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Kyrie Irving, Cavaliers keep Celtics reeling

01.22.13 at 9:30 pm ET
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Paul Pierce and the Celtics found themselves tied up with Kyrie Irving all night in Cleveland. (AP)

Kyrie Irving scored a game-high 40 points and Tristan Thompson added 21 as the Cavaliers added to the misery of the Celtics with a 95-90 win at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Irving completely dominated the Celtics in the final six minutes, scoring nine points and helping the Cavaliers win for just the 11th time in 43 games. After a season-high six-game winning streak, the Celtics lost their fourth straight and are again under .500 at 20-21. Rajon Rondo led the Celtics with 17 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists.

Making matters worse, the Cavaliers were playing without their starting center Anderson Varejao, who was ruled out for the season this week due to a blood clot in his lower right lung.

Paul Pierce had 12 points, seven rebounds and seven assists while Jared Sullinger had another big game off the bench with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Kevin Garnett was the only other Celtic in double figures in scoring with 16 points, as Boston shot just 38.1 percent from the field.

Defense was non-existent in the first quarter as the Celtics allowed the Cavaliers to shoot 59.1 percent, as Cleveland made 13-of-22 shots from the floor in building a 31-27 lead. The Celtics cut the deficit to 54-53 at the half.

The Celtics built their lead up to six 64-58 early in the third on back-to-back threes from Avery Bradley but couldn’t pull away.

Irving’s pull-up jumper in transition gave the Cavaliers a 76-75 lead with 7:30 remaining but Pierce found an open Rondo moments later for a layup to give the Celtics the lead right back. Sullinger picked up his fifth foul with just under six minutes remaining and the Cavaliers immediately began their charge behind Irving.

The Cavaliers reassumed the lead 82-81 when Pierce missed a jumper and Tyler Zeller raced out on the break for a layup. But again it was Rondo who answered, this time with a layup with just over four minutes remaining, as the Celtics went back in front, 83-82. Rondo then drew Irving’s fifth foul when he took a charge with 3:30 remaining. But the Celtics couldn’t convert as Garnett missed with the shot clock winding down.

Irving’s reverse layup with 2:30 left gave Cleveland the lead again, 84-83. Replays showed rookie Zeller kicking the ball ahead to Irving but no violation was called and the basket stood. Irving scored 15 of his 40 points in the fourth quarter as he took control of the game.

Then Rondo committed a mental mistake on a loose ball that careened into the Celtics backcourt. He tried to throw it off Irving but was unsuccessful, allowing Irving to go in for an uncontested layup with just over two minutes left.

Garnett drew the sixth foul of the night on Zeller with 1:30, with Garnett hitting both free throws cutting Cleveland’s lead to one, 88-87. With a chance to give Boston the lead, Garnett missed a baseline fallaway jumper. That led to another spectacular coast-to-coast drive by Irving to put Cleveland up, 90-87, with 52.9 seconds remaining.

The Celtics host the Knicks Thursday night at TD Garden. For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.

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Doc Rivers rips Celtics after latest loss: ‘We’re taking the wrong approach’

01.21.13 at 2:25 am ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers sounded exasperated after his team's loss on Sunday. (AP)

After the Celtics suffered a 103-88 blowout loss to the Pistons in Detroit on Sunday night, coach Doc Rivers blasted his team for its lack of intensity and effort. He hinted at changes to either the lineup or the roster if the team continues the dispassionate play that the coach suggested had characterized not just the team’s three straight losses but even some of the victories towards the end of a six-game winning streak that preceded the current string of defeats.

“I think this team wants everything easy,” Rivers told reporters in Detroit after the Celtics fell back to .500 at 20-20. “They want the easy way out. They want to win easy. And I told them the only way you’re going to win easy is you’re going to have to play hard. The harder you play, the easier the games become. We’re taking the wrong approach. I’ve got to either find the right combination, the right guys, or we’re going to get some guys out of here. It’s the bottom line. Because this group right now, they are not playing right. It’s in them to play right. But right now they haven’t been — either because I’m not getting to them, or they are not getting to each other. But at the end of the day, either we’ve got to do that, or we’ve got to make changes.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Running on fumes: Celtics sputter against Pistons

01.20.13 at 10:14 pm ET
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Despite the return of guard Avery Bradley to the starting lineup, the Celtics lost their third straight game as the starting lineup endured a dreadful performance, falling in Detroit to the Pistons, 103-88. The quintet of Bradley, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass shot a woeful 17-of-48 from the field while combining to score just 40 points.

Rondo had just eight points on 4-of-16 shooting, and though he had nine rebounds and 15 assists, he also matched a career high by turning over the ball nine times. Garnett and Courtney Lee led the Celtics with 16 points each.

The Pistons featured a balanced attack with six players scoring at least 13 points, with Andre Drummond leading the way with 16 points off the bunch. Center Greg Monroe added 15 points and 11 rebounds in 38 minutes.

With the loss, the Celtics dropped back to 20-20, including a 7-12 road record. They will now travel to Cleveland to take on the Cavaliers on Tuesday.

For a game recap, click here. For more Celtics coverage, visit weei.com/celtics.

