When Rajon Rondo returned last month from an ACL tear that ended his season early a year ago, the Boston Celtics weren’t expecting the same Rondo who was selected to the All-Star team the past four seasons.

His first six games showed rust — plenty of it. He shot just 27.9 percent from the field, scoring just 6.7 points in 24 minutes per game. He assist-to-turnover ratio (34 assists, 20 turnovers) wasn’t what Rondo was accustomed to producing.

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Since Rondo's first game back on Jan. 17, the Celtics were 0-6 with him in the lineup.

Until Sunday.

Rondo had his best outing of the season against Orlando at home in Boston. He scored a season-best 19 points on 9-of-11 shooting, handed out 10 assists (with four turnovers), had six rebounds and three steals in a 96-89 victory. That’s the stat line of a pre-ACL injury Rondo.

And it was the type of performance the Celtics needed from Rondo, who was 8 of 27 from the field in his past two games with 13 assists and 10 turnovers.

"It was really good. You just feel like you’re really under control, the way that he was playing late," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said after the game.

Rondo he was sharp down the stretch. In the fo

urth quarter, he scored four points, but dished out six assists.

His running hook shot gave the Celtics a 79-76 lead with less than six minutes to play after the Magic had pulled to within one point — the closest they’d been since trailing 17-16 late in the first quarter. Rondo then found Avery Bradley for a jumper to stretch the lead to five points.

Minutes later when the Magic crept to within a basket, Rondo buried a 17-footer for an 88-84 lead and the score never got closer.

"Very comfortable," said Brandon Bass of what it was like Sunday with Rondo in the lineup. "Rondo is a coach on the floor and he's leading us. It felt great."

Keep in mind, the win did come at home and against Orlando, the team with the second-worst record in the NBA. The Magic were also playing without point guard Jameer Nelson. But it's a starting point — the Celtics own just three more wins than the Magic. 

Boston plays the Sixers for the first time this season Wednesday in Philadelphia.