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Danny Ainge: ‘Radically’ changing Celtics makes no sense

01.16.13 at 9:17 am ET
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Danny Ainge (AP)

While the Celtics have been linked to almost every big name on the market (DeMarcus Cousins, Marcin Gortat, etc.), team president Danny Ainge claims he doesn’t foresee a major trade before the Feb. 21 deadline.

”That doesn’t make a lot of sense to radically change the team when you’re trying to compete to win it all,” Ainge told Comcast in a preview of a 20-minute interview that will air prior to Wednesday night’s Celtics game against the Hornets. “We have been and will continue to look to upgrade our team, but I think it’s always more unlikely that that happens than likely.”

Based on those comments, Ainge either: a) changed his philosophy in the wake of the Kendrick Perkins for Jeff Green swap with the Thunder in 2011; or b) didn’t believe that trade would “radically change the team.” In which case, does he believe a deal involving Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger or anybody not named Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo or Kevin Garnett radically changes these C’s?

Either way, his statements appear to be a vote of confidence in Doc Rivers and this season’s Celtics as the result of their six-game winning streak. But who’s to say he won’t change his mind over the next five weeks?

“You have to produce,” added Ainge, who has admitted urging Red Auerbach during the 1988-89 NBA season to trade Larry Bird for Chuck Person, Herb Williams and Steve Stipanovich in addition to dealing Kevin McHale to the Mavericks for Detlef Schrempf and Sam Perkins. And those were his friends. “It’s my job to look at the bigger picture. We have to live in the moment and try to win and help our team have success, but at the same time, if it’s not happening on the court, than there has to be changes made, absolutely.”

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Courtney Lee, Jason Terry swap Celtics fortunes

01.15.13 at 1:10 am ET
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After the Celtics defeated the Bobcats, earning their sixth straight victory, the generally jovial Jason Terry walked through the locker room, head down, repeating: “Tough game. Tough game.”

He had just finished the worst night of his Celtics career, a scoreless effort in 15 minutes. Heck, C’s coach Doc Rivers even played Leandro Barbosa over Terry in an eight-point game midway through the fourth quarter.

“Just a feel, honestly,” said Rivers. “I thought we needed energy, and he’s always ready.”

Energy? Terry’s made a living on energy, finishing among the top Sixth Man of the Year candidates for as long as some of his teammates have been in the NBA. Yet, on a Monday night against the Charlotte Bobcats in the middle of January, he couldn’t get on the floor. For the time being, the tides have turned against Terry.

In November and December, Terry didn’t entirely meet the expectations set by his three-year, $15 million deal, but at least he averaged double-digit scoring on near 40 percent 3-point shooting in 30 minutes a night. That was only supposed to improve once Avery Bradley returned and allowed Terry to find his comfort zone off the bench.

Instead, he’s played 16 or fewer minutes in three of the C’s seven games this month, including a combined 31 minutes over the past two games. In the seven games since Bradley’s return from shoulder surgeries, Terry’s averaging only 4.6 points on 34.9 percent shooting from the field (23.8 3-point percentage).

Courtney Lee, who struggled mightily to start the season, appeared to be the odd man out. In the game prior to Bradley’s return, Terry dropped 20 points for the first time all season while Lee went scoreless in 21 minutes, and that was a microcosm of what the Celtics had seen from them all season.

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Rajon Rondo: ‘I may have a mark on my back’ with NBA young guns

01.14.13 at 11:54 pm ET
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Rajon Rondo doesn’t need much to get motivated, so when he was asked by longtime Worcester Telegram & Gazette beat writer Bill Doyle before the game why his assist totals were down over the last 12 games, he had all the fuel needed to burn the Bobcats on Monday night. And burn them he did, recording his third triple-double of the season and 26th of his career, scoring 17 points, dishing 12 assists and grabbing 10 rebounds in Boston’s 100-89 win.

Doyle, to his credit, asked Rondo after the game if he were inspired by the pregame line of questioning.

“Because you told me my assists were down and I just wanted to just go out there and prove it to you that I can step up my game when need be,” Rondo said. “Greg [Dickerson] was asking me about Kemba Walker. I’m getting a little bit older and so the younger guys are coming in and I may have a mark on my back, being an older guy, made a couple of All-Star [Games], but I’m a target every night and I just want to go out and defend what I do best, and that is run the show. I made a lot of lucky shots tonight.”

And who are Rondo’s targets?

“Myself,” he said without hesitation.

As Doc Rivers pointed out pregame, he wasn’t that worried about Rondo’s assist totals. Rondo had just four double-digit assist games in his last 12 but was still averaging 8.9 assists in that stretch.

That changed Monday night when he had nine points, five assists and six rebounds in the first quarter alone.

“They made some shots and the ball bounced to me,” Rondo explained. “My bigs did a good job of blocking out and I was able to start quickly.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Fast Break: Rajon Rondo’s triple-double delivers sixth straight Celtics win

01.14.13 at 10:01 pm ET
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Rajon Rondo

Apparently, Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo doesn’t reserve his triple-doubles just for nationally televised games, since he recorded the 26th such night of his career in a 100-89 win on a Monday night against the Bobcats.

Rondo totaled 17 points (8-11 FG), 12 assists and 10 rebounds, leading the Celtics (20-17) to their sixth straight victory. Paul Pierce (19 points), Avery Bradley (16 points) and Jeff Green (11 points) all reached double figures while Kevin Garnett grabbed 10 boards on a poor shooting night (2-11 FG).

