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Now that the NBA can resume as normal after the first “LeBron Bowl,” the Celtics got back to business Friday night doing the things they do best: play solid defense, protect the ball, and let Rajon Rondo run the show. The Celtics point guard did just that, ringing up 19 assists and three steals against just three turnovers as the Celtics took down the Bulls 104-92.
The big benefactor of Rondo’s passes was power forward Kevin Garnett, who scored 20 points and grabbed 17 rebounds (his highest board total since he had 20 against Indiana in 2008) to help the Celtics in the frontcourt. As you may recall, this is the first time KG is playing Joakim Noah’s Bulls since the former Florida product called Garnett a “very mean guy,” so KG may have had a little bit of extra mustard behind his effort.
Doc Rivers seems to think KG didn’t need the motivation, however.
“I don’t think he needed that. I don’t think they liked each other before that,” Rivers said. “Kevin’s going to play. If you’re going to talk, he’s still going to play.”
Noah, who finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds himself, had less to say about Garnett but more to say about how disappointed he was that his team lost the game.
“It’s been like that since every time we played,” he said of their rivalry. “It doesn’t matter. Who cares? They won the game … That’s what’s frustrating. They won the game. We didn’t.”
Paul Pierce had a fine game himself, going 8-16 from the field for 18 points and three boards. Ray Allen added 14, while Shaquille O’Neal added 12 points (5-6 shooting) and five rebounds.
Marquis Daniels (eight points) led a balanced bench in minutes, while Glen “Big Baby” Davis helped by pitching in six points, a steal, four rebounds, and two blocked shots. Turkish center Semih Erden played almost 20 points, going 3-3 from the field for 7 points in addition to four rebounds.
For the Bulls, Derrick Rose led the way as usual. The Memphis guard finished with 20 points and eight assists, but in the +/- department, he didn’t fare so well. While Rose was on the floor, his team was outscored by a whopping 29 points, so it’s safe to say he was outplayed by Rondo (+29).
This wouldn’t be a game review without mentioning fan favorite Brian Scalabrine, who checked in for the final 1:07 and finished with one personal foul. Hey, at least he got a standing ovation.
Next up for the Celtics is a game Sunday in New Jersey against the Nets.