The world's fastest man stopped by the new Boston Garden to see the NBA's best team streak to its 17th consecutive victory.
BOSTON — The world's fastest man stopped by the new Boston Garden to see the NBA's best team streak to its 17th consecutive victory.
Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt watched from courtside Friday night as the Celtics beat the Chicago Bulls 126-108 and improved their record to 25-2.
Speedy point guard Rajon Rondo dished out 15 of Boston's 40 assists as the Celtics jumped to an 11-point lead in the first five minutes and nursed it while the starters sat out the fourth quarter.
"The conversation in the locker room was who would win a race, Bolt or Rondo," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "It's Bolt. Not even close. But Rondo, he was up for the challenge. ... If you put dribbling in, I think we've got a shot at it."
One game after 14-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps visited the Celtics' locker room and met the defending NBA champs, Bolt also stopped by.
"I told him I might see him in 2012," Rondo said.
Ray Allen scored 27 points and Kendrick Perkins scored a career-high 25 on 12-for-15 shooting for the Celtics, who could tie the longest winning streak in franchise history with a win on Sunday night against the New York Knicks. The 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers won an NBA-record 33 in a row.
Despite resting the starters — Allen was the only one to appear in the fourth quarter — Boston's 126 points was its most since scoring 131 in the NBA finals clincher against the Lakers. Kevin Garnett scored 17 points and Paul Pierce had 16.
"I got one rebound? On this team, with Rondo and Perkins, you can't get rebounds. They're going to trade me," Garnett said, adding, "I'm only joking, y'all. You guys can stop writing that down."
Luol Deng scored 19 points with seven rebounds for Chicago, and Andres Nocioni came off the bench after Drew Gooden sprained his right ankle in the first quarter and scored 16. Tyrus Thomas did not make the trip after sustaining a concussion against the Clippers on Wednesday.
"Playing against a team like this, you need all your guys. Drew's a big part of what we do," guard Ben Gordon said. "We tried to give them a little resistance but we just didn't have enough manpower.
There were only 2,661 no-shows scared away by the first major storm of the winter. Snow started falling in the afternoon and scared most drivers off the roads for the evening rush hour; most employers and schools sent people home early.
Rivers arranged for downtown hotel rooms for his players and encouraged them to stay in the city between the morning shootaround and the game. Many took him up on it, he said, and none had any trouble making it to the arena.
Many of the fans also cleared out before it was over to get an early start home, but Pierce was impressed that they came at all.
"This is Boston. This is not going to stop them," the Los Angeles native said. "I saw a guy jogging today — in shorts."
Bolt and the rest of the crowd saw the Celtics sprint to a 15-4 lead in the first five minutes, with 10 first-quarter points from Allen and nine from Perkins. Although Chicago took a 41-40 lead in the second, Perkins made a turnaround bank shot on the next possession and Boston never trailed again.
Perkins had 17 points — a season high — by halftime.
The Celtics scored the first nine points of the third and opened an 18-point lead, 98-80, just before the end of the quarter.
Garnett has 20,807 career points, moving him into 28th place on the NBA's scoring list, passing David Robinson. ... The Bulls dropped to 3-11 on the road. ... The Celtics haven't lost since Nov. 14, to Denver. Boston's longest winning streak last season, when it went 66-16 and won its 17th NBA title, was 10 games. ... The Celtics reached a season high with 40 assists.