Boston’s array of stars came up with huge performances Friday night to push the Celtics to the brink of a series sweep.
Rajon Rondo contributed a triple-double to support huge scoring efforts from Paul Pierce and Ray Allen in the Celtics’ 113-96 victory over the injury-depleted Knicks, pushing them to a 3-0 series lead in the first-round playoff series.
Rondo notched 15 points, 11 rebounds and a franchise playoff-record 20 assists. Pierce had 38 points and Allen added 32 as they became the first pair of Celtics to score 30 points in the same playoff game since Antoine Walker and Pierce accomplished the feat against New Jersey on May 27, 2002.
“After a while, I started feeding off of Ray. I mean he was making every shot and was putting pressure on me to make shots. I couldn’t let him down,” Pierce told the Associated Press. “I was looking at him saying how much on fire he was, but then everybody was saying I’m on fire. It was good to be a part of that.”
Rondo’s big game was his sixth career playoff triple-double, trailing only Larry Bird’s 10 triple-doubles in team history. His strong effort provided his team a unique boost, according to Boston coach Doc Rivers.
“When he gets in a rhythm it allows all of us to get into a rhythm, even the coaches, because we see the game through him,” Rivers told NBA.com.
And also enabled him to lead a parade of Celtic standouts on Friday’s Studs and Duds.
Boston G Rajon Rondo: Contributed his sixth career playoff triple-double with 15 points, 11 rebounds and a franchise playoff-record 20 assists and was plus-23 in the Celtics’ 113-96 Game 3 victory over New York.
Boston F Paul Pierce: Contributed 38 points on 14-for-19 shooting, provided three rebounds and three steals and was plus-23 in the Celtics’ impressive victory at Knicks.
Boston G Ray Allen: Tallied 32 points, three rebounds and two steals and was a team-best plus-34 in the Celtics’ victory at New York.
Los Angeles Lakers G Kobe Bryant: Notched 30 points — his 80th career playoff game of at least 30 points — and also added six rebounds, three steals, a blocked shot and was plus-15 in the Lakers’ 100-86 Game 3 victory over New Orleans.
Atlanta G Jamal Crawford: Hit 18 of his 23 points in the second half, including an improbable bank shot with 5.7 seconds left, to clinch the Hawks’ 88-84 Game 3 victory over Orlando.
Atlanta G Joe Johnson: Went for 21 points, five rebounds, five assists and was plus-6 in the Hawks’ victory over the Magic.
Los Angeles Lakers F Pau Gasol: Turned around a recent slump with 17 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, a blocked shot and was plus-17 in the Lakers’ victory at New Orleans.
Atlanta F Josh Smith: Produced 15 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and was plus-5 in the Hawks’ triumph over the Magic.
New Orleans F Carl Landry: Scored 23 points in the Hornets’ loss to the Lakers.
New Orleans G Chris Paul: Notched 22 points, five rebounds, eight assists and two steals in the Hornets’ loss to the Lakers.
Orlando C Dwight Howard: Scored 21 points, grabbed 15 rebounds, blocked three shots and was plus-3 in the Magic’s loss to Orlando.
New York F Shawne Williams: Came off the bench to notch 17 points, six rebounds, two assists, two steals, two blocked shots and was plus-13 in the Knicks’ loss to Boston.
New York F Amar’e Stoudemire: Struggled playing with an injured back as he went 2-for-8 from the field with only seven points and seven rebounds and was a team-worst minus-34 in the Knicks’ loss to Boston.
New Orleans G Marco Belinelli: Went 2-for-8 from the field, had a turnover and was a team-worst minus-13 in a five-point effort in the Hornets’ loss to the Lakers.
New York F Carmelo Anthony: Clanked through a 4-for-16 shooting night with five turnovers and was minus-27 in the Knicks’ loss to Boston.
Orlando G Jameer Nelson: Had 13 points and 10 assists, but struggled through an icy 5-for-17 shooting effort with two turnovers in the Magic’s loss at Atlanta.
Orlando F Hedo Turkoglu: Struggled through a 3-for-11 effort from the field with nine points in the Magic’s loss at Atlanta.