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Fast Break: Rondo, headband of brothers take down Nets

Rajon Rondo [1] has rarely worn a headband since NBA commissioner David Stern [2] issued a rule against wearing the logo upside down (a slight to Lakers legend Jerry West [3]) at the start of last season, but the Celtics [4] point guard sported his good luck charm backwards against the Nets [5] 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 [6] (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 [7] (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 [8] led the Nets with 28 points.


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 [9] 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 [10] had to be pleased his team finally cleaned up an issue he’s had to address after most of its 17 losses.


Dr. Doolittle: Reserve guard Keyon Dooling [11] has already fallen behind Avery Bradley [12] on the depth chart, but the Celtics have few other options in the way of backup guards, particularly with Ray Allen [13] 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 [14] unavailable for the foreseeable future. Bass picked up three fouls in less than 10-first half minutes, forcing Greg Stiemsma [15] 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.