Sunday, February 12, 2012

Celtics hold off Chicago 95-91

So what if the Celtics were taking on a Bulls team that was missing last season's MVP? Who cares? Last time I checked, they don't dock your victory if you play a team with their superstar forced to watch from the bench. A win is a win is a win.

The Celtics got that win two days after one of the most pathetic performances of the current Big Three era. Boston took the game film from their loss to Toronto, dug a proverbial hole, threw that film into said proverbial hole and moved onto the task at hand: Take down the best team in the Eastern Conference.

Rajon Rondo looked like Rajon Rondo today instead of the zombie that overtook his body on Friday. Rondo notched an impressive triple-double with 32 points, 10 rebounds and 15 assists, not to mention he hit 10 of his 13 free throws. He commanded the game from start to finish by going to the basket, running in transition and constantly forcing the issue which kept the Bulls on their heels on defense all game long. It was the type of performance from Rondo where you watch him play, smile, then shake your head and say to yourself, "Why can't he do this every game?"

With Jermaine O'Neal sitting this one out, Chris Wilcox and JaJuan Johnson shared a ton of minutes down low. Wilcox brought the energy and effort, bringing in nine rebounds and forcing the Chicago bigs to run the floor with him -- or sometimes behind him. Johnson, on the other hand, played a career-high 33 minutes and was effective on both ends of the floor. He forced their bigs to follow him out on the perimeter and wasn't afraid to get down low to fight for positioning and rebounds. Johnson wasn't outstanding, but he was serviceable, had the best game of his young career and showed that he has the ability to contribute more later in the year.

Boston's defense was tremendous and active, allowing Chicago to shoot a whopping 39 percent. Their defensive rebounding was better and they hung in there with one of the league's best teams on the boards. Still, the Bulls had 11 offensive rebounds in the first half and 15 for the game, allowing them to stay close through most of the game with second-chance points, thanks to the fact that Chicago took 13 more shots than the Celtics.

But on a Sunday afternoon where Paul Pierce and Ray Allen were nowhere to be found, Rondo put the team on his back and took off down the floor like a rocket. He was the reason why the Celtics had 33 fast break points and got to the charity stripe 26 times. He was the reason why this team looked so different compared to the one that took the floor north of the border two nights ago.

The old adage continues to be true. As goes Rondo, so go the Celtics.

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