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Rajon Rondo scored a career-high 24 points to go with eight assists and five rebounds, coming back from a flagrant foul that knocked him to the floor to lead the Boston Celtics to a 111-100 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night.
A night after losing by one point to Cleveland, the Celtics avoided a losing streak despite missing All-Star Kevin Garnett for the fifth straight game. The rest of Boston's starters got some time off, too, sitting out all but the final minute of the fourth quarter while the reserves handled the Pacific Division-trailing Clippers.
Ray Allen scored 19 and Paul Pierce had 15, with reserve Leon Powe adding 13 points and 10 rebounds. Boston plays Minnesota — a.k.a. the Western Celtics — on Friday, likely without Garnett, the player obtained from the Timberwolves in the summer's blockbuster seven-for-one trade.
Corey Maggette had 33 points and eight rebounds and sub Cuttino Mobley scored 16 for the Clippers, who beat the New York Knicks on Monday night to snap a nine-game road losing streak. Los Angeles played the second half without Sam Cassell, who was ejected after flattening Rondo late in the first half.
Rondo was dominating Cassell on the floor — especially in the second quarter, when the Boston point guard scored 12 points. He stole the ball twice in a 60-second span, and that might have been going through Cassell's mind when Rondo drove to the basket with 2:54 left in the first half.
Cassell came in from the side and raked his forearm across Rondo's face, knocking him to the floor. Cassell was called for a flagrant foul, and after reviewing the videotape the officials ejected him.
It was an odd move for a player who was quoted in the morning's Boston Globe practically begging for his contract to be bought out so he could join the Celtics. If he can break free from his $6.15 million deal with the Clippers, the 38-year-old point guard might have to start off by apologizing to the guy he would be backing up.
Rondo already had cotton stuffed in his right nostril to stop it from bleeding from contact on an earlier play. But he didn't show an ill-effects on the floor, reaching his career high with a pair of free throws after re-entering with the starters in the final minute.
Pierce scored the first nine points to give Boston a 9-0 lead with 9:26 left in the first quarter, but the Clippers came back almost as easily and made it 11-9. Los Angeles took the lead late in the first and made it 29-25 on Ross' long 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Boston had another 9-0 run in the second quarter and opened a 59-48 lead on Tony Allen's layup in the final seconds of the half.
Again, the Clippers came back, cutting the deficit to three points, 84-81, at the end of three.
But Boston's subs scored the first three baskets of the fourth quarter to take a 90-81 lead, and the Clippers never got closer than five points.
This program aired on February 7, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.
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