Celtics 96, Magic 89 - Boston, MA
By Marc D'Amico, February 2, 2014

Key Moment

Stars take over when NBA games are hanging in the balance. The Boston Celtics have their star back.

Rajon Rondo put the C’s on his back and led them to a 96-89 victory during the NBA’s one and only game on Super Bowl Sunday. He played his best basketball at the most important time and his teammates followed him.

The take-over began with four minutes remaining in the game and Boston leading 83-80. Rondo whipped a laser of a pass to Jared Sullinger for a 3-point attempt that the big man cashed in on. That pass was the first of six assists that Rondo tallied in the fourth quarter alone.

Rondo followed Sullinger’s 3-pointer up with a smooth jumper of his own. He pulled up from just beyond the free-throw line for a 17-foot jumper that touched nothing but net and put Boston on top by four.

The Celtics scored three more baskets over the remainder of the game and their star point guard assisted on all three of them. Rondo found Brandon Bass for back-to-back mid-range jumpers that gave the C’s an eight-point lead with a minute remaining, and then he hit Avery Bradley for a breakaway dunk to seal the game.

Rondo’s final tally on the afternoon was 19 points and 10 assists. Four of those points and six of those assists were delivered in the fourth quarter to account for 17 of Boston’s 25 points in the frame.

There’s no questioning the impact Rondo made on this game, particularly in the fourth quarter. He was both a force and a calming presence for Boston’s offense.

As Brad Stevens put it, “It does give you a sense of comfort heading into those final few minutes that you have someone to direct your offense.”

Not just someone, but a game-changing star.

Key Box Score Line

Our Key Moment already highlighted what Rajon Rondo did during the fourth quarter of Boston’s victory over Orlando. But let’s take a deeper look into what he brought to the table all afternoon.

Sunday’s contest marked Rondo’s seventh game of the season. This one was by far his best. He came out of the gates looking like the Rondo of old as he racked up four points, two rebounds, three assists and a steal in the first quarter alone.

Rondo’s work certainly wasn’t done at that point. He was just getting started.

The point guard caught fire in the second period, making four of his five shot attempts en route to nine points. He continued to shoot well throughout the afternoon as he racked up a season-high 19 points on 9-of-11 shooting. The majority of those points were scored on impressive driving layups or jumpers, but he also showcased a shot he’s never shown before: a hook shot.

On one play, Rondo drove from left to right through the lane and tossed up a running, right-handed hook that swished through the basket as Boston’s shot clock expired. No. 9 looked like No. 32, as in Kevin McHale, on that play.

Rondo's impressive offensive performance led Boston to a victory and also gave the captain his first double-double of the season. He finished with season highs of 19 points and 10 assists to go along with six boards and three steals.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Orlando's largest lead was just two points.
  • The Celtics scored 27 points in each of the first two quarters.
  • Rajon Rondo (19 points, 10 assists) and Jared Sullinger (21 points, 12 rebounds) each tallied double-doubles.
  • Rondo's 10 assists and Sullinger's 21 points and 12 rebounds all led the game.
  • The Celtics hit exactly half of their 82 shot attempts.
  • Nine of the game's 10 starters scored in double-figures.
  • Brandon Bass contributed 19 points and nine rebounds.
  • Arron Afflalo led the Magic with 19 points.
  • Nikola Vucevic accounted for Orlando's only double-double with 14 points and 11 boards.
  • Orlando made six more free throws (18) than Boston attempted (12).
  • Boston's bench totaled just 12 points.
  • Eight of the 10 Celtics players who appeared in the game finished with a positive plus/minus rating.

Quote of the Night

Now that he's seven or eight games back, he's a very, very good shooter who has put in more time to be a good shooter - better than his statistics in the past would say. Brad Stevens on Rajon Rondo's shooting ability
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