for this game

Rondo's career high leads Celtics past Clippers

Feb 7, 2008 - 5:28 AM By Mike Petraglia PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

BOSTON (Ticker) -- Rajon Rondo took the best shot from the Los Angeles Clippers and then dealt out the punishment for his Boston Celtics' teammates.

Rondo scored a career-high 24 points and dished out eight assists and Ray Allen chipped in 19 points to lead the Celtics over the Clippers, 111-100, on Wednesday night at TD Banknorth Garden.

"I'm just trying to do what the system says," Rondo said. "I'm trying to stay within the system. Coach (Doc) Rivers wants me to work on my pick-and-rolls, so we can get the ball in the paint, and I can get the ball to my teammates."

Rondo and Allen once again picked up the slack for the injured Kevin Garnett, who missed his fifth straight game with an abdominal strain.

"He is doing a great job, just being able to have him as aggressive as he is. Most people don't know who he is, especially when we play interconference. It is up to him, he has the talent, you see what he is capable of," Allen said of Rondo.

Leon Powe provided toughness off the bench with 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Celtics, who improved to 21-4 at home - the best mark in the Eastern Conference.

The Celtics opened the game on a 9-0 run with Pierce accounting for all nine points, including a 19-foot jumper with 9:35 remaining in the first to cap the spurt.

But the Clippers outscored the Celtics, 29-16, the rest of the quarter, including a 3-pointer by Quinton Ross at the first-quarter buzzer to take a 29-25 lead after the first.

Corey Maggette led the rally with 14 points and hit all five of his free throws for the Clippers, who did most of their damage from the line, hitting 34-of-39 free throws.

Rondo carried the Celtics in the second quarter as he made all five of his shots from the floor and scored 12 of his 18 first-half points, off-setting the 22 from Maggette.

"Great win for us, when you're able to rest as many guys as you can rest and still win the game," Rivers said. "I thought our bench was terrific. I thought the first four minutes we played with great energy.

"Paul had it going early, and we actually played defense for those first four or five minutes, and then we lost it for a while."

The intensity picked up between the two teams in the second quarter as bodies flew into the stands and crashed to the floor.

With 2:54 remaining before halftime, Sam Cassell fouled Rondo as he was driving to the basket.

Rondo, who already had a bloody nose from a collision earlier in the quarter, fell the ground hard. Cassell was ejected after officials confirmed the flagrant-two foul via replay.

"I'm fine, it's the NBA, so I'm going to get some treatment (Thursday)," Rondo said. "Ice my ankle, ice my hip, back, just do the usual. I don't know, I mean, I got hit pretty hard, but it's part of the game, so it is what it is."

"He can take it, he goes to the basket so much, he has so much athleticism," Allen said. "He always attacks the rim. As you get older, you start feeling it in your body a little bit more, and you start shooting the mid-range jumper and not attack the rim all the time.

"Even early in my career, there was a no-layup rule in effect, so you would get knocked on your butt a lot."

Earlier in the quarter, Boston rookie forward Glen "Big Baby" Davis crashed into Los Angeles center Josh Powell as both dove over Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck and his wife for a loose ball under the Celtics' basket.

Boston made 13-of-25 shots while holding Los Angeles to just 5-of-19 from the field (26 percent) and outscored the visitors, 34-19, in the quarter to take a 59-48 lead at the break.

Cuttino Mobley sparked another comeback, pouring in 11 of his 16 points in the third quarter as the Clippers drew to within three, 84-81, heading into the fourth.

But the Celtics' reserves turned up the pressure in the fourth - playing nearly the entire quarter as Pierce and Allen rested on the bench - and outscored Los Angeles, 27-19, over the final 12 minutes.

The Celtics also outscored the Clippers, 56-24, in the paint.

"Rondo stepped up. If they missed a shot, you've got them big dogs down there to put them back up, so I mean it was really good," Maggette said. "(Davis) came in and made some big plays, you're never going to win when you have 60-plus points in the paint."

Maggette had 33 points for the Clippers, who fell to 1-3 on their season-long seven-game East Coast road trip.

"We kept fighting and fighting through it, and got it back to three to start the fourth quarter, and then we made some mistakes," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "The turnovers, the amount of points in the paint that we gave up was just insurmountable.

"Turnovers in the first half led to layups, fast-break points and things that hurt us. But our guys, like I said, they stayed with it. They kept coming back and, unfortunately, they couldn't close it out."

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