When the Celtics lost Game 3 of their series against the Cavaliers on Friday, they seemed to be lacking their trademark defense, aggression and sense of urgency.

Safe to say, none of that was an issue yesterday.

Boston used stifling transition defense — and an all-time great performance by Rajon Rondo — to beat Cleveland 97-87, tying the conference semifinal 2-all.


Game 5 is at 8 p.m. tomorrow (TNT, WEEI).

Rondo led the way yesterday with 29 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists.

“He was absolutely sensational tonight,” coach Doc Rivers said. “Obviously, what he’s doing is absolutely unbelievable — the rebounding, the energy that he is playing with.

“What’s funny, the stat that doesn’t show … was his ball pressure. I thought that was the biggest part of the entire game.”

Rondo’s defensive intensity seemed contagious for the C’s, who got 18 points each from Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett.

“The last couple days [Doc] was preaching to me to try to be aggressive on the defensive end,” Rondo said. “We tried to make them milk some clock, which they did to us in Game 3. They picked up their aggressiveness on the defensive end and we tried to return the favor.”

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