Apparently, the Celtics were exactly what the Pacers needed.

After losing four straight games, Indiana (47-17), the cream of the crop in the Eastern Conference, returned to the friendly confines of Bankers Life Fieldhouse to snap its worst losing streak of the season. The Pacers (30-4 at home) outslugged Boston, 94-83, on Tuesday night. The Celtics (22-42) two-game winning streak — it was only their second winning streak since Dec. 16 — came to a conclusion.

David West tossed in a game-high 21 points, and received help from Paul George (12 points), George Hill (12 points) and Luis Scola (11 points).

Jared Sullinger scored 13 of his team-high 17 points in the second half. Kris Humphries posted another solid game with 15 points and nine rebounds, and Chris Johnson chipped in 14 points off the bench.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE CELTICS

Non-Humphries starters: Humphries got next to no help from the other four starters. Brandon Bass, Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green and Jerryd Bayless combined for 34 points, but shot a putrid 11-for-43 from the field. Rondo (4-for-15), Green (3-for-15) and Bayless (1-for-6) were the worst offenders.

Shooting: It’s next to impossible to beat the best team in the Eastern Conference shooting 36 percent. That’s exactly what Boston did on Tuesday night as it finished 32-of-89 from the floor. Additionally, the Celtics finished 3-for-18 from the 3-point line.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE CELTICS

Offensive rebounding: The Celtics mounted a second-half comeback because of their work on the offensive glass. Boston collected 19 offensive rebounds, 11 in the second half. Sullinger contributed most prominently to the cause, snagging seven rebounds of the offensive variety. In just seven first half minutes, Sullinger scored four points and grabbed two rebounds.

Humphries: Facing another dominant center (Roy Hibbert) one game after bumping down low with double-double machine Andre Drummond, Humphries again responded with a big game. Humphries followed up his 20-point, 11-rebound performance with 15 points and nine rebounds, and kept Boston’s head above water when no other Celtic was contributing offensively. Hibbert had an uncharacteristically quiet night with just six points and nine rebounds.

Johnson: Celtics’ fans infatuation with Chris Johnson has worn off. He’€™s gone from one of the stories of the year — earning two 10-day contracts as an undrafted rookie free agent — to just another average role player in the last month. But Johnson recreated a piece of that two-week magic on Tuesday, posting his first double-digit game since Jan. 9. Johnson tied a career-high with 14 points, and finished 6-for-8 from the field.

Blog Author: 
Jackson Alexander

Chris Babb will be staying for at least another 10 days in a Celtics uniform.

Babb indicated after Sunday’s 118-111 win over the Pistons that he had agreed to accept a second 10-day contract after the first one expires Sunday at midnight.

Rajon Rondo went into detail after Sunday night’s win over the Pistons, explaining exactly why he doesn’t feel ready to play in back-to-back games, nearly two months after returning to game action.

Rajon Rondo went into detail after Sunday night’s win over the Pistons, explaining exactly why he doesn’t feel ready to play in back-to-back games, nearly two months after returning to game action.

“If I was ready [for back-to-back games], I’d play,” Rondo said. “It’s a matter of a combination of things that bother me on my lower part of my body, my calves, my Achilles and then my knee so it’s just a part of all of those three that are affecting me after games. The next day, I need the rest.”

Rondo has been taking long massage treatments after each game on his lower body to try and reduce the impact from running up and down the court and playing his typically aggressive, sometimes reckless style. But the massages, he said, only go so far. He still has to wake up the next morning.

“I’m pretty sore when I wake up,” Rondo said. “My Achilles bothers me the most when I get out of bed. Throughout the day it gets better. I still don’t want to try to overdo it and something else may happen just because of that.”

Which is why coach Brad Stevens before Sunday’s game all but ruled out Rondo from playing in any of the five remaining sets of back-to-back games for the team this season, with the next one coming Tuesday in Indiana and Wednesday at home against the Knicks. Stevens, Rondo and GM Danny Ainge don’t want their superstar point guard injuring something like his Achilles trying to compensate for a right knee that may not still be 100 percent.

Is Rondo surprised it’s taking this long to get back to full strength?

“No. it’s the NBA season,” Rondo said. “It’s tough. I’m up to 30, 34, 35 minutes a night now. I’m doing the right procedures. I’m taking the massage. I’m icing after the games. I’m doing what I’m supposed to do it’s just that I have to listen to my body.”

Rondo had 18 assists and no turnovers in Sunday’s 118-111 win over the Pistons, falling just two assists shy of the NBA record for most assists without a turnover in NBA history. Rondo also passed Bill Russell for fifth place on the Celtics all-time list with 4,101, one more than the NBA Hall of Fame center.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
Chris Babb (52) has earned a second 10-day contract with the Celtics. (AP)

Chris Babb (52) has earned a second 10-day contract with the Celtics. (AP)

Chris Babb will be staying for at least another 10 days in a Celtics uniform.

