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Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013

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Around the bend: Boston's Rajon Rondo drives on Charlotte's Bismack Biyombo in the first quarter on Monday night. The Celtics beat the Bobcats 100-89. AP

Rondo steers Celtics past Bobcats


BOSTON — It wasn't too long ago that Rajon Rondo was one of the NBA's up-and-coming ball-handlers, trying to show he belonged with veterans like Chris Paul, Jason Kidd and Steve Nash.

Now the Celtics point guard is trying to prove to the youngsters that he can still play.

"I'm getting a little bit older and the younger guys are coming in, and I may have a mark on my back being an older guy, having made a couple of All-Star (games)," The 26-year-old Rondo said after recording his third triple-double of the season on Monday night in a 100-89 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats. "I have a target on my back every night so I just want to go out and do what I do best: run the show and make some shots."

Rondo scored 17 points with 12 assists and 10 rebounds — his 26th career triple-double, including the playoffs. Motivated by facing 22-year-old Charlotte point guard Kemba Walker, Rondo had a hand in the Celtics' first 19 points as they opened a double-digit lead early in the first quarter and coasted to their sixth consecutive victory.

"It's not fun losing. Since we've been winning, the locker room is a little bit more relaxed, guys aren't as tense," he said. "We lost a couple of games and we never got down. When we play, we play loose. We have smiles on the court. . . . It's nice to see that swagger on the court again since we've been winning."

Paul Pierce scored 19 and Avery Bradley added 16 for Boston. Kevin Garnett, who needed 13 points to tie Patrick Ewing for 16th on the NBA's career scoring list, was 2-for-11 from the field and scored just seven points to go with his 10 rebounds.

Hakim Warrick and Ramon Sessions had 16 points apiece and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored 10 with eight rebounds for the Bobcats, who lost their third straight and their 23rd in the last 25 games.

The Celtics scored 13 of the game's first 15 points and never trailed.

Rondo had five assists and seven points in the opening 6:17.

Clippers 99, Grizzlies 73

In Memphis, reserves Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes each scored 16 points, and Los Angeles easily routed the Grizzlies with Chris Paul missing his first game this season because of a bruised right kneecap.

The matchup between two of the best teams in the West wasn't close much of the way. While Paul watched from the bench, the Grizzlies were without their leading scorer, Rudy Gay, who was excused for his grandmother's funeral in Baltimore.

Eric Bledsoe, starting for Paul, had 14 points, and Blake Griffin scored 10.

Zach Randolph had 15 for Memphis. Wayne Ellington added 11 in a rare start, and Darrell Arthur had 10.

Bulls 97, Hawks 58

In Chicago, Carlos Boozer had 20 points and 13 rebounds, Luol Deng scored 18 points and the Bulls held Atlanta to a franchise-low 20 points in the first half of a victory over the Hawks.

Atlanta scored just five points in the second quarter and trailed 48-20 at the break.

Wizards 120, Magic 91

In Washington, Emeka Okafor had 19 points and 11 rebounds, leading six players in double figures for the hosts in a victory over Orlando for their third straight win.

John Wall had 12 points and six assists in 20 minutes in his second game of the season after missing the Wizards' first 33 with a left knee injury.

Mavericks 113, T-Wolves 98

In Dallas, Darren Collison led six players in double figures with 23 points and the Mavericks matched their season high with a third straight win in a victory against Minnesota.

J.J. Barea, who was injured in two previous trips to Dallas, led the Timberwolves with 21 points.

Thunder 120, Suns 90

In Phoenix, Kevin Durant scored 27 of his 41 points in the second half and Oklahoma City became the NBA's first 30-game winner of the season with a victory over the Suns.

Russell Westbrook added 36 for the Thunder, but it was Durant who took over in his fourth 40-point game of the season, scoring 19 in the fourth quarter.

Jazz 104, Heat 97

In Salt Lake City, Al Jefferson scored 23 points, Gordon Hayward added 22 — including a jumper with 40 seconds remaining — and the Jazz held on to beat Miami.

The Heat were down 21 points in the third quarter but fought back to pull within two behind a 32-point effort by LeBron James.

Kings 124, Cavaliers 118

In Sacramento, DeMarcus Cousins had 26 points, 14 rebounds and six assists, and the Kings snapped a four-game losing streak with a win over Cleveland.

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