I hadn't seen that kind of ruthlessness in a while. Until tonight. The C's led 51-41 at the half, and the starters were not in the mood to play the fourth quarter. Three minutes in, the Celtics led by 20, and they finally looked like the Celtics--unselfish, cocky and devastatingly disruptive on defense. Rondo was doing his John Stockton thing, where he drives along the baseline, goes airborne and kicks to an open shooter (Pierce and Scal in this case) for an open 3. KG passed up an easy eight-foot jump hook after shoulder-juking Lopez and threw a no-look pass to Pierce for another three. Rondo flung a behind-the-back pass across nearly the entire width of the court to Scalabrine. Later, Rajon lobbed for KG and accidentally tossed the ball in the basket--and Garnett didn't even laugh. This was business.
And Rondo made a 20-foot jumper. I saw it. SHOOT, RAJON!
On the other end, the shot chart shows the Nets took almost nothing but perimeter shots. But these weren't the good kind of long jumpers. These were the kind of threes a team shoots when they are so dejected they just want to get the possession over with, where players say, "If we're getting beat this badly, I'm at least going to try and get mine."
Third quarter score: 37-19, C's.
Some random thoughts from a nice, relaxing win:
• The basketball gods are still punishing Bobby Simmons for taunting the Bucks bench when he hit that game-tying three-pointer a few days ago. First it was Luke Ridnour doing this, and Wednesday it was Pierce faking him out so badly with a stutter step toward the hoop that Simmons stumbled back and nearly fell on his butt. Pierce stepped back and hit a three.
• Brook Lopez is for real. A great pick by the Nets. He can defend seven-footers, and he used his height to make up for Powe's quickness advantage down low.
• Eddie House was on fire in the fourth quarter. I wish he would save that for a real game.
• I'm going to have to come out against Celtics fans who think Gabe Pruitt is ready to play meaningful minutes in a real game. His handle is sloppy, and when he gets into the lane he tends to go up without a plan. Unlike Rondo, he's not a good enough passer to make something out of those situations; his passes were clanking off people's legs. His jumper looks good, though; I just don't think he's ready to man the point in pressure spots.