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Rondo, Garnett lead Celtics to sixth straight win

Dec 9, 2007 - 5:09 AM CHICAGO (Ticker) -- Although the Boston Celtics have Kevin Garnett, it was a role player that helped them end a long skid against the Chicago Bulls.

Rajon Rondo scored 12 of his career high-tying 18 points in the first half and sparked a decisive third-quarter burst as the Celtics snapped an eight-game losing streak to the Bulls with a 92-81 victory on Saturday night.

Garnett, a Chicago native who was acquired from Minnesota in the offseason and has been the key cog in Boston's league-best 17-2 start, had 16 points and seven blocks in the Celtics' first win against the Bulls since January 29, 2005.

"The last eight times Chicago was the better team," Rivers said. "It's nice to get that win and get it on the road after back-to-back games for both teams."

But it was Rondo, the second-year point guard, who was the catalyst in Boston's sixth straight win and second in two nights. Boston routed Toronto, 112-84, on Friday.

Rondo shot 6-of-9 from the floor in the first half and added three rebounds and three assists, helping Boston to a 47-43 lead at the break.

"I just wanted to come out and be aggressive," Rondo said. "The last two games the team had slow starts, thing's start with the point guard. I wanted to get us going right from the tip."

The Celtics maintained a slim lead throughout the third period, before Rondo sparked a 9-2 spurt that provided the league's top team with a 63-52 cushion with 3:16 left in the period.

The inconsistent outside-shooting Rondo started the run with consecutive jumpers before penetrating the lane and kicking to the left corner to sharpshooter Ray Allen, who knocked down a shot from the arc. Paul Pierce capped the run by nailing two free throws.

"Rondo being aggressive like he was, allowed us to stay spaced." Allen said. "That gives us another angle to our offense."

Rondo, who entered averaging 8.3 points and shooting 53 percent from the floor, finished 9-of-13 with seven rebounds and five assists.

"Rondo's work ethic really stands out to me," Garnett said. "He is always the first guy in the building trying to improve. That's why I am a huge fan of his."

Boston, which held Chicago to 36 percent (31-of-86) shooting for the game, clamped down on guards Ben Gordon and Kirk Hinrich in the third. They were scoreless on six shots after combining for 25 points in the first half.

"Not being able to knock down open shots has been a problem in a lot of our games," Buls coach Scott Skiles said. "We had some pretty good looks, we just didn't look ready to take them."

The Celtics opened more of a cushion by scoring seven straight points to take an 86-70 edge with 5:22 left in the game. Garnett hit two consecutive jumpers, James Posey added a free throw and Allen a layup to cap the spurt.

"We are locked in to trying to get better," Garnett said. "Doc (coach-Rivers) has done a great job keeping the air out of our balloon and keeping us level. That is our mindset right now."

Chicago pulled within 86-81 in the game's final minute, but Garnett hit a fallaway jumper from the left wing with 37 seconds to ice it. Garnett finished 8-of-11 from the floor and added nine rebounds and three assists.

"I thought we did a good job on Garnett and a good job on Ray (Allen)," Skiles said. "I thought our defense was good enough to win, but we were playing a team that was 16-2 and we only shot 36 percent. That's not going to get it done."

Allen led Boston with 21 points and rookie Glen Davis added eight and 12 rebounds off the bench.

The Bulls, who were coming off a tough 98-91 victory Friday over Detroit, couldn't keep up with the fresher Celtics. Andres Nocioni scored 18 points and Hinrich finished with 16 for the Bulls, who had won four of their last five games. Gordon scored 11 points in the first period but just two thereafter.

Chicago scored the first six points of the game, but Boston countered with the next seven and took a 21-18 lead after the first quarter. The Celtics scored the first five points of the second stanza, but the Bulls got a jumper by Joe Smith and a layup by Luol Deng to take a 38-35 lead with 4:37 left.

Rondo then sparked a period-ending 12-5 run with six points as Boston took a 47-43 lead into the locker room.

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