7:30 PM ET, December 15, 2008
TD Garden, Boston, MA
Pierce hurt as Rondo leads Celtics past Jazz for 15th straight win
BOSTON -- Even swimming superstar Michael Phelps had to marvel at the Boston Celtics and their NBA-record 17 championships.
But the 14-time Olympic gold medalist has the defending basketball champs beat on one count.
"Mine have been in 12 years," Phelps told The Associated Press on Monday night after watching the Celtics beat the Utah Jazz 100-91, causing quite a stir from courtside and again in the Boston locker room after the game.
NBA's Greatest Starts
The defending NBA champion Celtics, who beat the Jazz on Monday, are in the mix among the league's greatest starts ever.
|1966-67||76ers||26-2||Won NBA title|
|1969-70||Knicks||26-2||Won NBA title|
|1995-96||Bulls||23-2||Won NBA title|
|1990-91||Blazers||22-2||Lost conf. finals|
|1993-94||Rockets||22-2||Won NBA title|
It was the 15th straight victory for the Celtics, who are 23-2 this season and trying to up their total by the time Phelps has a chance to add to his in London in 2012.
"Who knows?" said Phelps, who followed a non-medal finish in Sydney in 2000 with six golds and two bronzes in Athens and eight more gold medals in Beijing in August.
Rajon Rondo scored 12 of his career-high 25 points in the final 5:20, and Kevin Garnett had 19 points and 10 rebounds and Kendrick Perkins added 15 points and 14 rebounds to help Boston avenge the worst loss of its championship season. Paul Pierce scored 15 points before he hurt his left knee during a scramble for a defensive rebound with 31 seconds left.
"It should be all right," Pierce said. "I put a little weight on it. It didn't go back that far, so it should be all right."
But he seemed fine after the game, when he and several teammates posed for pictures with Phelps.
"He's a great Olympian. We always respect great athletes," Pierce said. "We can say down the line to our kids that he was one of the best while we were playing."
For Boston, the victory was payback of sorts for a 110-92 loss to the Jazz last March -- the Celtics' worst loss of last season, when they cruised to a 66-16 record and their 17th NBA title. Pierce was the Most Valuable Player of the finals, and fans chanted "M-V-P!" when he was helped off the court at the end of the game.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said the trainer thought Pierce would be fine. "But I'm sure they're going to do the regular tests," Rivers said.
Paul Millsap scored a career-high 32 points with 10 rebounds for Utah.
"I think he played his heart out. That's what happens when you play hard," coach Jerry Sloan said. "It's a sad commentary when someone is remembered for playing hard."
Rondo also had nine rebounds, eight assists and three steals.
The Jazz were within 89-85 after Deron Williams' 3-pointer with 3:23 left. But Rondo drove for a one-handed bank shot and then, after Williams sank a basket, Rondo made a free throw and Perkins hit a turnaround hook shot in the lane.
• The Celtics won their 15th straight game. It is the fourth longest single season win streak in team history and ties the fourth longest win streak by a defending NBA champion.
• The Jazz fell to 1-9 this season when allowing 100 points in a game.
• Paul Millsap scored a career-high 32 points and grabbed 10 rebounds before fouling out. It was his 12th straight game with a double-double.
• The Celtics outrebounded the Jazz 50-30.
-- ESPN research
Williams, who scored 15, hit another basket, but Perkins sank one of two free throws and Rondo made a spinning reverse bank shot from under the basket to make it 97-89 with 43 seconds left.
"He put more English on it than Minnesota Fats does sometimes," Rivers said. "They decided they weren't going to guard him because Williams was running around trapping. The best thing is when he gave up the ball, he kept moving. They couldn't find him."
The game seesawed through the first three quarters, with Boston opening a 12-point lead in the first, giving it back in the second and then going up 60-51 midway through the third.
A TD Banknorth Garden security guard collapsed in a hallway after the game and was treated by the Celtics medical staff. Celtics spokesman Jeff Twiss said the team had no further information about his condition or treatment. ... Phelps attended the game along with Jared from the Subway commercials. ... Celtics G Eddie House was not with the team so he could attend the funeral of his aunt. Coach Doc Rivers said he did not know when House would return. ... Jazz F Carlos Boozer missed the game with a strained left quadriceps. ... Perkins had a double-double at halftime with 12 points and 10 rebounds. ... The best start in NBA history with two losses is 26-2, set by the 1966-67 Philadelphia 76ers and matched by the '69-70 Knicks.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||34-74 (.459)||33-67 (.493)|
|3PM-3PA||3-13 (.231)||3-6 (.500)|
|FTM-FTA||20-29 (.690)||31-41 (.756)|
|Fast Break Points||2||14|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||30 (0/0)||23 (3/0)|