BOSTON Point guard Rajon Rondo told CSNNE.com that whenever he returned to the Boston Celtics lineup, he would be a mere shell of himself for a while.
He wasn't kidding.
Rondo, back in the starting lineup after missing eight straight with a right wrist injury, was among the Celtics to pick his game up in the second half as the Celtics rallied for a 91-89 win.
There were a bunch of big shots down the stretch for Boston, but none bigger - or as improbable - as Paul Pierce's 24-foot heave with 14.4 seconds to play.
On the shot, Pierce was stripped by Iman Shumpert. In the mad scramble for the ball, Pierce came up with it and just launched a shot towards the basket in hopes of beating the shot clock.
The shot seemed too good to be true.
And after the officials reviewed the play, apparently it was.
The replay showed Pierce got it off a split second after the shot clock expired.
That put the pressure to win on the Celtics' defense, which came through with just enough stops to extend their home court dominance over the Knicks to 10 in a row.
With the win, Boston (12-10) now finds itself two games over .500 for the first time this season, while the Knicks (8-15) continue to struggle having now dropped 11 of their last 13 games.
Much of the focus coming into the game was on Rondo, whose return seemed inevitable based on his participation in the C's shoot-around on Friday morning. He finished with seven points, seven assists and five rebounds.
As much as the attention leading up to the game was on his wrist, all eyes soon fell on him because of a different injury.
It was his right eye, which apparently got a little too close to Shumpert which resulted in a swollen eye that made Rondo look like Little Mac from Nintendo's Punch-Out.
Banged up wrist. A right eye that was blackening with each passing second.
It wasn't Rondo's best look.
And for most of the first half, it wasn't one of Rondo's better games, either.
Boston trailed 55-49 at the half, and Rondo had one point and three assists.
The second half saw a more aggressive Rondo, whose scoring helped the C's cut into a New York lead that reached double digits.
Boston found itself within one possession after a Chris Wilcox put-back basket as the third quarter came to an end.
The C's inched a little closer when Brandon Bass made a pair of free throws to cut New York's lead to 77-75.
Boston got even closer with a pair of Wilcox free throws that tied the game at 77 and later, a Bass jumper to tie the game at 79.
That's when the Big Three took over, with a Ray Allen 3-pointer giving the C's an 82-79 lead that it was able to maintain for the rest of the game.