Monday, March 05, 2012

Rondo, Pierce Dominate the Knicks

Even as fans of the Boston Celtics come to realize that the current team is not going to win the 2012 NBA championship and that the best years of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen are stuck in the past, they can still enjoy performances like the one that the Celtics put out yesterday against the Knicks.

Garnett (18 points and 10 rebounds) continued his streak of excellent play following last Sunday's All-Star Game and Allen (12 points) hit a 3-pointer in overtime to give the Celtics a lead they would never relinquish but the real stars of the day were Pierce and Rajon Rondo.

Pierce torched the Knicks for 34 points and his 3-pointer with 4.9-seconds left in regulation forced overtime.  The Celtics captain made the shot despite being off balance and having Iman Shumpert's hand in his face.  It was just another clutch play for a player who has made a career out of hitting clutch shots.

Rondo was the other big star, recording a triple-double while outplaying Harvard graduate and recent sensation Jeremy Lin.  Rondo's stat line of 18 points, 17 rebounds, and 20 assists was a statement that the Celtics - and any other people crazy enough to entertain similar thoughts - should trade him or that Lin - who has played well since taking over the point for the Knicks but also has been overhyped - is in his class as a floor leader.  Rondo now joins Hall of Famers Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson as the only players in NBA history to record triple-doubles with at least 15 points, 15 rebounds, and 20 assists.

With the win, the Celtics increase their lead over the Knicks for seventh in the Eastern Conference to 1.5-games.  That would mean the Celtics would be facing the Heat in the first round of the playoffs so the C's have some work to do to move up to sixth (and a matchup with the Pacers) or fourth place (and a matchup with the Magic).  Atlanta is currently in sixth place while Boston's Atlantic Division rival Philadelphia is currently in fourth place.  The Magic are in fifth place and have a better record than the 76ers but the division champions are guaranteed home court advantage in the first round.

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