|Fast Break: Rondo, headband of brothers take down Nets||03.02.12 at 9:57 pm ET|
Rajon Rondo has rarely worn a headband since NBA commissioner David Stern issued a rule against wearing the logo upside down (a slight to Lakers legend Jerry West) at the start of last season, but the Celtics point guard sported his good luck charm backwards against the Nets in a 107-94 win over the Nets.
Perhaps Rondo needed a change of scenery after all the recent talk of him maybe getting … well, a change of scenery before the March 15 trade deadline (a notion C’s president Danny Ainge denied on Thursday). Whatever the case, the three-time All-Star floor general submitted his second straight sublime performance, amassing 14 points, 13 assists, five steals and two rebounds just two nights after recording his third triple-double of the season.
Likewise, Kevin Garnett (20 points, 10 rebounds) — one of the few Celtics regulars sans headband — continued his productive stretch, dropping at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in two straight games for the first time in exactly one year. Paul Pierce (27 points) led five C’s scorers in double figures.
The win marked the third straight for the Celtics (18-17), who had dropped seven of eight previously. Brook Lopez led the Nets with 28 points.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Meet the press: As the Celtics outscored the Nets 29-20 in each of the first two quarters, they showed a different look — albeit one most middle school teams run on a regular basis. Still, the C’s 2-1-2 and 2-2-1 fullcourt presses confused New Jersey to no end, resulting in five first-half Rondo steals and a 14-0 advantage in fast break points by the break.
Seeing Green: There’s nothing like a little Gerald Green defense to help Pierce bust out of his recent offensive struggles (39.5 FG% in February). The captain abused the former Celtics first-round draft pick — and any other Nets wing who guarded him — in the early going, finishing the first quarter with nine points on 4-of-7 shooting (1-2 3P) and four assists. When Pierce plays well, generally so do the Celtics, and Friday night was no different.
Ball protection: The Celtics committed just two turnovers in the first half. Repeat: Two, leading to zero Nets points. Considering his team entered the game averaging 15.6 turnovers (good for 23rd in the NBA), coach Doc Rivers had to be pleased his team finally cleaned up an issue he’s had to address after most of its 17 losses.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Dr. Doolittle: Reserve guard Keyon Dooling has already fallen behind Avery Bradley on the depth chart, but the Celtics have few other options in the way of backup guards, particularly with Ray Allen sidelined by an illness. Two wide open missed corner 3-pointers in the second quarter drew a wince from the Garden crowd and even Dooling himself. That’s just the way this season has crumbled for the veteran.
Tapping that Bass: The Celtics finished 1-5 in Bass’ recent six-game absence, so needless to say the Celtics need Garnett’s frontcourt partner in the lineup, especially with Jermaine O’Neal unavailable for the foreseeable future. Bass picked up three fouls in less than 10-first half minutes, forcing Greg Stiemsma into more action.
Another turd quarter: About those turnovers. The C’s coughed the ball up seven times in the third quarter, leading to nine Nets points. Luckily, the Celtics owned a lead as large as 26 points, so New Jersey’s mini 11-2 run — highlighted by back-to-back Green and Jordan Farmar steals at halfcourt — didn’t make much difference in the long run. Still, it marked a brief reminder of the lazy lulls that have plagued the Celtics throughout the 2011-12 NBA season.
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