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Boston Celtics

White Hot Garnett Leads Celtics Down Thunder Road

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They were supposed to be T-rouble with a capital T.

They were 6–4 over their last ten. They won 3 of the last 4. They are young. More important, they are athletic in a way that gives the Celtics trouble. They play defense. They have beaten playoff teams. They have Kevin Durant and you don’t.

It was the 4th and last game of the Celtics’ road trip. They just played San Antonio in a tough game. It was the back game of a back-to-back. It’s what is called a trap game. It would be easy to get surprised, outplayed, and call it a week. (Remember last year’s Clippers game ?) They have three days until their next game.

The aging Celtics had a lot of reasons to lose and go home 3-1 with a solid road trip.

The Celtics had different ideas. Looking more and more like the Green Machine of the previous two years, they crushed the Oklahoma City Thunder 105-87.

The Beantown Ballers were led by another dazzling shooting performance by Kevin Garnett. KG led Boston with 23 points on 10 of 11 shooting as they out shot, out rebounded and outplayed the young and talented Thunder ballers.

Garnett, Perkins Continue to Slice Through League Defenses

Kendrick Perkins finished 5 of 7 shooting for 13 points with 8 rebounds, 2 assists and a block. The Celtics got back on track on the boards with a 40 to 30 advantage and had 9 offensive boards to 6 for the Thunder. Making teams pay within 3 feet of the basket, Perkins is shooting 77% over 7 games on 40 of 52 shooting.

Move over Kendrick Perkins. Garnett’s alley oops, dunks, lay ups, and a jump shot you can set your watch by, have never been better. Rondo and KG gave the Thunder an advanced chemistry lesson to boot.

Garnett is shooting 41 for his last 52 attempts over 5 games for 79% accuracy.  If these were D-league games, it would be time to bring him back up to the big club. One might hazard a guess that the leg is getting better.

Move over Rasheed Wallace. Kendrick Perkins is trying to supplant you as technical foul king. He got another one tonight.

Sweeping the road trip 4-0, the Celtics stretched their winning streak to 7 straight (tying the Lakers who won last night as well), for the longest streak in the league so far. They are 9-1 on the road for the best road record.

Things are looking decidedly better in the past week for a club has appeared largely unmoved and somewhat lethargic not so long ago.

Now 16-4 overall for the most wins in the NBA, the Celtics are a half game ahead of Orlando for home court advantage in the Eastern Conference.

With two previous single digit showings, this game started as the Paul Pierce Show. The ball went right to him early and often. He got the Celtics off on the right foot with 11 first quarter points on 4 of 5 shooting including 3 of 4 three pointers for 11 points.

Like the night before, the Celtics grabbed the early lead and didn’t let go. They led the rest of the game. Unlike the night before, the Thunder crumbled under a Celtic third quarter assault, as Boston won going away. The lead got as high as 24 points.

Pierce had 21 first half points on 6 of 10 shooting, 6 of 6 from the line, and took only one more shot the rest of the way, sitting out the final quarter. He added 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 TOs.

It should be noted that his two turnovers could have been three in a row, when he tried to play point guard with Rajon Rondo out in the second quarter. He failed to cross mid court in 8 seconds and threw two straight passes away, though one turnover was credited to Rasheed Wallace when he couldn’t handle it. The three turnovers occurred consecutively and the score went from 38-24 to 38-31 as the Thunder scored 7 straight points in response.

Shortly thereafter, Rivers replaced Eddie House with Rondo to settle things down, and he did. Even without that little disjointed sequence, it is really quite noticeable when Rondo is out of the game.

Kevin Durant tried to single handedly keep the Thunder in the game with 22 half time points of his own. He finished with 36 on 13 of 19 shooting, and 9 of 9 free throws.  Russell Westbrook added 15 points. No other Thunder player made double digits.

The Celtics, on the other hand, had 7 players in double figures when the final buzzer sounded.

Rondo and Garnett Run Game On the Thunder in 3rd

Rajon Rondo and KG teamed up in the third quarter like the Flash and Green Lantern. They combined for 24 of the Celtics’ 28 points. The Thunder simply had no answer for them.

I actually see Rondo as rubber armed Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four, so maybe Garnett was the Human Torch. He’s certainly been ‘Flaming On’ for 5 games now. Whatever. Pick your own hero combo….they were super.

Rondo scored 13 points and had 4 assists with KG adding 11 points on 5 of 5 shooting. They sprinted out of the gate at half time with an 11 to 4 run to push an 11 point half time lead up to 71-53 with just over 4 minutes gone.

The burst started with a Rondo lay up. Garnett then had a lay up, a dunk, a dunk, and an alley oop. Rondo assisted on the last three scores. OKC coach Herb Brooks finally subbed Etan Thomas in for Serge Ibaka to stop the open rim policy and internal hemorrhaging. It was too late.

Rondo took over with Ray and KG kicking in a few more buckets to balloon the lead to 87-63 with 2 minutes left in the quarter. With Gino left in Boston, the fat lady sang.

The bench played most of the 4th quarter with Wallace (6 pts.) and Eddie House (8 pts.) doing the scoring to hold onto the win.

Numbers

Rajon Rondo finished with 15 points, 6 assists, 2 rebounds and 4 harassing steals, while holding his alter ego, Russell Westbrook, to 15 points on 6 of 16 shooting with just 4 assists.

Ray Allen finished with 11 points on 4 of 11 shooting, with 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and a steal.

Rasheed Wallace finished with 10 points on 3 of 7 shooting, 2 for 2 from the arc, 3 rebounds, aa assist and a steal in 18 minutes.

Marquis played almost 19 scoreless minutes and took just one shot.

Eddie House added 11 points on 4 of 8 shooting, 3 of 5 from the arc, with 3 rebounds, an assist, and 2 steals.

Shelden Williams played 12 minutes with 2 rebounds, 2 steals and a turnover with no points.

Brian Scalabrine played 15 scoreless minutes with a rebound, an assist and a turnover.

Lester Hudson played almost 6 minutes with 2 turnovers. J.R. Giddens got 8 uneventful minutes of burn as well.

The Celtics had 48 points in the paint to the Thunder’s 34.

The Cs had 19 second chance points to the Thunder’s 9 points due to their offensive rebounding advantage.

The Celtics come home for a three day rest before playing Tuesday night against the Milwaukee Bucks with their budding star rookie point guard Brandon Jennings.

Thomas Halzack