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Celtics coasting, but who's paying attention?

By staff reports
Posted Dec 4 2008 4:31PM

"Flying under the radar" is a phrase seldom used for defending champions. It's even rarer to apply a lack of attention to a defending champion in the midst of a 10-game winning streak.

As it turns out, all eyes so far this season have been on how the Lakers, already written in by many as this year's champs, will win another title; LeBron being LeBron each and every night; New York wanting and needing LeBron; New York loathing Stephon Marbury; and how this year's rookie class is something special.

Lost in the mix are the Boston Celtics. You know, those 2008 NBA champions who, led by Rajon Rando, handled the Indiana Pacers 114-96 on Wednesday to win their 10th straight game.

Rondo finished with 16 points, 13 rebounds and a career-high 17 assists for his first career triple-double while Kevin Garnett added 26 points and 14 rebounds for the Celtics.

"It was like there was three Rondos," Garnett said. "I looked up and it came off the rim and he is grabbing a rebound, then I got back on defense and he beat me back. He was everywhere tonight.''

With every team out to take down the champs (only the Nuggets and Pacers can stake claim to that thus far), Boston has jumped out quickly -- again -- having matched their longest winning streak since their 2007-08 championship season. It may be wise not to let this group go unnoticed. Even if we've seen this group of guys do this before. We know how that all turned out.

Wednesday's Scores
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Atlanta 105, Memphis 95
Orlando 100, Minnesota 89
Cleveland 118, New York 82
L.A. Lakers 114, Philadelphia 102
Portland 98, Washington 92
Charlotte 103, Oklahoma City 97
Boston 114, Indiana 96
Milwaukee 97, Chicago 90
New Orleans 104, Phoenix 91
Houston 103, L.A. Clippers 96
Miami 93, Utah 89

Quote of the Night

"Everything you learn along the way when you play basketball is: Force a guy to his weak hand. The problem is, his weak hand is his strong hand. I wouldn't be surprised if he writes left-handed.''
-- Washington interim coach Ed Tapscott on Portland's Brandon RoySTARS

Wednesday's Stars

• Rajon Rondo, Celtics, had 16 points, 13 rebounds and a career-high 17 assists for his first career triple-double, leading Boston over Indiana 114-96 for its 10th straight victory.

• Kobe Bryant, Lakers, tormented his hometown team again, scoring 32 points as Los Angeles beat Philadelphia 114-102 to improve to 15-2.

• Brandon Roy, Trail Blazers, scored 12 of his 22 points in the final 8 minutes to help Portland beat Washington 98-92 and extend its winning streak to six games.

• Emeka Okafor, Bobcats, had 25 points and 13 rebounds as Charlotte beat Oklahoma City 103-97 to win consecutive games for the first time this season.

• Chris Paul, Hornets, had 24 points and 15 assists as New Orleans won for the fifth time in six games, 104-91 over Phoenix.

• Dwyane Wade, Heat, scored 23 points and Miami climbed back above .500 by beating short-handed Utah 93-89.

Sitting Suns

Phoenix played without starters Steve Nash and Shaquille O'Neal in a 104-91 loss in New Orleans. Nash had flu-like symptoms, while O'Neal has been sitting out a game when the Suns play on consecutive nights. He is expected to return when they visit Dallas on Thursday.

Sam Smacked

The Toronto Raptors fired coach Sam Mitchell and replaced him with assistant Jay Triano, one day after a 132-93 loss to Denver dropped them to 8-9. Mitchell, the sixth coach in franchise history, signed a three-year contract in 2007 after he led Toronto to a franchise-record 47 wins and the Atlantic Division title. He went 156-189 in four-plus seasons with the Raptors.

Super Start

Cleveland improved to 10-0 on its own floor for the first time in franchise history with a 118-82 victory over New York on Wednesday, its 14th win in 15 games overall. The Cavaliers have won six straight and are the only Eastern Conference team unbeaten at home.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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