Remember when we used to watch the C’s go into Memphis, hang tight, and then lose when Bayless would go off out of nowhere? Finally, the notorious Celtics-killer became a killer for the Celtics. He put in 29 points, 2 short of his career high, to help finish off a pesky, undermanned, undersized Atlanta Hawks team. Rajon Rondo’s 22 points and 11 assists were a nice answer to the BS that’s been going on with him lately.
There was one man on either roster over 6’9″ and available to play in this game… Dexter Pittman. So this was a whole lot of small ball. It didn’t help that the Celtics came out colder and flatter than the Bruins ice underneath the parquet. The Hawks hit their first 6 shots of the game to storm out to a 13-2 lead before you could blink.
It swelled to 23-8 before the Celtics made a run of their own behind a hustling Rondo (who cut his chin open diving for a loose ball). He scored 11 of the first 25 Celtics points and led a 17-4 run to close the quarter and bring the C’s within 2 after 1.
The second quarter actually saw some uncharacteristic success for the C’s bench without Rondo on the floor (read: they didn’t fall apart without him). Jerryd Bayless hit for six straight points to start the quarter as the C’s bench outscored the Hawks bench 11-4 in the quarter and 17-6 in the first half overall.
Bayless stayed hot in the third (when you’re banking in 3’s, you got it goin’) as he and Rondo pushed the Celtics to their largest lead of the game to that point (7) late in the quarter. But they immediately gave most of that back in a 5-0 run that sent the game into the fourth quarter with the C’s up 2.
The fourth was more of the back-and-forth play that characterized the prior two quarters… that is, until the 6:43 mark when an 11-3 run opened up a lead that would remain comfortable, finally, for the rest of the night. The C’s end up winning this one and snapping a 5-game losing streak, 115-104.
It was really Rondo’s hustle play that started this whole thing. I literally heard individuals coughing early on in the first quarter. I was afraid the team was destined for a classic “first game home after a west coast trip” flatline. But Rondo wouldn’t let that happen, and he set the tone in the first quarter. Again, this was a nice response for all the vocal critics of him after what should not have been a big deal.
Gerald Wallace had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Brandon Bass’ game was overshadowed (what’s new?) but he played a very key role in this win. 14 points and 8 rebounds is nice, but there were a few stretches where Bass picked up the scoring to keep this game close.
Also, big props to the Celtics bench, which has been abysmal lately. 23 points from those guys is big. If they’d played like they did out West, the C’s would have lost by 30 tonight.
The first half of the first quarter was as putrid a sight as I’ve seen in Boston. Just disgusting. Luckily, it didn’t last. But let me reiterate that it was disgustingly bad. Besides that, there isn’t much “gross” about this game. I’m going to keep it positive and move on.
Rondo to Green for the alley oop
Jeff Green wrap-around baseline dunk
- Jerryd Bayless led the C’s with 29 points… which he scored in 3 quarters. He was the only Celtic who DIDN’T score in the first quarter. He hit 12 of 21 shots (57.1%)
- Boston scored 27 points off 18 Hawks turnovers
- Jeff Green: 17 points (7-15 fg), 8 rebounds, 1 steal
- Rondo: 22 points (8-14 fg), 11 assists, 3 steals, 3 turnovers, 0 rebounds.
Stevens on Rondo: “He knew he had to play well for us to have a chance with nine guys (available). You have to against Jeff Teague.”
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) February 27, 2014
The C’s are off until Saturday night at 8 when they face the Pacers. So enjoy this one… and don’t cancel any plans to watch on Saturday night. It’s probably best to just remember the good times.