Final exam for Gabe Pruitt

Gabe Pruitt led the way with 11 points, 12 rebounds, and 7 assists in the Celtics’ 83-66 victory over the New Jersey Nets Sunday.

And the Celtics are placing Pruitt in the spotlight again tonight during their final preseason game, against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

Rajon Rondo (ankle sprain) was to be held out of action for the second successive game, giving Pruitt a chance for a second straight start. The test for Pruitt will relate to endurance and resiliency, his ability to recover less than 48 hours after a 44-minute outing.

“The biggest improvement he’s made has been defensively,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said of Pruitt after a morning workout at Madison Square Garden. “He stays in front of players but he needs to play a little stronger.”

The Celtics, 5-2 in the preseason, begin the regular season against Cleveland next Tuesday.

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