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Fast Break: Rajon Rondo, Celtics outrun the Bulls

BOSTON — Receiving little help from Paul Pierce [1] and Ray Allen [2] through the first three quarters, Celtics [3] point guard Rajon Rondo [4] put the team on his back, taking advantage of reigning MVP Derrick Rose [5]‘s absence and recording a triple-double in leading the C’s to victory against the visiting Bulls, 95-91.

Rondo finished with a season highs of 32 points (11-22 FG, 10-13 FT) and 15 assists to go along with his 10 rebounds. His 4-for-4 free throw shooting down the stretch helped the Celtics snap a two-game losing streak and improved to 15-12.

While Pierce and Allen combined for just 10 points (3-11 FG) and one rebound through the third quarter, they totaled 10 points in the fourth quarter as the C’s built a double-digit lead that nearly disappeared. Fourth amigo Kevin Garnett [6] (13 points, 12 rebounds) contributed a double-double to provide a Robin to Rondo’s Batman.

Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah [7] combined for 38 points and 16 rebounds for the Bulls (23-7) with Rose sidelined by back spasms.


Rondo goes: With Rose nursing his back spasms, Rondo had free reign against Bulls backup point guards C.J. Watson and John Lucas. In the first 10 minutes, Rondo amassed 11 points, two assists and two rebounds as the Celtics PA announcer seemingly called his name every time down the floor. His first-quarter effort staked the C’s to a 28-23 lead. The Celtics entered the game with a 10-2 record when leading after the opening 12 minutes.

Automatic transition: Likewise, without Rose running the floor, Rondo & Co. roamed free on the fast break. The Celtics entered the game averaging just 10.3 fast break points per game (ranked 25th in the NBA). They outscored the Bulls by a 33-7 margin — with Rondo’s layups and alley-oop assists leading the way.

Willing Wilcox: With Jermaine O’Neal [8] and Brandon Bass [9] both sidelined by knee injuries, Chris Wilcox [10] got his first start in a Celtics uniform. He rose to the occasion, totaling 11 points (5-6 FG) and nine rebounds.


Frontcourt depth: In the absences of O’Neal and Bass, Celtics head coach Doc Rivers [11] was forced to turn to both Greg Stiemsma [12] and JaJuan Johnson [13] for minutes as soon as the first quarter, and neither has fully grasped the team’s sets yet. However, in a season-high 33 minutes, Johnson totaled 12 points and four boards — showing signs he’s gaining confidence in the jump shot that made him so successful at the collegiate level.

Second chances: The Celtics entered the game allowing just over 11 offensive rebounds per game — not a very good number. By halftime, Chicago had already amassed 11 offensive boards. The Bulls finished with 15 offensive rebounds and outscored the Celtics 20-6 on second-chance points.

Carelessness: The Celtics committed 19 turnovers, leading to 18 Bulls points. It’s a wonder they led almost the entire game.