Rondo, Celtics rally to top 76ers in opener
By SPORTS NETWORK
|Philadelphia 76ers' Evan Turner drives past Boston Celtics' Rajon Rondo during the second half of Game 1 of their NBA Eastern Conference semi-final. (Jessica Rinaldi/REUTERS)
BOSTON - Rajon Rondo recorded his eighth career playoff triple-double on Saturday and guided the Celtics to a 92-91 win over the 76ers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Rondo finished with 13 points, 17 assists and 12 rebounds and helped Boston overcome a 10-point fourth quarter deficit. Kevin Garnett added 29 points and 11 rebounds for the fourth-seeded Celtics, who defeated the Hawks in six games to advance to the second round for the fifth straight season.
Andre Iguodala, who sent the eighth-seeded 76ers into the second round with a pair of last-second free throws on Thursday, scored a team-high 19 points in the loss.
"We didn't get good looks," Iguodala said, referring to his team's play in the fourth quarter. "We were kind of trying to make the home run plays instead of just grinding it out."
Game 2 is set for Monday in Boston.
The Sixers took two of three games from the Celtics during the regular season. It marked the first time they won the season series since 2006-07 and they were in control for much of Game 1.
They held the night's largest lead -- 13 points -- late in the second quarter and were up 77-67 on Lavoy Allen's turnaround hook shot early in the fourth.
But Rondo spearheaded a 16-5 surge and the Celtics took their first lead of the quarter, 83-82, on his 18-foot jump shot with 3:47 remaining.
Spencer Hawes responded with a short bucket but Garnett scored five straight and Paul Pierce netted two of his 14 points with a step-back jumper to give Boston its largest lead of the game at 90-84.
Iguodala then drained a pull-up three-pointer and Jrue Holiday wrapped four points around a Pierce basket to pull Philadelphia within one, 92-91, with 3.4 seconds left.
Coming out of a timeout, Rondo sprinted into the backcourt to receive the inbounds pass from half court and eluded Evan Turner's foul attempt as time expired.
"I was struggling with my shot early, I was turning the ball over," said Rondo. "I decided to do the intangibles and do everything out there on the floor to help my team. I came up with some rebounds, came up with some assists and just happened to get a triple-double."
Iguodala and the Sixers, fresh off of their series-clinching win over the top- seeded Bulls, were hot early. They shot 54.5 percent in the first quarter, got two 3s from Iguodala, and were up 28-18 heading into the second.
There the lead reached 13, but Boston closed the quarter with six straight points to trail 47-42 at the half and briefly went ahead early in the third on Avery Bradley's transition layup.
Ray Allen scored 12 points for the Celtics and Brandon Bass had 10...Turner had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the 76ers while Hawes finished with 15 points and Allen scored 12...These teams last met in the playoffs in 2002, when the Celtics won a first-round series, 3-2...The Sixers fell to 1-8 over their last nine playoff road games.