|01.30.13 at 9:54 pm ET|
In their first full game since learning they would finish the season without All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce (16 points, 10 rebounds) and the Celtics ran the Kings out of the building in a 99-81 victory that had the fans who stayed until the end of the blowout on their feet in appreciation.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Running men: Before Tuesday’s practice, Doc Rivers said his team would kickstart the transition game by way of the pass (rather than Rondo’s dribble) — a la the Celtics of the 1980s — and for one night they succeeded. By halftime, a C’s team that entered the game averaging 13.4 fast break points had already reached double figures, and the running game was a big reason for their 62.5 field goal percentage at the break.
Front of the house: While much of the focus remained on how the backcourt would perform, just about everybody in the C’s frontcourt came to play — thanks in large part to a complete lack of interest from DeMarcus Cousins. Kevin Garnett (13 points, 9 rebounds) and Jeff Green (12 points) combined for 10-of-10 shooting and 21 points in the first half, Pierce got his double-double and Brandon Bass (12 points) played admirably off the bench.
JET taking off: Over the past three games, Jason Terry has made 13-of-25 shots (6-14 3P) and scored at least 12 points in each game. In the first 12 games of this month, he finished 27-of-72 from the floor (9-35 3P) and reached 12 points only twice. The C’s Sixth Man also had at least four assists for the first time in three weeks. All positive signs that the backcourt can replace some of Rondo’s offense.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Back in the saddle: For the first time this season, Jared Sullinger‘s health became an issue. His back is the reason he dropped to the Celtics at No. 21 in the draft, and he asked out of the game in the first quarter against the Kings, walking gingerly back to the locker room ahead of team trainer Ed Lacerte and team physician Dr. Brian McKeon. While the team originally announced Sullinger was “likely to return” despite back spasms, the Celtics stormed to a double-digit lead and quickly declared the rookie “out for the night.”
Foul mood: Has Jason Collins always been this foul happy? He came into the game averaging 8.3 personal fouls per 36 minutes, and things got worse when he committed three personal fouls in 2:38 during the first half. That number is by far the worst of his career, and Collins averaged almost half as many fouls per 36 minutes last season. This year? He has almost as many personal fouls (56) as points and rebounds combined (60).
Royal pain: Basketball fans suffered for having to watch the Kings play on Wednesday night. Outside of Tyreke Evans (19 points, 11 rebounds), nobody played well for Sacramento, especially Cousins, who rarely found the energy to leave the perimeter on offense and played like a saloon door on defense. Kings fans deserve better than losing their team to Seattle for having to watch this group over the past several years.
|01.30.13 at 9:50 pm ET|
Brandon Bass, Jeff Green and Jason Terry each scored 12 points off the bench as the Celtics beat the Kings, 99-81, Wednesday night at TD Garden. The Celtics, who won their second straight after six straight losses, gained revenge for a humbling 118-96 loss in Sacramento on Dec. 30, a game in which 22-year-old DeMarcus Cousins registered a triple-double. Boston was able to contain Cousins Wednesday, holding him to 13 points and six rebounds.
The Celtics raced out to an 8-0 lead to start the game as Garnett was red-hot early. The Celtics lost their starting power forward Jared Sullinger to back spasms just four minutes into the game. He received ice treatment in the locker room but could not return and was ruled out late in the second quarter.
The Kings recovered quickly and outscored the Celtics 24-14 to end the period as the visitors led, 24-22, after 12 minutes.
The Celtics couldn’t miss in the second quarter. They made a season-best 16-of-20 shots from the field, scorching the Kings with 80 percent shooting and outscoring the Kings, 37-14, in the period to take a commanding 59-38 halftime lead. The Celtics hit their first 14 shots of the quarter.
Green and Garnett were a combined 10-for-10 from the field in the first half, combining for 21 of Boston’s 59 points. The Celtics were able to do most of their damage without Paul Pierce, who was held scoreless until his layup and subsequent three-point play with 2:55 left in the first half.
Looking to avoid a meltdown like the one that cost them a 27-point lead last Friday in Atlanta, the Celtics actually expanded their lead to 28, 74-46, midway through the third.
But the Kings did make a run at the Celtics early in the fourth, cutting Boston’s lead down to 15, 82-67, on a flagrant-1 foul by Leandro Barbosa on Tyreke Evans. But the Celtics managed to stop the bleeding there and Pierce came down and responded with a basket to restore the lead to 17.
The Kings cut the lead back down to 14, 90-76, and had a rebound with a chance to narrow it more but committed a turnover in transition. But the Celtics looked awful in the next possession as Pierce held onto the ball near mid-court for a 24-second violation. The Kings would not get closer than 14 down the stretch.
The Celtics are off Thursday before returning to action on Friday against the Magic at TD Garden. The Celtics conclude their four-game homestand with a game against the Clippers on Sunday at 1 p.m. For complete coverage from the Garden from the team of Mike Petraglia and Ben Rohrbach, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|01.30.13 at 8:32 pm ET|
On the night he was snubbed by the NBA for a spot on the “Rising Stars” Challenge, Jared Sullinger suffered a more painful blow during the game with the Kings as he was sidelined with back spasms.
Sullinger started and played just four minutes before being subbed out as his back tightened up on him. The Celtics initially reported that the big man went to the locker room and received ice treatment and was “likely” to return.
But midway through the second quarter, Sullinger was ruled out for the rest of the game. The injury immediately set off alarms as it was a bad back at Ohio State that allowed Sullinger to drop to 21st in the NBA draft last June, a fact not lost on head coach Doc Rivers after the game.
“I think it was bothering him in the draft,” Rivers said, referring to the issues he had at Ohio State that caused him to miss significant time in his senior season. “So, I just think, honestly, I know (trainer) Eddie (Ed Lacerte) said something a week or two ago that it’s been bothering him, and I think this will be what will happen. He’ll have these episodes and we’ve got to get him through it. Hopefully, he doesn’t miss games with them, but if he does, he does. And then get it right and come back. But I’m not sure if it was before the game or not.”
Asked before the game where he thinks Sullinger would be drafted right now, knowing what he’s accomplished in the NBA, Rivers didn’t hesitate, “top five.”
Sullinger made his second straight start since being promoted from the bench. He grabbed just one rebound before being sidelined. Brandon Bass took his place.
For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|01.30.13 at 7:42 pm ET|
The first test for the Celtics is handling a Kings team that beat them like a drum in the fourth quarter of a 118-96 loss in Sacramento.
“Not really, I’d rather have him,” Rivers said when asked if coaching without his top point guard represents a unique opportunity. “But the coach in me and the players understand they don’t have him. It’s another challenge and hopefully, we’re up for it.”
Will Rondo be around the team before and after his upcoming ACL surgery?
“I don’t know,” Rivers said. “I don’t ever ask. I don’t really care. I want him to do what he needs to do. It’s very hard to come to every game. I had that same injury. There are days you want to be around the guys and there are days you don’t. I think you have to give him room to do what he wants.”
Apparently, what Rondo wants right now is the very best advice before going ahead with right knee reconstruction. According to injury expert Will Carroll, Rondo is consulting the “Big 3″ of knee doctors, including Neal ElAttrache, James Andrews and Walt Lowe. ElAttrache, you’ll recall, did the ACL reconstruct for Tom Brady in 2008.
Rajon Rondo’s talking to the big three of knees: Andrews, ElAttrache, and Lowe. bleacherreport.com/articles/15039′¦
— Will Carroll (@injuryexpert) January 30, 2013
As for the Kings, Wednesday represented a chance at redemption against DeMarcus Cousins, the 22-year-old who went off for a triple-double on Dec. 30.
“He’s not athletic but he’s very [smart] and instinctive,” Rivers said in a moment of pre-game frankness.
As for the Kings, who entered Wednesday 17-29, Rivers had this assessment.
“They’re a talented, young team and there are nights when they get all activated and all together as a group and they’re really good.”
For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|01.30.13 at 2:58 pm ET|
Former Celtics guard Keyon Dooling, who currently serves as a player development coordinator within the organization, announced via Twitter that he will not be returning to play for the team this season.
‘ Keyon Dooling (@AmbassadorKD) January 30, 2013
After the C’s announced Rajon Rondo‘s season-ending ACL injury, Dooling originally told The Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn he’d consider resuming his playing career. Celtics coach Doc Rivers also expressed interest in adding the 32-year-old guard, although team president Danny Ainge shot down that notion.
‘We don’t have anything on the trade cooker. We weren’t going to trade Rondo,’ Ainge told the Boston Herald’s Mark Murphy. ‘But I’m not going to bring someone in now who is just going to sit on the bench. We could sign a couple of players to minimum contracts, but that’s all we can do right now. We have to see whether someone becomes available through trade or free agency who can actually crack our rotation.’
It’s unclear whether Dooling could have returned, even if both parties agreed, after the Celtics waived him prior to his retirement before training camp in October. Here’s how NBA salary cap guru Larry Coon explains it.
There’s nothing binding about a player announcing his retirement. The player can still sign a new contract and continue playing (if he’s not under contract), or return to his team (if he is still under contract) and resume his career.
The only exception to this is when a player is still under contract, wants to quit, and his team doesn’t want to let him out of his contract. Under these circumstances the player can file for retirement with the league. The player is placed on the league’s Voluntarily Retired list, forgoes his remaining salary, and cannot return to the league for one year.
|01.29.13 at 3:58 pm ET|
Rivers announced Tuesday before practice that his team will now do what the second unit has been doing all season – essentially playing with “no point guard” system, where everything is based on pure ball movement instead of one player dictating a certain play.
“That part, honestly, I don’t think it’s much different,” Rivers said. “If you watch our second unit, that’s what they were doing. I don’t see a lot of change there.
“We’re already doing it a lot with the second unit. The first unit was watching it, what we were doing with the ball movement. There was no point guard system with that unit. That unit was becoming very successful. Now, the entire team does that. We did it once so far against Miami. Now, we just have to get better at it.”
There will be exceptions, like when Paul Pierce brings the ball up the court, especially in pressure situations. He has the experience to adjust since he was doing that for Boston well before Rondo landed on the scene in the 2006-07 season.
“I don’t think it’s that big,” Rivers said. “We work on it with the second unit against the first unit in practice. The difference is they’ll just do it full-time now. There’ll be games where I anticipate someone will pressure us and someone else will have to bring the ball up. Those are the things we have to work on, getting the ball up the floor in a quick manner. I think those are the things we’ll work on more.
“There’ll be a lot adjustments. You have to be careful with your play call. You simplify it and let them play through space and read it from there.”
|01.29.13 at 2:30 pm ET|
Kevin Garnett was informed Tuesday before practice that former NBA star-turned-national TV analyst Magic Johnson doesn’t think the Celtics have much of a chance to compete without Rajon Rondo the rest of the season.
“Who cares? Who cares? To be honest, who cares?” Garnett said, finishing with a devilish smile.
The Celtics began the serious business of trying to move on without their star point guard on Tuesday, holding practice as they get ready for the Kings Wednesday at TD Garden.
“Everybody knows the responsibility on most of the people,” Garnett said. “It’s not going to be one or two guys to carry this thing, or carry his load. It’s going to be a bunch of people. This is a different group. We’ll see soon. We’ll see how we react to all of it.”
“We have a system that runs a certain way. It’s predicated when guys are on in and predicated when guys are out. As long as you run the system the way it supposed to go, it’s not perfect but it never skips a beat. It’s when we don’t do things as a team we struggle. Rondo is a huge part of this team. We all know that. Like I keep echoing, it’s not going to be one or two people, it’s going to be team effort.”
Garnett admitted that the news Sunday really put him and his teammates in a funk.
“To be honest, I think everybody was in a fog almost,” Garnett said. “I think it’s kind of settling in and I think everybody is trying to put their arms around the concept that he’s actually hurt, hurt to the point where he can’t play. That’s what had everybody in a fog, even him. He came in this morning and seeing him in there was kind of unreal. The fact that it is real, everybody is going to consolidate and pick up the pieces and try to carry this thing.”
Garnett said he and veterans like Paul Pierce and Jason Terry will do what they can to help Rondo through this difficult time as he gets ready for surgery on his right knee. Rondo was at the team’s facility Tuesday but Garnett said Rondo wasn’t there to provide support to his teammates.
“I think it’s the other way around,” Garnett said. “I think right now we’re being more a support system for him, giving him what he needs, especially some of the veterans who’ve had surgery, giving him advice and expertise.”