Ford Keys to the Game: Bulls 91, Celtics 95

Ford Keys to the Game

Bulls 91, Celtics 95

Game Highlights

Photo of the Game

Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo scoops home a layup for two of his career-high tying 32 points.
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty

Key Moment

When the game is on the line in the final minute of the game, you want the ball in Rajon Rondo’s hands to take the most important free throws of the day, right?

On a normal day the answer to that question is a resounding “No.” However, today, it was an overwhelming “Yes!”

Rondo recorded one of the greatest stat lines the NBA has seen in decades Sunday afternoon and in the process he scored the biggest points of the game.

The first two clutch points came with 21.5 seconds remaining in regulation. Chicago trailed by three and had just attempted to tie the game up with a shot from downtown at the other end of the court, but C.J. Watson missed the missed the fadeaway. Rondo snagged the rebound, his ninth of the game, and was immediately fouled by Luol Deng. He stepped up to the line with confidence and drilled both of the freebies to put the C’s ahead by five and essentially put the game on the rocks.

Chicago wasn’t going to go down quietly, though, and immediately went at the basket on its ensuing possession. Watson was fouled by Mickael Pietrus and made one of his free throws to keep the game within striking distance for the Bulls. But when he missed the second free throw, guess who swept in to grab the board? You got it. Rondo.

Moments after Rondo had sealed up his triple-double, John Lucas fouled him to send him to the line yet again. Rondo again sank both shots from the charity stripe to put Boston ahead by six with 9.8 seconds left in the game.

Those consecutive rebounds and perfect trips to the line saved the Celtics from blowing a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter. You wouldn’t typically want Rondo at the line in that situation, but today he could do nothing wrong.

Key Box Score Line

Is this even a question? We’ll let Rondo’s line speak for itself: 32 points, 10 rebounds, 15 assists, 11-for-22 shooting, two steals.

Not bad, eh?

With Derrick Rose sidelined due to back spasms, Rondo absolutely took this game over from the opening tip. He tied his career high in scoring, took a career-high 22 shots and was on fire from the free-throw line, where he made 10 of his 13 attempts. Four of those free throws were in the clutch, as highlighted in the section above.

This wasn’t just any triple-double that Rondo recorded. It was historic. According to ESPN, there have only been five triple-doubles since 1990 in which a player notched at least 32 points, 10 rebounds and 15 assists. Rondo is one of those five, and the other four names are LeBron James, Baron Davis, Jason Kidd and Magic Johnson. Pretty impressive company.

Rondo showed aggression from the very start of the game until the very end. One person who loved having a front row seat to watch it all was Paul Pierce.

“When he’s assertive, aggressive, the way he plays, the way he played tonight, we’re a tough team to stop,” said Pierce. “When he’s out in transition, pushing the ball, taking the shots right there, the mid range, rebounding, just he’s all energy. He’s one of those guys when he plays with a lot of energy, he’s so tough ‘cause he can rebound the ball well, when he pushes off the break he’s tough to stop in transition. He just did it all tonight. He was great to watch.”

As long as you weren’t a member of the Chicago Bulls.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Chicago shot just 38.6 percent from the field.
  • Five Celtics scored in double-figures.
  • Boston outrebounded Chicago 44-42.
  • Rajon Rondo tied his career high with 32 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out a season-high 15 assists.
  • The Bulls never led in the game.
  • Boston scored a whopping 33 fast break points compared to just seven by the Bulls.
  • Kevin Garnett logged a double-double with 13 points and 12 boards.
  • In a spot start for Jermaine O'Neal, Chris Wilcox nearly grabbed a double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds.
  • Paul Pierce and Ray Allen combined to score just 20 points on 7-of-19 shooting.
  • JaJuan Johnson played a career-high 33 minutes and finished with 12 points and four rebounds.
  • Ronnie Brewer and C.J. Watson led the Bulls with six assists apiece.
  • Watson and Carlos Boozer tied for the team high in scoring with 22 points apiece.
  • Four players, two from each team, attempted four free throws. Four players in the game also made four free throws.
  • Three of the four Chicago reserves who appeared in the game grabbed five rebounds apiece.

Quote of the Night

Paul Pierce on afternoon games: "Sometimes [early games are] hard to get into. We’re so used to playing the 7 or 8 o'clock games. So it’s always important; usually when we get off to a great start it’s really good news for us.."