BOSTON – On a night when Rajon Rondo was about as dominant as we've seen him this season for the Boston Celtics, it was what happened when he wasn't on the floor Friday night that proved to be the difference.
With 2:02 to play in the third quarter and the Nets on a 22-6 run, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens took Rondo out of the game.
By the time Stevens brought him back in the fourth, Boston's lead was back to 11 points which would provide more than enough cushion for the Celtics to knock off Brooklyn, 91-84.
The play of Boston's bench during the seven minute, two-seconds Rondo spent on the bench at the end of the third and start of the fourth quarter was one of the more tangible signs we've seen lately of this team's growth.
"They not only sustained, they pushed the lead out which was a great sign," Stevens said.
And they did it with a group that was about as green as you can imagine.
"We were the 25-and-under league," quipped Stevens. "I mean, Jerryd Bayless is the long-time pro, standing out there with Phil (Pressey), (Chris) Babb, Kelly (Olynyk) and Sully (Jared Sullinger). And then you look on the other side, you're like, '(Andrei) Kirilenko's played more games than all those guys combined.' So that was a little nerve-wracking, but they did a good job."
And with that, here's the Good, the Bad and the Ugly from Friday night's win.
Although most of his damage was done in the first half, Rondo's overall game was one of his better performances this season. He finished with 20 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.
It's rare that you can compete let alone emerge victorious when you turn the ball over 28 times that leads to 26 points. But the Celtics somehow managed to get it done.
"It is what it is," said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. "They put some pressure on us, we dribbled too deep prior to ball movement. Some of our turnovers were illegal screens that we can clean up and you know, you can fix that stuff. But the effort was pretty good."
Brooklyn's 3-point shooting
The Nets missed their first 17 3s of the night, and finished a woeful 4-for-30 (13.3 percent) from 3-point range.
"They had some great looks," Net coach Jason Kidd said of his players. "That's basketball. Sometimes it just doesn't go down for you and you have these type of nights but you can look back and learn from them and that's what we'll do."