BOSTON — Rajon Rondo had 29 points, 18 rebounds, and 13 assists, and the Boston Celtics beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 97-87 on Sunday to even the Eastern Conference semifinals at two games apiece.
Rondo had a playoff career high in rebounds and matched his best scoring night in his fourth postseason triple-double. He played 47 minutes with some of his bigger-name teammates in foul trouble, and fans chanted “MVP! MVP!” as he knocked down a pair of free throws with 17 seconds left.
Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett scored 18 apiece for the Celtics, who rebounded from the worst home playoff loss in franchise history and ensured they'll get at least one more game at home. Game 5 is Tuesday night in Cleveland before the series returns to Boston on Thursday night.
LeBron James scored 22 points — only more than he had in the first quarter of Game 3 — and seemed frustrated during a seven-turnover performance. Shaquille O'Neal added 17 points, his high for this postseason, but was on the bench when the Celtics blew by the Cavaliers in the fourth quarter.
Tony Allen scored a playoff career-high 15 points in 26 spirited minutes off the bench for the Celtics, helping spell the foul-plagued Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.
Pierce continued to struggle, managing only nine points in 31 minutes, but Rondo made sure he wasn't missed.
The Celtics ran off the first 10 points of the fourth, mostly in transition, turning a two-point lead into an 84-72 lead. Rondo's basket started the spurt, he twice fed Glen Davis for easy baskets, and Tony Allen finished it off with another bucket in transition. The Cavaliers didn't score in the period until Mo Williams' jumper with 7:15 remaining.
But Cleveland used its own 10-0 run to climb to 86-84 after James converted a three-point play and set up Anderson Varejao for one. Tony Allen answered with a basket, and after a free throw by Varejao, Rondo threw a pretty bounce pass to Pierce for a dunk, then added a follow shot to make it 92-85 with 1:34 to play.