|Marcus Cannon and Aqib Talib are Keys to Pats vs Broncos||Connelly’s Top Ten: Belichick’s Greatest Move||Red Sox Targeting David Price||Notes and Observations Week 11: Defense Leads Battered Patriots to Victory Over Bills 20-13|
Not a whole lot to write about tonight. Not much going on.
Well, ok, the Boston Celtics blew out the New York Knicks, 113-96, to take a 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. They never fell behind or were even tied after scoring their first bucket.
And oh yeah, Rajon Rondo somewhere, too. He made a ridiculous double-clutch scoop shot in the fourth… and had a triple-double… and set a Celtics single-playoff-game record with 20 assists.
But really, nothing really newsworthy, right?
The Knicks had no answer for the dynamic duo of Allen and Pierce. Allen scored 32 points, draining eight three-pointers, with three rebounds, an assist and two steals. He drained a trey for the 12-3 Boston lead early in the first. He drained three more in the second, including one late in the quarter from the exact spot from which he’d been blocked only moments earlier for the 50-39 Celtics lead.
Allen had the Knicks running scared all night. One Knick was never enough to contain him, so New York started doubling him. Didn’t work.
When Carmelo Anthony (15 points on 4-16 shooting, a performance frustrating enough to make him shout a very naughty word on national television) broke his coverage to help chase Allen, Jeff Green (nine of the bench’s 13 total points, the one Boston criticism) was left wide open for the 21-footer to make it 52-42 Celtics with less than a minute left in the half.
Early in the third, Rondo penetrated into the lane, drew in the Knicks defenders, then found Allen for his first of two third-quarter treys. In the fourth, Allen drained two more, his last one killing the last Knicks mini-run, which had cut the Celtics lead to 14 after reserve shooting guard Roger Mason hit two three-pointers of his own (the Knicks bench outscored the starters, 52-44).
Pierce opened the scoring for the Celtics on a pull-up jumper. A minute and a half later, he stole the ball and broke for the basket, laying it in and getting to the line to put the Celtics up 7-0. He scored an and-1 basket again in the third when Rondo penetrated on a fast break after a Kevin Garnett (12 rebounds, the key to a Celtics defense that out-rebounded the Knicks 43-33) steal, then dished it to Pierce for the layup and the foul.
By the end of the game, Pierce was stroking shots he had no business taking. Single coverage, double coverage, dribble-penetration, crossover-jumpers, it didn’t matter. Pierce could hit shots anytime he wanted to from any spot on the court. That included from three-point range, where Pierce knocked down six shots. In the first, Rondo grabbed an offensive rebound, then passed it to Pierce in the corner while leaping out of bounds. Pierce drained it for the 15-5 Celtics lead.
In the third quarter, Pierce drained threes on two straight possessions for the 63-50 lead, making an eight-point lead with 10:07 left an 11-point lead a minute later. He hit back-to-back treys a second time late in the fourth quarter for a 109-86 Celtics lead.
One would be hard-pressed to find a key basket for the Celtics that didn’t start with Rondo. He finished the game with 15 points, 11 rebounds (with a game-high six offensive rebounds) and 20 assists. Friday night, Rondo was the perfect point guard. If a teammate was open (as Pierce or Allen almost inevitably were), Rondo found him. He even found Jermaine O’Neal three times: once under the basket and twice for mid-range jumpers (one on a behind-the-head pass).
If no one was open, Rondo didn’t hesitate to shoot. He knocked down a 16-footer when the Knicks played off him early in the first to make it 4-0 Celtics. Midway through the third, he drained an 18-footer to make it 69-54 Celtics. With four seconds left in the third and the shot-clock expiring, Rondo hit a jump shot to secure his sixth playoff triple-double.
He is now tied with LeBron James for second among active players.