fourth quarter.
“It wasn’t because I was playing bad, it was because I sprained my shoulder at the end of the first, then it just kept nagging me throughout the game,” said Green. “Maybe that’s the reason, I don’t know. The [group] that was in, they did a great job of fighting and getting back into the game.”
Green, who shot 2 for 10, later added, “I understand tonight, I couldn’t give anything because of the shoulder. At any other given time, I do want to be out there.
Green didn’t indicate which shoulder was hurting, but he said it shouldn’t be an issue when the Celtics face Toronto Wednesday at TD Garden.
Sullinger, who had 8 points and 10 rebounds as he moved back into the starting lineup, was wearing black kinesio tape on his neck after the game.
He said he wasn’t sure what happened, but that his neck “just got real tight while I sat on the bench, spasmed up a little bit.”
He added, “I’m going to be all right.”
With 25 losses to his record entering Monday night’s game, Stevensalready has more than half the losses that he had during his six-year career as Butler University’s coach (49).
“He’s done a good job,” Houston coach and former Celtic Kevin McHale said before the game. “There’s going to be a learning curve. There’s a big difference [between the NBA and college].
“What I really remember is playing and having some coaches come in from college and they were just like, ‘Wow. Where’s the practice time?’ And, ‘All these games . . . the game is so different and it’s managed different.’
“It’s vastly different, but I think he’s done a good job. I talked to Danny [Ainge] for a while last summer when he was making his decisions. I think [Brad] is someone that Danny can really talk to. I think they have a good relationship, and I think there are going to be some growing pains.
“But I think his team plays hard. That’s the thing — if you get your guys to play hard every night, that’s a sign that he’s doing right if they’re buying in. He’s got a long [six-year] contract, and I’m sure at some point in that contract, he’ll have the type of team that he wants and that Danny will put together for him that can contend.”
The Celtics were riding a season-high eight-game losing streak into Monday night; Stevens never lost four consecutive games at Butler. But Stevens said he maintains a positive attitude.
“I don’t measure where our team is based on just wins and losses, I measure it based on where we are individually in our growth, where we are collectively in our growth, how we can continue to get better, if we can continue to get better,” Stevens said.
“How we show resolve when things don’t go our way. How we play when our backs are against the wall. No matter if you win or lose, those are good character traits if you handle them well. But it’s tested even more when you lose again. That’s part of it.”
McHale also felt that Ainge’s decision to break up the Celtics this offseason was warranted, given the state of the league.
“If Danny had his druthers, he probably would’ve liked to have Paul [Pierce] retire as a Celtic,” McHale said.Baxter Holmes can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @BaxterHolmes.