|04.28.13 at 9:17 pm ET|
Paul Pierce wasn’t preoccupied with “what-ifs” heading into an elimination game Sunday afternoon at TD Garden. What if the Celtics lost? Could this be the last game in a Celtics uniform for the captain who is signed through next season.
“To be honest, I was calm,” Pierce said. “I had a certain calmness about the game today,” Pierce said after scoring a team-high 29 points in a 97-90 overtime win against the Knicks that kept the season alive and sent the series back to New York for Game 5 Wednesday night.
Pierce played nine seconds shy of 50 minutes on this day that his Celtics career might have ended. He didn’t want it to end like this, on his home court, blowing a 20-point third-quarter lead and missing a trademark iso shot that would’ve won the game in regulation.
‘Yeah you know every game is tough in the playoffs,” Pierce said. “We had a sizable lead, but we understood that they could make a run. They’re a good team. But you know, we gotta limit their runs. We gotta be better, especially in the third quarter. That’s been our Achilles heel in this series, and so hopefully we can look to improve upon that in Game 5.’
Pride is a word that gets thrown around a lot but the Celtics showed a lot of it in the fourth quarter when the Knicks had already gotten back into the game and could sense the kill. But Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry rallied the troops.
‘Yeah, there was a lot of pride,” Pierce said. “Us, as [leaders] of the team, we’ve got to instill it in these guys. You saw with the attitude before the game, we knew we were gonna come out with the force we did today, and it carried over into the game. And this crowd. You gotta give a hand to this crowd. They really gave us a boost. Everytime I look up there, you feel it, you see it, you hear it; there’s just so much pride when you look around, the banners, the crowd and everything going on with the Boston Celtics history.’
|04.28.13 at 7:42 pm ET|
“We put ourselves in this 3-0 position,” said Garnett after his team’s 97-90 win over the Knicks. “That’s not where you want to be as a team, but it’s what it is. Today we fought for another day, and we’ll do the same Wednesday.”
Garnett grabbing 17 rebounds for the second straight game while adding 13 points on just seven shots and dishing out six assists, helping the C’s avoid a sweep for the first time since 2004.
“If we want to survive and continue to play, this is what it is,” said Garnett. “This is the position we put ourselves in. To continue to play, we’ve got to continue to win, so it’s all out from here on out.”
Garnett insisted their mentality never changed between Games 3 and 4. Shots started falling. That’s it.
“Instead of talking, we actually came out and did it,” he said after the C’s scored 80 points for the first time all series. “There wasn’t a lot of verbal. This is it. We were down 3-0. What else is there to say?”
|04.28.13 at 6:24 pm ET|
That fire and determination paid huge dividends on Sunday in a 97-90 overtime, season-saving win at TD Garden. Terry drained the go-ahead three with 1:32 left in overtime, as he scored the final nine points of Game 4.
Was it the elbow that Smith threw that got him fired up?
‘He was definitely vocal,” Rivers said. “Someone said it [Saturday]; maybe that elbow ‘ who knows? [Terry] said it changed the events for all of us. Definitely Jason Terry was angry that it happened. He let his teammates know yesterday and today. But he’s just a fighter. I’ve told you that before. You know, I didn’t know him until this year and I said it the other day: he’s just one of those guys you want around your team, whether he’s playing or not. He brings sunshine. There’s guys ‘ I would say probably most of you guys, you bring those dark clouds every time I see you ‘ a couple of you don’t. But the sunshine-bringers, that’s who you want. And Jason Terry is one of those guys.’
Terry scored 18 points in 41 minutes off the Boston bench, both playoff highs so far.
‘He was great,” Rivers said. “You know, that’s what he does. He’s made so many big shots in his career; you knew in transition’¦It’s amazing, you know, you guys don’t get to see it but when you watch all the guys, and not just Jason Terry, but when you watch them practice on the floor on their own, they work on certain shots. And that’s the shot, that transition three is something he works on all the time. And you knew once he got it what he was going to do. I thought it was interesting when you watch the play, I thought Jason Kidd knew it too. Because you could see him coming from the basket, from them playing with each other. So it was a big shot. And the other shot he made was big as well. So, that’s what he does. That’s good.’
Rivers said the go-ahead three wasn’t the only huge shot Terry made in his 9-0 run.
‘Yeah, yeah, but the five were big,” Rivers said. “The three, and the two off the pick, those were huge. I’ll take all of them, but the five, they were huge.’
