Glen Davis picked up a technical foul with 1:16 left in the third quarter and the Celtics leading 72-54. Beno Udrih made all three free throws and then scored four more point before time expired as the Kings trimmed what had been a 24-point lead down to 13, 74-61.
Doc Rivers wasn’t happy with Davis for the transgression.
“You don’t get a technical in that situation,” Rivers said. “You’re not [Kevin] Garnett. You don’t get the liberty to talk to the officials. I don’t know. Clearly, he earned it, I guess. But you just don’t get it.”
Rivers mood wasn’t helped by Davis’ play either. Playing without Kendrick Perkins, who missed the game with knee tendinitis, Davis entered the game early after Rasheed Wallace picked up two early fouls. Davis responded with four points and two rebounds but he was non-factor the rest of the game.
“He wasn’t playing well anyway at that point,” Rivers said. “I thought he was playing like the score and he’s not at that point in his life where he can turn it on and off. We need him to be an every-possession player and I didn’t think he was that tonight.”
Maybe Kevin Garnett had the best perspective of all on the accomplishments of Rajon Rondo on Friday night. Not only did Rondo set a new career best with 18 assists in Boston’s 94-86 win over the Kings at TD Garden, the Celtics point guard set a new single-season steals mark with two in the game and 169 for the season.
“It’s a great accomplishment. He deserves a big pat on the back,” said Garnett, who promptly proceeded to take his left hand and give Rondo a playful shot to the ribs at the podium.
All of this while the Celtics were clinching their third straight Atlantic Division title.
“I wasn’t even aware of that,” Garnett said. “I don’t think that anybody in the locker room said anything like that. I think tonight we were more appreciative of Rondo, and his accomplishments. Anytime you get any kind of record in this organization, on a team like what we have, is a huge thing. We are just of appreciative of being in the moment, being here, being a part of it. It is a very special moment, and no one even talked about the division title tonight. Tonight was Rondo’s night.”
Indeed it was. From the opening tip and continuing throughout a game that had the Celtics up 24 points five different times in the third quarter, Rondo set the tempo with another all-around great game. He now has 696 assists, just 19 shy of Bob Cousy’s mark in the 1959-60 season.
“It may mean more to me once I retire or I am away from here,” Rondo said. “I am just focused on winning. It is a great accomplishment. This organization has won so many championships and has had some great players come through; so many all-stars have set records here, hopefully down the line another record. At the end of the day I am just trying to focus on getting wins and as an individual accomplishment, they come in the path of doing great things for the team.”
“Any time you get any record, whether it be assists or steals, or rebounds,” Garnett added, “records don’t just fall in your lap. A great effort, and anticipation. I have never been nowhere near steals and all of that.”
Of course, part of the issue with Rondo has been that he sometimes gambles on defense, leaving his teammates to cover for him when the defense is left out of position.
“The anticipation is a gamble at times, but you know we understand Rondo’s game and we all do different things,” Garnett said. “We know that nine out of 10 times he is solid. He does gamble, eight out of 10 times he is right. The two we have to make up for, but at the same time when we mess up, he is there to help us, so it evens itself out at the end of the day. It’s a great accomplishment and a big pat on the back for him.”
Rondo is dishing the ball as well as he ever has and certainly is running the Celtics offense better than at any point during this season. In other words, he’s peaking at just the right time – with just 10 games left in the season.
“Kevin made a lot of shots, Ray [Allen] made shots as well. The team made shots. I just try and give them the ball. Get easy position as much as possible, but what I was proud about were the turnovers, the turnover ratio,” said Rondo, who had 18 assists and just two turnovers. “I was just trying to take care of the ball. At times, I turned down a couple of shots because I was trying to pass it, but other than that, I was just happy taking care of the ball and keeping the turnovers down.”
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said following Friday’s win over Sacramento that center Kendrick Perkins has been fighting tendinitis in his left knee for some time and finally needed to sit down and rest it.
Rivers added that Perkins will likely also miss Sunday night’s home game against San Antonio. As for Nate Robinson, he sprained his left ankle in the second quarter and did not return. Rivers said if his ankle responds to treatment, he is still no better than ’50-50′ to play against the Spurs.
The Celtics treated the Kings exactly the way they should have Friday night at the Garden. The final score was 94-86, and despite some anxious moments in the fourth quarter it wasn’t really that close.
