Rondo has 14 points, 13 assists and five steals as the Celtics (18-17) diced the Nets (11-25) in the second game of a three-game home stand. Most impressively, Rondo committed only two turnovers and helped hold Nets point guard Deron Williams to just 12 points and eight assists.
Ball movement was the key to the game for the Celtics, who tallied 35 assists against a Nets defense that didn't offer much resistance.
Paul Pierce, who has looked out of sorts of late, scored 27 points on 10-for-14 shooting and added eight assists. Kevin Garnett has 20 points and 10 rebounds, his fifth double-double in his last six games.
The most encouraging aspect of the game from the Celtics' perspective, though, might have been the play of Chris Wilcox and Mickael Pietrus. Those two combined for 25 points, 13 rebounds and solid defense that won't show up in the boxscore.
Fourth quarter, 2:03, Celtics 103-87: The Celtics crossed the 100-point barrier with more than six minutes remaining. They've only passed the century mark seven times previously all season.
Fourth quarter, 7:55, Celtics 94-76: The first four minutes of the fourth quarter were interesting, to say the least. The teams combined for only 12 points, but it wasn't for a lack of trying. The ball seemed to be filled with helium as it bounced from hand to hand (not always between players on the same team).
By the time the Nets called a timeout to sort things out, the Celtics' lead was at 19 points after Sasha Pavlovic knocked down a step-back jumper.
Fans did get to see a free throw miss by New Jersey's Anthony Morrow. That was just the fourth time this season he's missed from the foul line.
End of third quarter, Celtics 87-71: Green's insane hops must have unnerved the Celtics, because for the first time in this game, Boston became careless with the ball.
Following an eyes-above-the-rim alley-oop dunk from Brooks to Green (their second hook-up of the game), the Celtics turned the ball over for uncontested layups on consecutive plays. Green finished off one break with a two-handed tomahawk and Jordan Farmar finished the other with a boring old layup.
A Farmar 3 later closed the gap to "only" 14 points. The Celtics committed seven turnovers in the third quarter after committing only two turnovers in the first two quartes combined.
Third quarter, 5:15, Celtics 79-53: The Celtics looked rested and sharp, and possibly ready for a highly anticipated matchup with the rejuvenated Knicks on Sunday.
Pierce, who had a solid first half distributing the ball, looked for his own shot after halftime. His three-point play, 3-pointer and another old-fashioned three-point play gave the Celtics their largest lead thus far.
Rondo got to 13 assists and still had not committed a turnover.
Halftime, Celtics 58-40: If the Nets offered any defensive resistance in the first half, the Celtics didn't seem very concerned with it. The C's registered 16 team assists and just two turnovers while building a lead that grew to as many as 20 points.
Protecting the ball helped mask the Celtics' difficulty shooting from outside. In the absence of bomber Allen, the celtics went 2-for-10 from beyond the arc.
The Good: Rajon Rondo was all but doing tricks with the ball. The Celtics point guard had seven assists, five steals and not a sinle turnover. His 10 points on 5-of-12 shooting, three of which came on midrange or short jumpers, were just gravy. …Paul Pierce was patient, but much sharper than he has been in the last two weeks. He played 17 minutes, scoring 11 points on 4-for-7 shooting with four assists and no turnovers. … Mickael Pietrus and Chris Wilcox were the stories of the first half. The duo made up their own hustle squad, combining for 19 points. …
The Bad: Marshon Brooks has struggled to find his role since Lopez's return. The second-leading scorer among rookies took just four shots in the Nets' last game, and attempted only one field goal in the first half against the Celtics. The Providence alum finished the half with four points, two rebounds and three turnovers.
The So-so: Deron Williams was off to a hot start before the Celtics began focusing on him and basically daring the rest of the Nets to beat them. Williams scored 10 of the Nets' first 18 points before he was held scoreless the rest of the way.
Second quarter, 1:25, Celtics 54-34: Williams got knocked in the face by the ball or a defender as he lost the ball, and he left the game. That added injury to insult for the Nets.
With Rondo keying the attack, Pietrus and Wilcox continued to reap benefits from merely filling the lanes and defending, defending, defending. The Nets had no answer for the Celtics' press, with Pietrus as the point man.
The Celtics outscored the Nets 18-4 since it was last a four-point game at the 7:02 mark.
Second quarter, 4:11, Celtics 46-30: "Air France" hasn't made many appearances in Boston this season — Mickael Pietrus has been more like "3-Pointer France" — but Pietrus showed off his hops with two transition dunks, thanks to Rondo's playmaking.
