The headline in the Boston Globe’s online sports section read, “Isaiah Thomas has nothing but love for Kings.”
On the court, the Boston Celtics guard sure doesn’t treat them that way.
Thomas scored 19 of his 21 points in the opening half and combined with fellow guard Avery Bradley for 41 points, and the Celtics made it a miserable trip to Mexico City for former Celtics Rajon Rondo and the Sacramento Kings in a 114-97 rout at Arena Ciudad de Mexico on Thursday.
Celtics center Kelly Olynyk came off the bench to add 21 points, and Boston (11-8) made the annual NBA Global Game a dull one on the scoreboard.
Blame it on Thomas. He ripped apart his former team from the beginning, scoring 12 points in the opening quarter and pushing the pace. The Kings (7-13) looked a step or two slow from the beginning and seemed to tire easily in the 7,000-foot altitude.
“(Sacramento) will always be a home for me, have a special place in my heart,” Thomas told the media during practice Wednesday, as reported by the Globe. “When the schedule came out, I was looking for that Sac game, and it was in Mexico. Just seeing those guys and being around them, I’m familiar with most of those guys. … It was my first NBA home, the staff members, the trainers, everybody. It’s nice to see those guys.
“But I’ve moved on, man. I don’t have no hard feelings about Sacramento. I just want to beat them every time we play.”
Thomas added nine assists, six rebounds and four steals and played 32 minutes. He has played four games against the team that drafted him with the 30th pick in the 2011 draft, and he is averaging 16.8 points and 5.5 assists in those contests.
The other guard facing his former team did not have nearly the same night.
Rondo, who played his first eight-plus seasons with Boston and is currently the NBA’s assist leader in his first campaign with the Kings, barked several times at referee Bill Kennedy in the third quarter and was ejected with 6:30 to go in the period. He finished with only five points and eight assists in 24 minutes.
In Rondo’s only previous performance against his former team, he scored 29 points for the Dallas Mavericks, making five 3-pointers in a 109-91 win on Jan. 2. Rondo played 48 games for Dallas after being dealt by the Celtics last season, then signed a one-year, $9.5 million free agent contract with Sacramento.
“No excuses,” Rondo told reporters in Mexico during the week, as reported by the Globe. “I don’t really live in the past.”
Kings center DeMarcus Cousins grabbed Rondo after the guard tried to get at Kennedy following his ejection, possibly saving a suspension. The move was Cousins’ best of the contest, on a night he scored only 16 points on 4-for-17 shooting. He also had turned over the ball four times.
Bradley and forward Jae Crowder each scored 20 points for the Celtics, and Boston shot 47 percent from the field. Boston also held Sacramento to a season-low scoring output in the first half.
Forward Rudy Gay scored 18 points to pace the Kings, who were without forward Omri Casspi. The team’s best 3-point shooter (45 percent), Casspi did not play because of a bout with gastroenteritis.
Bradley hit back-to-back 3-pointers to start the third quarter as the Celtics used a 12-2 run to go up 69-46 with 6:58 left. Rondo was ejected a short time later, and the game never was close again.
Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein sustained an open dislocation of his right index finger late in the fourth quarter. After evaluation by doctors on site, it was determined he will miss approximately 4-6 weeks of action.