BOSTON — Rajon Rondo is starting to feel like his old self – and the Boston Celtics are starting to win again.
Rondo had eight points, 11 assists and nine rebounds in his eighth game back from a serious knee injury, and Jeff Green scored 17 of his 36 points in the third quarter in the Celtics’ 114-108 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night.
“It’s only a matter of time before we got on the same page,” Green said about Rondo. “He puts me in my spots, gets it to me in the open floor. He sees the floor very well. He’s helping me get into a good rhythm. I have to continue to make sure I get open for him.”
Jared Sullinger had 19 points and 10 rebounds for Boston. The Celtics improved to 17-33, winning their second straight game after losing 19 of 22.
Rondo had 19 points and 10 assists in Boston’s win over Orlando on Sunday.
“I’m getting back to my old self,” Rondo said. “I’m not there yet but I’ll take the progress.”
Brandon Bass had 18 points for the Celtics, 2-6 since Rondo’s return.
Thaddeus Young had 20 points, and Tony Wroten added 18 for Philadelphia. The 76ers (15-35) have lost four straight and 14 of their last 17 games. They also have lost six in a row at home for the first time since the 1996-97 season.
Spencer Hawes added 13 points and 13 rebounds for Philadelphia and Lavoy Allen had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Sixers coach Brett Brown noticed the difference in the Celtics with an effective Rondo.
“He’s their compass,” Brown said. “He’s a great point guard and a leader.”
Green scored 13 straight points during a 2-minute stretch in the third quarter, capped by a 3-pointer that gave the Celtics their biggest lead to that point, 83-71 with 3:44 left.
Boston coach Brad Stevens credited Rondo for helping Green succeed.
“He made a lot of shots and Rondo found him a couple of times early,” Stevens said. “His job is simplified with Rajon out there. He pushed the tempo better than I’ve seen him in the first eight games. He got us a lot of good looks. His greatest strength is he makes everyone else better and that’s really shown true the last two games.”
Said Rondo: “Everybody needs easy buckets, especially a guy (Green) who’s that talented and athletic. All he needs to do is see it go through a couple of times, get to the free-throw line. He gets hot quick.”
Wroten made a 58-footer at the buzzer to cut it to 88-82 entering the fourth.
Philadelphia got as close as three points in the final quarter on Wroten’s two free throws with 8:35 left but never got closer. The Sixers had a chance to get it to two points, but Evan Turner missed a baseline jumper with 1:13 left, and Sullinger converted a three-point play on the ensuing possession off an assist from Rondo with 59.4 seconds left to give Boston a 112-105 advantage.
“He made a ton of good decisions and some huge plays late,” Stevens said about Rondo.
The Boston point guard, who is still getting into game shape, also got some help from his teammates. After going down at one point, Bass resuscitated a winded Rondo.
“Nothing was wrong,” Rondo said. “I was winded. He brought me back to life a little bit. Those guys pick me up. Whoever hits the floor helps each other up. We’re a team and that’s what they did on that particular play.”
The Sixers haven’t won since last Wednesday’s buzzer-beating 95-94 win at Boston.