Knicks
Celtics
105 - 124 Final
  for this game

Celtics tie franchise record with 18th straight win

Dec 22, 2008 - 3:23 AM By Tony Lee PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

BOSTON (Ticker) -- Just two years removed from a franchise-worst 18-game losing streak, the Boston Celtics have completely turned the table. Rajon Rondo is a big reason why.

Rondo scored 18 of his career-high 26 points in the third quarter and finished 12-of-14 from the floor as the Celtics matched the longest winning streak in franchise history with their 18th consecutive victory, a 124-105 rout of the New York Knicks.

Boston dropped 18 straight during a miserable 2006-07 campaign that came months before it assembled last season's championship squad.

"I've been on the other end of the spectrum, losing 18 in a row," said Rondo, one of five Celtics on that last-place team. "You try not to think about it, the (winning) streak, you just try to continue to take it one game at a time."

Boston shot a season-high 66 percent (50-of-76) from the floor Sunday in matching the best 28-game start in NBA history. A win Tuesday at home against Philadelphia and Boston will be the first team to ever open a season 27-2.

"You get to playing well and you believe you can win games," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "That's been us all year, even before this streak. We believe we can win a game."

Ray Allen scored 18 for the Celtics, whose winning streak matches the franchise's previous best set in 1981-82.

Boston's two streaks join one ripped off by the 1969-70 Knicks for the fifth-best in NBA history. It is the longest run since Houston won 22 straight last season before falling at home to the Celtics.

Paul Pierce scored 17 points, Kendrick Perkins added 12 and 12 rebounds and Tony Allen 11 points off the bench for the Celtics, who made a remarkable 18 of their first 22 shots in a blistering start.

They took their first double-digit lead less than four minutes in, led by 16 midway through the first quarter and closed it on a 7-0 run to take a commanding 40-21 lead.

The fast start put plenty of pretty numbers on the board, but Boston remained focused on the ugly ones at the end; they shot 10-of-20 from the line and turned the ball over 22 times.

"To get 124 points with 22 turnovers makes me feel like, if we don't turn the ball over, we can probably score 140, 150 points with the way we move the ball. We still have room for improvement."

Nate Robinson scored 17 of his 23 points in the second as the Knicks rallied to within eight points at halftime. They cut their deficit to six on two occasions in the third, but Rondo had an answer at every turn.

The 22-year-old point guard had six straight Celtics baskets during one stretch and closed the scoring in the third on a 17-footer to make it 98-87.

That jumper was the only basket in the quarter that Rondo scored outside the lane.

"I think eight of (my 12 baskets) were layups, so I make my layups," said Rondo, giving credit to Kevin Garnett for opening up the lane for drive after drive.

The maneuver was not lost on Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni.

"You've got a handful with Garnett," D'Antoni said. "And you got (Rondo) barreling down at you. That's probably why they have a banner up in the rafters and they don't lose too many."

"Rondo was unbelievable in the third quarter," said Garnett, who had 12 points and a season-high eight assists. "He really took the game over."

Ray Allen and Brian Scalabrine both hit a 3-pointer in an 8-0 burst to open the fourth for Boston, which led by at least 12 points thereafter.

The Celtics have scored at least 120 points in four of their last seven games.

Quentin Richardson led New York with 29 points. Chris Duhon scored 23 for the Knicks, who have lost four straight overall and eight in a row against Boston.

"They're a great team, they're the world champs," Richardson said. "You can't get down big against them and try and keep fighting back. At some point, that's going to be very tough."

New York did give at try, however.

After Scalabrine had a layup to put the Celtics ahead 46-23 early in the second, New York ended the first half on a 35-20 run.

Rondo had a basket waved off because of a traveling violation with 2.1 seconds left, and Duhon hit a 44-footer at the buzzer to cut the Knicks' deficit to 66-58.

New York got as close as 89-83 late in the third on a basket by Tim Thomas.