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Fast Break: Rajon Rondo’s triple double mystifies Wizards

01.01.12 at 8:27 pm ET
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Say what you want about the quality of the Celtics opposition, but in this NBA season teams will take wins wherever they can find them, especially a Celtics team that started the season 0-3. The Celtics had their way with the Washington Wizards on Sunday night for the most part and have now won two straight after a 94-86 victory.

Rajon Rondo had a triple double with 18 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds and Kevin Garnett had a season-high 24 points and nine rebounds.

They’ll get a chance to even their record on Monday against the Wizards at TD Garden. That figures to be a tougher test for the Celtics for the simple reason that it will be their game in four days and their second dreaded back-to-back of the season.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

— The starters opened up an early lead and established both a rhythm and a pace to the game. Rondo had assists on five of their first six makes and everyone contributed. They took a 17-point lead into the half and Rondo had 9 assists and zero turnovers. All five Celtics’ starters had at least six points in the first and each won their individual matchups.

— Rondo saved the game in the third quarter by scoring 10 points and making all four of his shots. He scored in the post where he made a nifty move on John Wall, on drives and from the outside. The Celtics needed every bit of his offense because they came out flat and let the athletic Wizards take over on the offensive glass.

— Garnett had 12 points and 6 rebounds in the first half and dominated Andray Blatche. It was Garnett’s best half of the season and a welcome sign after he put together a solid, if unspectacular, outing in Friday night’s game against the Pistons. Even better he scored another 12 points in the second half to finish with 24 and nine rebounds.

— The Wizards are a bad basketball team. Mainly, they’re a terrible offensive team so it was a combination of Washington ineptitude and solid Celtics’ defense that caused them to shoot 28 percent in the first half and miss all nine of their 3-pointers.

WHAT WENT WRONG

— As well as the starters opened the first half, that’s how poorly they played to start the second. The Wizards beat them for loose balls, on the offensive glass and in transition. Jermaine O’Neal had two shots blocked and Garnett couldn’t get up for an alley-oop when he was wide open under the basket. It’s not a news flash that the Celtics are old but it is a reminder that they can go from sharp and efficient to looking like a team in dire of an athleticism during the course of the same game.

— It’s early yet but it appears that the reserves are not as comfortable playing with one or two of the four All-Stars as they are playing in an all-reserve lineup or with three or more of the starters. Whether it’s a situation where they are deferring or simply a lack of cohesion, the Celtics stagnated when those lineups were on the floor.

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