Celtics 110, Jazz 86

Celtics pretty sound

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By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / January 22, 2011

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The remote was plugged into the MacBook in the corner of the Celtics’ locker room. The MacBook was feeding game footage to two flat-screen TVs on the wall. Rajon Rondo was glued to the one on the right, working the remote after every play.

Fast forward. Rewind.

Fast forward. Rewind.

The Utah Jazz were next up on the schedule, and Rondo’s assignment against Deron Williams felt more like a midterm exam. He wasn’t in the mood for conversation beforehand.

“No questions,’’ he said.

He was busy memorizing Williams’s moves like dance steps, and Celtics coach Doc Rivers was hardly surprised.

Shaq (hip) will miss tonight’s game. C3

“He’s human,’’ Rivers said. “Last year, we had a game here where Rondo was terrific. Then we had a game there where Deron Williams basically dominated our whole team. Everyone has a memory.’’

Rondo was watching the game in which Williams ate the Celtics alive. He skipped through the Celtics’ possessions to get to the points where Williams had the ball.

He was focused so tightly on last night’s matchup, but barely minutes into the Celtics’ 110-86 win, it wasn’t a matchup at all.

Rondo baited Williams into two quick fouls in the first four minutes. Williams hit the bench shaking his head and sat out the rest of quarter.

“It just made him passive all night, and offensively we continued to attack and we took control of the game,’’ said Ray Allen.

Rondo picked the Jazz apart, his homework paying off. Free to do what he wanted without Wil liams on the floor, Rondo had four assists in six minutes and finished with 12, fueling an offense that shot 55.2 percent from the field.

“That’s typical Rondo,’’ said Kevin Garnett, who scored a game-high 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the floor and 7-of-8 shooting from the foul line. “When you’re playing against players that can take a game over and are the leaders of other teams, you tend to know the other guy — especially Rondo. He was focused in tonight. He’s going to watch films, he’s going to know their sets and their calls and he was more than ready tonight.’’

The Celtics had assists on 18 of their first 20 baskets and on 31 of their 37 makes on the night.

Williams played just nine minutes in the first half. He finished with a season-low 5 points and six assists in 23 minutes, battling with referees more than he did with Rondo.

“It’s pretty frustrating, man,’’ Williams said. “You’re ready to play and you get two quick ones. It takes you out of your rhythm. You can’t be aggressive because you don’t want to foul on either end. Then, I got my third one right after that [midway through the second quarter].’’

The trickle-down from Williams’s struggles was evident. Al Jefferson missed 10 of his 11 shots, and C.J. Miles committed four fouls trying to guard Rondo. After getting smacked by two doormats — first New Jersey, then Washington — the Jazz dropped their third straight game.

“When Deron went out of the game, their offense obviously struggled,’’ said Rivers.

This loss had the same sting as the 19-point blowout the Celtics dealt Utah last season at the Garden. With that game in hand, the Celtics starters were on the bench, kicking their sneakers off, laughing at video clips on the Jumbotron, and Williams used it as fuel for the rest of the season.

Last night, the Jazz shot 40 percent, missed 9 of 13 3-point attempts, and turned the ball over 21 times. Now Williams has motivation for the rest of this season.

“These guys did pretty much the same thing to us as they did last year,’’ Williams said. “They out executed us. They disrupted us. They took us out of our stuff. It’s a championship-level team. We have to learn how to play against teams like this.’’

The Celtics extended their winning streak to five games, finishing their homestand 5-1.

With an 11:15 p.m. flight to Washington, where another challenge awaits in the Wizards’ 1,000-watt rookie John Wall, Rondo left without speaking to reporters.

Williams, however, didn’t mince words, saying, “He got the best of me today.’’

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