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NBA Power Rankings 11/12

11.12.09 at 8:13 am ET
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Jason Richardson and the Suns put together an impressive road trip that included a win in Boston on Friday night. (AP)

Jason Richardson and the Suns put together an impressive road trip that included a win in Boston on Friday night. (AP)

Phoenix Suns1. (10 LW): Disclaimer City: The Suns won’t be here at the end of the season, or even the end of the month, and I still don’t think they can D anybody up, and I still think Jason Richardson is a great scorer with the knucklehead gene. But with all that said, they had a five-game trip East and went 4-1, knocking off the Celtics and Heat along the way.

Boston Celtics2. (1) : Yes, I’m liking the Sheed signing. I like that he can spread the floor with the 3 ball. But he relies on the 3 too much and, wow, the one rebound he had in 22 minutes against the Jazz isn’t nearly good enough.

Los Angeles Lakers3. (3): A couple of things I was thinking about the other day: 1. When Lamar Odom is hanging out with his Kardashian in-laws, has he ever been caught, you know, just taking a peek at the well-proportioned Kim while Khloe isn’t looking? 2. If the Lakers can be this good now, what’s gonna happen when Pau Gasol returns?

Miami Heat4. (8): I’m sorry, Donny Marshall, I just can’t let this one go: Hell, yeah, I’d take D-Wade and LeBron on the same team. And if I had them both, I think my team would beat yours. (For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, check out last week’s rankings.)

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Turn up the volume: C’s practice makes perfect

11.12.09 at 1:17 am ET
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So this is why Doc Rivers and his coaching staff were so happy to have two solid days of practice this week.

The Celtics more prepared to take a final exam than the Utah Jazz did to take a pop quiz as the C’s systematically took apart the Jazz, 105-86, at TD Garden.

The Celtics held the Jazz to 37-of-79 shooting for 46.8 percent. But most impressively, they forced Utah, a team that prides itself on execution, to commit 21 turnovers.

Apparently the Celtics were listening when the coaches, starting with defensive guru Tom Thibodeau, preached about staying ready for the pick-and-roll and not letting Utah’s big men of Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur get easy baskets underneath.

Afterward, the Celtics were appreciative of their coaches’ preparation, as was head coach Doc Rivers.

Rivers said his team executed from the very beginning, thanks to the preparation.

Rasheed Wallace said it all about preparation by the coaching staff.

Wallace said the Celtics got back to the basics on Wednesday.

Paul Pierce said there was no doubt that the three days helped.

Pierce said the Celtics looked a lot sharper after their practice.

Read More: Celtics, defense, Rasheed Wallace,

Walker makes unexpected return

11.11.09 at 11:19 pm ET
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Bill Walker didn’t expect to hear his name called on Wednesday night. Even though he felt ready to play, he didn’t know if Doc Rivers felt the same.

“Actually I think he wanted me to get one more practice in, get more acclimated with everything before he wanted to put me in, but he just happened to put me in,” said Walker following the Celtics 105-86 win over the Jazz.

Walker had not played in the regular season since tearing the meniscus in his right knee during training camp. But with Brian Scalabrine sidelined, Rivers turned to Walker to give Rasheed Wallace a rest. He checked into his first game with just over two minutes left in the fourth quarter.

“I felt ready,” he said. “I felt pretty good after Monday’s practice. One thing that was missing was probably my conditioning. It’s a different type of conditioning from just running to actually getting out there, trying to dodge guys, getting hit, that type of thing. I’ll be fine though.”

Walker, who has suffered several knee injuries in the past, will take all the precautions to make avoid any irritation.

“Icing and rest, just get off my legs,” he explained. “Just take advantage of the down time we have and come in early tomorrow, get treatment, still work on everything I need to work on on my lower body.”

As Walker works his way back on to the court, he will judge his progress in practice. There is one play he looks forward to accomplishing again.

“You finally get out there and you’re chasing Ray [Allen] off a screen and you’re in front of him when he comes off of it,” he said with a laugh. “That’s a signal because not a lot of guys can do that. But I don’t know, it’s just getting out there and playing and not really favoring or thinking about your injury. That’s when you know you’re back.”

