Monday, February 3, 2014

Celtics 96 – Magic 89: Rondo and Sully shine, C’s Snap four-game losing Streak

Boston – Coming off their worst record in franchise history for the month of January (2-15), the Celtics, behind Jared Sullinger’s 21 points and 12 rebounds (his 14th double-double), got their third win of the new year, beating Orlando 96-89 at the TD Garden yesterday afternoon.

Rajon Rondo celebrated his first victory since returning to the lineup on January 17. He completed his first double-double with a season-high of 19 points on 9-of-11 shooting and 10 assists.

“We didn’t stop pushing the pace even though we had the lead,” said the Rondo. “We finally finished a game strong. They made a run at it, but at the end of the day we still got some stops when we needed and made the plays.”

Brandon Bass added 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds and Avery Bradley chipped in with 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting in his first game back after missing five straight due to a sprained right ankle. Boston’s starters scored 84 of their 96 points. They also dished out 19 of 24 assist on 36 field goals.

“I think we execute a little crisper,” Stevens said.

“The ball seems to have found the right guys a lot, especially today. I think that’s more of guys getting used to playing with one another.”

All five Orlando starters finished in double figures including Arron Afflalo who had 18 points. Nikola Vucevic added 14 points, 11 rebounds, and old friend Glen “Big Baby” Davis had 15 points.

The Magic made a comeback in the fourth quarter, but could not stop Rondo who had six assists in the final period.

“We stuck to our principles and what we wanted to do. [Rondo] just came through for his team,” said Davis.

This was the only game on the NBA schedule for ‘Super Sunday.'

Orlando (13-35), with only three road wins, rallied in the fourth quarter after a Maurice Harkless  layup cut Boston’s lead to 75-68 with just 9:01 to play.

After made shots by Davis and E’Twaun Moore during a 10-2 run, and a pair of made free-throws by Kyle O'Quinn, the visiting Magic cut the lead to one, 77-76, with 6:11 left in the quarter. That was the closest they got to the Celtics.

When Rondo returned to the game he made a hook shot and Bradley followed it with a field goal and two made free-throws. In the last two minutes the C’s went on an 8-2 run to seal their Sunday matinée win.

“You just feel like you’re really under control the way [Rondo] was playing late,” said the Celtics coach.

Rondo played his best game since his comeback from a torn ACL. It was also the 15th game since 2012 that he and Avery Bradley started together in the backcourt. The end result was a combined 36 points on 15-of-23 shooting and 12 assists. We look forward to more from the two guards from here on out. Boston will have two days off before heading to Philly as they look to get some pay back from the 76ers on Wednesday night, tip-off is at 7:30 PM.

Game Notes:

Boston for the first time in five games shot over 45 percent from the field, as last night they hit 41-82 shoots, going 50 percent for the game. The Celtics opened the game with Rondo, Bradley, Sullinger, Bass and Green which was the first time they started together all season. Jameer Nelson did not make the trip, as he was out with a sore left knee. Orlando’s 3-22 road record is the worst in the NBA.

Joel Pavon

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