February 2

Celtics’ slide finally ends

Rajon Rando looks like his old self as Boston beats Orlando.

By Doug Alden
The Associated Press

BOSTON — Rajon Rondo waited more than a year to celebrate playing in a victory.

click image to enlarge

Celtics center Jared Sullinger, right, grapples with Magic guards Arron Afflalo, center, and Victor Oladipo during the third quarter of Boston’s 96-89 win at home on Sunday.

The Associated Press

UP NEXT FOR CELTICS

WHO: Celtics at Philadelphia 76ers

WHEN: 7 p.m. Wednesday

TELEVISION: CSN

Rondo made 9 of 11 shots and finished with season highs of 19 points and 10 assists, helping Boston end a four-game losing streak with a 96-89 victory over the 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 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.

Orlando closed the gap with a 10-2 run, pulling within 77-76 on a pair of free throws by Kyle O’Quinn with 6:11 left.

It was as close as Orlando would get. Rondo answered with hook shot for the Celtics and Bradley followed with a field goal and two foul shots as Boston started to pull away. The Celtics sealed it with an 8-2 run in the final two minutes.

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