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Fast Break: Rajon Rondo, Celtics outrun the Bulls 02.12.12 at 6:10 pm ET
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BOSTON — Receiving little help from Paul Pierce and Ray Allen through the first three quarters, Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo put the team on his back, taking advantage of reigning MVP Derrick Rose‘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 (13 points, 12 rebounds) contributed a double-double to provide a Robin to Rondo’s Batman.

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

WHAT WENT RIGHT

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 and Brandon Bass both sidelined by knee injuries, Chris Wilcox got his first start in a Celtics uniform. He rose to the occasion, totaling 11 points (5-6 FG) and nine rebounds.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Derrick Rose, NBA
Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum ‘can be a dominating couple’ 02.10.12 at 3:51 pm ET
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BOSTON — He might look like a llama, but he sure doesn’t play like one.

Lakers forward Pau Gasol recorded 25 points and 14 rebounds against the Celtics on Thursday night, but his biggest play of the 88-87 Los Angeles victory came when he blocked Ray Allen‘s put-back attempt off a Paul Pierce miss as the overtime buzzer sounded.

“Probably, for sure,” Gasol said when asked if he thought Allen’s attempt would have sunk the Lakers had he not blocked the shot. “I think he had momentum, he was going to the rim, he’€™s obviously got amazing touch and I continued to play. I made a big play down the stretch, which could have cost the game.”

The Lakers wouldn’t have been in position to win the game had it not been for Gasol and center Andrew Bynum‘s combined 41 points and 31 rebounds — 20 of which came on the offensive end.

“We try to play hard and dominate every game and be a dominating couple every game,” added Gasol. “I think with our size and our level of skills, we can be. Sometimes we get to do it. Sometimes it doesn’€™t work both ways, but I think tonight obviously we got a great effort from Andrew. … I was able to be effective, too.”

By sending a second defender Kobe Bryant‘s way each time he touched the ball, the scheme designed by Celtics head coach Doc Rivers & Co. dared Gasol and Bynum to beat them.

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Read More: Andrew Bynum, Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Jermaine O'Neal
Irish Coffee: Kobe Bryant on his admiration of Austin Rivers, love of Rob Gronkowsi and ignorance of Jeremy Lin 02.10.12 at 8:52 am ET
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Despite his team emerging victors by an ugly 88-87 margin in an overtime game, Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant sounded more impressed by the Celtics than his own squad when asked if the two once great and now aging championship clubs mirrored one another.

“I don’€™t know,” said Bryant, who finished with 25 points on 24 shots. “They’€™ve got three Hall of Famers and a fourth one coming. That don’€™t look too familiar to me over here.”

Not only did Bryant sound off about his own teammates, but he pulled no punches on the topics of Rob Gronkowski, Austin Rivers and Jeremy Lin (particularly priceless stuff), among other subjects thrown his way. The following are highlights from the Black Mamba’s postgame interview.

ON THE CELTICS

“We know each other so well. The unit we had on the floor, and their unit — we’€™ve played against each other so many darn times. We know what’€™s coming before it happens.”

[Asked again about the rivalry:] “It’€™s always a brawl in every fight. It’€™s ugly. It’€™s physical. I’€™ve enjoyed competing against them. I like all of them personally. On the court, that personal stuff goes out the window. It’€™s been fun.”

[And again:] “It’€™s a throwback in the sense that we’€™re old school. Ray [Allen] is old school. Paul [Pierce] is old school. Kevin [Garnett] is old school. And so is Rajon [Rondo]. How we prepare for the game, how much the game means to us, you can see the emotion that they pour into it, how much they put into the game, you don’€™t really see that too much from the young guys nowadays.”

[And again:] “It’€™s been great. It’€™s been a dream come true growing up and watching it. Here I am part of it. It’€™s great. The only difference between us and the ‘€˜80s is that guys over there in the other locker room I actually know and like. That’€™s the big difference between this time around and the ‘€˜80s.”

[And again:] “They’€™ve been playing extremely well. They’€™ve won nine out of their last 10 games coming into tonight, so they’€™re figuring things out obviously. Us, we’€™re still searching. It’€™s a whole new system. We’€™re trying to figure things out still. You kind of see it on the court. You kind of see things that are kind of botched plays every now and then, miscommunication now and then, because we’€™re kind of practicing things on the fly. But all in all, we’€™ll be Ok. Both of us will.”

