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The night started with Rajon Rondo being honored with a trophy for his selection to the NBA’s All Defensive Team last season and ended with his fifth regular season career triple-double. Rondo was just one of the great players tonight for Boston as the Celtics hold off Amar’e Stoudemire and the New York Knicks for a 105-101 win.
Rajon Rondo was all over the court Friday night both offensively and defensively. He finished the night with 10 points, 10 rebounds, and an astonishing 24 assists, a new single game career high for him. The assists were just four shy of the 28 that Celtics’ legend Bob Cousy set back in the 1958-59 season. Rondo still humbly said that he played one of his worst halves as a member of the Celtics.
However, Rondo was not the only star of a great Boston team. It’s tough to pick the player of the game for the Celtics with six different players scoring in double figures, and two of those players having double-doubles. Let’s start with the two other guys who had those double-doubles.
Kevin Garnett looked about five years younger Friday with his 24 points and 10 rebounds. Those numbers may have been a bit higher if Garnett had not fouled out of the game with about four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. It was great to see Garnett keeping up the pace on the floor and using his aggressiveness to score and box out for rebounds. Both those aspects of his game were missing many times last year due to his sluggish right knee. Garnett fouling out doesn’t necessarily even seem like a bad thing to me as it displays a Garnett willing to be tough and not afraid of getting injured again.
You can’t forget about Paul Pierce, either. Pierce also notched a double-double with 25 points and 14 rebounds. He turned on the gas at the start of the third quarter to put the Celtics into a lead by as much as 12 at one point. Ray Allen and Shaquille O’Neal also added 12 and 10 points each respectively.
The bench was once again starred by Glen “Big Baby” Davis. Davis made another early case for the Sixth Man of the Year award for the third straight game. He had 16 points and 6 rebounds, but also fouled out of the game late into the fourth quarter. Marquis Daniels was clutch for the Green with a block in the final seconds of the game to seal the win for Boston. He may not have the scoring numbers that Davis has had, but Daniels is also proving quietly that he intends to have a better second year in Boston. The bench was also without center Jermaine O’Neal, who was inactive with injury.
Now just because the Celtics played so well, it doesn’t mean that the New York Knicks were necessarily that bad. They would get put down for a while, but never gave up tonight as they climbed back into the game time and time again. The new-look Knicks were lead by their new star, Amar’e Stoudemire.
After a slow start to the game, Stoudemire erupted in the second half and finished the night with 27 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 blocked shots. Among the rest of the starters, only Raymond Felton (17 points, 6 assists) and Landry Fields (10 points, 10 rebounds) were effective for New York.
The New York bench made a case for itself tonight between Wilson Chandler and Toney Douglas. Chandler, who most would expect to start, had 19 points in 33 minutes of playing time off of the bench. Douglas also added 12 points of his own.
New York should not be taken so lightly anymore in the Atlantic Division, and could even be a playoff threat this year. With Stoudemire in town, the Knicks are a much improved team and will give the Celtics a legitimate opponent in this division.
The Celtics next travel to Detroit for a Tuesday night game with the Pistons.