Tonight's 3rd quarter forecast: Loud, with a 100% chance of rain. On Opening Night, fans who attended the game were all given a complimentary Celtics t-shirt. Unfortunately for fans attending the Celtics' 118-90 victory tonight, complimentary umbrellas were not provided.
Going into the third quarter, the Celtics were ahead of the Chicago Bulls 50-35, a healthy lead to say the least. It seemed like the only things holding the Celtics back in that half were the ticky-tack fouls that were called on them. Hey, ESPN has to hold a national audience for at least one half, right?
The Celtics went on to score 38 points in the 3rd quarter, 20 of which came from Captain Paul Pierce who finished with 22 on the night. Pierce went 7-7 from the field that quarter, and 5-5 from 3-point range.
"As a scorer when you make one or two in a row you feel like you're on fire," Pierce said. "We didn't want to give them any confidence in the third quarter so it is important for us to come out the way we did and stretch the lead so we can have 4th quarters like this."
Ray Allen scored eight points in the third quarter totaling 20 on the night. Those 3rd quarter points propelled him one point ahead of John Stockton on the all-time scoring list at 19,712 points- good for 33rd all-time in the NBA.
"He's a hall-of-famer for sure," Allen said of Stockton, "and to be in that company... you think about all the years, all the shots that I've taken- not the ones in games but the shots off the court- off game time in practice. It all seems worth it because it stands for something at the end of the day. People look up and there you go, you're somewhere amongst greatness, so I like to keep pushing."
Rajon Rondo did his best impersonation of John Stockton tonight, tallying 16 assists, nine of which came in that 3rd quarter. He also added eight rebounds and two points on two shots.
"When he came down the floor, he led the charge every time down the floor and he made one quick pass and the ball got passed again and again and somebody got a layup. So nobody held onto the ball and it's always interesting- he's the guy that initiates all the plays but the more we pass the ball the more everybody else passes."
That seemed to be the case tonight, as the Celtics recorded 33 assists on 43 baskets made.
"I thought [Rajon Rondo] controlled the game with his speed," Head Coach Doc Rivers said. "He did it with less dribbles tonight, and that's what we want him to do. I mean, he took two shots tonight and someone will read the stats and say, ‘oh, he only scored two points' and if you didn't see the game you wouldn't know the impact he had on our team tonight."
The second unit once again proved how vital they are to this team. Eddie House dropped 22 points for the Celtics tonight, 15 of which came in the 4th quarter. Shelden Williams filled in very nicely for the big men who were in foul trouble early on. Williams finished with his first double-double of the season scoring 10 points and grabbing 10 boards in over 24 minutes of playing time. Performances like these guys gave allow the starters to get the rest they need during the game.
Kevin Garnett raved, "Shelden [Williams], Sheed [Rasheed Wallace], Quis [Marquis Daniels], E. House [Eddie House] - everybody who's getting a chance to play. They're coming in and they are, if not sustaining the lead, stretching it out. They're just so beneficial right now. It's a luxury to have these guys right now."
Garnett scored 16 points on 7-13 shooting and grabbed four boards in a little under 25 minutes of playing time. He made good on the "oop" to Rondo's "alley" along the way, after missing on their first attempt.
"Well the thing is to stay aggressive," Garnett said. "I don't think we were as consistent last year, but this year, that's the theme. We're trying to come out and have some energy. Be real energetic in the 3rd and then our bench comes in and if not gives us the lead, holds the lead or it goes up even more."
Sounds like a plan to me.