Rondo helps Celtics beat Nets, snap two-game losing streak

Boston Celtics center Kris Humphries (43) tries to drive around Brooklyn Nets power forward Mason Plumlee (1) during the second half of Boston's 91-84 win at TD Garden in Boston Friday night.
Winslow Townson | USA Today Sports
Boston Celtics center Kris Humphries (43) tries to drive around Brooklyn Nets power forward Mason Plumlee (1) during the second half of Boston's 91-84 win at TD Garden in Boston Friday night.
Posted March 07, 2014, at 10:36 p.m.
Last modified March 07, 2014, at 11:04 p.m.

BOSTON — Rajon Rondo totaled 20 points, nine assists and seven rebounds to lead the Boston Celtics by the Brooklyn Nets 91-84 Friday night at the TD Garden.

Jeff Green scored 15 points, Jerryd Bayless added 14 and Kelly Olynyk finished with 13 for the Celtics, who snapped a two-game losing streak. Jared Sullinger grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds for Boston, which controlled the boards 51-28.

Joe Johnson’s 21 points and seven rebounds were a highlight for the Nets, who saw a four-game winning streak go by the wayside, falling back to .500 after eclipsing the mark for the first time this season last time out. Deron Williams notched 20 points for Brooklyn, which shot just 36.3 percent.

Boston pulled ahead by as many as 18 in the third quarter before Brooklyn used a 22-6 run to pull to within 70-68 with 2:02 remaining in the period but the Celtics closed the stanza on an 8-2 run for a 78-70 lead entering the final 12 minutes. Andray Blatche split a pair of free throws in the opening minute of the fourth quarter to pull the Nets within seven but Brooklyn would never get closer and a 3-pointer from Bayless with 2:24 remaining sealed the deal for Boston.

The Celtics led 26-20 after the opening frame, with Rondo accounting for 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting, while Pierce notched eight points to lead the way in the early going for the Nets. In the second quarter, Boston was able to extend its lead, thanks in large part to 11 points from Olynyk, to hit the break up 53-41.

GAME NOTEBOOK: Boston snapped a three-game losing streak in the head-to-head series against Brooklyn and won for just the second time in seven tries since the Nets moved from New Jersey. … Nets F Kevin Garnett (back) missed his fourth straight game. …. The Celtics won despite committing 28 turnovers, partially neutralizing their giveaways by dishing out 20 assists.

Grizzlies 85, Bulls 77

CHICAGO — Center Marc Gasol scored 18 points and the Memphis Grizzlies defense dominated down the stretch in an 85-77 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Friday night at the United Center.

After forward Taj Gibson hit a jumper to make it 77-75, the Bulls managed just two more points over the final 5:54, hitting one of nine shots from the field.

Guard Mike Miller added 14 points for the Grizzlies (35-26), while guard Mike Conley and center Kosta Koufos added 12 each. Memphis won the second-chance points 16-4.

Gibson led Chicago (34-28) with 18 points. Center Joakim Noah finished with 15 and guard D.J. Augustin scored 14.

This game figured to be low-scoring and it met expectations. At the start of the night, Chicago ranked last in the NBA in points per game, while Memphis was 25th.

Sluggish doesn’t begin to describe the first quarter, which ended with the Grizzlies leading 15-12. The Bulls shot 21.7 percent (5 for 23) and collected a single assist in the opening quarter. Memphis wasn’t much better, shooting 33 percent.

In comparison, the second quarter was an offensive explosion. Chicago scored 27 points, which all came from three players. Augustin scored 12, Gibson eight and Noah seven in the second quarter.

The Bulls led 61-54 with 3:40 left in the third quarter after a Noah jumper. Memphis turned it around, though, taking a 65-63 edge into the fourth quarter. Then when Miller opened the final quarter with his fourth 3-pointer of the night and Conley added a lay-in, the Grizzlies completed a 16-2 run and took a seven-point lead.

Chicago got within two points a couple of times, before Memphis built the lead back to 81-75 on a fast-break lay-in by Koufos. Gibson hit a jumper to bring the Bulls within 81-77 with 3:16 left. On the other end, the Grizzlies took time off the clock by grabbing a couple of offensive rebounds. Then after Augustin air-balled a long jumper, Conley was fouled on the fast break and his free throws made it 83-77 with 2:14 remaining.

The Bulls started the night with 10 wins in their previous 12 games and during that span, eight different players scored at least 19 points.

Memphis, chasing Dallas and Phoenix for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, improved to 20-7 since Jan. 10.

This was the first date in a six-game homestand for the Bulls. Four of the next five opponents had one of the five best records in the NBA as of Friday morning.

Knicks 108, Jazz 81

NEW YORK — The New York Knicks won their second straight game for only the second time in five weeks, turning back the Utah Jazz 108-81 Friday at Madison Square Garden.

New York (23-40) last won back-to-games Jan. 28 and 30 when it defeated Boston and Cleveland, respectively. The Knicks knocked off Minnesota on Wednesday.

Forward Carmelo Anthony paced the Knicks with 29 points and a season-high eight assists. Shooting guard J.R. Smith added 17 points and center Tyson Chandler recorded 16 points and 11 rebounds for his 13th double-double of the season.

Guards Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks led the Jazz (21-41) with 18 points apiece. Utah dropped its fifth straight game, all on the road. One of the lowest scoring teams in the league, it failed to score at least 100 points for the 43d time this season. It concludes the six-game journey Saturday at Philadelphia.

The Knicks, still clinging to the prospect of making the playoffs despite being 5 1/2 games behind Atlanta for the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference as play began Friday, were in command for most of the game. They held a double-digit lead in the second half with a blend of long-range shooting and interior superiority.

“I am back where I was five or six years ago, chasing the eighth spot,” said Knicks coach Mike Woodson, referring to when he coached in Atlanta. “You have no choice but to watch now. Somebody’s going to get it (final playoff spot) and I hope it’s us.”

The one-sided romp against the Jazz was the Knicks seventh win by over 20 points this season. With three games in the next five days, the Knicks were able to rest their starters in the fourth quarter, especially 31-year-old forward Amar’e Stoudemire who has been hobbled this season with ankle and knee injuries. He scored 10 points in 18 minutes.

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