Here is the rest of Doc Rivers’ postgame press conference from Sunday.
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|04.28.13 at 4:12 pm ET|
The Knicks erased a 20-point second-half deficit and took their first lead of the game with 78 seconds remaining on a Raymond Felton jumper. It took a 17-footer from Kevin Garnett and two Carmelo Anthony misses just to force overtime. But Jason Terry finally came up clutch, scoring the C’s final nine points for a 97-90 OT victory.
Meanwhile, Paul Pierce played 50 minutes, totaling 29 points, eight rebounds and six assists to help avoid a sweep and force a Game 5 on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden. Pierce, Garnett (13 points, 17 rebounds), Terry (18 points) and Jeff Green (26 points) combined for 86 of the C’s 97 points.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Melo out: Without J.R. Smith to share the load, Carmelo Anthony (36 points) tried to put the Knicks on his back, but Brandon Bass had other ideas. Bass gave Anthony fits, even jawing with the MVP candidate, holding him to 10-of-35 shooting and forcing him into seven turnovers. The rest of the Knicks didn’t help, shooting 34 percent from the field, but it started with a valiant effort from Bass, who fouled out in the fourth quarter.
Closing out: While the Knicks looked to close out the series, the C’s just hoped to close out a quarter. And for once they did. In the second, they finished the final two minutes on a 12-3 run. Pierce, who looked cooked in Game 3, scored eight of his 17 first-half points in 72 seconds, and then assisted on Jason Terry’s 16-foot jumper that beat the clock. The result? A 54-35 advantage that helped punch their plane ticket back to New York.
Green with emotion: Green’s recipe for success is simple: attack, attack, attack. The guy who stands around the perimeter watching his teammates take jump shots isn’t so good. In the span of 44 seconds of the second quarter, Green stampeded his way to the basket for a running five-footer and got to the line twice more on drives to the hole. In other words, he attacked, attacked, attacked, and the result was 26 points and six boards.
WHAT WENT WRONG
First mistake: The Celtics shot 50 percent from the field in the first quarter while holding the Knicks to 6-of-18 shooting and forcing six New York turnovers. And thanks to an off-balance Anthony and-1 to close out the first quarter, the C’s only led 22-17. That five-point lead should’ve been 15. Allowing the Knicks to stick around was a dangerous game, even if the Celtics ended up taking a 19-point lead into halftime.
Handle without care: Turnovers cost the Celtics Games 1 and 3. Their offense practically must execute to perfection to compete with New York’s potent attack, and coughing up opportunities before they even get off a shot compounds the problem. Yet, the Celtics committed 16 turnovers on Sunday. Dumb ones, too, like Avery Bradley throwing a pass to someone in the fourth row and Pierce’s failed feeding of Bass on a fast break.
Foul mood: Midway through the second quarter, Garnett picked up his third foul from an officiating crew that featured C’s coach Doc Rivers‘ nemesis Bill Kennedy. Minutes later, Green picked up his third, and Bass joined the club two seconds before halftime. Within five minutes of the third quarter, all three had four fouls. Of course, Anthony and Tyson Chandler had four before the fourth quarter, too. But with little faith in Chris Wilcox or Shavlik Randolph off the bench, Rivers pulled Garnett but left Green and Bass to defend the paint. Bass soon picked up his fifth, and the Knicks closed within three on an 11-1 run to end the third, setting up a nail-biting fourth quarter and overtime.
|04.28.13 at 4:05 pm ET|
The Celtics live to fight another day.
Jason Terry nailed a go-ahead three with 90 seconds left in overtime and scored Boston’s final seven points as the Celtics overcame blowing a 20-point third-quarter lead and beat the Knicks, 97-90, in Game 4 Sunday afternoon at TD Garden. With the win, the Celtics stave off elimination and will play the Knicks in Game 5 Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, trailing the series, 3-1.
In a season filled with a record 11 overtime games, Game 4 appropriately came down to an extra period.
Paul Pierce scored 29, Jeff Green added 26 and Kevin Garnett chipped in with 13 points and 17 rebounds for the Celtics, who blew a 20-point third quarter lead. Carmelo Anthony had 36 points while Raymond Felton added 27 for New York, which was playing without the suspended J.R. Smith.
For the third time in the series, the Celtics took a halftime lead but this time Celtics were overpowering in building their advantage. The Celtics shot 50 percent in the first quarter, as Pierce led the way with seven points and the Celtics led, 22-17 after one.
