Rondo, Celtics hold off Magic, 96-89

Rondo, Celtics hold off Magic, 96-89
February 2, 2014, 3:15 pm
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BOSTON -  Sunday night will feature the NFL's two best teams in Super Bowl XLVIII.

Sunday afternoon featured two of the NBA's worst, in the Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic.

But the Celtics quarterback, Rajon Rondo, played his best game by far in the C's 96-89 win.

Rondo, who had 19 points, five rebounds, and nine assists, looked more like the Rondo we've oohed and aahed at over the last few seasons, playing at a higher level than he has since his return from a torn ACL suffered last season.

He dropped four points and three assists, and grabbed two boards in the first quarter, and followed that up by scoring nine more points in the second quarter after checking in with just over six minutes to go. He was a big reason Boston took a 54-45 lead into halftime.

He would score the team's first two points of the second half, too.

Rondo - as he's known to do - also made his teammates better.

Brandon Bass scored nine points in the first quarter alone, and 19 for the game. While Boston doesn't have a lot of cohesiveness with their roster, Rondo and Bass have played together plenty to know what each do best, and that showed on Sunday.

Sunday also marked the return of Avery Bradley who didn't look to be hampered whatsoever by his ankle. Bradley finished the game with 17 points while playing his token pesky defense.

Jared Sullinger and Glen Davis made for an interesting matchup down low, but Sullinger took it. Sullinger had another impressive game for the Celtics with 21 points (10/15 from the field) and 12 boards just over a year after his back surgery that prematurely ended his rookie season. Davis finished with 15 points and three rebounds.

But the Magic hung around, and the Celtics are certainly not a team that puts teams away early and keeps it that way. The Magic trailed by just three points, 65-62, with four minutes to go in the third quarter after a Victor Oladipo three-pointer, but the Celtics scored the next six points and took a 71-64 lead into the 4th quarter.

In the fourth quarter, again the Magic made a run. Down as many as nine points early, the Magic got it to 77-76 with 6:11 to play after scoring six straight points.

But Rondo hit a running hook shot in the lane and Bradley followed it up with a jumper on the next possession.

That forced a Magic timeout with 5:20 on the clock. Orlando would come out of it and score on an Aaron Afflalo jump shot. Both teams exchanged baskets, and the Celtics held an 86-84 lead with 2:30 on the clock. That's when Rondo once again came up with a big basket to put the C's back up by four points.

And unlike the previous possessions, the Magic didn't respond. Jeff Green (2/13 from the field, eight points, five assists, two rebounds) hit a long two-pointer, and then Bass came through with a big jump shot to put the Celtics up by eight points with 1:22 left on the clock.

Orlando cut it to five, but that's as close as they got it.