BOSTONRajon Rondo had a triumphant return to the Boston Celtics lineup as the C's continued their home dominance of the Toronto Raptors with a 107-89 win.
Rondo, returning after a one-game absence because of a sprained right ankle, finished with six points and 20 assists as the Celtics defeated the Raptors in Boston for the ninth straight time.
It was Rondo's 33rd straight game with 10 or more assists.
"He's a rare bird," said Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. "I mean, he really is."
Toronto made things interesting in the third quarter as they cut the Celtics lead to as little as two points.
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During that third quarter stretch when the Raptors made the game competitive, there was Rondo doing his part to keep the Raptors at bay.
A Rondo 20-foot jumper pushed the C's lead up to 57-53 in the third. Later in the quarter, he tossed a lob to Chris Wilcox for a dunk that once again gave the Celtics a four-point cushion, 63-59.
"He was actually made about the 20 assists," said teammate Courtney Lee. "He thought he could have gotten 30."
In addition to assists, Rondowas contributing in other ways as well.
In addition to his usual double-digit assists - 33 games and counting now - he also chipped in defensively both in terms of his individual assignment along with helping his teammates.
Kevin Garnett slipped on the floor while guarding Andrea Bargnani. Rondo quickly left his man to get in Bargnani's face. Rondo's quick reaction caught Bargnani off guard, which resulted in the 7-footer traveling.
But no Celtic victory can be viewed as a one-man mission, as multiple Celtics contributed to the C's pushing back the Raptors run.
Especially Jason Terry, who had a trio of 3s in the third quarter, the last of which capped off a 16-3 run to end the quarter and give the Celtics a 79-64 lead going into the fourth. He finished with a season-high 20 points.
With the win, Boston (6-4) extended their home winning streak against the Raptors to nine in a row.
The C's set the tone by exposing one of the (many) weaknesses in this Raptors roster - first quarter defense.
Toronto came into the game giving up more than 26 points in the first quarter of games this season.
The Celtics, behind the hot shooting of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, led by as many as 14 in the first before settling on a 30-17 lead.
It was clear that the Celtics were in a good flow offensively, courtesy of Rondo's return to the lineup.
In the first quarter, Boston had 14 field goals made, 11 coming on assists. Of those 11 assists, seven came from Rondo.
But the Raptors soon began to exploit the C's biggest weakness with a slew of second and third-shot opportunities in the second quarter.
A put-back basket by Ed Davis cut Boston's lead down to 40-33 before the Celtics called a 20-second time-out.
It didn't matter as Toronto continue to rally back into the game. A 3-pointer by John Lucas made it a 40-36 game, the closest Toronto had been since the first few minutes of the game.
And Rivers once again had to call a time-out, hoping to get his team back on track in what was suddenly a game after having the makings of a blowout earlier.
Terry did his part to stem the bleeding with a steal and subsequent jumper, but Lucas kept Toronto within striking distance as the Raptors went on a 14-7 run to trim Boston's halftime lead to 47-42.