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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Rondo Sprains His Ankle But Celtics Beat Jazz Thanks To Green & Barbosa

Finally, that was the Celtics' depth that we've been hearing so much about. Rajon Rondo (6 points, 10 assists) left the game with a sprained ankle in the 3rd quarter tonight but Boston (5-3, 2-2 home) was able to temporarily withstand his absence in a 98-93 win over Utah (4-5, 1-5 away) at TD Garden.

Their bench outscored Utah's 47-25. The two main reasons that the Celts still had energy and points even without their point guard were Jeff Green (16 points) and Leandro Barbosa (16 points). Green shook the Garden with an insane dunk over Al Jefferson (13 points, 14 rebounds) while also getting to the free throw line (6 of 7) and converting. Barbosa took over point guard duties from Rondo and it seemed like he was attacking the basket at will with a variety of shots.

Paul Pierce had a game-high 23 points and Kevin Garnett had 11 points and eight rebounds while Brandon Bass scored eight in Boston's third straight victory. The Jazz are a solid team but without a true star, they are destined for nothing but first-round exits in the Western Conference playoffs. Paul Millsap had 20 points and 12 rebounds, Mo Williams and Gordon Hayward had 14 points while Derrick Favors added 14 points off the bench.

An injury to Rondo can never come at a good time but tonight was the beginning of a brutal four games in five nights stretch for the C's. Needless to say, they'll need him back on the court as soon as he can go. Utah led 25-20 after the first quarter and 46-44 at halftime. Boston took control in the third quarter (29-24) thanks to plenty of fast break points (20-8 overall). The C's also got the job done in the fourth, 25-23.

Boston had a 10 percent advantage in shooting (50-40%), six more assists (24-18) and five more steals (8-3). Utah hit three more 3-pointers (7-4), grabbed 15 more rebounds (48-33, including 18-4 offensive) and had two more blocks (6-4). Four more turnovers (13-9) for the Jazz and two less made free throws (22-20) were probably the difference in a tight game.

Tomorrow night (8 p.m., TNT) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn is their first look at the Nets (4-2), who many feel could be a contender in the Atlantic Division. Any team with Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries among others is no joke, even with puppet Avery Bradley working the sidelines.

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