Rajon Rondo waited more than a year to celebrate playing in a victory. He made nine of 11 shots and finished with season highs of 19 points and 10 assists while helping Boston end a four-game losing streak with a 96-89 victory over the visiting Orlando Magic on Sunday.
"We didn't stop pushing the pace even though we had the lead," Rondo said. "We finally finished a game strong. They made a run at it, but at the end of the day we still got some stops when we needed and made the plays."
Boston entered Sunday winless in six games since Rondo's return last month after missing nearly a year with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. He sat out the second of back-to-back games earlier in the week and was fresh enough at the end Sunday to help the Celtics hold off a late push by the Magic.
"You just feel like you're really under control the way he was playing late," Boston Coach Brad Stevens said.
Jared Sullinger scored seven of his 21 points in the fourth quarter for the Celtics, who let a 12-point lead slip to one in the final period before pulling away at the end.
"I think we execute a little crisper," Stevens said. "The ball seems to have found the right guys a lot, especially today. I think that's more of guys getting used to playing with one another."
Brandon Bass had 19 points and nine rebounds and Avery Bradley scored 17 in his return after missing five games with a sprained ankle.
Jeff Green was the only Boston starter not to score in double figures as the Celtics won for the third time in four games against the Magic, who have lost four of five overall and 11 straight on the road.
Arron Afflalo had 18 points and Nikola Vucevic finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Magic. Glen Davis had 15 points, Tobias Harris scored 13 and Victor Oladipo had 12 points as all five Orlando starters scored in double figures.
But the Magic couldn't stop Rondo, who had six assists in the fourth quarter.
"We stuck to our principles and what we wanted to do. He just came through for his team," Davis said.
Antoine Walker wants back in basketball
Antoine Walker told The Boston Globe that he wants to be a cautionary tale to young NBA players. Still only 37 but six years out of the NBA, the former University of Kentucky and Boston Celtics star wants to contribute something to the league.
The newspaper reported that Walker, who earned an estimated $108 million in his career and needed to file for bankruptcy to settle his financial issues, has dabbled as a TV analyst, attended the NBA pre-draft camp last May in hopes of landing a scouting or coaching job, and just finished a documentary on his NBA life for which he is seeking a distributor.
"I want to be close to the game, whether it be coaching, scouting, front office — I'm still working on trying to find the right niche, right fit," Walker told The Globe. "I'm really trying to be a role model for these young guys, kind of take my story and turn a negative story into a positive story. Just give guys some knowledge of the ups and downs and pitfalls of being in the NBA, making a lot of money, making sure guys make the right decisions with their money, building a financial literacy program to help these guys understand there is life after basketball. I'm really trying to give toward that and I feel like that's a need."
Bulls' Thibodeau: Davis 'an All-Star player'
New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis had 24 points, eight rebounds and six blocks in the Pelicans' 88-79 victory Saturday night against the Chicago Bulls. He's averaging 20.5 points, 10.3 rebounds and a league-leading 3.4 blocks — numbers that most feel warranted a spot on the Western Conference All-Star team. Davis could replace the injured Kobe Bryant, especially considering the All-Star Game will be played in New Orleans.
"He's shooting the ball a lot better, running the floor, playing great defense," said Bulls Coach Tom Thibodeau, who coached Davis over the summer for Team USA. "And he's a great kid. He's an All-Star player who just didn't happen to make the All-Star team."