Pierce led the charge against the Knicks in the second quarter, scoring 10 of his 17 first-half points. Led by a pair of Pierce threes late, Boston went on a 19-6 run to end the second quarter and grabbed a 54-35 halftime lead. The Knicks were extremely sloppy in the first half, committing 13 turnovers.
Green was also huge in the second quarter, scoring nine of his 15 first-half points and helping Boston outscore New York, 32-18. It took four games but the Celtics produced their best half of offensive basketball, making 20-of-39 shots (51.3 percent).
Fouls became a huge issue in the third quarter.
Garnett, Green all picked up their fourth fouls in the first four minutes. The Knicks were in the bonus with 7:12 left in the third quarter. Still, the Celtics managed a 20-point lead at 59-39. But the Knicks – led by Raymond Felton – finally got hot from 3-point range.
Carmelo Anthony’s jumper with 6:44 left in the third capped an 8-0 Knicks run and cut the lead to 12, 59-47. After a Green layup, the Knicks collected a loose ball rebound and Raymond Felton drilled a three, cutting Boston’s lead to 11, 61-50.
Anthony was called for his fourth foul moments later and the Celtics regained momentum, building the lead back to 14. But Felton hit his third three with three minutes left in the quarter to pare the lead down to 10, 65-55. Anthony came out of the game with 3:35 left in the third and the Knicks down, 14. Without their MVP, Felton and Iman Shumpert led the Knicks on a 14-3 surge to end the third quarter, including a three with 0.2 seconds left in quarter as Boston led by just three, 68-65, heading into the final quarter. Terry hit another jumper with 50.4 second left to re-establish the three-point lead, 93-90.
After a Garnett free throw on an illegal defense call, Anthony hit a layup to cut the Boston lead to two. Pierce answered with a deep three with 9:40 left to put Boston up, 72-67. An Iman Shumpert steal of Pierce and layup with 7:16 left tied the game, 74-74.
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|04.28.13 at 12:29 pm ET|
Noting that he really likes his defense on Carmelo Anthony, Celtics coach Doc Rivers announced that he is re-inserting Brandon Bass into the starting lineup, as Jason Terry heads back to his more customary role off the bench.
“I just like Brandon on Melo more,” Rivers said. “Like I said [Saturday], the smaller lineup, the numbers actually say it’s better, but I like our defense better the other way.”
The Celtics will face a Knicks team in Game 4 that will be without “Sixth Man of the Year” J.R. Smith, suspended for the game after throwing an elbow in the face of Terry with seven minutes left in Game 3. Smith, who was averaging 16.3 points in the first three games, was assessed a “Flagrant Foul 2″ for the violation and was suspended by the NBA on Saturday.
What will be the biggest impact of the Knicks losing their second-leading scorer?
“Listen, he’s one of their other guys that can create shots and, especially in the playoffs, you need a guy,” Rivers said. “You think about what we’ve done good in this series, the Knicks are being held 13 points under their normal [scoring] average. And J.R. Smith has played well, because in the playoffs you take teams out of their stuff, and it comes down to guys creating shots for themselves and others. Well, Melo does that, [Raymond Felton] has done that, and J.R. Smith does that. Now they don’t have one of those guys.”
Meanwhile, the Celtics will try to take the first step on the path to NBA history as no team has ever overcome an 0-3 hole in the postseason.
“Obviously when one team is in an elimination situation, and the other team is not, it’s mental really for both,” Rivers said. “I’m not going to concern myself with their mental, but with ours, it’s all mental, it always is.”
|04.27.13 at 9:54 pm ET|
On the eve of what could be a series-clinching sweep in Game 4, Knicks guard J.R. Smith has been suspended by the NBA for one game without pay for throwing an elbow and striking the chin of Celtics‘ guard Jason Terry. Stu Jackson, Executive Vice President for Basketball Operations made the announcement.
The incident, for which Smith was assessed a Flagrant Foul Two and ejected, occurred with 7:06 remaining in the fourth quarter of New York’s 90-76 win over Boston last night, at the TD Garden.
Smith will serve his suspension when the Knicks face the Celtics at the TD Garden on Sunday at 1 p.m., with the Knicks needing just one more win to complete the series sweep.
Smith, who was honored before Game 2 on Tuesday as the NBA “Sixth Man of the Year”, has been New York’s second-leading scorer in the series (16.3) for the Knicks behind Carmelo Anthony.
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