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THE NITTY GRITTY
Paul Pierce matched a season-high with 27 points on 8-of-16 shooting (4-of-6 beyond the arc) while adding 4 rebounds, 3 steals and 1 assist over 31 minutes to pace the Celtics. Jason Terry added to the 3-point outburst, making 4-of-6 triples of his own (including a big one in crunch time) while kicking in 16 points. Rajon Rondo added 6 points, 16 assists and 8 rebounds, while Jeff Green added a season-high 17 points off the bench. Kevin Durant scored a game-high 29 points on 9-of-20 shooting, while Russell Westbrook added 26 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds for the Thunder.
GOOD IN GREEN
Green tried to downplay going up against his former team for the first time, but it was clear he had some extra pep in his step. With Pierce in early foul trouble, Green responded with eight points over an eight-minute stint. Later, he keyed the third-quarter run that broke the game open (see below) and finished with a season-high six field goals as part of the 17-point effort.
The Celtics were up two (66-64) with little more than two minutes to go in the third quarter before closing out the frame on a feverish 11-1 burst. Jared Sullinger lit the fuse with a tip-in and Courtney Lee added a runner before seven straight points from Green, including an and-1 layup as the lead ballooned to 13 before a Kevin Martin free throw gave the Celtics a 77-65 cushion heading into the final frame (it was nearly more when Green's 37-foot heave at the buzzer came close to dropping).
BENCH DOES ITS PART
Boston's reserves were exactly what this team needs on a consistent basis. In addition to Green's offensive outburst, Sullinger (4-of-6, 8 points) and Chris Wilcox (3-of-3, 6 points) were efficient and played with great intensity; Courtney Lee and Leandro Barbosa struggled with their shots but combined for five assists to help facilitate the offense when Rondo was off the court.
STREAK WATCH: 36 FOR RONDO
Rondo pushed his double-digit assist streak to 36 games, picking up No. 10 a mere 1:18 into the second half when he fed Paul Pierce for a 3-pointer. Rondo can tie Utah's John Stockton for the second-longest streak in league history on Sunday in Orlando as he makes progress toward Magic Johnson's all-time record of 46 games.
WHAT IT MEANS
It wasn't always pretty and it certainly wasn't as easy as it could have been, but the Celtics fended off Oklahoma City's late charge and emerged with a crucial win. In danger of dipping below .500, Boston responded with increased intensity at both ends of the floor (even while giving up triple digits yet again). Green will get most of the headlines for his work against his former team, but Pierce was captain-like while putting this team on his shoulders at key moments. The Celtics will utilize the off day on Saturday to travel to Orlando, where they'll meet old friends E'Twaun Moore and Glen Davis on Sunday at the Amway Center.