Babb indicated after Sunday’s 118-111 win over the Pistons that he had agreed to accept a second 10-day contract after the first one expires Sunday at midnight.

The move will keep the rookie guard on the team for at least six more games. The Celtics signed the undrafted rookie after an impressive showing in camp in October and after Avery Bradley went down with an ankle injury, leaving the team short on off-guards who could defend. Bradley is expected to return on Friday at home against Phoenix but the Celtics clearly like the determination Babb has shown in practice and games and is willingness and ability to pick up the system.

“Hopefully I make a couple more shots, but that will come,” said Babb, who was 1-for-3 from the floor and had an assist in 12 minutes off the bench Sunday. “I’€™m just really focusing on just playing hard when I get into game, when I get my opportunities. Play hard, be prepared, and know the role. Just continue to do what I’€™ve been doing.”

Babb has appeared in four games, averaging 3.3 points, 1.8 rebounds and 13 minutes of action after playing most of the season for the Maine Red Claws of the D-League.

“That’€™s 90 percent of the battle, just getting a shot, because there’€™s so much talent,” said Babb. “In the D-League, [there are] guys coming out of college and veterans, so all it takes is for some guys like me is a chance. I was fortunate enough to get one.”

“I’€™d really like to have him around,” added coach Brad Stevens said before Sunday’s game. “All indications are that everybody feels that way within our organization.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Rajon Rondo dished out a season-high 18 assists to go with 11 points and the Celtics rode a red-hot third quarter from the field to post a 118-111 win over the Pistons Sunday night at TD Garden.

Rajon Rondo dishes one of his 18 assists Sunday night against the Pistons. (AP)

Rajon Rondo dishes one of his 18 assists Sunday night against the Pistons. (AP)

Rajon Rondo dished out a season-high 18 assists to go with 11 points and the Celtics rode a red-hot third quarter from the field to post a 118-111 win over the Pistons Sunday night at TD Garden. Jeff Green scored 27 while Kelly Olynyk provided a big first-half spark off the bench, scoring 13 of his 18 points in the opening 24 minutes.

Rondo’s 18 helpers were all the more remarkable considering he had no turnovers, just two assists shy of matching the NBA record for assists in a game without committing a turnover, achieved three times.

Kris Humphries added his sixth double-double of the season, scoring 20 points on 9-of-13 shooting, while grabbing 10 rebounds. The Celtics improved to 22-41, winning consecutive games for the first time since beating Orlando, Philadelphia and Sacramento to open February. Josh Smith led Detroit with 28 while Greg Monroe added 22 for the Pistons, who fell to 24-39. The Celtics are just five games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 19 games remaining.

As was the case in Friday’s win over the Nets, the Celtics took a lead after the first quarter and were in command most of the way. Jared Sullinger’s layup with 31.3 seconds left in the first gave the Celtics a 24-22 lead, an advantage they would not relinquish.

Green scored 11 of his 27 in the second quarter as the Celtics took 57-49 halftime lead.

The Celtics came out blazing hot in the third, making 11 of their first 16 shots to open a 17-point lead. After shooting just 2-for-14 from long range in the first half, the Celtics drilled 8-of-12 from long range to put up 31 points in the first nine minutes of the quarter. The Celtics, thanks to 68 percent (15-of-22) shooting, scored 38 points in the quarter taking a 95-84 lead into the fourth.

The 38 points was the third-highest total in any quarter this season, behind the 42 in the first quarter against the Pistons on Dec. 18 and the 39 against the Bucks on Dec. 3.

While the Celtics were on fire offensively, they were leaking oil badly on defense, allowing 35 points as Detroit kept the game within range by shooting 60 percent from the field.

The 73-point quarter was a throwback to the old days of the ABA when little defense was played and open shots were the norm.

Green’s ill-fated behind-the-back pass to Will Bynum set up a Pistons fast break layup and three-point play on the other end as the Pistons drew to within eight, 95-87, in the opening 90 seconds. The two teams went back and forth. Josh Smith hit a three with 4:43 left to cut the Boston lead to nine before Jeff Green answered on the next possession.

Another Smith three cut the lead to eight, 111-103 with 2:53 left. Will Bynum hit two free throws with 2:29 left to make it 111-105. Rondo found Humphries under the basket for a nice reverse layup to make it 113-105. Bynum converted another pair of free throws with 1:10 left to make it a six-point game. His two free throws with 48.2 seconds left cut the lead to four, 113-109.

The Celtics will leave Monday after practice for a game at Indiana Tuesday night. They return to Boston to play the Knicks on Wednesday night at TD Garden. Head coach Brad Stevens indicated before the game that Rondo will likely not play in the second game of back-to-backs the rest of the season and is expected to sit out the Knicks game if he plays Tuesday night.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Not that it should surprise anyone at this point of a lost season but Celtics coach Brad Stevens hinted at the obvious before Sunday’s game with the Pistons at TD Garden.

