The Celtics, once again, jumped on the opponent during the early stages of the game and took a comfortable lead into the second quarter. They shot 63% in the first half, scoring 68 points and holding the Knicks to 49 points on 40% shooting. Paul Pierce picked up two early fouls and sat for most of the first quarter, but scored 13 of his 29 points in the second quarter. Kevin Garnett scored eight points in each of the first two quarters and ended the night with 22 points, four rebounds, and four assists. The 51 combined points by Pierce and Garnett are the most they've had together in one game all season.
"29 (points) in 24 (minutes)," Coach Doc Rivers noted of Pierce's stats. "I think it's his second, maybe third game in a row where early fouls have become a problem. And most players struggle on those nights, when you pick up those fouls like that. He came back in like he hadn't missed a beat so it was pretty good."
While Pierce and Garnett were hot from the field, it was Rajon Rondo who played the role of the distributor on the court, only taking three shots on the night but racking up 12 assists. With those 12 assists, Rondo has 642 assists on the season, good enough to tie Bob Cousy's 1955-56 season as 5th best as a Celtic. The single season record is held by Cousy during the 1959-60 season (715).
Garnett noted that while it was he and Pierce providing the scoring tonight, it could be any other one of the starters on any given night.
"This can change at any point," Garnett said of the shot distribution tonight. "Different defenses, different schemes on nights are going to allow certain players to have certain nights like this, as long as it's going to come from two to three guys on here. We focus on our turnovers being down; we focus on our blocked shots and our rebounds. Other than that our scoring is going to come from different places a night."
"When I feel like I need to score or be aggressive, I try to do it," said Rajon Rondo. "But otherwise, you know, we're rolling. I don't have to take shots- that's fine with me as long as we win. Getting assists is better for me than scoring."
It is the third straight double digit victory at home, with the Celtics scoring 109+ points in each of the victories. Granted, the opponents have been less than stellar, but it is encouraging that they are beating these teams the way we thought they should be. The schedule ahead looks far more challenging, as the Celtics hit the road for a three game trip against Houston, Dallas, and Utah starting Friday and ending Monday. They then return home for a six game stand in which five of six teams are playoff contenders.
Kendrick Perkins had one of his better performances of late, scoring nine points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Asked if he thinks the Celtics need a couple of wins against some playoff teams, Kendrick Perkins said the Celtics do, but it is important not to look too far ahead.
"At the end of the day, everybody's record is the same in the playoffs- 0-0, whether you're at home or on the road. I think we have learned how to win on the road. I know a lot of people are like, ‘oh you don't want to be in that four seed to face Cleveland in the second round,' but we both have to get to the second round, you know, so I don't really like looking ahead."
The Celtics' stomping of Indiana last Friday was quickly forgotten after the loss to Cleveland two days later. The same can be said about Monday's and tonight's win over the Pistons and Knicks if the Celtics can't put together some impressive performances in these upcoming games.
"We're coming up on a very important road trip," said Garnett. "Doc said after the Cleveland game that these wins and these games at home are very important. I don't think he could've stressed it more. I thought we did a good job of just taking care of what we're supposed to. Now we just got to go on the road, play the same way we've been playing- sharing the ball, playing defense with a lot of energy and playing through 48 minutes."