|02.01.10 at 9:51 pm ET|
The Celtics snapped their three-game losing streak with a 99-88 come-from-behind win over the Wizards in Washington, D.C. on Monday. After leading after the first quarter, the C’s trailed by as many as nine points. They chased the Wiz for the second and third quarters before reclaiming the lead in the fourth and holding on for the victory.
But this win was not without an injury scare. With two minutes to go in the first quarter, Paul Pierce collided with Caron Butler fighting for a loose ball. Both players fell to the ground and Pierce suffered a mid-foot injury. He left the game and later returned, but was limited to 27 minutes. He scored 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
Player of the Game: Rajon Rondo deserves recognition for recording his 21st double-double of the season. He posted 17 points and 12 rebounds in 35 minutes. But the honors go to Kevin Garnett, who scored a team-high 19 points and had one of his best offensive performances of the season. Garnett shot a near-perfect 8-for-9 from the field. Nearly all of them came outside the paint, where he had his shooting streak going for 31 minutes.
Turning Point: Ray Allen, who missed a game-winner against the Lakers, drained a 3-pointer to reclaim an 81-80 lead halfway through the fourth. It was the Celtics first lead since the end of the first quarter when they led 28-27. The Wizards took a quick 82-81 lead but the Celtics scored on the following possession and never looked back.
– Tony Allen followed up his best game of the season with another solid performance. Allen posted 14 points in 25 minutes against the Lakers. On Monday, he scored 10 points and six rebounds in 28 minutes against the Wizards. But his best contributions came on the defensive end. Allen came up with two key plays in the fourth quarter that maintained the Celtics lead. First he blocked a potentially game-tying jumper by Earl Boykins with 5:26 left. Minutes later he stole the ball from Caron Butler, kicked It out to Rondo for the fast break, and then finished it off with a floater.
– The Wizards entered the game averaging more than 42 points her game. The Celtics held them to 35 while nabbing 39 of their own.
– The Celtics improved to 30-16. They will return to Boston for a three-game homestand against the Heat, Nets, and Magic.
|02.01.10 at 9:04 pm ET|
Third Quarter: Wizards 78 – Celtics 74
Rajon Rondo recorded his 21st double-double of the season during the third quarter. He has posted15 points and 11 assists through three. Kevin Garnett also continued to find his shot and has scored 14 points off of 6-for-7 shooting.
But the Wizards staved off a late third quarter push by the C’s and still lead by four. Up by three, the Wiz pushed their lead back up to six when Butler drew a three-point play against Brian Scalabrine. Rondo was called for an offensive foul driving on Boykins the next trip down the court, and Butler drained a long jumper in Scalabrine’s face. The Celtics are 4-10 when trailing after three.
|02.01.10 at 8:21 pm ET|
Second Quarter: Wizards 54 ‘ Celtics 48
The Celtics lost their one-point first quarter lead and trailed by as many as nine points in the second quarter. Both teams shot 52.9%from the field, but turnovers (9-6) and personal fouls (13-9) hampered the Celtics.
The quarter ended on the same note as the first. Pierce and Butler collided as they were heading down the court. Pierce appeared to have stepped on Butler’s foot as the two fell to the ground. Both players lay on the court for a few moments before Pierce ran off, somewhat hobbled.
Pierce, who scored all 11 points in the first quarter, is the game’s leading scorer.
|02.01.10 at 7:51 pm ET|
First quarter: Celtics 24 – Wizards 23
The Celtics headed to Washington looking to snap a three-game losing streak. The Wizards did not want to be the reasons why they turned their luck around.
The 16-30 Wiz looked eager early on. Antawn Jamison attempted seven field goals in nine minutes while his team took three more shots than the C’s overall. The Wizards also challenged the Celtics on the board, as they have a reputation of doing so, and the two teams grabbed 11 rebounds apiece.
