BOSTON - File this one under unexpected -- really, really unexpected -- outcomes. Undeterred by the absence of Ray Allen, the Rajon Rondo-led Boston Celtics beat down the Miami Heat, obliterating the visitors from South Beach 91-72 on Sunday at TD Garden.
"Statement or not, we did what we're supposed to do tonight, which is get a win on our home court," said Rondo. "We're playing pretty good as of late."
Rondo registered his fifth triple-double of the season with 16 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds and Paul Pierce led all scorers with 23 points on 8-of-17 shooting. Brandon Bass amassed 16 points and 10 boards, Kevin Garnett finished with 10 points and eight rebounds and Avery Bradley, staring in place of Allen, scored a commendable 13 points.
"We're just going to tell him we're playing on ABC every day," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers about Rondo, who seems to step up his game on national television. "One of the things going in the game today, we told Rondo that we needed him to be a scorer. Not necessarily a playmaker, a scorer. And I thought he set the tone at the beginning of the game by doing that, and I thought that loosened it up for everybody else to get into the game."
After nearly coughing up a 10-point lead in the second quarter (Boston led 29-19 through 12 minutes), the Celtics used a big third period in which they outscored the Heat, 31-12, and Miami would fall behind by as many as 29 points in the fourth before losing by 19 points.
LeBron James was held scoreless for the first six-plus minutes of the game but finished with 23 to lead Miami, which shot 34.8 percent from the floor (31-for-89). Dwyane Wade added 15 points and Shane Battier chipped in with 11 points off the bench for the Heat.
"The game is a game of runs," said Rondo. "We know they're a big team, they're going to make a lot of runs like a 14-0 run. We want to continue to get stops defensively, and stall at mid court."
"It's not about what we say right now. It's not about any kind of meeting, and kind of talk. It's not about a response to the media. This game was unacceptable," said Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra. "We will fix it together, collectively. We're not happy about it, we have not been able to come up with an answer on the road, particularly in the third quarter. We fell prey to that again tonight. We will figure it out, somehow, somehow ... we will figure it out."
Boston has two days to rest before facing the always-tough San Antonio Spurs in Boston.