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Rondo from the get-go: The Celtics point guard assisted on the C’s first four field goals — getting Bradley, Pierce and Brandon Bass involved within the game’s first 1:45 — and then made their next four buckets, staking the home team to a 16-6 advantage midway through the first quarter. By the end of the opening frame, Rondo recorded nine points, six rebounds and five assists. Needless to say, Good Rondo was in the house.

Avery good night: With the possible exception of his 13-point, five-assist night against the Knicks last week, Bradley enjoyed his sharpest offensive performance of the season. His defense never relents, but his offense hasn’t quite rounded into pre-surgery form. The slashing backdoor buckets are still there, but Bradley connected on 56 percent (20-36) of his corner 3-pointers last season, and he started this winter 2-of-9 from the same spots. Against the Bobcats, however, Bradley made 4-of-7 triples, all from the corner.

Green light: Quietly, Green’s scoring numbers are climbing into double digits. He entered the game averaging 9.7 points per game and connected on four of his first seven shots off the bench, scoring all 11 of his points over a five-minute stretch in the second quarter. He’s now reached double figures in 17 games, including three of his last four. His rebounding numbers, while still not reflective of a 6-foot-9 hybrid forward, are also rising.

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Rajon Rondo triples up on the Bobcats as Celtics win sixth straight

01.14.13 at 9:58 pm ET
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Rajon Rondo blew by the Bobcats for his third triple-double of the season. (AP)

Rajon Rondo recorded his 26th career triple double and sparked a second-half rally as the Celtics shook free of the lowly Bobcats, 100-89, for their sixth straight win Monday night at TD Garden. Rondo completed the triple double with a rebound with four minutes left in the game and finished with 17 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. Paul Pierce led the Celtics in scoring with 19 points while Avery Bradley had 16 points, including 4-of-7 shooting from 3-point range. Jeff Green added 11 points off the bench for the Celtics, who improved to 20-17 on the season. Charlotte lost for the 23rd time in 25 games and fell to 9-28.

The Celtics appeared to be in line for an easy night when they jumped out to a 11-2 lead in the opening three minutes. Rondo was red-hot early, scoring seven points, dishing out four assists and grabbing four rebounds in the first five minutes. The Celtics built their first quarter lead up to as many as 13 points, 28-15, before settling for a 28-18 lead after one. The Celtics shot 63.2 percent in the first 12 minutes while the Bobcats were ice-cold at 7-for-25 (28 percent). Rondo finished the quarter with nine points, six rebounds and five assists, all team highs.

The Celtics built their lead to 18, 50-32, on a Pierce three-point play with 4:31 left in the second quarter. The Bobcats made a bit of a run at the end of the first half, closing on a 13-6 spurt, as the Celtics took a 56-45 halftime lead.

The tables were turned in the second half as the Celtics came out ice cold and were outscored by the Bobcats, 9-0, to open the third quarter. Rondo’s jumper stopped the run but Charlotte eventually tied the game, 58-58. The Celtics then scored the next seven points to take the lead for good. Boston led 76-70 after three.

The Bobcats were within four, 78-74, when Jared Sullinger and Rondo made back-to-back baskets to start a 9-0 run and open a 13-point lead. The run was capped by a Courtney Lee 3-pointer.

The Celtics are now 3-0 on their season-long five-game homestand, which continues Wednesday with a game against New Orleans and finishes up on Friday against the Bulls. For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.

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Paul Pierce: Jared Sullinger at All-Star weekend is a ‘no-brainer’

01.14.13 at 9:15 pm ET
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Entering Monday, there wasn’t a hotter rookie in the NBA than Jared Sullinger. The first-year player out of Ohio State was a huge reason the Celtics bench had awoken from its slumber and helped the Celtics run off five straight wins. Sullinger had back-to-back double-doubles against the Suns and Rockets and is averaging 25.5 minutes per game in the first six games of January.

Sullinger is fourth among all rookies in rebounding at 5.9 rebounds per game and tied for fourth in double-doubles with three. But perhaps most significant to the Celtics is the contribution he’s made as a rookie on a team with championship expectations. Anthony Davis (New Orleans), Andre Drummond (Detroit) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Charlotte) are all on teams that will likely be watching the playoffs on TV in the spring.

Celtics captain Paul Pierce said there is no doubt in his mind Sullinger should be part of NBA All-Star weekend activities when a team of the best rookies take on a team of the best second-year players in Houston.

“I think that’s like a no-brainer,” Pierce said with a smile. “In the rookie class, I can’t even name five quality rookies. [Sullinger] is playing well and playing significantly for the ball club. I definitely think he should be there.”

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Doc Rivers: Rajon Rondo lower assist totals ‘just one of those stretches’

01.14.13 at 8:08 pm ET
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Celtics head coach Doc Rivers says he is not overly concerned about the lower assist totals of point guard Rajon Rondo in the last three weeks. Entering Monday’s game, Rondo averaged 8.3 assists over his last 12 games. He recorded double-digit assist totals in just four of those games.

“I don’t know. Maybe I’ll call [assistant GM, team counsel and stat guru] Mike Zarren and figure it out,” Rivers laughed. “Honestly, bench is playing really well and his minutes are down over the stretch as well. Ball movement is better and maybe it’s a by-product of that, but we can do that and he can still have high assist games as well. It’s just one of those stretches.”

Rivers also spoke about not taking the 9-27 Bobcats lightly. Charlotte started out the season 7-5 before losing 22 of their last 24 coming into Monday’s game in Boston. Rivers also confirmed that big-man Chris Wilcox (thumb) is getting closer to returning, and would dress but not play in Monday’s game as the Celtics need to dress 12 players for the game.

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