PHILADELPHIA — It was just a matter of time.
When guard Rajon Rondo returned eight games ago from a torn right anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, the Boston Celtics understood they would reap the benefits in the long run.
The Celtics lost their first six games with Rondo back in the lineup but have now won two straight, including Wednesday night’s 114-108 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center.
Rondo, a four-time All-Star, showed flashes of his overall brilliant game with eight points, 11 assists and nine rebounds.
In Boston’s last game, Rondo had 19 points, 10 assists and six rebounds in a 96-89 victory over the Orlando Magic.
“Rondo’s greatest strength on the basketball court is he makes everybody better,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.
Coupled with forward Jeff Green’s heroics, the Celtics (17-33) seem headed in the right direction.
Green led the Celtics with 36 points, 17 of which came in the third quarter. During one stretch, Green poured in 13 straight.
“I’m always confident in my shot,” said Green, who shot 11-for-18 and 5-for-7 from 3-point range.
Forward-center Jared Sullinger had a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds while forward Brandon Bass scored 18 points. Guard Avery Bradley scored 14 points and guard Jerryd Bayless contributed 11 points off the bench.
Much of this team success has to be attributed to Rondo.
“He’s starting to look like the Rondo we love and adore,” Sullinger said.
After the 76ers got within 109-105 late in the fourth, Rondo drove the lane and made a nifty pass to Sullinger, who completed a clutch three-point play.
“He puts me in my spot and gets it to me in the open floor,” Green said. “He sees the floor very well.”
Forward Thaddeus Young led the 76ers with 20 points while guard Tony Wroten scored 18 points, highlighted by a 58-foot heave to end the third quarter.
Center Spencer Hawes added 13 points and 13 rebounds while guard Evan Turner scored 12 points. Guard Michael Carter-Williams and guard James Anderson scored 11 points each while forward-center Lavoy Allen had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
When the 76ers needed stops down the stretch, they couldn’t get them.
“It’s something I have to wear,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said of his team’s defense. “I have to inspire them to fix it.”
The 76ers (15-35) dropped 12 of their last 14 games at home and six in a row, their longest home skid since the 1996-97 season.
Even with the losses piling up, the 76ers are determined to stay positive.
“I really try to focus on the team and try to get us better each and every day,” Carter-Williams said.
NOTES: Sixers G Michael Carter-Williams has been named the NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for January. He also won the award for the combined months of October and November. “I’m thankful for it,” Carter-Williams said. “My teammates have helped me out.” … Celtics F-C Jared Sullinger and Sixers G Evan Turner were each former standouts at Ohio State … The Sixers began the night averaging 17.4 turnovers per game, the most in the NBA. … Sixers C Spencer Hawes already has 16 double-doubles this season. He didn’t reach 16 last season until the 71st game. Right on cue, Hawes picked up his 17th double-double against the Celtics. … Celtics F Gerald Wallace was active after recently dealing with a death in the family. … The 76ers recalled reserve G Lorenzo Brown from the Delaware 87ers of the NBA Development League.
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