Rajon Rondo, told before the game that his assist totals had taken a dip during the Celtics' longest winning streak of the season, shrugged off the significance.

But most who have watched the Celtics point guard emerge as the best assist man in the NBA during the past two years know better. He is very aware of the ebb and flow of his numbers, especially when it comes to those precious dishes.

And last night, as the Celtics put their sixth straight win on the board with a 100-89 decision against Charlotte, the point guard produced his third triple-double of the season and the 26th of his career.

Rondo had a hot start, piling up nine points, six rebounds and five assists in an 11-minute stint during the first quarter that was helped greatly by an early bonanza of fast-break opportunities. He finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists.

His team, led by Paul Pierce's 19 points, followed accordingly, even if the Celtics continued to play recklessly with a big lead instead of finishing business. Last night, they led by as many as 18 points.

But Rondo, who thrives when matched against another tough point guard, certainly was pushed by Charlotte's Kemba Walker.

"I'm getting a little older, so younger guys are coming in and I have a mark on my back," Rondo said. "I've made a couple of All-Star (Games), but I'm a target every night and I just want to go out there and defend. What I do best is run the show, and I made a lot of lucky shots tonight."

The same can be said of Rondo's increasing array of options, as Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee settle into their respective comfort zones in the corners.