Celtics Live Blog: Rajon Rondo Takes Over in Boston’s 115-111 Overtime Victory Over Knicks

by NESN Staff

March 4, 2012

Celtics Live Blog: Rajon Rondo Takes Over in Boston's 115-111 Overtime Victory Over KnicksEnd of game, Celtics win 115-111: Rondo seized the final inbounds pass and flung it skyward, where it looked like it might brush the championship banners hanging from the ceiling of the TD Garden.

That's just a bit lower than the heights to which Rondo took his game in the overtime.

Rondo, who had a triple-double sealed up with plenty of time left in regulation, dominated the extra five minutes. After being held to no points and one assist in the fourth quarter, Rondo scored or assisted on all 12 of the Celtics' overtime points, with the exception of two free throws by Bass. Even those points were generated by Rondo, though, as Brandon Bass was in position to draw a foul thanks to a pass by Rondo that would have been an assist had Tyson Chandler not given the foul.

Rondo finished with 18 points, 20 assists and 17 rebounds for his fourth triple-double of the season. The Celtics (19-17) maintained some distance between themselves and the Knicks (18-19) in the Eastern Conference standings. Carmelo Anthony, who dueled with Pierce in the fourth quarter to force overtime, scored 25 points to lead the Knicks, who also got 16 points and 13 rebounds from Amare Stoudemire.

Pierce scored a game-high 34 points and Kevin Garnett had 18 points and 10 rebounds for his sixth double-double in his last seven games.

Overtime, :10.4, Celtics 115-109: Pierce got the Celtics to overtime, and it appeared that Rondo would bring them home.

Rondo took over in the extra sessions, increasing his totals to 18 points, 17 rebounds and a season-high 20 assists.

He scored or assisted on all the Celtics' points in overtime, with the exception of two Bass free throws (which came after a dish from Rondo to Bass underneath the hoop).

Overtime, 3:13, Celtics 110-105: Somehow, with a triple-double in hand, Rondo kept enough in the tank to heighten his game in overtime.

Amare skied for a short double-clutch jumper to give the Knicks a brief lead, but Rondo took over from there. Rondo scored on a layup, assisted a triple by Allen and beat the defense down the floor before passing up a wide-open layup for a behind-the-back pass to Allen to give the Celtics a five-point lead. That's the Celtics' largest advantage since 3:49 was left in regulation.

End of regulation, game tied 103-103: To overtime we go.

Anthony missed a baseline jumper over Pierce as time expired, and it'll be bonus basketball. For the third time if three meetings this season, the game came down to the final shot of regulation.

Fourth quarter, :04.9, game tied 103-103: The game appeared to  be over when Pierce missed a 22-foot fallaway and Novak dropped both free throws. Then Pierce — who hits more ugly shots than almost anybody — scrambled off a Garnett semi-screen to hit a 3. The Knicks took a timeout.

Fourth quarter, :35.4, Knicks 101-100: Pierce and Anthony seemed to look at the clock, see that fewer than two minutes were left, and decided to take matters into their own hands.

Pierce scored four points after the 1:51 mark and Anthony scored six in that frame. The Knicks took the lead, and this one appears headed to come down to the last possession.

Fourth quarter, 2:08, Celtics 96-95: For close to 45 minutes of game time, Lin had virtually no impact on the game. Then Linsanity ensued.

Shumpert was the biggest factor in bringing back the Knicks, scoring four straight points and playing solid defense to force a turnover by Garnett. The Knicks converted their free throws, shooting 8-for-10 over a 2:10 stretch to pull back within four points on a free throw by Lin.

Lin then recovered his own turnover to scored a twisting left-handed layup, and collected a pass from Shumpert for a corner 3 to cut the Celtics' lead to one point.

Fourth quarter, 7:03, Celtics 88-82: Rondo's 10th rebound gave him a triple-double, and now the Celtics have more important things to worry about. Namely, winning the game.

Rondo looked off Pierce befor finding Allen for a leaning trey on the break, bringing the TD Garden crowd to its feet. That hardly slowed down the Knicks, though, who pulled back within six points on a pair of free throws by Anthony.

With more than seven minutes to go, the Celtics will need something down the stretch from one on the big three, or maybe for Rondo to go for a triple-20-something. He's at 13 points, 17 assists and 10 rebounds.

