for this game

Rondo sparks Celtics past Warriors

Nov 27, 2008 - 4:57 AM By Tony Lee PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

BOSTON (Ticker) -- During the second quarter of the Boston Celtics' game with the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday, the big screen showed an All-Star promotion with Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo as the featured player. He's starting to look like a pretty good option.

Rondo scored 16 of his season-high 22 points in the third quarter and provided a spark again in the fourth as the Celtics posted a 119-111 victory over the Warriors.

At 14-2, Boston is already separating itself from the pack in the Atlantic Division and, with Rondo taking his game to new heights, looks as good, if not better, than last season's championship squad.

"I think when he's on like he's on tonight, we're unbeatable," Captain Paul Pierce said of Rondo. "He's starting to establish himself as one of the best point guards in the NBA."

The "Big Three" of Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen combined for 67 points and Kendrick Perkins chipped in nine and eight rebounds for Boston, winners of six straight. Glen Davis added nine off the bench as the Celtics improved to 8-1 at home.

Corey Maggette had 32 points and Stephen Jackson 30 for Golden State, which has lost the first three games of a five-game road trip and four straight games overall. In his second game with the Warriors, Jamal Crawford had 18 points.

Allen made 5-of-7 from behind the arc and led the Celtics with 25 points, but the buzz was about his backcourt mate following the game.

"He played an inspired second half," Boston coach Doc Rivers said of Rondo.

Pierce never acknowledged seeing the promo on the big screen, but seemed in sync with the Celtics public relations staff.

"I wouldn't be surprised if he made the All-Star team this year," Pierce said.

Rondo has averaged 16.6 points, 6.2 assists and 5.2 rebounds in his last five games. He has committed just eight turnovers in that span, including none Wednesday.

The 22-year-old's effort against the Warriors elevated the club on a night that had the makings of being embarrassing. He even caught wind of his teammates boast.

"I sure appreciate it," Rondo said when told of Pierce's support for the All-Star bid. "But I just go out there and try to win. I'm sure the more we win, the more votes I get, but my biggest concern right now is getting wins."

Early on it looked like another easy one for the Celtics, as they built a 10-point lead on the Warriors, fresh off a 124-100 loss against lowly Washington.

But in the second quarter the Warriors exploded for 39 points - a high for a Celtics opponent in one quarter this season - and led by as many as 13. Maggette had 11 points in the period, including five in a 15-2 burst that stunned Boston.

While the final result was not favorable for the Warriors, they were pleased with their ability to get the Celtics on their heels.

"Well, we played about as well as we could play for awhile," Golden State coach Don Nelson said. "I think we woke them up. They're the world champs, they're terrific. They may have nights like this more often than they would want, but compared to our last game we played about as well as we can play."

The Warriors shot 12-of-19 (63.2 percent) from the floor and made 14 free throws in the second. They took a game-high 14-point lead at 70-56 when Crawford buried a 3-pointer early in the third.

That is when Boston's smallest player forced a big momentum shift.

Rondo responded with one of his five layups in the third to start a 30-13 burst to close out the third. He scored to make it 76-68 midway through the third and his dunk with 3:52 left pulled Boston within 77-74.

Two free throws by Rondo with 0.4 seconds left put the hosts ahead, 86-83.

Just 6-1 and 171 pounds, Rondo was doing damage on the inside on both ends. He had six of his season high-tying eight rebounds in the third and all six of his field goals came in the paint.

"Rajon's heart is bigger than Africa," Garnett said. "We know the kid has a lot of toughness in him. He plays very, very hard. We rode him the whole second half. He started it and we just fed off of it."

"When Rondo scores big they win games," Maggette said. "Tip-ins, coming in and getting rebounds with our big guys, making circus shots. He is definitely one of the premier point guards in the league."

Rondo sat until the 6:16 mark of the fourth before entering back in with the Celtics ahead, 104-102. His putback moments later opened up a six-point bulge and Allen answered a pair of free throws by Jackson with five straight points of his own.

Allen's 3-pointer with 3:30 left made it 113-104. The Warriors never got closer than seven thereafter.

"That shows you why they are one of the best teams," Jackson said. "They turned it up a notch, and we couldn't reach their intensity. (Garnett) made some big shots, Ray made some big shots, and I think the key to them winning this game was Rondo."

Boston outrebounded Golden State, 47-34, and made 32-of-36 (89 percent) of its free throws.