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Danny Ainge talks about win over Cavs, health of KG and ‘paying the price’

03.28.13 at 6:01 pm ET
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Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge made his weekly appearance with “Salk & Holley” Thursday afternoon on WEEI, and he hit on a number of other topics, including what he thought of LeBron’s complaints about the officiating in the wake of Miami’s Wednesday night loss to the Bulls, the keys to Boston’s latest win over the Cavs, the health of Kevin Garnett and what it means to “pay the price.”

Here are some more highlights from the Q&A:

On a much needed win Wednesday night after losing five straight:

“I think that we’re still looking at the big picture, so I don’t really get too caught up in the game-by-game performances. I think there are some individuals who have played well, and some who are not playing well. I think Doc is doing a good job keeping our guys fresh and we’re trying to get through a tough time with all the injuries that we’ve had. It’s a tough time. And at the same time, give ourselves a chance to win in the playoffs.”

On the key to the win over Cavs:

“I don’t know if there’s one play. There are so many plays when you’re down 14 in the fourth quarter. Jordan Crawford gave us a great lift again. He’s been a huge offensive boost for us recently. Even in the losing streak, he’s given us opportunities and chances to win. Paul has had some great moments. I thought last night that we … our defense, we got some stops finally, and that’s what it always boils down to. It seems like our team is just not consistently paying the price that it takes. We aren’t the team we were a few years ago where we have this great margin for error, where we can play at 80 percent and just sort of win with talent. We have to be all in sync and executing and playing with a lot more passion and energy than we’ve been giving over this couple of week stretch, where we’re not playing very good basketball. We don’t have very much room for error.”

On what it means when you’re “paying the price”:

“I think that it’s just maximum effort on each possession. You hear the term ‘locked in’ often as well, when you’re just really focused and you’re in the right spot. When we’re not — when we’re a half a step late, when we close out short — meaning when we close out to a foot and allow a guy to go up for a shot as opposed to closing out into his body. When we’re defending the screen-and-roll when the defender is up touching his man with his forearm on his hip and we’re into the body going into the screen, as opposed to being a foot away and getting screened. All those little things — the guy who is helping on the screen-and-roll. I mean, there’s just so many little things that you can just tell that we’re just not doing what we’re supposed to be doing. We’re not doing what we practiced. We’re not doing what it takes to win. And a handful of teams are capable of winning when they’re not doing that night in and night out. Every team has their lapses in the details and the execution on both ends of the court. It’s a long season, and I know what our team is capable of doing. It’s sometimes frustrating when we don’t do it, even though we know the urgency of the [moment].”

On Garnett — what’s the latest?
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Ainge: ‘Embarrassing’ for LeBron to complain about officiating

03.28.13 at 5:54 pm ET
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Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge made his weekly appearance with “Salk & Holley” Thursday afternoon on WEEI, and was asked for his take on LeBron James and the officiating in Wednesday’s game between the Heat and the Bulls, a contest where Miami’s 27-game win streak came to an end.

In the game — a physical affair that saw the Bulls try and get physical with the Heat, including one hard shot from Kirk Heinrich on James — James was hit with a flagrant foul 1 for a shot he put on Chicago’s Carlos Boozer. After the game, the Miami star unleashed on the officials, saying he was just trying to defend himself.

“It’s been happening all year, and I’ve been able to keep my cool and try to tell [Heat coach Erik Spoelstra], ‘Let’s not worry about it,’ ” James told reporters. “But it is getting to me a little bit. Every time I try to defend myself, I’ve got to face the consequences of a flagrant or a technical foul or whatever the case may be. It’s tough. It’s very tough.”

“I think the referees got the calls right. I don’t think it was a hard foul,” Ainge said of the mixups involving James and Heinrich, as well as another one involving James and Taj Gibson. “I think the one involving LeBron against Boozer, that was flagrant. I think the officials got it right.

“I think that it’s almost embarrassing that LeBron would complain about officiating,” Ainge added.

For more Celtics coverage, check out weei.com/celtics.

Read More: Carlos Boozer, Danny Ainge, Kirk Heinrich, LeBron James

Green Day: Layup at the buzzer gives Celtics win in Cleveland

03.27.13 at 10:19 pm ET
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Jeff Green capped a furious 21-6 run over the final eight minutes with a layup at the buzzer to allow the Celtics to sneak out of Cleveland with a 93-92 victory over the Cavaliers. Green split the Cavs defense and hit a layup as the buzzer sounded to permit the Celtics to snap a five-game losing streak.

