Rajon Rondo is in his customary spot among the NBA's assist leaders, and his increased scoring ability has made him even more of a threat.
He'll look to help the Boston Celtics earn a fifth victory in their last six games Wednesday night against the visiting Utah Jazz, who are coming off their first road win.
Rondo leads the league with 12.9 assists per game after finishing with 20 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists in Monday's 101-95 victory at Chicago. He averaged an NBA-best 11.7 assists last season and finished second to Steve Nash at 11.2 per game in 2010-11.
Monday marked Rondo's 31st straight game with at least 10 assists, giving him the league's longest streak since John Stockton did it in 37 in a row from Feb. 27-Nov. 29, 1989.
"We played pretty well offensively,' said Rondo, who overcame a season-worst five turnovers. "We took pretty good care of the ball. We got out on the break, kept it simple offensively.'
Though known for finding his teammates, Rondo seems to be looking for his shot more this season while shooting 52.8 percent and averaging 15.2 points.
"He is starting to get comfortable with the players that are out there on the floor and what (plays) he can call with them there,' coach Doc Rivers said.
Rondo's performance Monday helped Boston (4-3) win for the fourth time in five games after beginning 0-2. Paul Pierce scored only 10 points and shot 4 of 13 as the Celtics had to hold off a fourth-quarter rally.
"This is a competitive group of guys and they want to find a way to win,' Rivers said.
Utah coach Tyrone Corbin made similar statements about his squad following Monday's 140-133 triple-overtime victory at Toronto, which helped it avoid a 0-5 start on the road.
Former Celtic Al Jefferson finished with 24 points and 17 rebounds, hitting only the second 3-pointer of his nine-year career with two seconds left in regulation to tie the score.
"I can't say enough about how our team hung in there,' Corbin said. "We kept fighting. We understood the importance of trying to get off the schneid and get a road win.'
Paul Millsap finished with 34 points, including seven in the third overtime. Mo Williams had 17 points and 14 assists, Randy Foye scored 20 points and Marvin Williams added 17.
"It feels good to get the monkey off our back,' Millsap said. "The first one seems like it's the toughest one but I'm glad the first one was as tough as it was because we can learn from this.'
The Jazz (4-4) continue their four-game road trip looking to end a four-game losing streak in Boston in which they've been outscored by an average of 16.0 points.
Jefferson, who played his first three seasons with the Celtics before being sent to Minnesota in the Kevin Garnett trade, has never beaten his former team in nine tries despite averaging 20.9 points over the last seven.
Garnett had 23 points, Rondo finished with 14 assists and Boston overcame 18 points and 12 rebounds from Jefferson in a 94-82 win over the Jazz in the most recent meeting March 28.
The Associated Press News Service
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