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Celtics notebook

Rondo helps the cause

Guard extends his assist streak

By Frank Dell’Apa
Globe Staff / March 31, 2012
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MINNEAPOLIS - Rajon Rondo totaled 17 assists, his 12th successive double-figure total, as the Celtics took a 100-79 win over the Timberwolves Friday night.

“You all are about to jinx me,’’ Rondo said when reminded of the streak. “Watch, the next night I’ll get two assists.

“We got a good rhythm. It all starts with defense - when we get stops like that. Playing with Avery [Bradley] helps my assists, he’s probably the best cutter in the league in these last games. He’s a great asset to my assists. Kevin [Garnett] and Brandon [Bass] knocking down jump shots, [Paul Pierce] on a roll. But it all starts with defense.’’

Love a longtime fan

Fate and merchandising might have played a part in Kevin Love following in Garnett’s footsteps as the Timberwolves’ guiding force.

“I was a jersey owner of Garnett back in the day,’’ Love said before the game. “Him, Tim Duncan, those guys I looked up to. Those guys are still in this league, and I’m fortunate to play against them. It’s a dream come true.’’

Asked about the whereabouts of Garnett’s shirt, Love replied: “Probably still in my closet back at home. That’s my past - now I have to go up and play against him.”

Love entered the game averaging 26.6 points and 13.9 rebounds per game. Love’s averages for March had been 31.3 points and 14.1 rebounds, with 46 3-pointers made - the first time a player has led the league in scoring, rebounding, and 3-pointers during a month.

But the Celtics limited Love to 22 points and 11 rebounds on 5-for-18 shooting.

“My time has passed,’’ said Garnett, who did just fine with 24 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists. “It’s Kevin Love’s time and I understand that.’’

The teams were even in rebounding, 45-45, with Love being limited to four offensive rebounds.

“Listen, he’s a great rebounder and great rebounders, I always said, are like scorers,’’ Celtics coach Doc Rivers said of Love before the game. “If it was easy to stop a scorer, he wouldn’t be a scorer. If it was easy to stop a great rebounder, he wouldn’t be a great rebounder. Every night I played with Dennis Rodman, I guarantee you the coach before the game would say, ‘You can’t let him get rebounds.’ And every night he would get 21. It’s just what he does. What we want to try and stop is the offensive rebounds.’’

Allen sits out again

Ray Allen (ankle) participated in the shootaround, but was held out for the fifth straight game.

“There’s still swelling in it,’’ Allen said. “I had it the whole road trip, I just played through it. Obviously, in Philly [March 23] it came to a head. I’ve had a lot of treatment on it, so we’ll see. The time off has been good, so we’ll see what it takes for me to get back out there.’’

Allen could return for Sunday’s home game against Miami.

Pietrus eyes playoffs

Rivers is hoping Mickael Pietrus returns for the playoffs. “I talked to him two days ago and he was talking about next week,’’ Rivers said. “But he has a concussion, that’s the way I looked at the conversation. He may be right, but I doubt that. With the severity of that injury we would be very happy if he returned for the playoffs. He texted me today and that’s progress. It sounds crazy, but he couldn’t have done that four days ago.’’ . . . Jermaine O’Neal had surgery on his left wrist at New England Baptist Hospital.

Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at f_dellapa@globe.com.

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