By A.Sherrod Blakely
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.