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Avery Bradley gets an unexpected start for Celtics

01.20.13 at 8:40 pm ET
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Celtics guard Avery Bradley, who missed Friday’s game against the Bulls with a rib injury, was back in the Celtics lineup on Sunday night in Detroit against the Pistons. His presence among the starting five came as something of a surprise, given that coach Doc Rivers had suggested that the third-year player was doubtful for Sunday.

Entering Sunday, Bradley was averaging 8.1 points, 1.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.3 steals per game. The Celtics are 6-2 in his first eight games.

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Joakim Noah says Kevin Garnett full of ‘cheap shots’ and ‘bulls***’

01.19.13 at 1:48 am ET
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One of the most intense rivals of Kevin Garnett was at it again Friday night after Chicago’s nailbiting 100-99 win over the Celtics at TD Garden.

Joakim Noah, who scored 14 points and pulled down 13 rebounds, got into several times in the second half with Garnett under the Bulls’ basket.

Afterward, he claimed Garnett continued his strategy of throwing “elbows” and “cheap shots” at the Bulls big man. Noah and Garnett were called for double technicals with 2:20 left in a game that the Bulls led, 84-83. Garnett did not address it after the game but Noah did.

“Just trying to throw elbows,” Noah said. “Cheap shots, just trying to get you off your game. But he’s a vet, he’s been doing this a long time, but it’s all right.”

Noah was asked how he held Garnett to just 5-of-16 shooting from the field.

“Just playing defense,” Noah said. “Just playing sound defense, just contesting his shots. He’s a hell of a competitor. He’s always on some bulls***. Always on some bulls***.”

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Rajon Rondo not enough to stop charging Bulls

01.18.13 at 10:16 pm ET
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Rajon Rondo (9) looks to pass as he is pressured by Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich (12). (AP)

Marco Belinelli‘s jumper from 14 feet as he was falling to the ground with 3.1 seconds left in overtime lifted the Bulls to a stunning 100-99 win over the Celtics Friday night at TD Garden. Courtney Lee‘s desperation shot off the glass missed as time expired. Jason Terry hit a wide open jumper with 12.5 seconds left in overtime to put Boston on top before the circus shot fell through for the Bulls, who improve to 23-15 on the season.

Rajon Rondo finished with a season-high 30 points before fouling out in overtime. Rondo appeared to have given the Celtics the biggest shot of the night when he hit a wide open 20-foot jumper with 36.6 seconds left to put the Celtics up, 86-84. But Kirk Hinrich drained a jumper with 2.0 seconds left to force overtime.

Kevin Garnett had 11 of his 16 points in the fourth to lead a second-half comeback. Before fouling out late in overtime, Jared Sullinger had 15 rebounds off the bench for the Celtics, who lost their second straight after a six-game winning streak. Boston finished its season-long homestand 3-2. Rip Hamilton had 20 points while Carlos Boozer (19 points, 19 rebounds) and Joakim Noah (14, 13) each had double-doubles to lead the Bulls.

Chicago came out and took control early, leading 17-7. The Celtics responded with a 10-2 run but still trailed 23-19 after 12 minutes. The Bulls led 45-39 at the half. Rondo carried the Celtics through three quarters, making 9-of-14 shots and scoring 21 points. Pierce and Garnett were ice cold through three quarters, combining to shoot 4-for-22.

Entering the fourth, the Celtics trailed, 68-62, as Carlos Boozer had 17 points 15 rebounds while holding Kevin Garnett to 1-of-10 shooting.

But Garnett made his first shot of the fourth quarter to keep the Celtics within six, 70-64. Garnett drilled his next shot, a jumper from the top of the circle with just over 10 minutes left to draw the Celtics to within two, 70-68, capping a 6-0 spurt to open the period. With 7:03 remaining, Rondo hit a layup to tie the game, 74-74 as the Celtics opened the fourth on a 12-6 run.

But Hamilton responded immediately with a jumper from the top of the key to put the Bulls back on top. Kirk Hinrich followed with a three with just over six minutes left to expand Chicago’s lead to five. But Rondo responded with four of the next five points, tying the game, 79-79, with two free throws with five minutes left. Read the rest of this entry »

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Rajon Rondo on All-Star: ‘To be loved by so many people … it’s a great feeling’

01.18.13 at 8:08 pm ET
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Rajon Rondo gives it up for Boston fans. (AP)

Rajon Rondo is very grateful to Celtics fans for his selection to the Eastern Conference All-Star squad on Thursday. Before Friday’s game he expressed his appreciation.

“It’s a great feeling, especially being named this way amongst your fans, so many votes,” Rondo said. “It’s humbling and it’s a grateful experience for me.

“To be loved by so many people rooting for me and wanting me to be a starter in the East, it’s a great feeling.”

Rondo garnered 924,180 votes, second only to Dwyane Wade. Rondo will team with Wade, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Kevin Garnett on the starting five for the East on Feb. 17 in Houston.

This is Rondo’s fourth All-Star selection, being named each year since 2010.

Rondo said he will target KG in the post and is still hoping Paul Pierce makes it as a reserve.

“I’m a little bit biased but without Paul, we wouldn’t be where we are right now,” Rondo added. “He’s been Mr. Consistent and he’s brought it every night for us. He’s always carried the load or scoring, which we need at times, so I’d definitely consider Paul as well.”

His mission? To end a run of Western Conference dominance in the game.

“I’ll still try to run the show,” Rondo said. “I want to win this year. We haven’t won in a while … but we definitely want to win this year.”

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