The Kings cut down what had been a 24-point Celtics lead down to six late in the game, but that came mostly against the second unit that had logged considerably more time than usual. The starters returned in the final five minutes and held serve.
The Celtics have now six of their last seven games since losing in Cleveland two weeks ago. With the win, and a Toronto loss, the Celtics clinched their third straight Atlantic Division title. That officially gives them the tiebreaker for third place in the East with the Hawks if they wind up with the same record.
The Celtics received even more good news Friday as the Hawks lost in Philadelphia. That puts the C’s a full game ahead of Atlanta.
The Kings were missing rookie Tyreke Evans, but it wouldn’t have mattered all that much if he had played. The Celtics jumped on Sacramento early and never looked back. They led by 15 points after one quarter and by 20 at the half.
Player of the Game: Rajon Rondo passed Rick Fox for the Celtics single-season record for steals with 167 and he moved passed Sherman Douglas for second on the single-season assists list. Next up for Rondo is Bob Cousy who has held the mark since the 1959-60 season (715). With a career-high 18 assists Friday night, Rondo has 696 for the season for the season. He could pass Cooz on this homestand.
Turning Point: With the Celtics leading by nine with 1:45 left in the game, they forced a 24-second shot clock violation and Kevin Garnett threw down a dunk at the other end to push the lead back up to double digits.
* Tony Allen came off the bench with the first wave of reserves and Marquis Daniels did not. Doc Rivers said before the game that Allen had earned some more playing time and he was as good as his word. This will be an interesting dynamic as the season plays out.
* Kevin Garnett had an incredibly active first quarter with seven rebounds. Garnett recorded his second straight double double with 18 points and 13 rebounds.
* Kendrick Perkins sat the game out with soreness in his knee. Rasheed Wallace started in his place and drew two quick fouls. Wallace wound up fouling out in 25 minutes with six points and just one rebound.
With Perkins out Shelden Williams got some extended time and played well with six points and three rebounds in 23 minutes.
* Ray Allen scored 18 points in the first half on 7-for-11 shooting.
* Nate Robinson sprained his left ankle at the 7-minute mark of the second quarter. Robinson was taken to the locker room and did not return.
* Brian Scalabrine entered the game late in the third quarter. It was his first action since March 7 against the Wizards. That was also the last game before the Celtics activated Michael Finley.
The Celtics picked the perfect night for Kendrick Perkins to rest his sore left knee.
Thanks to the Rajon Rondo highlight show in the first half, the Celtics cruised to the locker room with a 57-37 halftime lead.
Rondo was credited with a steal midway through the second quarter, his 168th of the season, helping him pass Rick Fox for the all-time single-season Celtics mark.
He also had a remarkable 10 assists in the first 24 minutes to pass Sherman Douglas for second on the Celtics all-time single-season assist list. Douglas had 683 in the 1993-94 season and the way Rondo is playing, he should soon pass Bob Cousy’s 1959-60 mark of 715.
Several of those 10 assists went to Ray Allen, who had a game-high 18 points, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range.
The C’s held the Kings to just 17 points in the first quarter as they opened a 32-17 lead.
With his brother Marcus playing in the D-League for the Celtics in Maine, Carl Landry is putting on quite the show himself for the Kings in Boston. He has 18 to match Ray Allen for game honors so far.
The only bit of bad news was Nate Robinson turning his left ankle on a baseline drive to the basket. He suffered a sprain, left for the locker room in the second quarter and will not return.
The thing that has impressed Doc Rivers the most this year about Rajon Rondo’s single-season steals record is not the number itself but the effort behind it.
“That means he’s a better defender,” Rivers said. “You can lead the league in steals and not gamble all time. You can be solid and get a lot of steals and I think that’s what he’s done. With Rajon, you want to make sure he doesn’t hurt the team but he does have a gift and you always want to play to that gift as long as he’s not hurting the team.”
Rondo was credited with a steal midway through the second quarter, his 168th of the season, helping him pass Rick Fox for the all-time single-season Celtics mark. He had one more before halftime to give him 169.
He also had six assists in the first quarter to pass Sherman Douglas for second on the Celtics all-time single-season assist list with 684.
It appeared Rondo also stole the ball less than a minute into Friday’s game against Sacramento, which would have given him 168 for the season and a new single-season steals mark, passing Fox’s old mark of 167 in the 1996-97 season. But that steal was credited to Ray Allen, keeping Rondo momentarily tied with Fox.