Fourth quarter, 8:40, Celtics 85-78: It took more than three quarters, but this finally became a Celtics-Knicks game.

Three technical fouls were called in the first 1:51 of the fourth quarter as tempers flared. Allen and Smith picked up a double-technical while muscling for position on an inbounds, and Shumpert was whistled for a tech after celebrating a little too emphatically after a dunk, or something. Honestly, it just looked like the ref was jealous he can't jump that high and decided to penalize Shumpert for his hops.

This game is far from over, which is a fact only Garnett seemed to fully grasp. Garnett's bank shot snapped a drought of close to two minutes without a field goal for the C's.

End of third quarter, Celtics 80-72: As in the first half, the Knicks bench carried them in the final minute and a half of the third quarter. David, Novak and Shumpert each scored as New York closed the quarter on a 7-0 run to cut a 15-point Celtics lead to eight points.

Normally, this would be an ideal situation for Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni. His reserves were able to make the deficit less than 10 points heading into the fourth, with his starters well-rested.

Given the way the bench has played for stretches in this game, can D'Antoni afford to take them off the floor?

Third quarter, 1:32, Celtics 80-65: Anthony and the Knicks stopped moving (and moving the ball), and Pierce heated up.

Pierce scored 15 points in the third quarter, and it's not over yet. The Celtics used a 10-0 run to take over the lead, and they showed no signs of giving it back.

Rondo worked his way to another triple-double, needing just one rebound with more than a quarter remaining to notch his fourth triple-double of the season.

Third quarter, 8:57, game tied 60-60: The Celtics kept knocking, lowering their deficit to three points three times early in the second half. It wasn't until they expended a little energy on things other than offense that they finally knotted the score.

Garnett and Bass swarmed on Fields down low, then Rondo chased down a long offensive rebound off a miss by Allen. Rondo then found Pierce in the corner for a game-tying three.

Both teams have been complaining for fouls that haven't been called. While it has been chippy, very few of the fouls the players want appeared to be actual fouls. Overall it's been a well-officiated game with just enough order and just enough of letting these rivals play.

Halftime, Knicks 56-51: Pierce contributed 10 points in the first half, but his contributions on the other end of the floor were not so positive for Boston. Either Pierce can't cover Anthony, or he simply didn't in the second quarter.

Pierce was toasted for two backdoor cuts, then got lost as Anthony curled around a screen for a dunk. Anthony concluded the first half with 12 points, tied with Bass for the game's high total.

The Knicks controlled the pace in the first half. The teams combined for 87 field goal attempts — the same amount the Celtics posted in the entire game against the Nets.

The Knicks committed 14 turnovers, but at the pace they play they can afford such carelessness because the sheer volume of shots they put up can compensate. The Celtics have a much finer margin of error, so their eight turnovers were more damaging despite being barely half the Knicks' total.

The Good: Amare Stoudemire was remarkably efficient, going 5-for-10 from the floor, nabbing five rebounds, blocking a shot and not picking up a single foul. Alongside Tyson Chandler, who had six rebounds and played stout defense as usual, Stoudemire helped the Knicks' front line dominate the Celtics.

The Bad: Kevin Garnett played decent defense but missed seven of his 10 field goal attempts. Pierce played decent offense but couldn't keep Anthony from getting to the rim on defense. On balance, it was a negative first two quarters for both. … Jeremy Lin played only 12 minutes as he struggled with foul trouble. Lin entered halftime with three personal fouls, four turnovers and two points.

The So-so: Rajon Rondo worked at a triple-double rate in the first half with nine points, eight assists and four rebounds. He was just 3-for-7 shooting, though, and committed three of the Celtics' eight turnovers. Remember Christmas Day, when Rondo scored 31 points but the Celtics ran out of gas at the end? This performance feels a lot like that.

Second quarter, 2:55, Knicks 52-43: Pierce was beaten twice on backdoor cuts by Anthony. Whether that was due to fatigue or just plain and simple not paying attention, it showed the Celtics' vulnerability if they don't slow the pace of this game.

The Knicks sprinted to a lead of as many as 12 points as Anthony, Lin and Stoudemire expertly ran a crisp-looking offense. The ball movement resulted in the Knicks matching the Celtics with 12 assists despite taking 10 fewer shots. The movement enabled them to shoot 61 percent from the field on 20-for-33 shooting.

