The Celtics overcame an iffy first half to turn tonight's game into a 22 point laugher, and yes, as you can see from the story title, Bill Walton had the call in Tommy's stead..and he was hilarious.
Tonight was Rondo's birthday, and while Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen all turned in superb overall efforts, Rondo was the story. The Warriors were down early after the C's starters were hitting their shots and playing some tough defense, but the bench mob came in, and it all turned to pot. For a while tonight the Warriors looked like they were younger (which they are), longer (which they are, especially after Perkins went down in the second with a bruised knee, more on that as it develops), and wanted it more. The Celtics looked sluggish and a bit hungover from All-Star weekend, and tonight looked like it was going to be 'one of those games'.
But, Rondo was ever the steadying presence. He finished tonight with 19 points and 15 assists for his 25th birthday, and he was the catalyzing element for the Celtics, even after the starters stepped away.
Kevin Garnett used tonight's pace to do a little stat padding, but I emphasize the 'little', as he earned most of his 24 points and 12 board on sound shot selection and good position down low. Ray Allen and Paul Pierce both shot 50% or better too, with 18 and 23 points, respectively.
Golden State's defense was frantic, and energetic, and Ekpe Udoh was causing Josh Smith-like havoc out there for a while (they actually had Udoh guarding Perkins for significant and effective stretches in the first half), but in the end you can't mistake activity for achievement, and the Celtics absolutely carved them up. There was a 28 to 11 free throw discrepancy in favor of Golden State tonight, and while there were numerous non-calls on Celtics' shots, a lot of that can be attributed to the Celtics just getting wide open looks from fantastic ball movement and patient shot selection. Rondo wasn't the only guy with assists tonight; Pierce and Garnet combined for 11 of their own.
Maybe the best part of the game though wasn't even limited to action on the court. Bill Walton and Mike Gorman turned this into a comedy special when the game was out of reach for the Warriors. The highlight:
Celtics up 18 points, 3 and a half left. Bill Walton says, "Celtics are gonna win this game." Gorman responds stoically, "Gutsy call, Bill."