Rajon Rondo will likely not be playing in the final five sets of back-to-backs this season.

Brad Stevens (left) and Rajon Rondo have been carefully working out his playing load. (AP)

Brad Stevens (left) and Rajon Rondo have been carefully working out his playing load. (AP)

Not that it should surprise anyone at this point of a lost season but Celtics coach Brad Stevens hinted at the obvious before Sunday’s game with the Pistons at TD Garden.

Rajon Rondo will likely not be playing in the final five sets of back-to-backs this season.

“My guess is probably that he will not play on the second game of a back to back,” Stevens said of Rondo, who had played in 17 of Boston’s 22 games since coming back from his right ACL tear.

The Celtics play on the road at Indiana Tuesday night before returning home to take on the Knicks Wednesday night at the Garden. Since Rondo came back on Jan. 17 against the Lakers, the Celtics have played four sets of back-to-backs and Rondo has missed the backend each time, including his now-infamous LA birthday bash on Feb. 22 in Sacramento.

The Celtics travel to Indiana Tuesday before returning home to play the Knicks Wednesday. There are four remaining sets of back-to-backs after this week.

“In this league, at his position, he’s going to get tested,” Stevens added. “There’s really good players at the point guard spot every night.”

Rondo is averaging 12.2 points and 8.2 assists per game in his 17 games back this season.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Paul Pierce sees what Danny Ainge sees and what most Celtics fans see in Rajon Rondo when the Boston point guard is on his game.

“He’s unstoppable,” Pierce said of Rondo. “I always said the more he’s improved, the more he’s expanded his game, he’s one of the best. If he’s coming down and knocking down threes, it’s almost impossible to keep him out of the paint at times, he has the floater, the way he finds people in traffic. If he continues to consistently knock down that [3-point] shot, watch out.”

Rondo drilled his first three 3-point attempts Friday night and, except for a hiccup at the end of the third quarter, Rondo and the Celtics didn’t look back in a 91-84 win over Pierce’s Nets Friday night at TD Garden.

Rondo nearly had a triple double, with 20 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.

Pierce even gave Rondo an assist of his own, helping Rondo to his feet late in the first half after Rondo took a spill to the floor. He gave the Celtics point guard a pat on the rear and got an ovation from the crowd.

“In the end, me and Rondo share a special bond,” Pierce said. “We’ll always be friends, we’ll always have something in common with our championship, our kids still hang out together.”

Then Pierce went a little further, offering that their kids share that same bond and “hung out for his birthday, actually.” Pierce laughed out loud very hard for several seconds.

Of course, Pierce was very aware of the much ballyhooed Rondo birthday party in Los Angeles last month, when he skipped out on a trip to Sacramento after being asked to travel with the team and not stay behind. Ask Pierce and he’ll tell you all things considered, he’d want Rondo as his captain any day.

“Rondo, I respect him and what he’s doing moving forward with this franchise and it will always be that way,” Pierce added.

If anyone can understand what Rondo is going through right now it’s Pierce. Pierce made the Eastern Conference finals in 2002 and were in the playoffs the next two seasons before the team went through a massive rebuild, bottoming out in 2006-07 with a 24-win season.

“I try to forget those days,” Pierce said, laughing again. “Those were trying days. But you grow from there. I think it made me a better player, physically, mentally, it made me stronger. You can only learn from this process. You find out what type of players you have when you go through moments like this.

“They are a young team, they got a mix of some veterans, some young guys they are developing and they are only going to get better,” said Pierce. “Rondo is leading them right now, moving into the next generation of Celtics. I think their future is going to be very bright.”

There was one bit of advice Pierce had for Rondo when asked how the sometimes temperamental point guard could best handle his situation.

“Just being patient,” said Pierce. “When you’re in the middle of your prime like Rondo is and you’re frustrated with the losing, it’s about staying patient, staying with the guys, helping them develop. At times, it’s going to be frustrating, and you have to understand that and the position you’re in.

“At times, things don’t always go your way and you want everything to be better right away. But you understand it’s a process. Danny Ainge understands it’s a process. And they have to be on the same page. Your lead player, your franchise player, your organization, you have to be in communication with what they want from each other and you go from there. You build with each other.”

While talking about his former teammate, Pierce even offered that a return to Boston isn’t out of the question. But for now, he’ll let Rondo handle the leadership role in Boston.

“I think Rondo really understands it,” Pierce said. “He understands probably more than I did at the time. When I first got here, we were in rebuild mode, we made the playoffs, then we went back into rebuild mode. Same with him. He came in, we were rebuilding, we went through a phase of winning, now he’s back in rebuild mode. But he’s still young enough to see it out to where he’s still going to be in his prime. I know the Celtics are going to do whatever it takes. They’ve got great owners, great management, to get back to that top level again.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia