|02.14.13 at 12:55 am ET|
Paul Pierce confirmed what Celtics president Danny Ainge divulged to the viewing public while sitting down with broadcasters Mike Gorman and Tommy Heinsohn during the second quarter of Wednesday night’s 71-69 victory against the Bulls: The C’s captain has played with a pinched nerve in his neck since December.
“It’s getting better,” Pierce said in response to the injury inquiry. “It’s something that’s been bothering me probably for like the last two months. It’s getting better, though. The last couple weeks have been better than it has been.”
Pierce struggled mightily in January, shooting 39.9 percent from the field (28.9 3P%) for the month, but he’s emerged once again as the C’s leader in the two weeks since Rajon Rondo‘s season-ending ACL injury.
During the C’s 8-1 stretch in their last nine games, Pierce has still struggled with his shot (39.0 FG%) — including a 2-of-12 performance in the win over Chicago — although his 39.5 percent shooting from beyond the arc and a boatload of clutch shots have helped assuage any concerns about his health. At 35 years old, Pierce has averaged a ridiculous 16.1 points, 9.4 rebounds and 7.2 assists in 36.6 minutes a night since Rondo’s injury.
|02.13.13 at 11:14 pm ET|
Asked how he’ll approach this weekend’s NBA All-Star Game, especially after playing an exhausting 102 minutes in his last four games, Celtics superstar Kevin Garnett took everybody by surprise when he mentioned mid-sentence that his 15th appearance would be his last.
“For it being my last,” said Garnett, “I got my family coming down.”
“This is definitely my last All-Star Game,” he repeated.
Garnett has two years and $23.5 million remaining on his contract after this season, and considering he was voted a starter at age 36, what’s to stop him from making the roster in either of his next two seasons?
“Y’all don’t know what I know,” he said. “So, let’s put it like this: I’m more than grateful for going, but I’m not going to act like I’ve got more All-Star Games in me, so I’m actually going to enjoy this one with some friends and family.”
Despite signing a three-year extension with the Celtics this past offseason, Garnett repeatedly has dropped hints that any season could be his last, but this is the first time this year he’s alluded to it so clearly.
|02.13.13 at 10:00 pm ET|
Thanks to another all-out effort by the few healthy players left on the roster, the Celtics outlasted the visiting Bulls 71-69 to win ugly, earning their eighth victory in nine tries since the first of the injury dominoes fell two weeks ago.
The Celtics (28-24) equaled their highest point above .500 as four C’s reached double digits, led remarkably by Brandon Bass (14 points, 9 rebounds). Kevin Garnett (12 points, 11 rebounds) and Paul Pierce (8-6-6) scored the C’s final nine points as they held off a Chicago charge to close the final quarter.
The Celtics’ 19 combined points in the second and third quarters marked the team’s lowest point total in consecutive quarters of a game during the shot clock era, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Likewise, their 71 total points was the third-lowest point total in a C’s victory since the inception of the shot clock.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Defense: The Celtics held the Bulls to 15 points in the first quarter and 13 in the third. Chicago’s five starters — Luol Deng (4-10 FG), Carlos Boozer (5-14 FG), Joakim Noah (3-8 FG), Richard Hamilton (1-6 FG) and Nate Robinson (2-7) — shot a combined 33.3 percent. It’s a good thing, because the C’s actually shot worse until …
Heart beats: As they’ve done since the injuries to Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger and Leandro Barbosa, the Celtics never quit. Playing their third game in four nights, shooting miserably and trailing by as many as seven in the first few minutes of the final quarter, the C’s found life. Capped by back-to-back buckets from Jason Terry (12 points) and Jeff Green (8 points) off the bench — both assisted by Garnett — the Celtics put together a 12-0 run, holding the Bulls scoreless for a stretch of 5:44 midway through the fourth quarter and capturing a 59-54 lead.
Bass finishing: In desperate need of offensive help, the Celtics found an unlikely hero. Beginning to emerge from a season-long funk, Bass scored his highest total (14) since Nov. 28. He also grabbed more rebounds (9) than he has since Nov. 25. Bass and Garnett combined for 26 points and 20 rebounds, forming a formidable frontcourt that limited a sizable advantage by the bigger Bulls, who got 27 rebounds from Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer.
|02.13.13 at 9:31 pm ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers touched on just about every issue facing his team — and there are many — prior to his team’s final game before the NBA All-Star break: 1) the season-ending ACL injury suffered by Leandro Barbosa (who he “absolutely” wants back next season); 2) the search for a point guard (or any warm body, for that matter); 3) losing Barbosa, Jared Sullinger and Rajon Rondo in the locker room (a bigger deal than people think); 4) his depleted roster (“We are really right at the threshold”); 5) whether we’ll see more Fab Melo (we won’t); 6) similarities between Rondo and reigning NFL MVP Adrian Peterson (few beyond the ACL tear); 7) Michael Jordan‘s 50th birthday (“I wish they were all like that”), he hit them all. Here goes:
On Leandro Barbosa’s absence: “You don’t know a player or a coach or anybody until you actually coach with them or play with them, and he’s one of those guys you just like in your locker room — forget the basketball part. His spirit has been really good for us, and losing that, that’s big. And then he was our wild card. It’s good to have a wild card. When you throw him in, it could go either way, but you knew he was going to be aggressive.”
On point guard prospects: “In the last 48 hours, [Celtics president] Danny [Ainge] and I have probably covered every human being that’s breathing and can dribble and shoot. We’re just going to take our time. At the end of the day today, that’s basically what we came to. You don’t want to rush anything. We don’t have a lot of flexibility cap-wise. We’re just going to wait. If somebody shakes loose or you can get somebody, we will, but until then we’re stretched at the guard spot.”
|02.13.13 at 8:20 pm ET|
Most of Jared Sullinger‘s days since undergoing season-ending back surgery on Feb. 1 have been spent sitting at an angle that resembles a reclining chair, so the 20-year-old Celtics rookie has plenty of time on his hands.
“I haven’t been doing anything but Twitter, playing video games and catching up on movies,” Sullinger said during a press conference prior to the C’s hosting the Bulls before their NBA All-Star break begins. “That’s about it.”
The back problems that have plagued Sullinger since Nov. 29, 2011, when the Ohio State product scored 21 points in a blowout win over Duke, flared up for the first time this season four minutes into a game against the Kings exactly two weeks ago. The next day, he couldn’t walk. And the next, he underwent surgery to repair a disc that was bulging into his central nervous system.
“I didn’t think it was going to come this fast; maybe two or three years later down the line,” said Sullinger. “That’s what an NBA season does to you. It’s a long season. You’re going to have a couple knick-knack injuries. My knick-knack injury turned into surgery. I’d rather have it now than later.”
|02.12.13 at 4:02 pm ET|
Multiple reports indicate that Celtics guard Leandro Barbosa is officially done for the season after suffering a torn left ACL in Monday’s loss to the Bobcats in Charlotte. Barbosa went down with the injury in the third quarter of Monday’s game and had to be carried off the court. (After the game, teammate Kevin Garnett told the media that Barbosa was going to be sidelined for the rest of the year.) The 30-year-old reserve was averaging 5.2 points and 1.4 assists in 41 games with the Celtics this season.
(UPDATE, 4:51 p.m. The Celtics have issued a statement that reads in part: “The Boston Celtics announced today that guard Leandro Barbosa underwent an MRI this morning at New England Baptist Hospital after his left knee injury last night against the Charlotte Bobcats. The MRI revealed that Barbosa suffered a torn ACL in his left knee. No surgery date has been scheduled and he will be out for the remainder of the season.”)
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|02.11.13 at 11:11 pm ET|
The Celtics endured a dual setback on Monday night, losing 94-91 to Charlotte and also seeing guard Leandro Barbosa exit the game due to a non-contact injury to his left knee. Barbosa had to be carried off the floor in order to keep weight off the knee.
While coach Doc Rivers told reporters that Barbosa’s injury “doesn’t look great,” he also said the team would know his diagnosis more precisely after an examination on Tuesday. Teammate Kevin Garnett, however, suggested that the initial prognosis for Barbosa was ominous.
“It’s tough, man. It’s tough all the way around,” Garnett told reporters. “You work with these guys and all of a sudden you see a season-ending injury. We’re grinding right now, on top of a back-to-back emotional game. Tonight was a very tough game.”
Barbosa did not talk to reporters after the game. He reportedly left the locker room under his own power but limping.
The 30-year-old Barbosa, who signed with the Celtics in October, entered Monday averaging 5.3 points, 1.1 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game while averaging 12 minutes a night. However, he’d emerged as an increasingly important contributor in the aftermath of the injury to Rajon Rondo, scoring 8.7 points with 2.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists in an average of 22 minutes per game in the seven contests without Rondo.