Rajon Rondo scored 18 of his 26 points in the third quarter to help the Boston Celtics tie a franchise record with their 18th straight win, beating the visiting New York Knicks 124-105 yesterday.

"Rondo was unbelievable in the third quarter," Kevin Garnett said. "He totally took the game over."

[Rondo's] fast and he's playing with some good guys," said Knicks' coach Mike D'Antoni.

The win improved Boston's record to 26-2, matching the NBA mark for the best start by a team with two losses. The Celtics can break the record at home against the 76ers tomorrow night.

Coincidentally, Boston tied the Knicks and 76ers at 26-2. New York did it in 1969-70 and the Sixers in 1966-67; both teams went on to win NBA titles. Boston's 1981-82 team also won 18 consecutive games.

Ray Allen had 18 points, Paul Pierce 17, Kevin Garnett 12 and Kendrick Perkins 12 for the Celtics. Quentin Richardson led the Knicks with 29 points, Nate Robinson had 23, and Chris Duhon added 20 with 10 assists.

In other games:

* At Auburn Hills, Mich., Mike Bibby put an end to Detroit's domination of the Hawks, scoring a season-high 27 points to lead Atlanta to an 85-78 win over the Pistons.

With Atlanta leading 83-78, Joe Johnson grabbed the rebound on a miss by Tayshaun Prince and hit two free throws to seal the win. Johnson had 19 points and seven assists, and Rodney Stuckey and Rasheed Wallace each had 20 points for Detroit.

* At Washington, Jason Terry scored 25 points and Dirk Nowitzki had 23 to help the Dallas Mavericks send the Wizards to their sixth straight loss, 97-86, tieing a 42-year-old franchise record for worst start - the 1966-67 Baltimore Bullets also started 4-21.

* At Oklahoma City, LeBron James scored 31 points, his fourth straight game scoring over 30, as the Cleveland Cavaliers topped the Thunder, 102-91.


* Celtics forward Glen Davis was injured in an automobile accident on the Massachusetts Turnpike yesterday, as he drove to the TD Banknorth Garden for the game against the Knicks.

Davis suffered a concussion and whiplash. The cause of the accident was not known, though it was snowing in the Boston area.

After the game it was announced that Davis had been released. *