Celtics match NBA mark for best start by a team with two losses

BOSTON -- Rajon Rondo made things looks easy in the third quarter. Kind of like how the Boston Celtics are making NBA games look.

Rondo scored 18 of his 26 points in the quarter to help the Celtics tie a franchise record with their 18th straight win, beating the New York Knicks 124-105 Sunday night.

The win improved Boston's record to 26-2, matching the NBA mark for the best start by a team with two losses. The Celtics can break the record at home against the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night.

"Rondo was unbelievable the third quarter," Kevin Garnett said. "He totally took the game over. He had almost a perfect game."

Coincidentally, Boston tied the Knicks and 76ers at 26-2. New York did it in 1969-70 and Philadelphia in 1966-67. Both teams went on to win NBA titles.

The Knicks trailed 69-63 before Rondo took advantage of some poor interior defense, driving past defenders -- mostly Chris Duhon and Quentin Richardson -- for layups and all of Boston's points in a 10-4 run that put the Celtics ahead by 12.

He was 12-of-14 from the floor for the game.

"I think eight of them were layups. So, hah, I make my layups," Rondo said.

Ray Allen had 18 points, Paul Pierce 17, Garnett 12 and Kendrick Perkins 12 for the Celtics.

The Celtics, who have a number of scoring options with the new Big Three, can break the club record for consecutive wins set by Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish's Celtics.

Boston's 1981-82 team also won 18 consecutive games.

Richardson led the Knicks with 29 points and Nate Robinson had 23. Duhon added 20 with 10 assists.

"He was more aggressive He's not usually as aggressive as he was tonight," Richardson said of Rondo. "Tonight he was trying to go to the rim."

New York lost its fourth straight and eighth in a row to Boston.

Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni knew that stopping Rondo wasn't a priority with all of Boston's other scorers, and the guard made his team pay for it.

"Well, Rondo's good, that's how he does it," he said. "He's fast and he's playing with some good guys."

The Celtics led 98-87 after three and scored the first seven of the final quarter, turning the game into a rout when Brian Scalabrine's 3 made it 105-87 with 10:28 to play.

Despite a chance to tie the franchise winning streak and match the NBA's best start, the crowd seemed a bit subdued in the early going, likely due to a pair of snowstorms that blanketed the area with over a foot of snow since Friday.

Just like Friday, when the building was nearly full during the first storm, the TD Banknorth Garden was mostly filled during a day of snow and freezing rain.

While the Celtics pounded the ball inside early, scoring 12 en route to a 24-8 lead 5:53 into the opening quarter, the Knicks seemed intent on shooting 3s.

The Knicks went 10-for-18 from beyond the arc in the opening 24 minutes, with Richardson hitting 4-of-7.

Game notes
Celtics F Glen Davis was injured Sunday in an automobile accident on the Massachusetts Turnpike around 2:30 as he drove to the Garden. He was taken to a local hospital and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge went to be with him. The Celtics said after the game that Davis had been released. ... A big roar went up when the New York Jets' final score -- a loss to Seattle -- was put on the Jumbotron. A number of fans gathered around TVs in the arena to watch the football game as the Celtics broke to a big lead early. ... The Knicks entered the game next-to-last in team defense.

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