|03.29.13 at 9:59 pm ET|
In his first game back on the Celtics bench since his knee surgery, Rajon Rondo witnessed everything his new-look team had to offer. Shavlik Randolph (9 points, 13 rebounds) turned in the finest performance of his NBA career and Jeff Green (27 points) submitted another critic-silencing effort in a 118-107 victory against the Hawks that gave the C’s a 2.5-game lead on the seventh seed over the idle Bucks.
Kevin Garnett may have missed his fourth straight game with a foot injury, but fellow over-35 club members Paul Pierce (20 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) and Jason Terry (24 points) shined. Here’s what else went right.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Shav: In eight first-half minutes, Shavlik Randolph made both his shots and grabbed five boards. The C’s trailed by four when he entered early in the second quarter and led by 11 when he left. Given his team’s depth and Chris Wilcox‘s struggles, Celtics coach Doc Rivers has been turning to Randolph earlier, and the 6-foot-10 big man has delivered in limited action. His biggest contribution has been rebounding (10.4 per 36 minutes), but he also appears to grasp the defensive rotations, which doesn’t hurt in Doc’s book.
Terry and Terrence: Sounds like a bad Disney Channel program, right? Actually, the duo put on a good show. A second quarter, Terry (7-10 FG) made back-to-back 3-pointers to tie the game, and Terrence Williams sandwiched a pair of emphatic dunks around a Pierce layup to give the C’s a lead. That kickstarted a 22-6 run that pushed the edge to double digits. Terry scored 14 points on 4-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc in the frame.
Green and Pierce: The two Celtics wings have each raised their game for a Celtics squad in desperate need of leaders without Garnett on the floor. Green, obviously, has been the bigger surprise, eclipsing 20 points for the fourth time this month and fourth time in eight starts. Meanwhile, despite hobbling his way through a portion of the game, Pierce continued to do Truth things, submitting his third triple-double of the season. In all, they combined for 47 points, 14 assists and 14 rebounds.
|03.29.13 at 9:49 pm ET|
Shav Randolph picked a fine time for the game of his NBA career. The 29-year-old Duke product had 13 rebounds and nine points, just missing his first career double-double, as the Celtics continued their fight for playoff position with a 118-107 win over the Atlanta Hawks Friday night at TD Garden. The win drew Boston to within 1.5 games of sixth-place Atlanta in the Eastern Conference race, just two games back in the loss column.
With the injured Rajon Rondo watching from the Celtics bench, the Celtics put on an offensive exhibition, led by 27 points from Jeff Green and 24 from Jason Terry. The Celtics shot 11-of-23 from 3-point range, including 5-of-7 from Terry, who paced a big effort from the bench. Paul Pierce picked up a triple-double with a strong fourth-quarter effort. Pierce finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for the Celtics, who improved to 38-34.
For Pierce, it was his third triple-double of the season and 10th of his career. Another milestone was reached as Terry passed the 1,900 plateau in career 3-pointers, becoming just the fourth player in NBA history to pass the milestone. Terry stands behind only Ray Allen, Reggie Miller and Jason Kidd. Pierce is fifth with 1,810
Thanks to scorching shooting from beyond the arc, the Celtics posted their highest point total of the first half all season when they put up 66 points and raced out to a 66-56 halftime lead.
Leading the charge was Terry, who was 4-for-5 from 3-point range and scored 14 of his team-leading 16 points in the second quarter. Jordan Crawford nailed a three at the first-quarter buzzer and Green answered with 5.8 seconds left in the second as the Celtics seized momentum.
The unsung hero of the first half was Randolph. With Chris Wilcox fighting foul trouble and the Hawks attempting to take advantage of their superior size, Randolph grabbed five rebounds and scored four points. Randolph came into the game with the Celtics trailing, 38-34, with just under 10 minutes left in the second quarter.
When he checked back out eight minutes later, the Celtics had completed a 27-10 run and built a 11-point lead, 61-50.
Randolph thrilled the crowd again in the third quarter when Wilcox picked up his fourth foul with 9:15 left in the quarter. He blocked a Josh Smith shot and hauled in three rebounds, including an offensive put-back during a key run that ended in a Jeff Green three that put Boston up, 83-68, Boston’s biggest lead to that point.
