Rajon Rondo put home 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting and handed out 11 assists in his return to the court on Wednesday as the Boston Celtics topped the Minnesota Timberwolves, 104-94, at TD Garden.
Rondo was handed a two-game suspension by the league for his involvement in a brawl with the Brooklyn Nets on Nov. 28. He shoved Nets forward Kris Humphries after what he believed was a hard foul on teammate Kevin Garnett.
Garnett finished with 18 points and 10 boards, while Paul Pierce netted 18 points for the Celtics, who bounced back from a loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday.
Jason Terry contributed 17 points and Brandon Bass donated 12 points and eight boards in the victory.
"I thought Kevin was terrific," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "You could see that he was looking to score tonight. He gave us a great low post presence."
Kevin Love netted a game-high 19 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, while Nikola Pekovic added 14 and nine rebounds for the Timberwolves, who were coming off a dominating performance at Philadelphia on Tuesday.
With the T'Wolves up by four to start the third quarter, Luke Ridnour swished home an 18-footer on the first Minnesota possession of the half to make it a 53-47 game, but the home side went ahead for good following that bucket, using a 20-8 surge to take a 67-61 lead with 5:19 to play in the session.
Bass netted eight points during the run, and Terry put an exclamation point on it with a 3-pointer from the top of the arc.
A putback off an offensive board by Love cut the T'Wolves deficit to two, but the Celtics led by seven after three quarters.
J.J. Barea netted a jumper to start the fourth for Minnesota which cut the deficit to five, but a free throw by Jared Sullinger pushed the Celtics' lead to double digits and the visitors never regained their footing.
The game remained close early on as a deep 3-ball by Josh Howard put the T'Wolves on top 14-10, but the Celtics answered with an 11-1 run to take a 21-15 lead with 4:30 on the clock.
Minnesota, though, closed the quarter on a 15-6 run to lead 30-27 heading to the second 12 minutes.
Terry nailed a pull-up jumper early in the second quarter which gave the C's a 39-32 lead, but the Timberwolves quickly erased the deficit with seven straight points.
It was a one-possession game for the rest of the half until Howard finished a run out slam with 23.9 seconds to play, giving the T'Wolves a 51-47 halftime lead.
"They were very physical. They were into us all night long," Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman said. " We're going to have to learn that that���s how it's going to be. I thought we were playing very well, but then the second half they took control."
Boston has won the last 11 matchups between the teams and seven straight as the hosts ... It was Love's seventh double-double of the season ... The game featured nine lead changes and nine ties ... Boston shot an efficient 52.6 percent from the floor, while holding the T'Wolves to 44 percent ... The Celtics shot just 18-of-26 from the free throw line, but Minnesota was just 14-of-30 from the charity stripe.