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Bucks finish season with loss to Celtics

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Associated Press
April 27, 2012
— As much as he wanted to keep playing in his return from a sore lower back, Rajon Rondo knew it was much more prudent to rest on the bench in the second half.

He had plenty of company as the Boston Celtics closed the regular season with an 87-74 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday night.


Rondo finished with 15 assists despite not playing the fourth quarter, and Paul Pierce scored all 12 of his points in the first half, even though he missed most of it with a sprained toe.


“I wanted to play a little bit more, but it was smart for me to sit in the second half,” said Rondo, who had missed three straight games.


Tobias Harris led Milwaukee with 17 points. Jon Leuer added 15 points and Brandon Jennings had 12 for the Bucks, who were 28-28 on April 7 but never could return to .500, finishing the season at 31-35 with two straight losses.


The Bucks had 23 turnovers on Thursday.


“They played tight defense that we have played in the past. We haven’t played it this year,” Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles said. “They took us out of what we wanted to run.”


The Celtics will open the playoffs Sunday at Atlanta.


, which clinched home-court advantage with a win over Dallas. Had the Hawks lost, they would instead heading to Boston for the series opener.


“Well, there’s nothing we could do about it,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said. “They won and so we’re going to Atlanta.”


With the Celtics’ fate largely in the hands of the Hawks, Boston used its returning starters sparingly after pulling ahead by as much as 21 in the first half. The only starter missing was Ray Allen, who has been out the last two weeks with a sore right ankle.


Rondo had 12 assists in the first half, extending his streak to 24 games with at least 10 assists. It’s the longest streak in the NBA since John Stockton reached double-figure assists in 29 straight in 1992.


“He made it look pretty easy,” Skiles said. “He plays at his pace even if you’re doing a good job, it’s hard to get out of his pace.”


Pierce scored the first five points of the game and had a dozen in the first half despite playing just 6:41. He left early in the first quarter with a sprained left big toe and the Celtics said he was unlikely to return. He returned for the end of the second quarter and scored five as Boston took a 60-42 lead into halftime.



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