The Celtics led comfortably, 98-87, on a Crawford jumper when the Hawks put on a push to get back into the game. The Hawks scored the five points to make it a six-point game before Terry answered with a mid-range jumper. Terry stepped into a three with 5:49 left after a wild loose-ball scramble. That three was Boston’s 10th of the night and put them up, 105-94. Green hit a jumper with 5:08 left to stretch the lead back to 13, 107-94.
Green’s three with 2:27 left put Boston up, 112-101, sealed Atlanta’s fate.The Celtics are off Saturday before playing Sunday night at Madison Square Garden against the Knicks. For complete coverage from the Garden from Mike Petraglia and Ben Rohrbach, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|03.29.13 at 7:11 pm ET|
Miami Heat president Pat Riley didn’t take kindly to what his counterpart in Boston told WEEI on Thursday.
Danny Ainge told WEEI’s Salk & Holley he thought it bordered on embarrassing that LeBron James would complain about foul calls in Miami’s 27-game streak-ending loss to the Bulls Wednesday night.
Palm Beach Post columnist Ethan J. Skolnick was among the first to tweet Riley’s official reaction, delivered to the media by a team official: “Danny Ainge needs to shut the f— up and manage his own team. He was the biggest whiner going when he was playing and I know that because I coached against him.”
Correction to Riley quote: “Danny Ainge needs to shut the f— up and manage his own team.” My bad. Typing too fast.
— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) March 29, 2013
James was far more mild-mannered.
“I’m not surprised about anything that comes from Boston,” Skolnick tweeted.
Ainge delivered his response to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.
“We’re both right,” Ainge said. “LeBron should stop complaining and I should manage my own team.”
Celtics coach Doc Rivers has his own unique perspective. He played for Pat Riley with the Knicks at the end of his career. He tells stories of how tough Riley was on his own players and their conditioning. Rivers also played against Ainge in the prime of his career, when Ainge was on the Celtics and Rivers was on the Celtics.
“Yeah, I think it’s funny,” Rivers said. “I think it’s very interesting. I can relate. It’s cool. I think they should duke it out.”
Does Friday’s exchange add anything to the Celtics-Heat rivalry?
“Not unless they’re playing,” Rivers said. “Really. I just think it’s just talk both ways. I’ll just let those two grown men handle their own grown men argument. I’m going to stay out of it. On a side note, it gives me a smile and it’s interesting. I think it’s fun. It’s a flashback.”
Rivers wasn’t about to pass judgement either way on the fouls called on James at the end of the game with the Bulls on Wednesday.
“I did see those fouls,” Rivers said, before being asked what he thought. “I don’t know. I’m going to stay out of it.”
For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|03.29.13 at 6:45 pm ET|
Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said Courtney Lee‘s left ankle had healed enough to return to action Friday night against Atlanta.
“I’m not going to start him, but I’m going to play him,” Rivers said. “I’m just going to see the minutes and see how he feels.”
Lee took part in Celtics shootaround on Friday morning and was classified as a “game-time” decision afterward.
“He looked OK in shootaround, but he didn’t have a practice to fall back on, so who knows and we’ll just see,” Rivers said.
Lee made his return with 2:46 left in the first quarter and played into the second quarter before coming out again.
Lee injured his left ankle in the final minute of the loss last Friday night in Dallas. He missed the games against Memphis, New York and Cleveland before playing Friday night.
As for Kevin Garnett, Rivers said he had no further update than what Danny Ainge told Salk & Holley on WEEI Thursday afternoon, that “two weeks should be sufficient time” for his left foot to heal.”
“I have no idea,” Rivers said. “I think two weeks should be enough but if we get to two weeks and it’s two-and-a-half, I don’t want you guys calling me a liar or anything.”
|03.28.13 at 6:01 pm ET|
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge made his weekly appearance with “Salk & Holley” Thursday afternoon on WEEI, and he hit on a number of other topics, including what he thought of LeBron’s complaints about the officiating in the wake of Miami’s Wednesday night loss to the Bulls, the keys to Boston’s latest win over the Cavs, the health of Kevin Garnett and what it means to “pay the price.”
