Rajon Rondo and his Sacramento Kings teammates left the American Airlines Center with a hard-fought win on Thursday night after overcoming the Dallas Mavericks 104-101, but it was especially sweet for the league's leader in assists.
The 30-year-old returned to the hardwood in Dallas for the first time since his disappointing seven-month spell in Texas came to an end in the summer.
Rondo sat the last time the Kings played the Mavericks in January, but this time stuffed the stats sheet to help Sacramento record their first road win against Dirk Nowitzki and Co. since 2006.
As chants of 'Rondo sucks, Rondo sucks' rang around the Arena, the 2008 championship-winning point guard helped himself to 18 points, 12 assists, five rebounds and three steals.
Following the win that left the Kings four and a half games back from the Houston Rockets with a 25-35 record, Rondo admitted it 'felt like home' to be back playing at the American Airlines.
As per ESPN, he said: “It felt like home. Not the boos, but other than that, it’s a great court to play on. And it’s definitely a great place to get a win.”
The four-time All-Star's arrival in Dallas in 2014, following his trade from the Boston Celtics, was greeted with much excitement and expectation by the Mavericks faithful. However, it proved to be a false dawn as Rondo failed to produce his best form.
In 46 regular season games with the Southwest Divison franchise, he was only able to average 9.3 points and 6.5 assists per 28.7 minutes of action. The production levels were some of the worst produced by the point since his rookie year.
He also played just two games for the Mavericks in the playoffs, being benched just minutes into the second half of game two, as they fell 4-1 to eventual Western Conference finalists; the Houston Rockets.
It was never an ideal fit for player and franchise. Rick Carlisle warned Mark Cuban against the trade, but the billionaire sanctioned the blockbuster trade that proved to be a huge bust.
Despite the less than ideal time in Big D, Sacramento has seen Rondo return to his best. The two-time assist leader looks on track to add a third title to his collection with a career best 12.1 per game.
The Kings look unlikely to reach the playoffs this season as their inconsistency continues to haunt them. George Karl's men have strung together two four-game losing streaks since the beginning of February.
With 22 games remaining, it would take a huge swing to see the Kings competing. However, while there is faint hope, they will continue to fight and victories like the one last night prove they have what it takes to finish in the top eight.