BOSTON A back injury to Chicago's Derrick Rose denied fans at TD Garden the point-guard battle so many love to see between him and Boston's Rajon Rondo.
So that left Rondo to put on a show all by himself . . . and did he ever.
Rondo came out in full-blown attack mode, tallying his second triple-double of the season in leading the Celtics to a 95-91 win over the Bulls.
"9 (Rondo) was edgy," said Kevin Garnett. "I loved it. He came out and set the tone. He got guys involved. He was all over the place."
After a rough game at Toronto on Friday night, Rondo shrugged it off and responded with a season-high 32 points to go with 15 assists and 10 rebounds.
The assists, we've seen plenty of times.
The 10 rebounds?
Yeah. Rondo has proven time and time again to be one of the NBA's best rebounding point guards.
But the 32 points, which came on an array of lay-ups, jumpers and free throws - free throws in the final seconds of play, mind you - certainly wasn't what the Bulls anticipated.
C.J. Watson, who probably got torched more by Rondo than anyone, said afterward that he was essentially defending Rondo the way Bulls coach and former C's assistant Tom Thibodeau, told him to.
When asked about defending Rondo, Watson said it wasn't difficult.
"I just kept going into the screens like Thibodeau was saying and that's what we are gonna do," Watson said. "We wanted him to shoot, but tonight he was making them."
Rondo was 11-for-22 from the floor. Of his 11 made baskets, four were jumpers of at least 11-feet out.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers believes Rondo's success - and the team as a whole for that matter - was due to them looking to run more.
Mission accomplished, as the C's outscored the Bulls, 33-7, in fast break points.
And while Rondo is the initiator most of the time when it comes to Boston's transition game, Rivers was quick to point out that Rondo needs the help of his teammates in order to really run well.
"It's not Rondo, it's the team," Rivers said. "The bigs have to run the floor. Paul (Pierce) and Ray (Allen) have to run the floor."
That opens things up for early post-play. It also allows Allen and Pierce opportunities for good-looking jumpers in transition. And for Rondo, it creates more space for him to attack - something he was intent on doing from the game's opening tip-off.
Rondo declined to speak to the media following the win.
Not to worry, though.
His teammates as well as the opposition had plenty to say about his performance.
"Rondo's a great player," said Thibodeau. "Even if you're defending him well, he still has the ability to make great plays and that team is very experienced and I think they're playing at a very high level."
Added Garnett: "When we win big, it's because the little fella is aggressive like that. I told him after tonight's game I was proud of him. He came out and played with that edge. Anytime he does that, it makes everybody's job around here easier."
Even young players like JaJuan Johnson find that the game is much easier when Rondo attacks the way he did on Sunday.
"He's one of the best point guards in the league; one of the leaders on this team," Johnson told CSNNE.com. "We definitely needed one of our big, our main guys to step up. He was able to do that for us. That was big."
So was the win, one of the few this season by Boston over an elite team.
Even though it came with the league's reigning MVP (Rose) out, Rivers doesn't believe that should take away from the victory.
"In this season, every win is a marquee win, with the shortened season," Rivers said. "To me, every win is important. You just gotta get wins, as many as you can get. And then stack them up at the end of the year."
And a big part of that for the Celtics will be players like Rondo doing what they're supposed to do, more consistently.
"The reason we win," Garnett said, "is because guys know their role and they know their role well."