Here are some more highlights from the Q&A:
On a much needed win Wednesday night after losing five straight:
“I think that we’re still looking at the big picture, so I don’t really get too caught up in the game-by-game performances. I think there are some individuals who have played well, and some who are not playing well. I think Doc is doing a good job keeping our guys fresh and we’re trying to get through a tough time with all the injuries that we’ve had. It’s a tough time. And at the same time, give ourselves a chance to win in the playoffs.”
On the key to the win over Cavs:
“I don’t know if there’s one play. There are so many plays when you’re down 14 in the fourth quarter. Jordan Crawford gave us a great lift again. He’s been a huge offensive boost for us recently. Even in the losing streak, he’s given us opportunities and chances to win. Paul has had some great moments. I thought last night that we … our defense, we got some stops finally, and that’s what it always boils down to. It seems like our team is just not consistently paying the price that it takes. We aren’t the team we were a few years ago where we have this great margin for error, where we can play at 80 percent and just sort of win with talent. We have to be all in sync and executing and playing with a lot more passion and energy than we’ve been giving over this couple of week stretch, where we’re not playing very good basketball. We don’t have very much room for error.”
On what it means when you’re “paying the price”:
“I think that it’s just maximum effort on each possession. You hear the term ‘locked in’ often as well, when you’re just really focused and you’re in the right spot. When we’re not — when we’re a half a step late, when we close out short — meaning when we close out to a foot and allow a guy to go up for a shot as opposed to closing out into his body. When we’re defending the screen-and-roll when the defender is up touching his man with his forearm on his hip and we’re into the body going into the screen, as opposed to being a foot away and getting screened. All those little things — the guy who is helping on the screen-and-roll. I mean, there’s just so many little things that you can just tell that we’re just not doing what we’re supposed to be doing. We’re not doing what we practiced. We’re not doing what it takes to win. And a handful of teams are capable of winning when they’re not doing that night in and night out. Every team has their lapses in the details and the execution on both ends of the court. It’s a long season, and I know what our team is capable of doing. It’s sometimes frustrating when we don’t do it, even though we know the urgency of the [moment].”
On Garnett — what’s the latest?
Read the rest of this entry »
|03.28.13 at 5:54 pm ET|
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge made his weekly appearance with “Salk & Holley” Thursday afternoon on WEEI, and was asked for his take on LeBron James and the officiating in Wednesday’s game between the Heat and the Bulls, a contest where Miami’s 27-game win streak came to an end.
In the game — a physical affair that saw the Bulls try and get physical with the Heat, including one hard shot from Kirk Heinrich on James — James was hit with a flagrant foul 1 for a shot he put on Chicago’s Carlos Boozer. After the game, the Miami star unleashed on the officials, saying he was just trying to defend himself.
“It’s been happening all year, and I’ve been able to keep my cool and try to tell [Heat coach Erik Spoelstra], ‘Let’s not worry about it,’ ” James told reporters. “But it is getting to me a little bit. Every time I try to defend myself, I’ve got to face the consequences of a flagrant or a technical foul or whatever the case may be. It’s tough. It’s very tough.”
“I think the referees got the calls right. I don’t think it was a hard foul,” Ainge said of the mixups involving James and Heinrich, as well as another one involving James and Taj Gibson. “I think the one involving LeBron against Boozer, that was flagrant. I think the officials got it right.
“I think that it’s almost embarrassing that LeBron would complain about officiating,” Ainge added.
For more Celtics coverage, check out weei.com/celtics.
|03.27.13 at 10:19 pm ET|
Jeff Green capped a furious 21-6 run over the final eight minutes with a layup at the buzzer to allow the Celtics to sneak out of Cleveland with a 93-92 victory over the Cavaliers. Green split the Cavs defense and hit a layup as the buzzer sounded to permit the Celtics to snap a five-game losing streak.
Green, despite shooting 7-of-18, scored 21 points with seven rebounds and five assists. Paul Pierce added a well-rounded 19 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, though he committed seven turnovers. Brandon Bass, in the lineup with both Kevin Garnett and Courtney Lee still sidelined, poured in 22 points on 8-of-14 shooting with five rebounds.
The Cavs had six players in double figures, but none with more than 16. Cleveland had just one bucket after taking an 88-78 lead at the 5:49 mark of the fourth quarter.