Rondo scores 26 as Celtics tie franchise record, win 18th straight

BOSTON — The Boston Celtics will only talk about one streak they're working on — and pretend not to notice each time they extend their win streak.

Rajon Rondo scored 18 of his 26 points in the third quarter and the Celtics tied their franchise record for consecutive wins by beating the New York Knicks 124-105 on Sunday for their 18th straight victory.

"We did what?" Kevin Garnett said. "We wouldn't know because we work on our defense every day."

The win improved Boston's to 26-2, matching the NBA mark for the best start by a team with two losses. The Celtics can break the record at home against the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night.

Coincidentally, Boston tied both the Knicks and 76ers at 26-2. New York did it in 1969-70 and Philadelphia in 1966-67 — each going on to win NBA titles.

After Tuesday, its out to Los Angeles for a Christmas Day rematch against the Lakers, who the Celtics beat in six games in last season's NBA finals.

"We'll talk about Christmas when Christmas comes," Garnett said. "One game at a time."

In the only other NBA games on Sunday it was: Atlanta 85, Detroit 78; Dallas 97, Washington 86; and Cleveland 102, Oklahoma City 91.

New York entered the game ranked next-to-last in team defense, and it showed.

The Knicks trailed 69-63 before Rondo took advantage of some poor interior defense, driving past defenders — mostly Chris Duhon and Quentin Richardson — for layups and all of Boston's points in a 10-4 run that put the Celtics ahead by 12. They led 98-87 after three quarters.

Ray Allen finished with 18 points, Paul Pierce 17, and Garnett and Kendrick Perkins each had 12 for the Celtics.

Boston's 1981-82 team also won 18 consecutive games.

Richardson led the Knicks with 29 points and Nate Robinson had 23. Duhon added 20 with 10 assists.

"He (Rondo) was more aggressive. He's not usually as aggressive as he was tonight," Richardson said. "Tonight he was trying to go to the rim."

New York lost its fourth straight and eighth in a row to Boston.

The Celtics scored the first seven points of the final quarter, turning the game into a rout when Brian Scalabrine's 3 made it 105-87 with 10:28 to play.

Cavaliers 102, Thunder 91

At Oklahoma City, LeBron James scored 31 points, Mo Williams added 20 and Cleveland finished a four-game road trip.

James eclipsed 30 points for the fourth straight game, but the Cavs needed much longer to deliver the knockout punch than in their first meeting with the Thunder.

Cleveland dominated that game and ended up with a 35-point rout, but this time couldn't take a double-digit lead until the end of the third quarter.

Kevin Durant scored 26 for the Thunder. Russell Westbrook added 22 points and matched his career-high with 11 assists and Jeff Green scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.

Delonte West hit his first five shots and finished with 18 points against his former team and Cleveland won for the 22nd time in 24 games to extend the best start in team history.

Mavericks 97, Wizards 86

At Washington, Jason Terry scored 25 points and Dirk Nowitzki had 23 to help Dallas send the Washington Wizards to their sixth straight loss.

Washington tied a 42-year-old franchise record for its worst start — the 1966-67 Baltimore Bullets also started 4-21.

The win was Dallas' 13th in 17 games, even though the Mavericks made only five of 30 3-point attempts two nights after a 24-point loss at New Jersey.

Hawks 85, Pistons 78

At Atlanta, Mike Bibby put an end to Detroit's domination of the Hawks with a season-high 27 points.

Detroit trailed by 18 points early in the second half before launching a steady comeback in the matchup of second-place teams.

The Pistons cut the lead to 80-76 on a basket by Rasheed Wallace with 2:30 remaining, but Bibby answered with a jumper.

The Pistons swept the four-game series with the Hawks last season, but each of the games came before Atlanta acquired Bibby from Sacramento on Feb. 16. Detroit had won 12 of the last 16 in Atlanta.

Joe Johnson had 19 points and seven assists. Al Horford added 11 points and 11 rebounds and Josh Smith also had 11 points for Atlanta. Rodney Stuckey and Wallace each had 20 points for Detroit.

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