for this game

Rondo, Celtics blast Pacers for 10th straight

Dec 4, 2008 - 5:02 AM By Mike Petraglia PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

BOSTON (Ticker) -- Rajon Rondo is quickly turning the "Big Three" into the "Fab Four."

The point guard dished out a career-high 17 assists and turned in the team's first triple-double in two seasons as the Boston Celtics avenged one of their only two losses with a 114-96 victory over the Indiana Pacers at TD Banknorth Garden on Wednesday.

Rondo also finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds, Ray Allen added 31 points and Kevin Garnett had a season-high 24 points and tied a season-high with 14 rebounds.

"It seems that Rondo and I go hand in hand," Allen said. "When he's as aggressive as he is, it seems that I get so many easier looks. The last two weeks he's just been pushing the ball, just getting the ball up the floor."

Rivers even joked about Rondo's shot at double figures in four different categories. The point guard fell short in that regard, recording three steals.

"There's very few guys that have that ability," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "(Hakeem) Olajuwon I think had one if I'm not mistaken, and maybe Alvin Robertson, that may be wrong. There's only been about four or five of them.

"That Rivers kid was two away a couple of times, I'm not sure. I'm joking about that, trust me. That was turnovers. But he has the opportunity, some day. Hopefully soon. That would be terrific."

Kendrick Perkins was also a force for the Celtics, collecting 16 points and 10 rebounds.

The night didn't start smoothly for Rondo, who came out in the first two minutes after cutting his lip in a collision with Indiana's T.J. Ford.

"I try to go out there and stay aggressive," Rondo said. "When I came out of the game early, I was so anxious to get back in. When Doc put me back in, I played the entire first half and I was just out there to do my best."

Boston won its season-high 10th straight game to improve to an NBA-best 18-2.

"Attacking offensively. I've been getting into the paint a lot lately, opening up seams for my teammates and gaps for myself," Rondo said in describing his career night.

Danny Granger scored 20 points for the Pacers, who lost to the Celtics one night after coming from behind to beat the Los Angeles Lakers at the buzzer.

"They really had too many weapons for us tonight," Pacers coach Jim O'Brien said. "Rondo had a great game. Just didn't have enough to beat them. They're awful difficult to beat. They have a great basketball team. That's why they're the world champs."

Indiana, which beat Boston on November 1, fell to 7-11.

"They did beat us last time and are coming off beating the Lakers so they have a lot of confidence," Pierce said. "I definitely feel like this is going to be a playoff team if they continue to play consistent. That's the way we look at it. We definitely want to get off to the good start, not only tonight, but every game."

Rondo had a spectacular first half, with 10 points, nine assists and eight rebounds, but the Pacers managed to stayed close.

"I try to go out there and play as hard as I can," Rondo said. "Tonight, there were a lot of long rebounds. Coach told us before the game that guards need to get out and rebound, that a lot of balls come out at the elbow and 3-point line so that's what I tried to do tonight."

Granger scored nine in the opening quarter as Indiana led by as many as six at 27-21. But the Celtics scored the final seven points of the period to take a 28-27 lead.

Indiana responded with a 10-4 run to open the second, taking a 37-32 lead on layup by Rasho Nesterovic. Boston answered with a 20-5 run to open a 52-42 lead before taking a six-point lead, 57-51, into halftime.

The Celtics made 10-of-18 shots in the third quarter, outscoring the Pacers, 28-10, to open a 24-point lead, 85-61, midway through the third.

Indiana made one more run, closing to 80-72 midway in the fourth before Boston put away the game. Garnett's turnaround bank shot and Allen's sixth 3-pointer of the night extended the lead back to 13 at 85-72.

"We didn't do a lot of things right tonight, guys," said Marquis Daniels, who had 14 for the Pacers. "It was a totally different game from when we played them in Indiana. We let Rondo get out to a great start. He found guys early, he was getting himself involved, getting rebounds and points. I think he had a triple-double in the first half, or close to it."

Before Wednesday's performance by Rondo, Ryan Gomes had the last triple-double for the Celtics on November 8, 2006, against the Charlotte Bobcats.

"He's making leaps and strides each and every year," Pierce said of Rondo. "You thought last year he was good, he's just getting better. He's learning the game. He's learning his spots. He's learning what kind of potential he has, and it's just fun to watch him grow."