- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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NEW YORK -- Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo suffered a fourth-quarter left ankle sprain against the New York Knicks on Wednesday that briefly sent him to the locker room, but the fifth-year point guard said he expects to play Thursday night when Boston hosts the Atlanta Hawks in the second night of a back-to-back set.
"It hurts, but all ankle sprains hurt," said Rondo, who has also battled a sore left hamstring, which recently sidelined him for five games, and plantar fasciitis. "I expect to play. I think I'm going to do [X-rays Thursday] morning and see how I feel. Get through the night and hope it doesn't swell up."
Rondo fell to the court 23 seconds into the fourth quarter after awkwardly turning his ankle as he tried to make a cut. After trying to stretch out the injury, he slowly got to his feet and had to be aided off the court by trainer Ed Lacerte.
Rondo got the ankle retaped and was back on the floor with 8:35 to go in a tie game.
"I wanted to [get back in the game]," Rondo said after the Celtics went on to win 118-116. "I tried to put a little pressure on it in the back, then Ed retaped me."
Celtics coach Doc Rivers admitted Rondo's injury wasn't his top priority with Boston locked in a seesaw battle. But the Celtics wanted to go small and that plan hinged on Rondo.
"We needed him," Rivers said. "Rondo was struggling in the third quarter and that's why I took him out. He wasn't very happy with it, but we don't really mind about that. And Nate [Robinson] came in and played great, but we needed [Rondo]. We needed him in the game because our whole plan down the stretch was to go small, and if Rondo couldn't have come in, I thought we would have been in a little trouble because down the stretch against that team, I thought we had to go small."
Rondo finished with 10 points, 14 assists and 3 rebounds over 34 minutes, 9 seconds of action. He committed six turnovers and wasn't as crisp as in his triple-double performance that included 24 assists in the teams' first meeting in Boston, but his value is inarguable. That's why the Celtics voiced concern about his health.
"I worry about him a lot," said Kevin Garnett, who went over to Rondo as he was being helped off. "He's a very tough individual and for him to need help -- to have to be helped off with Ed -- there was concern for me, so I just wanted to make sure he was all right.
"You have to have that something special -- that oomph -- that makes you what you want to be in this league. We're going to fight to the end -- [Rondo's] foot hurt, his leg hurt, and he's dealing with multiple injuries -- but the kid comes out here and gives everything he has every night. That's what it is."
After talking with reporters, Rondo still hadn't put his left shoe on as he prepared to depart the arena, likely anticipating some swelling. He'll be re-evaluated Thursday, but expect the Celtics to exercise the same caution they have with all of their injuries this season.
Captain Paul Pierce didn't sound too confident about having Rondo's services Thursday.
"He's been banged up over the last month," Pierce said. "There's probably a slim chance we'll have him [Thursday]. So, we've played a few games without him. We've got to make adjustments, that happens, but, hey, what's new for us? We've got a lot of guys going down right now, and we keep finding ways."
Chris Forsberg covers the Celtics for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.
16hSteve Ilardi and Jeremias Engelmann