Rajon Rondo returned from a 1-game injury absence to lead the Celtics past the Raptors 107-89 with 20 assists. Jason Terry (20) and Paul Pierce (19) paced the Celtics balanced scoring effort as the C’s finally put together a wire-to-wire shellacking this season. The green looked a bit green in the second quarter when they allowed Toronto to trim a quick 16-point lead to 5, but they were all business in the third quarter, cruising to their sixth win of the season.
The Green: The Celtics sprinted out to an early 16-point lead with just under 10 minutes to go in the second quarter after Kevin Garnett made one of two free throws. They appeared to be heading into cruise mode after building a 3017 lead after the first quarter while out-rebounding and out-shooting the Raptors. Rajon Rondo returned from his 1 game sprained ankle injury to secure his 10+ assist record with 11 by halftime. At one point he even equaled the entire Raptors’ assist total when he reached 9 of them. It was the first relatively complete win of the season and finally they thrived on the depth that they promoted since the off-season. It also allowed KG to be put in carbonite early, only needing Ticket to log 17 minutes. This is huge considering they play tomorrow night at Detroit. Terry is continuing to find his groove, drilling several threes when they needed them.
The Gross: The Celtics stopped shooting 70% and went from cruise control to damage control in less than 10 minutes in the first half as the lead shrank from 16 to just 5 at halftime. This was mostly due to Toronto mucking things up with a zone defense. They started to look lethargic and reflective of their typical afternoon-game selves in past seasons in the second quarter. They still committed 13 turnovers, but the majority came in the first half.
The GreenLights: Rondo dribbled into a triple team on the baseline and somehow still found Chris Wilcox for an alley-oop. Paul Pierce welcomed Raptors rookie Jonas Valanciunas to the Garden poster club with a ferocious dunk in the second quarter. Rondo and Chris Wilcox connected on about 14 alley-oops in total.
The Grid: (quick stats)
- Rondo led the way with 20 assists, 6 points, 2 rebounds and 5 turnovers (1 in the second half)
- KG only played 17 minutes but registered 15 points (6-7 FG) with 6 rebounds
- Jason Terry had 20 points, leading all scorers on 4-7 for threes, including several heat-checking grenades
- In 26 minutes off the bench, rookie Jared Sullinger notched a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds, 7 of them refreshingly from the offensive glass
- As a team the Celtics out-rebounded Toronto 37-35, held them to just 43% shooting (30-70 FG, 8-22 3FG), forced them to 15 turnovers and had 15 more assists (37-22).
The Celtics now improve to 6-4 and head to Detroit to play the Pistons tomorrow night at 7:30. The Celtics are now 6-1 all-time when Rondo gets 20+ assists and 40-10 when he gets 15+ assists. His streak of 10+ assists remains in tact, now at 33 games trailing John Stockton (37) and Magic Johnson (46). Doc on Rondo: “He’s a rare bird… He had a feel (to be great) when he walked in the door.”