Monday, November 12, 2012

Running Of The Bulls Halted By Rondo, Celtics: 101-95

The Celtics really are starting to show some of that offensive firepower and fast break ability that Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers were salivating about as they put this team together over the summer. True, they still have that annoying tendency to let down after building leads, but the promise is there and it's growing with every new day. The defense is starting to take root a pace or two behind the offense but that, too, is coming.
The C's led this one from the jump, leaving the first quarter with a 33-27 advantage, and never looked back -- though they DID have a couple of close calls with Chicago pulling up in the green's rear view mirror and scraping their back bumper a few times before they finally sealed the deal.
The Celtics, sticking with the same lineup from Saturday's game against Milwaukee, raced out to an early lead and looked like a cat ready to pounce on these hapless mice from Chicago, but that plan was thwarted by a trio of raging Bulls that included Luol Deng (26 points, 11 rebounds and 3 assists), Joakim Noah (17 points, 11 boards, 3 assists) and Carlos Boozer, who chipped in with 15 points, if not much else. 
The Boston starters all scored in double figures with Brandon Bass, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry scoring 16, 15 and 13 points respectively, each hitting key shots down the stretch including a huge dunk apiece for Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass. Bass' dunk helped to stem the running of the Bulls, who cut the C's lead to three before Rondo capped a monster night by setting up Brandon Bass for his tide-turning dunk and collecting his 10th assist in the process. Rondo just missed a triple-double, Scoring 20 and assisting on 10 buckets while ripping down 9 boards, most of them over decidedly larger opponents. Old pal Nate Robinson, who scored 11points with 7 assists and 2 steals, got torched continuously by his old teammate, so badly, in fact, that Coach Thibs had to throw in rookie guard Marquis Teague for nearly 20 minutes to try and stop his attack -- to no avail.
And, since we're on the subject, can we all just say it now and be done with it: Rajon Rondo is the best point in the League. End of sentence. Period.
Yeah, Chris Paul is flashy and can shoot some. Derrick Rose (when he's not sitting on the bench in street clothes) is explosive and fun to watch. Deron Williams is...tall. But, there is no point guard in the League that controls the game in every aspect the way that Rondo does. Not only is he the best pure quarterback in the game, doing what the definitive point is supposed to do -- pass the damn ball -- but, he is such a feared defensive roamer that opposing teams on offense avoid his general area in much the same way that football teams refuse to throw near the assignments of the Revis-esque cornerbacks of the NFL. He is currently leading the NBA in the main category that matters for point guards with 13 assists per game and -- newsflash haters -- he's hitting .507 from the field and an impressive .375 from 3-point land. Chris Paul? He's a full 3 assists behind Rondo's average and this "better shooter" is averaging .494 from the floor with a .313 average from three. Look, there's only one active point guard in the League chasing the rarefied air that none other than Magic Johnson and John Stockton breathed before him, and his name ain't Chris Paul.
Nuff said, okay?
Hello, Mr. Gibson...are you ready for your facial?
And, speaking of rare, Paul Pierce had an off-night, scoring 10 points on 4-13 shooting (Deng continues to have Pierce's number defensively), but he did snare 6 rebounds to go with 5 assists, 2 steals and 1 block to help in those proverbial "other areas." The bench also posted a respectable 27 points, with Chris Wilcox continuing to show his value on both ends of the court and by spelling Kevin Garnett -- who was visibly gassed from defending Noah and Boozer all night before subbing back in for his key lob-dunk -- while Jeff Green also maintained his defensive assertiveness from the previous game.
This one was far from perfect, but it was a "W" over a quality opponent that moved the C's over the .500 mark for the first time this season, which, by the way, is still only 7 games old. The current is changing and, as I've been saying from the beginning, this team is going to be very, very good before it's all said and done.
Next up, a Wednesday night game against the Utah Jazz, who survived a triple-overtime (Yes! Three Overtimes!!) game against the Toronto Raptors to win 140-133. My suggestion to the boyz in green? (In my best Tommy Heinsohn voice) "RUN, RUN, and RUN some more, Baby!!"
Boston Celtics vs. Utah Jazz  
Wednesday, November 14th
7:30 pm
@ Boston Garden

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