EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Sports

April 29, 2009

Rondo gives C's a puncher's chance

BOSTON — As Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers walked down the hallway away from the press room, he spied Chicago Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro approaching.

Their eyes met. They stopped. And hugged.

It was the kind of hug two heavyweights would give at the end of a 12-round bout after a split decision.

"That was something, huh?" said Rivers.

"It was incredible," Del Negro responded.

This one felt like a Game 7, with the Celtics winning in overtime, 106-104. It had everything we've seen the last week or so — a fourth quarter comeback, missed free throws at the end, Ben Gordon in unstoppable mode, Rajon Rondo in (almost) triple-double mode and Paul Pierce in Paul Pierce mode.

The only problem is we're not done. And according to the script, we're not even close.

The Celtics took the lead in the series and fly to Chicago later today ahead, 3-2.

Last night marked the third overtime game of the series, an NBA record. A Gordon 3-pointer at the end of Game 2, that just missed going in, and we would have had a fourth game that went into overtime.

Crazy, apparently, was the operative word.

"It's crazy," said Bulls center Brad Miller. "I've never played in anything like this."

"It's crazy," said Rondo, "especially playing the amount of minutes that we're playing as starters ... I think I played 55 minutes last game and I played 50 (last night)."

The Bulls, which entered the playoffs with a disappointing record of 41-41, have shocked the basketball world much the same way the Atlanta Hawks did a year ago, when they entered the playoffs at 37-45 and eventually forced the top-seeded Celtics to a seventh game.

But I'm going to be my typical provincial self and focus on the home team.

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