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Fast Break: Rajon Rondo, Celtics tame Raptors

11.17.12 at 2:59 pm ET
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Rajon Rondo didn’t just reach double-digit assists for his 33rd straight game, he notched 20 dimes for the second time in nine games, and the Celtics rolled to a 107-89 Atlantic Division victory against the Raptors.

Rondo reached that plateau while playing just 32 minutes and sitting the final 10:33 of the C’s first comfortable victory of the season (and, obviously, Gino’s first appearance in the Garden this year).

Jared Sullinger (12 points, 11 rebounds) posted his first career double-double, Jason Terry reached 20 points for the first time this season and the triumvirate of Leandro Barbosa, Chris Wilcox and Jeff Green all scored at least eight points off the bench, giving Paul Pierce (19 points in 25 minutes) and Kevin Garnett (15 points in 17 minutes) the rest they’ll need in Detroit on Sunday.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Early Bird special: Despite the 12:30 p.m. Saturday start, the C’s Big Three awoke early. Garnett started 3-for-3 in his first five-minute stint, Pierce netted eight points in the opening 10 minutes and Rondo showed no ill effects from the sprained right ankle that kept him out of Thursday’s game, finishing the first quarter with seven assists. As a result, the Celtics shot 73.7 percent as a team and established a 30-17 lead through 12 minutes.

Domesticated dinosaurs: Raptors attack in packs, like hyenas. Unless they’re the Toronto kind. Even when the Celtics fell into their usual jump-shooting comfort zone, at least they were open shots. Wide open shots, to be clear. Toronto imports Jose Calderon, Andrea Bargnani and Jonas Valanciunas were particular dreadful defensively. That repeatedly left Wilcox open for lobs, inflating Rondo’s ballooning assist total.

Tapping Sully: In recent games, Celtics coach Doc Rivers has avoided giving Jared Sullinger minutes without Garnett on the floor, but some Brandon Bass foul trouble forced the issue. And Sullinger delivered, grabbing six first-half boards off the bench and establishing a rare rebounding advantage for the C’s.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Second thoughts: After a near flawless first quarter, the Celtics began settling for jump shots. Their points in the paint dropped from 14 in the opening quarter to just four in the second. They finished just 6-of-17 (35.3 FG%) in the frame, and a lead as large as 16 dwindled to 47-42 at halftime.

Free giveaway: The Celtics committed five turnovers in each of the first two quarters. While Rondo amassed 11 assists by halftime, he also handed the Raptors four extra possessions. Likewise, Courtney Lee had as many turnovers as points (2) at the half. The C’s limited their turnovers to three in the final two quarters.

Beyond the arc: The Raptors rank in the NBA’s top 10 for 3-point field goal attempts, and the C’s closed out on the perimeter well in the first quarter, holding Toronto to 0-for-6 shooting in the opening frame. The rest of the way? The Raptors made 8-of-16 triples — part of the reason they were able to hang around as long as they did.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Jared Sullinger, NBA, Rajon Rondo
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