Rondo leads Celtics over Warriors, 115-93

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Rondo leads Celtics over Warriors, 115-93

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

OAKLAND, Calif. Inside the Boston Celtics locker room there was a chocolate cake for Rajon Rondo, who turned 25 years old on Tuesday.

The Golden State Warriors were in the gift-giving mood as well, as they seemingly gave Rondo and the Celtics anything and everything they wanted in the second half.

And the end result was Boston pulling away for a 115-93 victory that snapped a six-game losing skid at Oracle Arena.

Boston (41-14) had five players in double figures scoring, but it was the play of Rondo that stood out.

He tallied his 23rd double-double this season, finishing with 19 points and 15 assists.

"We haven't won here since I've been a Celtic," said Rondo, who was acquired by the C's on draft night in 2006. "It was key for us to get a win tonight."

On Tuesday, Rondo was getting it done both as a scorer and as a distributor.

However, he was impacting the game in other areas as well.

"Rondo, leadership-wise throughout the game, was getting on guys for taking bad shots," said coach Doc Rivers. "I just thought he was a coach on the floor. He was terrific."

Indeed, Tuesday's game was yet another example of how Rondo's game has matured over the years.

The 19 points scored by Rondo was more than he scored in Boston's two previous games combined. In addition, it was the third-highest scoring game for Rondo this season.

"I just try to take what the defense gave me," Rondo said.

For the Warriors (26-30), that would be anything and everything Rondo wanted.

Even with Don Nelson gone and Keith Smart calling the shots as the Warriors head coach, Golden State is still a horrible team defensively.

In addition to Rondo, Kevin Garnett also made the most of a Golden State defense that put up about as much resistance as a turnstile.

Garnett had 24 points and 12 rebounds for his 18th double-double this season.

But despite the Warriors playing shoddy defense, which allowed Boston to essentially get any shot it wanted, the Celtics found themselves in a 60-60 tie at the half.

Smart and his team had to feel pretty good about themselves at that half when you consider the game's tempo - as well as a lack of defense played by both teams - was clearly to their liking.

"Boston went in at halftime and they knew they had to bring it up a little bit," Smart said.

The C's cranked up the defensive pressure from the opening possession of the second half.

"That's what is good about teams like that, and San Antonio, they make adjustments," said Warriors forward David Lee, who had 17 points and 5 rebounds.

Lee was hurting the Celtics in the first half on pick-and-roll plays.

That all changed in the third quarter.

"They . . . stayed with me on the roll and made sure we were going to take jump shots rather than be able to get the ball to the rack, like we would in the first half," Lee said.

That defensive adjustment led to a slew of Golden State turnovers.

After forcing just three turnovers in the first half, it took the Celtics less than 90 seconds to equal that amount in the third quarter.

Those turnovers created a slew of easy scoring opportunities for Boston which finished with a season-high 30 fast-break points.

"We got stops. It's as simple as that," Rondo said. "We made a defensive run. That led to easy transition baskets."

The one big negative for the Celtics from Tuesday was the bruised left knee injury suffered by Kendrick Perkins.

Perkins, who suffered a torn MCL and PCL injury in his right knee during the NBA Finals last season, did not return to the floor after suffering the injury in the third quarter.

The injury doesn't appear to be serious, with Perkins telling CSNNE.com that he hopes the injury won't prevent him from playing in Denver on Thursday.

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Blakely's five throughts from the Green and White Scrimmage

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Blakely's five throughts from the Green and White Scrimmage

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BOSTON – As has been customary with the Celtics in recent years, their open practice on Friday night featured a pair of 10-minute scrimmages pitting the “Green” team of starters against the “White” team of reserves.
 
The White team, which apparently has been kicking the Green team’s butt for a good chunk of camp, emerged with a 33-26 win. And the Green team had to rally to win the second scrimmage, 24-18.

Similar to summer league, you can’t read too much into what happened and what didn’t happen on Friday night.
 
That said, there were a number of clear and undeniable positives for the Celtics to take from the game and hopefully build upon them going forward.
 
 
5. Al Horford's leadership established
 
The first player’s voice that the 6,000-plus fans at the TD Garden heard from was Al Horford and don’t think for a minute that was just happenstance.
 
For all the scoring and rebounding and defending that the Celtics will look for Horford to do, it is his ability to lead this team that separates him from most of his NBA brethren.
 
The fact that he’s a four-time All-Star speaks to what he has done in this league as a player. But even more telling is that was the fact that he’s been to the playoffs every year he has been in the NBA. And during that span of nine years, he has been pivotal in leading Atlanta beyond the first round – a primary goal for him and the Celtics this season – five times.
 
 
4. Celtics defense could be an elite unit this season
 
The Celtics were a top-10 defensive team last season, and have every reason to believe that they’ll be even better now. Boston has a trio of Pit Bull-like defenders on the perimeter in Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier and All-NBA first team defender Avery Bradley. Throw in Jae Crowder’s defensive versatility at the wing along with a pair of upper echelon rim-protectors in Amir Johnson and Al Horford and the Celtics no longer are a team that can put a couple good defenders on the floor at one time. They actually have the depth now to go with a ‘Big’ all-defensive team or a ‘small ball’ all-defensive team which provides the kind of versatility that should result in Boston being a top-3 defensive team this season.
 
 
3. Marcus Smart poised for breakout season
 
Smart seemed about as comfortable as we’ve seen him on Friday, showcasing his range as a shooter while still being able to get after it defensively. Based on what he has done in terms of improving his game, Smart seems more likely to play off the ball than on it. With his size, strength, athleticism and ability to defend multiple positions that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If Boston does indeed have one of those magical-type seasons, Smart is a player that has the potential to help significantly. He understands the Celtics’ system inside and out, and is doing what young players on the rise should do – show growth as a player.
 
 
2. James Young playing best basketball at right time
 
These are some pretty stressful times for James Young, but you wouldn’t know it by the extremely cool demeanor he has exuded. Although it has only been a few short days of training camp, James Young has stepped up his game knowing anything less than his best could result in him being waived and potentially on his way out of the NBA. During the first Green-White scrimmage on Friday night, Danny Ainge said there were five guys essentially fighting for two roster spots. He didn’t single out Young specifically, but it’s no secret that the 21-year-old who is heading into third NBA season is among the players in that group. To Young's credit, he's doing a lot of those little things such as playing solid defense, getting deflections and making "hockey assists" to show he belongs in the NBA and more significantly, should remain a Celtic. 
  
1. Terry Rozier's tremendous strides
 
Rozier was the star of the two scrimmages the Celtics put on in front of about 6,000 people at the TD Garden Friday night. He scored, got assists, rebounded … he did it all. What impressed me the most about him was his defense on Isaiah Thomas. Rozier loves Thomas and respects the hell out of him. But Rozier  has made no secret about wanting to get more playing time this year, and is out to snatch some of the minutes from anyone ahead of him, Thomas included. We saw the tenacious potential Rozier has as an on-the-ball defender, but he seems to have taken that up a notch from his rookie season. And the confidence he has in his shot-making is undeniable. We saw that in summer league and it’s good to see that he brought it with him into training camp. Ditto for his decision-making and leading of the team at the point which are also areas in which he has improved but still needs to continue to get better at on a more consistent basis. There’s no doubt at this point Rozier will play this season and likely get a lion’s share of the minutes vacated by Evan Turner’s departure to Portland.