Green, despite shooting 7-of-18, scored 21 points with seven rebounds and five assists. Paul Pierce added a well-rounded 19 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, though he committed seven turnovers. Brandon Bass, in the lineup with both Kevin Garnett and Courtney Lee still sidelined, poured in 22 points on 8-of-14 shooting with five rebounds.

The Cavs had six players in double figures, but none with more than 16. Cleveland had just one bucket after taking an 88-78 lead at the 5:49 mark of the fourth quarter.

For the full recap of the game, click here. For more Celtics coverage, visit weei.com/celtics.

Avery Bradley: Celtics not ‘playing the right way’

03.27.13 at 12:25 am ET
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Avery Bradley‘s performance had New York media wondering what all the fuss has been over the 22-year-old.

Bradley submitted another poor shooting effort in Tuesday night’s 100-85 loss to the Knicks, making just 3-of-11 attempts and dropping his field goal percentage to only 30.5 percent over his last eight games. In that same stretch, a 2-6 run for the Celtics, he has committed as many turnovers as he has collected assists (14).

“He’s struggling,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers, whose team has lost five straight games. “Listen, Avery’s trying his best. His shot is struggling right now. He can shoot the ball, but when you’re thinking about it, he’s clearly going through something. And so we’re going to have to to try to get him through that.

“Especially now with all the guys out, we’re going to need him to be effective. I’m probably going to have to do something to try to get him going more, not less. But I feel for him, because he wants to play hard, he wants to play right, but you can see it. So, we’ll get him going.”

The most troubling part of Bradley’s offense has been his inability to finish at the rim. He entered Tuesday’s game shooting just 45.7 percent within eight feet, and he clanged another four gimmes against the Knicks. He’s missed significantly more layups (76) than he has corner 3-pointers (53), where he’s been decent despite his struggles.

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Carmelo Anthony: ‘It’s a great feeling’ to beat the Celtics

03.26.13 at 11:46 pm ET
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Knicks star Carmelo Anthony scored 29 points and grabbed eight rebounds in 36 minutes and was helped out by J.R. Smith, who scored a game-high 32 points off the New York bench as the beat the Celtics 100-85 Tuesday night at TD Garden. With the win the Knicks won their fifth straight and improved to 43-26 and now lead the Celtics by 7 1/2 games in the Atlantic division. The Celtics five-year reign as division champions appears certain to come to an end the season.

‘€œWe want to beat them,” Anthony said. “Let’€™s just be quite frank about them. We always want to beat Boston. New York in anything wants to beat Boston. And when we do it it’€™s a great feeling. Right now, we’€™re playing good basketball. Great road win for us, especially here in this arena. Knowing how hostile it can get here, knowing how well they play here at home in front of their fans. It just says a lot about our team at this moment.’€

Anthony played in back-to-back games for the first time since getting his right knee drained and he said the winning helps the recovery.

‘€œFor me it’€™s just taking it day by day,” Anthony said. “Just seeing what happens and staying on top of what I need to stay on top of as far as injuries and things like that. Just trying to stay healthy. You can’€™t really control injuries but you can do things to try to prevent them.’€

Anthony scored 11 points in the first quarter as the Knicks waited for another player to step forward.

‘€œFor me I know my mindset was just to be as aggressive as I can,” Anthony said. “Offensively, defensively, my team fed off me. JR came off the bench and took it over from there. There was sometimes during the game we were looking to follow his lead out there. Anytime he’€™s playing like that, it always makes us tough to beat.’€

That player turned out to be J.R. Smith, who scored 21 points in the first half, on his way to a 32-point night against Boston.

‘€œWhen he’€™s attacking its kind of hard to stop that,” Anthony said. “He attacks, he gets to the free throw line, he can make outside shots. We feed off of him. We let him do his thing and we space out. He finds guys out there on the basketball court and it’€™s just a matter of us making shots.’€

Read More: Boston Celtics, Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, NBA

Fast Break: J.R. Smith, Knicks knock out Celtics

03.26.13 at 9:50 pm ET
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J.R. Smith and Carmelo Anthony combined for 61 points and the Knicks delivered a 100-85 knockout of a Celtics team without Kevin Garnett and Courtney Lee that all but ended the C’s reign atop the Atlantic Division.