Second quarter, 7:00, Knicks 42-36: Let's see if we can keep this straight. Iman Shumpert threw away the ball after an outlet pass by Lin, Pierce threw away the ball after a high pass by Rondo, Lin fouled up an alley-oop attempt, the Celtics gave the ball right back and the Knicks just cut out the middle man and fired the ball directly out of bounds.

Ladies and gentlemen, the greatest basketball players in the world!

Celtics coach Doc Rivers was displeased with what he saw to say the least. A tip-in by Tyson Chandler gave the Knicks their widest lead of the game at six points.

Second quarter, 8:57, Knicks 38-36: Before Feb. 4, many fans probably didn't know Steve Novak even played for the Knicks. Now it's easy to imagine him hitting a huge shot or two for the Knicks in the playoffs.

The Marquette sharpshooter hit two of his first three 3-point shots as the Knicks led by as many as five points. The Celtics were able to keep it close thanks to strong jump shooting by Allen, Garnett and Avery Bradley, but this game is moving at the Knicks' pace. The Celtics were holding steady, but they could be worn out by the middle of the third quarter if they don't force the Knicks to dial it back a little.

End of first quarter, Knicks 29-27: The focus in New York understandably is on Anthony, Melo and Stoudemire, but the Knicks' second unit made the difference in the latter part of the first quarter.

J.R. Smith, Steve Novak and Jared Jeffries all scored buckets in the final three minutes of the quarter, with Baron Davis picking up four assists. They helped give the Knicks a lead that wouldhave been wider if Keyon Dooling hadn't bailed out a frantic-looking Boston possession with an elbow trey.

Pierce looked ready to go, playing all but 17 seconds of the first quarter. He hit four of his first eight shots and grabbed five rebounds, although he didn't give much chase on a Smith deflection leading to a dunk.

First quarter, 2:47, Celtics 21-20: Pietrus, who always seems to hit his first 3-point attempt, did just that to give Boston a 21-12 lead. Those were the Celtics' last points in more than three minutes, though, as New York scored eight straight points to cut the C's lead to one.

Brandon Bass, who hit three of his first four shots, was called for a charging foul, giving the Knicks the ball and the Celtics their first turnover of the game.

With Jared Jeffries replacing Stoudemire, the Knicks also turned the tables on the glass. The Knicks had a 7-5 disadvantage in rebounds before Jeffries entered and they took a 10-7 advantage by grabbing the next five available boards. Don't give Jeffries all the credit, though — his entrance coincided with the departure of Garnett, who had four rebounds.

First quarter, 6:51, Celtics 16-10: The Knicks hit their first two shots to take a 5-0 lead before the Celtics reeled off 12 straight points, picking up two quick fouls on Lin along the way.

Baron Davis came off the bench after Lin fouled Rajon Rondo on a drive that gave the Celtics a 12-5 lead. David proceeded to hit a 3-pointer to stem the tide, but the Celtics got right back on the board with a dunk by Brandon Bass off an excellent bullet pass by Pierce.

The Celtics hit seven of their first 11 shots and recorded three assists on those seven field goals with no turnovers. They blocked three of the Knicks' first eight shot attempts.

12:45 p.m.: Ray Allen is back in the lineup following a one-game absence due to the flu, and backup guard Avery Bradley will also be in uniform for the Celtics. Both players will be important for the Celtics against the Knicks, Allen for his ability to stretch the floor and Bradley for his ability to hassle Knicks guard Jeremy Lin, who has struggled with ball pressure.

The projected starting lineups are below.

Tyson Chandler
Amare Stoudemire
Carmelo Anthony
Landry Fields
Jeremy Lin

Kevin Garnett
Brandon Bass
Paul Pierce
Ray Allen
Rajon Rondo 

8 a.m.: New York has been afflicted with a case of Linsanity, and the Celtics will attempt to calm it down Sunday afternoon.

The Celtics take on the Knicks for the first time since Jeremy Lin took over the driver's seat of the Knicks offense. The Celtics (18-17) seek to match their season-long winning streak of four games and to stay ahead of the Knicks (18-18) in the playoff standings.

Kevin Garnett, riding as fine a run of all-around play as he has all season, and Rajon Rondo could have their hands full dealing with the Knicks' multi-pronged attack. Join us for updates and analysis during the game, which is set to tip off at 1 p.m.

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