Boston finished off a sweep of its four-game road trip in style on Friday night, leading from the get-go and cruising to a 105-87 win over the Thunder in Oklahoma City. Despite playing their fourth game in six nights, the 16-4 Celtics scored their seventh straight win, besting their six-game run to start the regular season.
Kevin Garnett led seven Celtics players in double figures in scoring with 23 points on 10-11 shooting from the field, Paul Pierce added 21 and point guard Rajon Rondo had 15 of his own, plus six assists and four steals.
Kevin Durant had 36 points (and zero assists) to lead the way for Oklahoma City, which fell to 10-9 with the loss.
Headliner: Garnett and Pierce led the way for the Celtics in the scoring column, but it was Rondo who set the tone against the young Thunder. Whether it was pressuring second-year point guard Russell Westbrook into five turnovers or his unselfish and often-flashy passes on the break, Rondo dominated at both ends of the court and always seemed to get the ball into the hands of the right people. Largely due to Rondo's distribution, the Celtics shot an impressive 56.5 percent from the field on the night and finished 9-of-17 from 3-point range.
How good were the C's, you ask? The Thunder shot an astonishing 60 percent in the first quarter. Yet after 12 minutes, they were down 31-20, because the Celtics shot 62.3 percent in their highest-scoring first quarter of the season.
Unsung Hero: Say what you will about the players around Durant in the Thunder lineup, but the former one-and-done Player of the Year at Texas can ball.
Durant shot 13-of-19 on the night, including 9-of-9 from the line, for a game-high 36 points against the Celtics. The Comcast announcers compared him to a skilled golfer who can successfully hit shots with any club and from all over the course and Durant did just that on Friday, driving acrobatically to the hoop, posting up smaller defenders and making jumpers from the outside.
Sure, the 21-year-old ended up with zero assists, but when the rest of my team shoots just 19-of-49 (38.8 percent), I probably wouldn't pass a whole lot either.
Scrub: On a night when it really wasn't needed a whole lot, the Celtics bench was far from at its best. Yes, Eddie House had 11 points off the pine and Rasheed Wallace chipped in with 10 of his own, but Marquis Daniels, Brian Scalabrine and Shelden Williams put up a combined zero points in 46-plus combined minutes of court time. The bench as a whole combined for just 22 total points, 10 fouls and nine turnovers.
Key Moment: With Boston up 65-53 early in the third quarter following a Kevin Garnett 3-point play, Oklahoma City's Jeff Green missed a long 3-pointer and Kendrick Perkins snagged the rebound. In transition at the other end of the court, Rondo made a slick drop-off pass to Garnett, who easily slammed it home to tie the Celtics' biggest lead of the game at 14. Thunder coach Scott Brooks called a timeout.
About a minute and a half later, Rondo fed KG again for another dunk that gave the C's a 69-53 lead. Then, less than a minute after that, Rondo again fed Garnett for an alley-oop flush that pushed the Boston lead to 18. From that point on, it was a relative laughter for the Celtics.
Up Next: After sweeping their four games on the road trip, the Celtics next return home to host the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday, Dec. 8.
Following their home loss to Detroit on Friday, the Bucks stand second in the Central Division with a solid 9-9 mark, but are just 2-7 on the road.
Rookie Brandon Jennings is Milwaukee's top scorer at 21.2 points per game and has surprised fans and other players around the league with his quick adjustment to the NBA game. Andrew Bogut is the Bucks' biggest threat down low, scoring at a 15.3 per-game clip and averaging 9.2 rebounds a night. All-Star swingman Michael Redd hasn't played since Nov. 27 due to a sore left knee.