All-Star weekend, the Nets Deron Williams (who put up 38 on the Knicks) said all the hype around Jeremy Lin would have other teams’ point guards looking to take their frustrations out on the Knicks.
Meet Rajon Rondo.
The Celtics point guard had 18 points, 17 rebounds and 20 assists and dominated the Knicks in a Boston overtime win, 115-111. That is four straight wins for the Celtics.
Only Jason Kidd among active players has gone 15-15-15 or better. The only players ever with 15 or more points 20 or more assists and 15 or more rebounds are Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson, both doing it in the 1960s. That was, until Rondo stepped on the court and played just a complete game at both ends.
Call it a cLINic if you want.
Whatever you want to call his performance, it should make the Celtics thing twice about trading him. This is a player who is a good fit for Boston, a guy who can score or set up others, plus he is as good a defensive point as there is in the league. Yes, you would trade him in a deal for Chris Paul (as the Celtics discussed before the season). But you need that level of transcendent player back or moving Rondo is a mistake, because he leads the team ever night and is capable of games like this.
He is at the heart of the reason the Celtics play smart. Boston was not the more athletic team, but they were the team that was patient and got the ball to the mismatch all game long.
That said, the Knicks had a chance — after six straight Carmelo Anthony points the Knicks were up one with :35 seconds to go. Anthony remains one of the best closers in the game.
But so is Paul Pierce — he hit a contested three because he got his right hand free with 4.9 seconds to go. Then we went to overtime where the Celtics always seemed in control.
The Knicks had spurts of brilliant ball movement, especially early in the game, but they could not keep it up consistently. That is what the Celtics do to you. Lin had a solid game — 14 points, 5 assists — but sat chunks of time due to foul trouble.
Carmelo Anthony had 25 points but needed 21 shots to do it, Amare Stoudemire had 16 points on 16 shots.
Paul Pierce had 34 points on 23 shots. What was really key was the Celtics forcing 22 turnovers from the Knicks.
In the end, Boston reminds you that they are a team that knows how to win in tight games like you see in the playoffs. The Knicks are learning that. How much they learn and how healthy Boston feels going into the playoffs will determine now far these teams advance.