Rondo leads Celtics into final in East

BOSTON — Rajon Rondo had 18 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds, and the Celtics beat the 76ers 85-75 Saturday night in Game 7 to advance to the Eastern Conference final.

The Celtics open the final against the Heat on Monday in Miami.

"I've already packed," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "We'll be ready. It's going to be a tough turnaround, but we're not an excuse team."

Rondo scored nine straight points after Paul Pierce fouled out with 4:16 left, helping the Celtics turn a three-point edge into a double-digit lead. He tied Wilt Chamberlain for fourth-most playoff triple doubles with his ninth, ESPN Stats and Info said.

"It was a total team effort, and we won like a team," Rondo said.

Andre Iguodala scored 18, and Elton Brand and Jrue Holiday had 15 apiece for the 76ers, who eliminated the top-seeded Bulls in the first round.

Rondo had 11 points in the fourth quarter, including his first 3-pointer in five games, made all four of his free throws down the stretch and grabbed his 10th rebound in the final minute, chucking it over his head and into the frontcourt to help the Celtics dribble down the clock.

"He really came through," Holiday said. "He put the team on his back."

PHILADELPHIA (75): Iguodala 5-11 5-8 18, Brand 6-11 3-4 15, Hawes 2-8 0-0 4, Holiday 5-17 3-3 15, Turner 3-8 0-0 6, L.Allen 1-4 0-1 2, L.Williams 2-9 3-3 7, Meeks 1-4 0-0 2, T.Young 3-8 0-1 6. Totals 28-80 14-20 75.

BOSTON (85): Pierce 6-14 3-3 15, Bass 6-10 4-4 16, Garnett 7-17 4-6 18, Rondo 6-13 5-5 18, R.Allen 3-11 3-3 11, Stiemsma 0-0 0-0 0, Pietrus 2-6 0-0 4, Dooling 1-2 1-1 3, Hollins 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 31-73 20-22 85.

Philadelphia 20 13 19 23— 75

Boston 20 21 14 30— 85

3-Point GoalsPhiladelphia 5-18 (Iguodala 3-5, Holiday 2-6, Meeks 0-3, L.Williams 0-4), Boston 3-17 (R.Allen 2-7, Rondo 1-4, Garnett 0-1, Pierce 0-1, Pietrus 0-4). Fouled OutBrand, Pierce. ReboundsPhiladelphia 50 (T.Young 10), Boston 52 (Garnett 13). AssistsPhiladelphia 15 (Holiday 9), Boston 17 (Rondo 10). Total FoulsPhiladelphia 23, Boston 22. TechnicalsPhiladelphia defensive three second, Boston defensive three second. A18,624 (18,624).

Heat: The team practiced again without All-Star forward Chris Bosh, sidelined indefinitely because of a lower abdominal strain that kept him out of the final five games of the East semifinal series with the Pacers. Bosh has been able to resume light conditioning work.

around the league: Rockets guard Kyle Lowry said it's unlikely he will play for Houston next season if Kevin McHale returns as coach. "I honestly think it would be tough," he told the Houston Chronicle. McHale said he was surprised by the comments and thought their issues could be overcome. … The Bulls agreed to back down on demanding forward Luol Deng have immediate surgery on a left wrist injury he has had since Jan. 21, given Deng's desire to play for Britain in this summer's London Olympics, London's Telegraph newspaper reported.

Isiah Thomas: Hire me: The Hall of Famer, fired as coach at Florida International in April, said he wants to return to basketball, either as an NBA coach or general manager or college coach. "My gift is basketball," he told ESPN Chicago. "I just want to be in the game."

Rondo leads Celtics into final in East 05/27/12 [Last modified: Sunday, May 27, 2012 1:25am]

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