Rondo triple-double carries C's past Knicks, 115-111

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Rondo triple-double carries C's past Knicks, 115-111

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.

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

BOSTON – Prior to Saturday’s game, Terry Rozier talked to CSNNE.com about the importance of staying ready always, because “you never know when your name or number is going to be called.”

Like when trailing by three points in the fourth quarter with less than 10 seconds to play?

Yes, Rozier was on the floor in that scenario and the second-year guard delivered when his team needed it.

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But Rozier’s fourth quarter heroics which forced overtime against Portland, did not provide that much-needed jolt that Boston needed as the Blazers managed to fend off the Celtics in overtime, 127-123.

For Rozier’s part, he had 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting.

The 15 points scored for Rozier was the most for him since he tallied 16 in a 30-point Celtics win at Orlando on Dec. 7.

But more than the points, the decision by head coach Brad Stevens to draw up a play for him in that moment, a time when most of what Boston does revolves around the shooting of Isaiah Thomas who has been among the top-3 scorers in the fourth quarter most of this season, was surprising to many.

And at that point in the game, Thomas already had 13 fourth-quarter points.

Stevens confirmed after the game that the last shot in the fourth was indeed for Rozier, but Thomas’ presence on the floor was important to its execution.

“He (Thomas) also draws a lot of attention,” Stevens said. “So I think you just weigh kind of … what kind of shot you’re going to get, depending on who it is.”

Rozier had initially screened for Thomas, and Thomas came back and screened for him.

“I was open as soon as I caught … and I let it fly,” Rozier said. “Coach drew up a play for me and it felt good to see the ball go in.”

Being on the floor at that time, win or lose, was a victory of sorts for Rozier.

He has seen first-hand how quickly the tide can change in the NBA for a young player.

After a strong summer league showing and a solid training camp, Rozier had earned himself a firm spot in the team’s regular rotation.

But a series of not-so-great games coupled with Gerald Green’s breakout night on Christmas Day, led to his playing time since then becoming more sporadic.

Rozier, in an interview with CSNNE.com, acknowledged it hasn’t been easy going from playing regular minutes to not being sure how much court time, if any, he would receive.

But he says the veterans on the team have been good about keeping his spirits up, and one in particular – Avery Bradley – has been especially helpful.

Like Rozier, Bradley’s first couple of years saw his playing time go from non-existent to inconsistent. But Bradley stayed the course and listened to the team’s veterans who continued to tell him that his hard work would pay off sooner or later.

Those same words of wisdom Bradley received in his early days, he passes on to Rozier.

“It’s big,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “He (Bradley) tells me things like that. I felt I was ready for this (inconsistent minutes) after all that he told me. It’s big to have a guy like him that has been through it all with a championship team, been around this organization for a while; have him talk to you is big. It’s always good. That’s why I stay positive, and be ready.”

Which is part of the reason why Stevens didn’t hesitate to call up a play for the second-year guard despite him being a 33.3 percent shooter from 3-point range this season – that ranks eighth on this team, mind you.

“He’s a really good shooter,” Stevens said of Rozier. “I think with more opportunity that will show itself true, but he made some big ones in the fourth quarter. We went to him a few different times out of time-outs, and felt good about him making that one.”

And to know that Stevens will turn to him not just to spell Thomas or one of the team’s other guards, but to actually make a game-altering play in the final seconds … that’s major.

“It helps tremendously,” said Rozier who added that his confidence is through “the roof. It makes me want to do everything. You know defense, all of that. It’s great, especially to have a guy like Brad trust you."

Stars, studs and duds: Lillard steps up in second half, overtime

Stars, studs and duds: Lillard steps up in second half, overtime

BOSTON – Saturday was yet another night when the opposing team – this time it was the Portland Trail Blazers – that up the Boston Celtics with an avalanche of points that ended in a 127-123 overtime loss.

And yet through the rubble of all those lay-ups and put-back baskets and mid-range jumpers, Stevens saw something he has not seen in a while – hope that better days defensively were coming sooner rather than later.

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“As crazy as it sounds with them scoring (127) … I actually thought we were a lot closer to defending the way we want to defend," said Stevens. "I thought we were really locked into those guards, and I thought we tried to make it as tough as possible. Those guys are really good players, obviously, but I thought, I thought we did a lot of good things in that regard.”

For the most part, Boston and Portland played a relatively even game that wasn’t decided until the final minute of overtime.

“They just made more plays down the stretch,” said Boston’s Al Horford.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Saturday’s game.

 

STARS

C.J. McCollum

He tends to get second billing to Damian Lillard, but he was a first rate problem for the Celtics. He led the Blazers with 35 points on 11-for-21 shooting.

Damian Lillard

After a foul-troubled first half, Lillard stepped up like the All-Star he is in the second half to finish with 28 points and seven assists which included seven of Portland’s 14 points in overtime.

Isaiah Thomas

It was another dynamic scoring night for Thomas, finishing with a game-high 41 points which included 21 in the fourth quarter and overtime.


STUDS

Terry Rozier

Making the most of his chance to play due to injuries and illnesses, Rozier came up with a number of big shots all night. He finished with 15 points which included a 3-pointer with 8.4 seconds in the fourth that forced overtime.

Mason Plumlee

In addition to doing a solid job protecting the rim, Plumlee also tallied a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds while dishing out a game-high eight assists.

Meyers Leonard

Easily the big X-factor of the game, Leonard had 17 points off the bench on 6-for-7 shooting.

 

DUDS

Celtics Turnovers

This is the one area where the Celtics have been really good all season. Saturday? Not so much. Boston turned the ball over a season-high 21 times which accounted for 34 points for the Blazers.