Rondo answered with leadership, his unique brand not fully appreciated perhaps until now, with the Bulls on the brink of their biggest moment since the 2011 Eastern Conference finals.
Smart finished with 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting over 27 minutes. Isaiah Thomas is one of the best scoring point guards in the league.
"We've got to do a better job starting with myself - got to do a better job of taking care of the basketball and making some shots", Westbrook said.
"I still feel good about our half court, set defense for the most part, but we have to play better with our offense, especially in transition". Missing out on his 11th career playoff triple double by one rebound, Rondo also had five steals and harassed Thomas effectively enough to limit the need for Butler to guard him, preserving Butler's energy for offense.
In a hallway, they exchanged handslaps, not unlike the picture Rondo posted to his Instagram account on January 26 of him with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce from their shared Celtics championship season. "But as a team we have to stay together".
Three individual agendas, one common goal.
Rondo's play during the first two games of this series has been reminiscent of how he played with the Celtics years ago.
DeMar DeRozan scored 23 points and produced the go-ahead jump shot late in the fourth quarter.
"It's just his competitive edge", Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "He's trying to get back as quick as he can", coach Quin Snyder said. They didn't pay to get a player such as Lou Williams, a proven bench scorer who would help Boston survive when Isaiah Thomas isn't on the floor. The Jazz played without center Rudy Gobert, who was ruled out of the game and questionable for Game 3 with a left knee sprain.
Utah closed within three points early in the third on a basket by Derrick Favors, who started in place of injured Rudy Gobert.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 24 points and 15 rebounds for the Bucks. Khris Middleton scored 20 points and Greg Monroe had 18. Stevens added no funeral services have been arranged for Thomas' sister yet, and that the plan is for Thomas to rejoin the team Friday in Chicago for Game 3.
Now, they'll have to keep that intensity on the road as they try to regain the home court advantage they surrendered in dropping game one of the best-of-seven Western Conference first-round series in Los Angeles.
Butler is averaging 26 points through the first two games. Their 20 year-old point guard, Magic Johnson.