Thanks to a masterful performance by Rajon Rondo and continued hot shooting by Kevin Garnett, the Celtics took care of home cooking tonight against a feisty Bucks team that was hungry for a win. They dropped their 4th straight.
The Cs winning streak reaches 8 straight and they are 17-4 overall, while raising their record at home to 8-3.
The Cs started the final period tied at 71, and after another tie, pulled away in the fourth quarter thanks to an unstoppable performance by Rajon Rondo. Shaquille O'Neal move over. The Hack-a-Rondo has arrived.
Kevin Garnett led a balanced attack with six Celtics in double figures with 25 points on 9 of 13 shooting.
Paul Pierce and Kendrick Perkins finished with 15 points each, Ray Allen added 13 to the cause, including 2 of 4 from the three point line, and Rasheed Wallace popped for 13 more, with 3 of 4 from the arc, off the bench. Eddie House was shooting blanks last night, going 1 for 7, but got busy with 3 steals.
Ray Allen on Rondo…
He just distributed the ball throughout the whole game and then the plays were there for him to make, and to me, it was one of his better games, based on just how he managed it.
After three quarters, Rondo was 0-6 and scoreless but had orchestrated the Celtics offense all night with strong drives to the hoop, kick outs, and pin hole interior passing.
Rondo was in the paint on us all night long. A team like that, as the game goes on, they’re going to wear you down and they’re probably going to beat you if you continue to let them do that.
We had tremendous difficulty keeping him in front of us the whole game. We went to go under the pick and rolls and we didn’t have any luck with that. We tried to make several adjustments and he took it to our rookie pretty good.
That rookie is Brandon Jennings, the Bucks new point guard of recent reknown. Jennings looked tentative starting out the game and was 1-7 shooting, before going 6-12 the rest of the way. He was 0-4 from the arc.
Rondo had 13 assists, but also made passes that led to assists for someone else.
Rondo turned it up a notch in the 4th, dropping 11 points on 3-3 shooting, including a few jump shots and 5 of 7 free throw shooting. Rajon finished with 13 assists, 11 points and 9 rebounds, just missing the triple double.
Jennings finished with 17 points on 7 of 19 shooting and had 6 points, but 4 fouls in the final period trying to guard Rondo. He finished with 5 fouls and 4 turnovers.
The Celtics started out the game with one thing in mind, pound it into the paint. They didn’t take a jump shot until the 4:07 mark and they had scored 17 points.
We just tried to do what we could to punish them in the paint. We knew they only had one true big with Bogut. They had two bigs on the side (Dan Gadzuric, Kurt Thomas) that didn’t get a chance to play, but we just tried to punish them inside.
The Celtics got small leads all game and the Bucks would battle back. There was great interior passing at different times in the game by both teams. But the Celtics were able to create shots with more varied overall passing due to Rondo’s ability to get inside.
The 4th Quarter was the Difference
After losing Jennings on a screen on the left side, Rajon drove and scored his first basket of the game with a little jump shot on a beautiful spin move in the paint. That made the score 75-73.
The next time down the floor, the Celtics moved the ball around with Scalabrine passing up a three and driving and kicking out to Sheed for a three that rocked the house. Score 78-73.
Jennings drives to make it 78-75, but Pierce kicks it out to Rasheed for another three to make it 81-75.
The Bucks come back to tie it at 86 all on an Ilyasova lay-up, before Charlie Bell fouls Rondo on what Doc Rivers called Hack-a-Rondo.
Well tonight was the first time I saw ‘hack-a-Rondo’. With five minutes left, that was an intentional foul. And he made them. Thank G-d, you know?
And he’s going to get fouled more. That’s going to happen. So, it’s really important, obviously, for your point guard to make free throws. And he’s going to do that. He’s starting to now.
Rondo made both foul shots and then made a pull up jumper to make it 91-86. After Garnett fouls Ilyasova and he makes both free throws, Ray Allen hits a three pointer off a Rondo pass, making it 96-89.
I like taking shots. It's just...you know when you're playing with guys that are great at what they do, my job is to distribute the ball so.....I'm a 'pass first' point guard, probably 'pass second', I think shoot third. This is how I play. I love the...I'd rather get an assist any day than score the ball.
I'm going to shoot the ball when I have to or when I feel I need to but other than that I'm fine with getting rid of the ball to Paul Pierce....Eddie House. You know, I've got great shooters around me.
After taking the rook to the woodshed in a number of ways, what was Rondo's impression of Jennings?
He's a crafty point guard. He can definitely score the ball. He missed some shots tonight. I think we did a pretty good job on him. But he's definitely going to be a great player.
After a Jennings three pointer misses, Pierce comes down court and passes to KG for a long side jumper that decides the game at 98-89 with 1:48 to go.
The Celtics went on a 12-3 run to close it out with a kick. The only three points the Bucks scored were on three Ilyasova free throws in the last 4:51 of the game.
Garnett's Torrid Shooting Continues
Many of Garnett’s 25 points were set up by Rondo drive and kicks, and Pierce drawing Garnett’s defender and kicking it back to KG as in that final shot against the Knicks. Garnett has been nailing the open Js.
Since going 6-6 against Toronto on Nov. 27, he is 50 for 65 from the floor for a ridiculous .77%, especially considering that many of those shots are 16-18 footers.
Andrew Bogut had a strong game though Perkins was guarding him fairly well. The difference between Bogut and Howard is that Bogut has a go-to move or two in the middle. He was on last night and was making a number of contested shots around the paint. Bogut finished with 25 points on 11 of 17 shooting. He also had 7 turnovers due to a harassing Celtic defense.
It was a physical game, especially rebounding late in the fourth quarter, when the Celtics pulled away.
I thought there was one stretch in the fourth quarter where you could physically see bodies on bodies. And we got all the rebounds. And we’ve just got to get better at it.
Even without winning the board battle overall, the Celtics out shot and outplayed the Bucks. They also had 17 steals and those were huge as well. Rajon led with 5 steals, two in the final period.
Tony Allen played for the first time this season, going scoreless in almost 6 minutes time. How did he feel about his performance?
It could always be better. The shots that I did take...I got fouled on one. I need to convert my free throws. For the most part, I took what was in the offense. I couldn't really do too much. It isn't like I had some clear outs.
I just have to get the rust out. I feel good. I have to see how I feel tomorrow.
So the Celtics continue their winning ways and go back on the road for 3 more games before having three games at home before the Christmas Holiday.