113 - 96 Final
  for this game

Rondo sets Celtics record; Boston up 3-0 on New York

Apr 23, 2011 - 3:19 AM New York, NY (Sports Network) - Ray Allen and Paul Pierce appeared like they couldn't miss, and it seemed like there was no limit to Rajon Rondo's record- setting playmaking ability.

But one thing was for sure Friday at the end of Game 3 in the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series between the Celtics and Knicks. With a resounding 113-96 victory, Boston has taken full control and is on the verge of sweeping New York out of the playoffs.

Rondo ended with 15 points, 11 rebounds, and a franchise playoff-record 20 assists for his sixth career postseason triple-double.

"He called a terrific game," Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said of Rondo. "That's a great sign for us because when he does that, he allows us to run pretty much whatever we want to run."

With the offense running through Rondo, Pierce drilled six three-pointers and scored 38 points, while Allen hit eight long-distance shots and ended with 32 points.

The efforts helped the Celtics record the blowout win after they had won the first two games at home by a combined five points. The trio also has Boston in position to close out the series in Sunday's Game 4, which will be played back at Madison Square Garden.

Friday's game was the first NBA playoff contest at the arena since 2004, but the Knicks weren't able to use the crowd to get back in the series.

New York was at a disadvantage without its starting point guard, Chauncey Billups, who missed his second consecutive game in the series because of a knee injury.

Knicks forward Amare Stoudemire did start -- he had been a game-time decision because of back spasms -- but finished with just seven points on 2-of-8 shooting.

"The last few days, every step hurt," Stoudemire said. "Every step I took I felt it in my back."

He added that he even had a hard time putting on his socks and shoes, and said there is "no way" he'll be 100 percent healthy by Sunday.

Stoudemire's condition put a lot of the scoring burden on Carmelo Anthony, who had poured in 42 points in Game 2. But Friday, he shot 4-of-16 and finished with 15 points. Shawne Williams was New York's leading scorer, with 17 off the bench.

The Knicks also got 15 points from Toney Douglas, but couldn't stop Pierce or Allen.

Pierce scored 14 of his points in the first quarter, including 12 during a 22-5 run the Celtics used to begin the game.

But the Knicks recovered and were within 27-20 at the end of the period. They kept the deficit to single-digits for almost all of the second quarter and were down 52-44 at the break.

It wasn't an ideal position for the Knicks, but it wasn't out of the question that they could make a comeback. Then the third quarter began.

The Celtics dominated offensively, making 14 of their 23 shots, including 4- of-5 from long range. And they dominated on defensive, holding the Knicks to six field goals and scoring 10 points off seven turnovers.

Success on both ends helped Boston expand its lead in bursts.

About three minutes into the period, Pierce drilled a three-pointer before Anthony turned the ball over on a bad pass. Allen followed with a mid-range jumper to make it a 63-50 game.

Then, nearing the midway point of the quarter, Jermaine O'Neal hit a jumper to start an eight-point run that gave Boston a 77-56 advantage. New York turned the ball over three times and missed three shots during the stretch.

"We pretty much ran one set the entire second half," Rondo said. "Simplicity was the key word. We kept it simple. Our bigs got guys open, and obviously we executed down the stretch."

The Celtics held an 86-63 cushion heading into the fourth and continued to make shots to maintain a substantial lead.

They essentially secured the win in a three-possession span late in the fourth. Allen knocked down his final three before Rondo drove for a layup and assisted on a Pierce trey. The three baskets made it a 106-84 game, and the Celtics' three leaders were substituted out moments later, able to watch their team cruise to the victory.

Game Notes

Kevin Garnett pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds and added nine points for Boston, which shot 51 percent overall...The Celtics had 21 turnovers, while the Knicks had 20...New York hasn't won a playoff game since 2001, when it lost a first-round matchup against Toronto in five games.