|Fast Break: Rondo returns and Celtics beat Raptors||11.26.10 at 10:02 pm ET|
The Celtics broke open what was a semi-close game thanks to a third quarter in which they out-scored Toronto 28-15. The end result was a 110-101 victory for the C’s, snapping the Raptors four-game win streak.
Perhaps the biggest news of the night was the return of point guard Rajon Rondo, who had missed the C’s last three games with a hamstring injury. Rondo lacked his normal explosion, but more than compensated with some adept passing going toward the hoop.
Rondo would finish with 14 assists to go along with four points (shooting 2-for-6 from the field while missing both of his two free throw attempts). He played 36 minutes, initially coming out of the game with 2:32 left in the first quarter, having already helped the C’s build a 12-point lead with eight assists.
Here is what went right and what went wrong as the Celtics improved to 12-4 …
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE CELTICS
- Kevin Garnett dominated the inside for the Celtics (thanks in largepart to the set-ups of Rondo). The forward was active on both ends, resulting in a game-high 26 points and 11 rebounds. His replacement, Semih Erden, also performed admirably, contributing with eight points on 4-for-4 shooting from the floor (8 points) in 11 minutes.
- The Celtics made a living early on going over the top of the Toronto defense, as was evidenced by four alley-oop passes from Rondo in the opening two quarters alone. One in particular stood out, with Shaquille O’Neal flying through the air to slam in a Rondo pass, giving the C’s a 22-9 lead at the time. The result of the flurry of lay-ins was 67 percent shooting from the floor by the hosts in the first quarter.
- Shaq played inspired ball once again, coming up one rebound short of recording his third straight double-double (this time scoring 16 points to go with nine rebounds). Most notably was O’Neal’s ability to beat Toronto’s Andrea Bargnani down the floor on more than a few occasions. Through three quarters the center was 5-for-5 from the floor, and, even more impressive, 6-for-8 from the foul line.
- Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch was at the game and still looked spry.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE CELTICS
- The Celtics bench had a tough time putting the game away, which was on display both in the first half, and after the C’s built a 22-point lead late in the third quarter. The Raptors would ultimately close the gap to six points midway through the fourth quarter. The backcourt combination of Marquis Daniels (one free throw) and Nate Robinson (2 points) didn’t yield many dividends.
- In this case, what could have gone wrong for the Celtics: Shaq swinging his fist around violently after missing a lay-up after being fouled. Toronto guard Jerryd Bayless, who was just inches away from the roundhouse, might not have survived if he was positioned differently.
- Von Wafer saw some rare early action, presumably getting a chance to fill in for some of the minutes left behind by the injured Delonte West. But after two second-quarter minutes, his presence was negligible.