The Celtics' 12-0 run opened up their largest lead of the game. Rondo, with seven assists, three steals and still no turnovers, was at the middle of it all.
The Nets committed eight turnovers, with Humphries and Brooks the biggest culprits with two turnovers apiece.
Second quarter, 5:57, Celtics 38-30: Pierce and Garnett were having no more of the Celtics' stand-and-shoot offense, which helped the Nets cut their deficit to four points. The C's veterans attacked the hoop for a pair of layups by Pierce and a tough layup in traffic by Garnett, on an assist from Rondo.
Rondo got up to five assists without a turnover. That's a key stat against a Nets team that is proving adept at capitalizing off its opponent's miscues.
Second quarter, 8:45, Celtics 31-25: The young Nets don't seem very concerned with the widely-held opinion that they stink. Given the smallest fall-off in effort by the Celtics, the Nets took what was there.
The running Celtics let off the gas early in the second quarter, and Marshon Brooks and Anthony Morrow delivered back-to-back buckets for the Nets to cut it to six points.
End of first quarter, Celtics 29-20: The Celtics limited turnovers and hit the boards, helping them twice take 11-point leads in a first quarter filled with hustle plays.
Pietrus and Chris Wilcox (as usual) were the most obvious players in green running the floor with Rondo. Wilcox muscled for an offensive rebound to get a three-point play and Pietrus scored five points with a steal.
Williams and Rondo seemed to be aware there is a debate out there as to which point guard is better. Rondo scored four points with four assists and no turnovers, while Williams had 10 points, three assists and just one turnover.
First quarter, 3:00, Celtics 25-18: Green made his entry at the 5:37 mark and quickly got on the board with a jumper. He proceeded to miss a 3-pointer, showing that he won't put this 10-day contract to waste.
In the meantime, Deron Williams was busy putting on a clinic at point guard. With Rondo and Pietrus alternating defensive assignments, Williams scored 10 of the Nets' first 18 points as the Celtics' lead was whittled down to seven points. He also dished three assists.
Pierce looked sharper than he has in weeks, hitting four of his first seven points while handing out three assists with zero turnovers.
First quarter, 8:30, Celtics 11-4: Pietrus in the starting lineup gave the Celtics a completely different look. They defend better, are longer in the backcourt and the offense seemed to run more crisply, since Rondo and Pierce didn't have to pound the ball while they waited for Allen to sprint off a screen.
That doesn't mean the Celtics are a better team with Pietrus than Allen. It simply means they are very different, and that difference was good enough to dash out to a 9-0 run to take the early lead.
Garnett had a dunk off a nice no-look pass by Rondo on the break and a jumper, as he gave Lopez a tough time early.
7:25 p.m.: Here's a trivia question that is guaranteed to get your a hot date if you pop it at the club: Who was the last player to wear No. 5 for the Celtics before Kevin Garnett?
If you guessed (or knew) that it was Gerald Green, good for you.
The one-time aerial attacker had been out of the NBA since 2009 before the Nets brought him in on a 10-day contract this week. He came through with 10 points Tuesday in his first game as a Net.
I'm sure there will be a career retrospective video, a la Kendrick Perkins, when (if) Green enters the game. Tears are sure to flow and the ovation with definitely be deafening.
7:10 p.m.: With Rondo, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce all reportedly drawing trade talk, two members of of the Celtics definitely will not suit up Friday for the Celtics.
Ray Allen is sick and Jermaine O'Neal is contemplating season-ending surgery on his left wrist, forcing both veterans out for the game. Brandon Bass and Mickael Pietrus as slated to started in their place.
The mostly healthy Nets counter with their own smallish lineup, with 6-foot-5 DeShawn Stevenson listed at small forward.
The projected starting lineups are below.
6:45 p.m.: The Celtics and Rajon Rondo, who either is or isn't being actively shopped on the trade market, depending on whom you listen to, welcome another team facing trade rumors.
The New Jersey Nets have been the subject of trade rumors going back to last season, when Carmelo Anthony (now a New York Knick) was rumored to be on their wish list. The Nets picked up point guard Deron Williams as a pretty nice consolation prize, and now they're reportedly part of the Dwight Howard sweepstakes.
Rondo is still in Boston, for now, and he'll try to lead the Celtics to their third straight win. The Nets are 3-10 in their last 13 games after snapping a nine-game slump last week. They have won three straight on the road, though, against three quality opponents: Bulls, Knicks and Mavericks.
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