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Read More: Austin Rivers, Boston Celtics, Jeremy Lin, Kobe Bryan
Fast Break: Celtics suffer overtime loss to Lakers 02.09.12 at 10:51 pm ET
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Paul Pierce‘s fadeaway jumper missed the mark and Ray Allen‘s put-back got blocked as the Celtics suffered a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Lakers, 88-87.

The entire OT was a struggle for both teams, so an Andrew Bynum tip-in with 1:29 to play proved the difference. The Lakers outscored the Celtics 6-5 in the extra period.

With a little more than a minute remaining in regulation and the Celtics trailing by one, Allen converted his second 3-pointer of the night to give the Celtics an 82-80 lead as “Beat L.A.” chants rained down from the Garden rafters. But Pau Gasol tied the game with nine seconds remaining, and the final Celtics play before overtime resulted in a wild, failed 30-footer by Mickael PIetrus.

Gasol (25 points, 14 rebounds) and Andrew Bynum (16 points, 17 rebounds) both registered double-doubles, and Kobe Bryant added 27 points for the Lakers (15-11).

Allen’s 22 points led the Celtics (14-11) in scoring, Kevin Garnett (12 points, 12 rebounds) recorded a double-double, and Pierce and Rajon Rondo combined for 32 points and 14 assists. The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for the C’s.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Spry Bynum: Jermaine O’Neal and the other veteran Boston bigs had trouble with Lakers 24-year-old center Andrew Bynum‘s youth and athleticism. A healthy Bynum is a dangerous Bynum, as the 7-footer nearly had a double-double by halftime. In fact, Doc Rivers turned to Chris Wilcox for a stretch — his first extended minutes with the Big Four.

Board room: Along similar lines, the Lakers size exploited an issue that’s plagued the Celtics this season — namely, rebounding. Bynum, Gasol and old friend Troy Murphy of all people corralled 40 rebounds as the Lakers out-boarded the Celtics, 55-45. Uncharacteristically, Rondo didn’t record a rebound until there was three minutes to play.

Backing up the point: With Keyon Dooling still sidelined and a suited up Avery Bradley considered doubtful before the game, Rivers could only turn to E’Twaun Moore for backup point guard minutes behind Rondo. Moore played four first-half minutes and registered a minus-8, so the Celtics had no choice but to play Rondo 40-plus minutes.

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Read More: Andrew Bynum, Boston Celtics, Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
Duke’s Austin Rivers hits buzzer beater against UNC 02.09.12 at 9:10 am ET
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I’m not sure what’s better: The deadeye 3-pointer Duke freshman Austin Rivers made against rival North Carolina to beat the buzzer or Doc’s reaction. Now, the coach’s Celtics host the Lakers. A good week for the Rivers family.

Read More: Austin Rivers, Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Duke University
VIDEO: The night Paul Pierce passed Larry Bird for No. 2 on the Celtics all-time scoring list 02.08.12 at 1:11 pm ET
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Read More: Boston Celtics, John Havlicek, Kevin Garnett, Larry Bird
Paul Pierce vs. John Havlicek according to Paul Silas 02.08.12 at 12:45 am ET
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BOSTON — On the night Celtics captain Paul Pierce surpassed Larry Bird for No. 2 on the team’s all-time scoring list behind John Havlicek, one of Hondo’s former teammates happened to be on the opposing bench.

While Pierce and Havlicek now rank 1-2 among C’s career points leaders, Bobcats head coach Paul Silas — who won two NBA titles in four seasons on the Celtics from 1972-76 — knows they took different paths to get there.

“Theyr’€™e kind of different players,” said Silas. “Havlicek was just very aggressive, running all the time. He’€™d get up and down the floor, ran and banked shots off the board. Pierce is more of a guy going 1-on-1. Havlicek didn’€™t do that. And Pierce is more of a long-range shooter. Havlicek could shoot long-range, but that wasn’€™t really his game.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, John Havlicek, Larry Bird, Paul Pierce
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