BOSTON Linsanity may be running wild globally, but the best point guard on the floor Sunday was Rajon Rondo.
Rondo's triple-double, his second in the last four games, was instrumental in the Celtics' 115-111 overtime win against the New York Knicks.
Jeremy Lin had a decent game (14 points, five assists), but Rondo's play-making and overall game proved to be too much for Lin and the Knicks. Rondo had 18 points, 17 rebounds and 20 assists as the Celtics (19-17) won their fourth straight.
According to the Elias Bureau, it was the firs triple-double since Magic Johnson on April 18, 1989, in which an NBA player had at least 17 points, rebounds and assists. And the last time a player had Rondo's triple-double numbers or better, was Wilt Chamberlain on Feb. 2, 1968 when Chamberlain went off for 22 points, 25 rebounds and 21 assists.
It was clear after the game that Boston's Kevin Garnett knew that what he had just seen, what he was a part of, was one of the more dominant individual performances that the NBA has seen in years.
"Rondo's line is one that I haven't seen since I been in the league," said Garnett, a 16-year NBA veteran. "It was very impressive. I had to come in here and give him some real dap after that.
Garnett took a pair of stat sheets from today's game as well.
When asked if he was going to have Rondo sign it, Garnett said, "nah, I won't go that far. Just as a witness that I was here and got to see this up front and center."
Garnett said Rondo's play was in part fueled by his matchup with Lin.
"The thing about Lin is, I think everybody at the point guard position is going to be excited to play the kid," Garnett said. "And 'Do (Rondo) was nothing short of that. I could tell; I've been around him when he's motivated and when he's more than motivated. Tonight was one of those nights."
Rondo's motivation may also be fueled because this year, more than any since he has been in the NBA, he has been the subject of trade rumors.
Celtics veteran Keyon Dooling, whose locker is next to Rondo's, has been impressed with how Rondo has handled his first real run through the trade talk rumor mill.
"I tip my hat to him because he's been able to stay so focused, with all the stuff," Dooling told CSNNE.com. "It's sad to see him have to ride those waves everyday. But everyday he puts on his hard hat and comes to work."
And did he ever put in work on Sunday, the kind of performance that reminds folks why Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, has made no secret about wanting significant talent in exchange for any deal that would involve Rondo.
"He's one of the best in the league and so you saw his stat line tonight," Lin said. "There aren't many guards, maybe no guards who can put up something like that. We didn't do a good job of containing him and he obviously controlled the tempo of the game."
In typical Rondo fashion, even when it comes to praise he thinks like a pass-first point guard.
"I wouldn't say I took over," Rondo said. "I missed a lot of easy shots that I usually make, but it was a great win for us tonight. Everyone stepped up, Ray (Allen) and Brandon (Bass), P (Pierce), we all made special efforts when it counted."
Indeed, Rondo's big night was helped by a number of his teammates playing well.
Pierce had a game-high 34 points, which included a 3-pointer with less than five seconds to play that forced overtime.
The Celtics also welcomed back Ray Allen, who missed the Celtics' last game against New Jersey because of an illness. He had 12 points, five of which came during a critical stretch in overtime in which the Celtics began to take control.
As for the Knicks, Lin was clearly the big story coming in for the Knicks. But their success still hinges heavily on the play of Carmelo Anthony. He spent significant chunks of time on the bench because of foul trouble Sunday, but still managed to score a team-high 25 points to go with seven rebounds.
HOT SHOT: Paul Pierce had a game-high 34 points, with none being bigger than the 3-pointer he hit with less than five seconds to play that forced overtime.
IN-N-OUT: J.R. Smith is a player that the Knicks count on to provide instant offense off the bench. He came into Sunday's game averaging more than 10 points per game. However, he was limited to just two points on 1-for-6 shooting.
SUPER SUB: With Jeremy Lin in foul trouble, Baron Davis got a chance to play more than usual. In just under 21 minutes, Davis reminded folks why it wasn't that long ago that he was considered one of the NBA's top point guards. He finished with eight points and seven assists. Rajon Rondo said getting Lin off the floor was part of the game plan, "But B.D. (Davis) played well as well, when he came in."
TURNING POINT:Trailing 103-100, Paul Pierce drilled a 3-pointer to tie the score and force overtime. The Celtics opened overtime with a 7-2 spurt, and never looked back. "I got to a spot where I like to get the shot off from, maybe rushed it a little bit but it felt good coming off my hand and sometimes they go in and sometimes they don't," Pierce said.
BY THE NUMBERS: 23: That would be the number of points Boston got off of the 22 turnovers it forced.
Quote to note: "That's what makes the game of basketball, and these type of games versus New York so fun because you always see the great players rise to the finish." - Celtics forward Paul Pierce.