BOSTON (AP) -Kevin Garnett needed just one name to explain what keyed Boston's strong third quarter.
``Rondo,' Garnett said, pausing for effect. ``I thought he changed the momentum of the game. I thought he was a lot more solid. He was aggressive. He picked up the energy.'
Rajon Rondo scored 12 of his season high-matching 18 points in the third and the Celtics rebounded from a two-game skid with a 109-95 win over the short-handed Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night.
Boston scored 12 unanswered points and outscored the Warriors 31-19 in the quarter.
``He was terrific in the second half,' Boston coach Doc Rivers said. ``He came out in the third quarter and played with unbelievable speed and energy.'
Paul Pierce, who missed a day of practice with a sore left knee, scored 19 on 7-of-12 shooting. Playing without a wrap on the knee, Pierce made a 3-pointer after the Warriors ended the Celtics' 12-0 run with a pair of free throws in the third quarter. Pierce's 3 made it 70-57.
``I felt good,' Pierce said.
But it was Rondo's play that made the difference. He added 12 assists, seven rebounds and his first 3-pointer of the season.
``That might be the only player in the league who can average a triple-double for a season,' Warriors center Mikki Moore said out loud when he walked into the Celtics locker room to visit his old teammates and saw Rondo surrounded by the media.
``I appreciate it,' Rondo said quietly in return.
The Warriors had just nine players in uniform and eight played. Kelenna Azubuike, Ronny Turiaf and Andris Biedrins were sidelined with injuries. C.J. Wilson has the flu and was not with the team.
Corey Maggette led Golden State with 23 points, and Monta Ellis had 18.
Ray Allen scored 15, Kendrick Perkins 15 and Garnett 12 for Boston.
Pierce hit his first jumper of the game and didn't appear to be hindered by the knee that he bruised last Friday. He struggled in Saturday's loss to Indiana while playing with it wrapped.
The Celtics appeared committed to getting the ball inside against the Warriors early. For most of the first half, they either tried to dump it in to Perkins or drive the lane.
``That was the focus of the game - to try and get the ball inside knowing how small they were and because they were so undermanned,' Pierce said.
In the third quarter, they opened it up by hitting three 3-pointers. Rondo's made it 78-65 late in the quarter.
``I thought we played very well in the first half,' Warriors coach Don Nelson said.
Rondo scored five points in the 12-0 run that pushed the Celtics ahead 67-55 midway into the third.
Boston was just 1 for 5 from beyond the arc in the opening half, but finished 8 of 19 for the game.
The Celtics led 80-67 after three before Eddie House and Rasheed Wallace nailed consecutive 3s to move them ahead by 16.
Garnett swished a spinning, one-handed 75-foot heave from just above the opposite foul line at the end of the first half, but a replay review confirmed the officials' call on the floor that it came just after the buzzer.
NOTES: Pierce surpassed Isiah Thomas for 48th all-time in scoring. He now has 18,822, nine behind Chet Walker. ... Allen, one of the league's best career free throw shooters with an 89-percent success rate during his 13 seasons, said before the game that he recently offered to help struggling teammate Rondo. Rondo, just a 63 percent shooter in his career, was hitting at only a 25-percent rate coming into Wednesday. ``He came to me,' Allen said. Rondo went 1 for 4 from the line. ... Raja Bell, acquired from Charlotte on Monday along with Vladimir Radmanovic for Stephen Jackson and Acie Law, played 24 minutes and scored 11 points in his first appearance with the Warriors. He said after the game that he will have surgery on his left wrist - that was heavily taped - on Thursday. ``He was going to have surgery anyway so he didn't think that he would injure it worse,' Nelson said. ``He's going to leave us tomorrow and have surgery.'
The Associated Press News Service
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