108 - 126 Final
  for this game

Celtics roar past Bulls for 17th straight win

Dec 20, 2008 - 5:01 AM By Tony Lee PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

BOSTON (Ticker) -- The superlatives continue to mount for the Boston Celtics. More may be on the horizon.

In their highest-scoring output this season, the Celtics got a career-high 25 points from Kendrick Perkins and 15 assists from Rajon Rondo en route to their 17th straight win, a 126-108 rout of the Chicago Bulls on Friday.

Boston (25-2), which set a season high for assists (40) and got every player but little-used center Patrick O'Bryant in the scoring column, can match the franchise record for consecutive wins - set in the 1981-82 season - with a victory over the New York Knicks on Sunday. A win would also tie the NBA's best start after 28 games.

The 1966-67 Philadelphia 76ers and 1969-70 Knicks both started 26-2 before winning the NBA championship. Matching those marks would just be another step on the Celtics' quest to repeat.

"When you've got bigger goals, you tend to achieve smaller ones," said Perkins, who was 12-of-15 from the floor.

Ray Allen led the Celtics with 27 points, Kevin Garnett had 17 and Paul Pierce chipped in 16. Pierce was one of a handful on the team who recalls the last time the team put together an 18-game streak two seasons ago. Only then, it was of the losing variety.

The mindset of that massive slump was obliterated with last season's title run.

"We know what our focus is," Pierce said. "We know what our goal is and we just kind of go by what we said last year and take it one game at a time."

The Celtics led at halftime, 57-55, but blew it open after intermission with what Garnett called "perfect basketball."

In the third, Boston made all five of its 3-pointers, had 12 assists on 15 baskets and set a team season-high for one quarter with 41 points.

"They pretty much got whatever they wanted," Bulls guard Ben Gordon said.

Rondo assisted on three baskets as part of an 11-0 run to open up the second half. Perkins surpassed his previous career high on back-to-back hoops later in the quarter, one on a nifty feed from Rondo that extended the lead to 90-77.

The littlest Celtic finding the biggest is becoming a more common occurrence of late.

"I think we're playing with a lot of confidence now," Perkins said of himself and Rondo. "We're best friends off the court so we're always pumping each other up. ... We don't want to be the weakest link. We just want to make sure we hold up our end."

The pair did more than that Friday. Rondo had just one turnover, Perkins grabbed eight boards and the pair combined for five steals.

Tony Allen and Ray Allen buried back-to-back 3-pointers late in the third quarter to give the Celtics an 18-point advantage. Ray Allen was 3-of-3 from the arc in the quarter.

Chicago (12-14) never got closer than 16 in the fourth. It has lost six straight in the series, all by double digits. The Bulls have dropped four in a row in Boston by an average of 20.5 points.

"They are the world champions for a reason," Chicago coach Vinny Del Negro said. "We are trying to find ourselves as a young team."

Boston's previous season high for assists was 31. It had 33 by the end of the third.

"The ball was moving," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said.

Luol Deng scored 19 points and Andres Nocioni chipped in 16 off the bench for the Bulls, who fell to 3-11 on the road. Rookie sensation Derrick Rose had all 14 of his points in the first half.

Chicago lost starting forward Drew Gooden to a sprained right ankle in the first quarter and played without key reserve Tyrus Thomas, out with a concussion. The absences hurt down the stretch.

"In the third quarter they kinda jumped on us," Gordon said. "We tried to give them a little resistance, but we just didn't have enough manpower. Playing against a team like this you need all of your guys."

Rondo had eight of his assists in the first quarter as the Celtics raced to a 31-21 lead. Nocioni had 10 points in the second, including a four-point play, and the Bulls took their only lead at 41-40 on Larry Hughes' jumper midway through the quarter.

Chicago's advantage lasted just 23 seconds as Perkins hit a turnaround jumper and Ray Allen buried one of his five 3-pointers.