Read More: Bill Walker, Boston Celtics, Ray Allen,

Celtics generous in win over Jazz

11.11.09 at 11:00 pm ET
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There is a reason why the Celtics entered Wednesday’s game leading the league in assists. It isn’t only because of Rajon Rondo — point guards Steve Nash, Chris Paul, and Deron Williams are all ahead of him in dimes per game. It’s because the Celtics as a team look to pass, and that ball movement and selflessness were determining factors in their win over the Jazz.

“Doc [Rivers] and Coach [Armond] Hill were just saying move the ball,” Rondo said after the Celtics 105-86 victory. “It started in practice. We kept getting each other involved and we made plays for each other.”

The Celtics dished out 30 assists to the Jazz 18. Rondo accounted for 11, which totals more than Jazz starting guard Deron Williams and Ronnie Brewer combined.

They looked for not just one or two extra passes on Wednesday. One of the most significant possessions of the game involved four in the third quarter — Rondo to Ray Allen, Allen to Kendrick Perkins, Perkins behind the back to Kevin Garnett, Garnett back to Rondo for the lay in.

That sequence was memorable to many, but Rondo is so accustomed to sharing the ball that it was just another trip down the floor for him.

“I don’t even remember the play,” he said. “I think it was like five passes maybe, but I don’t remember how I got there.”

If the Celtics continue to see each other on the court like they did against the Jazz, they will remember how they ended up in the win column throughout the season.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo

Danny Ainge on the Big Show, 11/11

11.11.09 at 10:52 pm ET
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Celtics GM, Danny Ainge, stopped by the Big Show to talk C’s basketball. Check out the full audio here and some of the highlights below.

How difficult was the opening of the season for the team, given the stretch of eight games in 12 days?
It did seem like that, and not only that, but coming out of training camp, it makes it tough when you have that schedule because you still haven’t put everything in. So there was a lot of things slipping execution-wise. So it was a good break for us.

What was more beneficial, the rest or the chance to practice?
I think both. We needed some practice time and we needed some rest. We were grateful for both.

Deron Williams might not play tonight, what do you think?
I’d be surprised. I have a feeling that Deron Williams is going to play, and play very well. He’s a heck of a player.

[Rajon] Rondo “gets up” to play these guys, right?
He does, I think. This year, he’s done a better job of being ready every night and playing with better intensity. I always get frustrated with match-ups in basketball. Rondo needs a lot of help on these pick and rolls because the game is so much pick and roll defense and pick and roll offense. So a player like Williams, in particular, or Chris Paul, even Rondo. You have to go and give help. You have to go out there and give help. If the big guys are doing a good job of showing and recovering it takes away lot from what point guards can do. Our defense against Deron Williams tonight is going to be a team defensive base. Sure, Rondo will have to fight through screens and work hard and compete hard but it also comes down to the whole team defense and how we defend Utah’s precision offense. They do a great job of executing and always have in Jerry Sloan’s 20 years coaching in Utah.

You talk about the necessity of being able to defend the pick and roll, is Utah still the best at running it?
Well, [John] Stockton and [Karl] Malone were pretty special. Stockton was great. Stockton was arguably one of the top point guards in the history of our game. Deron Williams in undoubtedly one the best point guards in the game today. I don’t think it’s just Utah. I think it’s the other way around. I the coincidence is that Utah executes the pick and roll well because they had Stockton for 20 years and Daron Williams. Because it seems like with [Carlos] Boozer, and [Andrei] Kirilenko and [Paul] Millsap and [Mehmet] Okur, it seems like there are a lot of guys who come around from th big position but there are really few points guards who are special.

When you bring in new ball players, how much do you think Doc [Rivers] adds, in terms of offense, when he sees what new players can do?
I think that is true, Doc will discover things as he goes along. But, I think, for the most part, guys have played a lot in the NBA I think it’s more rare to find more. I think we have a good read on Marquis [Daniels] and Rasheed [Wallace] and I think Doc is learning about Sheldon [Williams], he’s obviously learning a great deal about Lester Hudson … But Marquis and Rasheed, I think we have a pretty good feel on what they can do.

