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Fast Break: Celtics 115, Knicks 111 (OT)

03.04.12 at 4:02 pm ET
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You can count the number of times Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce both played well in the same game this season on one hand, but two of those occasions occurred this weekend. In a related story, the Celtics won their fourth straight game, 115-111 against the Knicks in overtime on Sunday afternoon.

Rondo recorded his league-leading fourth triple-double of the season — and second in three games — totaling 18 points, a season-high 20 assists and 17 rebounds. According to Elias, Rondo is just the third player in NBA history with at least 15 points, 20 assists and 15 rebounds in a single game, joining Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson in that exclusive category. Pierce added 34 points, seven rebounds and three assists as the Celtics improved to 19-17 and moved to 1.5 games up on the Knicks (18-19) for the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference.

Absent for much of the game, Jeremy Lin (14 points, 5 assists, 6 turnovers) led a fourth-quarter charge to help the Knicks take the lead twice in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Pierce made a game-tying 3-pointer with 4.9 seconds to play, and Carmelo Anthony missed a jump shot at the end of regulation to force overtime.

And then Rondo put the finishing touches on the Knicks in overtime, as the Celtics made 45 field goals in the game, and Rondo had a hand in 27 of them.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Pierce’s first quarter: Picking up where he left off after scoring 27 points against the Nets on Friday night, the Celtics captain was actively early against the Knicks, scoring 10 of the team’s 27 first-quarter points and adding five rebounds without committing a turnover. Which makes the fact Pierce only attempted one shot in the second quarter all the more strange. The Celtics got Pierce involved again in the second half, as he scored 24 of his 34 points after the break.

Avoiding Linsanity: Lin picked up three early fouls, limiting him to just 13 minutes in the first half. At halftime, he had as many turnovers (4) as he did points (2) and assists (2) combined. Meanwhile, Rondo’s nine points, eight assists and four rebounds in his first 21 minutes on the floor started the triple-double watch early. Still, nobody could have foreseen the stat line Rondo put up by game’s end.

A little help from their friends: The Knicks committed 22 turnovers. Repeat: 22 turnovers. It’s hard to beat anybody when you give the ball away that many times. Kevin Garnett (18 points, 10 rebounds) and Ray Allen each had four steals.

WHAT WENT WRONG

The entire second quarter: Neither team played well from minutes 12-24, but the Celtics looked particularly sloppy. The hosts shot just 8-of-22 from the field (36%), committed six turnovers and looked just plain awful on the fast break. Take Rondo losing the ball out of bounds uncontested and throwing a pass directly to Baron Davis as Exhibits A and B.

No defense for the first half: As if the Knicks shooting 50 percent and scoring 29 first-quarter points in the first quarter weren’t bad enough, the Celtics watched as New York shot 62 percent in the second quarter and scored 56 points by halftime. Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire both reached double figures by the break.

Battle of the benches: Iman Shumpert, Jared Jeffries, Steve Novak and Davis all scored at least six points off the bench for the Knicks, as New York’s reserves outscored the Celtics bench by a 45-15 margin. It was a particularly tough night for Mickael Pietrus, normally the C’s most reliable reserve.

Fourth-quarter collapse: The Celtics led by as many as 15 points, but Lin — absent for much of the game — and Anthony combined for 21 points in the fourth quarter and overtime to help New York snare the lead twice in the final minute of regulation.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Jeremy Lin, New York Knicks, Paul Pierce
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