BOSTON - Rest up, Rajon Rondo.
The Boston Celtics showed they can still keep the ball moving even without the NBA’s assists leader, getting a triple-double from Paul Pierce while holding off the Indiana Pacers, 99-88, on Sunday to extend their winning streak to 13 in a row.
Pierce had 12 assists and Ray Allen passed out six more as the Celtics played their second consecutive game without Rondo, who is out for a couple of weeks with a sprained left ankle.
“That’s the point we make with this team. When the ball moves, there’s assists,” coach Doc Rivers said. “Guys are going to get assists and they’re getting that.”
Pierce added 18 points and 10 rebounds to go with his dozen assists. It was the sixth regular-season triple-double of Pierce’s career and seventh overall. He last accomplished the feat March 8, 2006, against Philadelphia, which visits Boston on Wednesday.
“I pride myself in trying to be a complete player,” Pierce said. “Throughout the course of my career I’ve worked on a lot of things on both sides of the ball.”
Former Washington Huskies star Nate Robinson started in place of Rondo and scored 18 points. Allen finished with 17 points and Shaquille O’Neal, who had missed four games in a row with a sore right calf, returned with 11 points, including a monster dunk off a long lob from Pierce.
“Shaq is a big guy. When he looks up, I get his head nod and he says, ‘Throw it to the rim’ — that’s what I try to do,” Pierce said. “He doesn’t have to jump too high to dunk the ball, so I just try to put it right next to the rim.”
The only Boston starter not to score in double figures was Kevin Garnett, who had nine points and nine rebounds.
The Celtics improved to 12-1 at home.
“They can be beat, but you have to play a near-perfect game,” said Indiana’s Danny Granger, who led the Pacers with 19 points. “I think the Celtics are more talented than those other teams across the board. They probably have 40 years of All-Star games between (them).”
Roy Hibbert had 17 points and 14 rebounds for the pesky Pacers, who stayed with the Celtics until the final few minutes.
“They’re a heck of a basketball team and they’re stingy in the fourth quarter,” Indiana coach Jim O’Brien said.