Is the situation with [Brian] Scalabrine an on-going situation?
It is right now. I mean it’s a little bit frustrating for him. He had a great traing camp and was really ready for the season and after what happened to him last year, I know he’s very frustrated. I certainly tease him all the time about not being ready to play. I know he’s frustrated and he wants to come back. He hopes that his back thing will heal up pretty quick. I don’t think it’s too long term of an issue. I think he’ll be ready to go in another week or two.

Danny, Rasheed Wallace, over the course of his career, shoots 35 percent from 3-point range. Do you have any concern about the timing of his threes? Or do you want him to shoot freely like that?
I know, I think Rasheed is kind of like Eddie House. He’s out there to shoot, that’ what he does, that’s we want him to do. Shooting 35 percent from the 3-point line is much better than shooting 50 percent from the 2-point [area]. so, I think we understand the odds. There will be nights where he’ll make them and look great, and some nights where he’s not making them. I think that Doc just has to manage who’s out on the floor. A lot of times, because Rasheed is a lot scarier than his percentage, teams defend him and it really spreads the floor and it opens it up for our other good two point scorers like Paul [Pierce]. I think that is something that Doc will have to weigh it. I do know that Doc encourages him to take those shots.

Would you like to see Rondo take the ball to the hole more often?
It’s not like he’s not trying to take the ball to hole. Rondo is trying to get to the hole a lot. A lot of defenses back off of him and sag into the paint and make it difficult and try to get him to shoot. So, while we’re trying to get the ball to Rondo and get him into the paint that is exactly what everyone is trying to prevent him from doing. So, I know that he’s needs to be able to pick his spots. He’s been very effective. He shot over 50 percent from the field last year which I think is amazing and gives us a pretty good indication that he’s doing it on a good percentage. So, it’s not really how much, but with what efficiency and we want him to remain an efficient scorer and keep the defense honest.

Fast Break: Celtics – Jazz

11.11.09 at 9:51 pm ET
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On Wednesday, the Celtics never trailed as they defeated the Jazz 105-86 in Boston. The Cs ended the first quarter up five and pushed the lead to 10 at halftime. They blew it open in the third quarter and went up 22 before closing it out by 19.

Player of the game: All five of the Celtics starters were in double digits by the end of the third quarter, but it was Kevin Garnett who set the pace early on. Garnett was more dangerous outside of the paint, where he spread the floor and kept the Jazz looking confused on defense. He finished the night with 18 points off of 7-for-10 shooting from the field, one of his best performances of the season.

Turning point: Even though the Celtics never trailed, the Jazz hung in the game during the first half. Then the Celtics put them away in the third on a single possession – Rondo to Allen, Allen to Perkins, Perkins behind the back to Garnett, Garnett back to Rondo for the lay-in. The play exemplified the Celtics’ total team effort that led to the blowout win.

- The Jazz failed to make a single three-pointer the entire game (0/10 3PG). The Celtics shot 7-for-19. Paul Pierce opened the third with two quick treys to push the lead up to 14. Ray Allen connected on just one three-pointer for the third time this season.

- Rajon Rondo finished the game with 11 assists. Jazz guards Deron Williams and Ronnie Brewer combined for seven.

- The Celtics got double-digit contributions from Marquis Daniels (10) and Rasheed Wallace (12). Daniels got to the free throw line six times. Wallace shot 5-for-12 from the field.

- Turnovers played a major role in this game. The Jazz gave up 25 points off of 21 while the Celtics gave up 16 points off of 15 turnovers. This led to the Celtics taking a 10-point advantage on the fast break.

- Bill Walker made his first appearance of the regular season with 2:07 to go.

- Garnett celebrated with Gino – and a Gino look-alike – with five minutes left in the game.

Bad back also ailing Williams

11.11.09 at 8:23 pm ET
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While Deron Williams was officially listed as questionable with a bruised left calf in Utah’s pregame notes, it was a sore back, injured on Monday in New York, that forced Williams out of the game early in the second quarter.

Williams went to the hallway behind the Jazz bench to try and keep loose.

Williams started his eighth straight game on Wednesday in Boston.

Meanwhile, Williams had praise for his counterpart, Rajon Rondo.

Read More: Deron Williams,
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