BOSTON: Rajon Rondo (right #9) delivered a mammoth “triple-double” to lead the Celtics to a 115-111 overtime victory over New York Sunday, spoiling Knicks guard Jeremy Lin’s return to Boston.
Rondo poured in 18 points with a career-high 17 rebounds and 20 assists. It was the most impressive “triple-double” in the league since Magic Johnson’s 24-17-17 in 1989.
Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 34 points, including a three-pointer in the waning seconds of regulation to force overtime, and Kevin Garnett had a “double-double” of 18 points and 10 rebounds.
NBA sensation Lin — a onetime bench-warmer who shot to prominence last month — had 14 points with five assists and four rebounds for the Knicks, who were led by Carmelo Anthony’s 25 points.
Lin, who graduated from Harvard University in the Boston area and attended several Celtics games as a student, had hoped for more on his return.
His last game at Boston, on February 3, preceded his February 4 break-out performance against New Jersey and the dawn of the “Linsanity” hoopla that gripped New York media and Knicks fans.
The fact that Lin is Asian-American, born in California to parents who moved from Taiwan, made him an international favorite as well and there were pockets of Lin supporters scattered among the Celtics faithful on Sunday.
Lin’s Harvard coach — and the university president — attended the game.
Two quick fouls hindered Lin early, but in the fourth quarter he flashed the skills that have sparked the Knicks as New York tried to claw back.
Lin connected on a layup off a loose ball and drained a wide-open three-pointer to narrow the gap to 96-95 with 2:07 left in the fourth.
He scored six straight points late in the last period of regulation, but he also had six turnovers in his 31 total minutes.
“The thing about Jeremy, he’s going to make some mistakes, and he’s got a learning curve,” said Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni.
“There’s no way you can throw him in here, the first time he ever does it, and expect it to be perfect. But he finds a way to be very positive at the end of games.”
The Celtics paid special attention to Lin. Like Miami a fortnight earlier, they didn’t want the rising star to beat them.
“Definitely a target,” Lin said. “But I think that’s fine.”