Jeff Green, Paul Pierce, Jordan Crawford, Brandon Bass and Jason Terry all reached double figures, but the C’s committed 20 turnovers and couldn’t stop New York on the other end. Here’s what else went wrong.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Ugly start: It took almost three minutes for either team to score, and neither club’s former NBA Defensive Player of the Year was involved. The Celtics missed their first three shots and committed a pair of turnovers while the Knicks missed their first five attempts until an Anthony (29 points, 8 rebounds) layup broke a scoreless game 2:42 into the first quarter. This wasn’t exactly the epic Celtics-Knicks battle national television had banked on.

J.R. Smith: The Knicks Sixth Man scored 32 points on 24 shots (oddly, just three 3-pointers) in 35 minutes. He outscored the entire Celtics bench by 13 points. Smith also grabbed four of his six first-half rebounds on the offensive end, helping New York establish a comfortable 58-44 halftime lead.

Chris Wilcox: Speaking of rebounds, Chris Wilcox had none in 10 minutes. That’s not good, and neither were his five total boards in three previous games. Meanwhile, the Knicks reached double-digit offensive rebounds by halftime, netting 50 points in the paint and outscoring the C’s 29-6 in second-chance points for the game. Meanwhile, D.J. White and his eight boards per 36 minutes in his career rode the pine until the final three minutes and Shavlik Randolph out-rebounded Wilcox 4-0 in five garbage minutes.

Avery Bradley: The lone healthy Celtics pitbull hasn’t had much bite on the offensive end. He’s shooting worse than 40 percent this month and hasn’t hit half of his shots in a game for more than two weeks. That includes Tuesday night’s 3-for-11, six-point effort against the Knicks that featured a pair of badly missed layups.

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Overpowered: Without Kevin Garnett, Courtney Lee, C’s no match for Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith and Knicks

03.26.13 at 9:42 pm ET
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J.R. Smith scored 32 points off the bench and Carmelo Anthony added 29 as the Knicks overpowered the undermanned Celtics, 100-85, Tuesday night at TD Garden. The Celtics, who committed 20 turnovers, lost their fifth straight game and fell to 36-34 and dropped 7.5 games behind the first-place Knicks in the Atlantic Division. With just 12 games left, it’s almost certain that Boston’s five-year run atop the division will end this season.

Smith outscored Boston’s bench, 32-17, and helped New York to its fifth straight win, improving the Knicks to 43-26 on the season.

All five starters scored in the first six minutes of the game for the Celtics, who were without Kevin Garnett (left foot) and Courtney Lee (left ankle) for the second straight game.

The Knicks, meanwhile, relied on a heavy dose of Anthony to keep up with Boston. Anthony had 11 points in the opening quarter and the Knicks scored the final five points of the period to take a 28-24 lead after 12 minutes.

With the game tied, 35-35, the Knicks used a 14-0 run to gain control of the game. Smith went wild in the second quarter, going 5-of-11 from the field and scoring 11 of his 21 first-half points as the Knicks assumed a 58-44 halftime lead.

The Celtics opened the second half on an 8-2 spurt, thanks to threes from Jordan Crawford and Jeff Green, and closed to within eight, 60-52. Green led the Celtics with 19 points while Paul Pierce added 16 before being pulled with six minutes left.

The Celtics couldn’t get closer than seven the rest of the quarter and the Knicks used 9-0 run to expand their lead to 78-62 and re-gain control.

The Celtics appeared to have some momentum heading into the fourth quarter when Jason Terry drilled a three with 6.1 seconds remaining but Smith drilled a three over Avery Bradley at the buzzer to give the Knicks an 84-69 lead heading into the final period.

The Knicks built their lead up to 17, at 91-74, with just under eight minutes left in the game. The Celtics never threatened after that.

The injury-riddled Celtics have no time to rest as they hit the road to play in Cleveland Wednesday night. Doc Rivers said before the game that Courtney Lee is doubtful for that game, leaving the Celtics short-handed again. Boston returns home Friday night to take on the Hawks at TD Garden, as the Celtics play five games in seven days.

For complete coverage from the Garden from Mike Petraglia and Ben Rohrbach, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Carmelo Anthony, Courtney Lee, Jordan Crawford
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