The Celtics faced an injury scare with two minutes to go in the first. Paul Pierce was taken out of the game ‘ but did not go to the locker room ‘ after injuring his left ankle with two minutes left in the first quarter. He chased after a loose ball with Butler, and Butler landed on Pierce’s ankle as they hit the floor. He had scored 11 points and 4 rebounds in 10 minutes.
It was reported Pierce suffered a mid-foot injury and is expected to return.
|02.01.10 at 11:08 am ET|
Sports Illustrated NBA writer Ian Thomsen made an appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to talk about the Celtics‘ recent woes. He explored the team’s current struggles, whether the Big Three still has the legs to mount a championship run, whether the team might consider a major deal along the lines of a trade of Ray Allen or whether a move to acquire a player such as Kirk Hinrich of the Bulls could help the team to pull out of its current funk.
Following is a transcript. To hear the interview, click here.
How quickly is the window closing?
It’s going to close fast if they don’t make the adjustments they need to make. They aren’t themselves, and I’m talking about [Kevin] Garnett especially, and [Paul] Pierce a little bit, and even Ray Allen. They’re just going to need to adjust the way they play, to try to make the best of it while they get through this transition. If they still think they can win a championship, they can’t do it the way they are playing now. They have to sort of do a transitional style to get them to March and April with a chance to win it.
Meaning what? Get new people?
Garnett needs to be more of a center right now. He’s not himself. He’s not beating guys down the floor in transition. [Lakers coach] Phil Jackson brought that up yesterday. He needs to be more that post-up guy, play a little bit more inside, they can play the ball through him. He needs to figure out what he can do and do that. Because what he’s doing now isn’t very productive.
They’ve been outscored in the fourth quarter in 12 of their last 14 games. Is that age and injury?
It’s age and injury, and I really think they’re asking too much of Rajon Rondo in his [fourth] year to be doing so much, to be carrying them, playing a lot of minutes, and then to lead them in the fourth quarters the way he’s been having to do. I think he’s come a long way, he’s a terrific player, he’s going to be even better in a couple of years. But right now they’re asking too much of him.
A lot of it just doesn’t make sense. The team doesn’t make sense, when you look at the hierarchy. Think about two years ago. When you looked at the stats for the season, it just all made sense the way the shots were divvied out, the order of things. And they don’t have that order right now. Rondo’s a big part of the offense as a point guard who is not a great shooter. Really, it all just comes down to not having Garnett be himself, and he’s got to figure out some way to be productive right now.
|02.01.10 at 10:49 am ET|
There once was a time when the Washington Wizards represented a direct challenge for the Celtics so great that some around the team were relieved when the C’s matched up with the Cavaliers in the second round of the 2008 playoffs rather than the Wiz. Things have changed a little bit since then, and whatever hold the Wizards used to have on the Celtics is long gone.
Of course there was also a time when it was a given that the Celtics would walk into a bad team’s arena and come away with a win whenever it was deemed necessary. This is one of those times. It’s one thing to lose against elite teams on the road. It’s another to lose a one-point heartbreaker against what is probably the best team in the league. But if the Celtics are going to pull themselves out of their funk, it has to start tonight.
CELTICS (29-16, 3-7 last 10)
Points Per Game: 99.1
Points Allowed: 93.8
Differential: +5.4 (3rd)
Offensive Efficiency: 107.5 (13th)
Defensive Efficiency: 101.7 (1st)
Pace: 91.6 (22nd)
Injuries: Marquis Daniels (thumb)
WIZARDS (16-30, 4-6 last 10)
Points Per Game: 98.2
Points Allowed: 102.0
Differential: -3.8 (23rd)
Offensive Efficiency: 105.3 (22nd)
Defensive Efficiency: 109.3 (23rd)
Pace: 92.4 (16th)
Injuries: None. Read the rest of this entry »
|01.31.10 at 8:26 pm ET|
“I didn’t say, ‘Give me one more chance.’ I said, ‘Give me the damn ball.’ I didn’t really give [my team] much of a choice,” Bryant said of the moments in the huddle before his game-winner with 7.3 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
“All we talked about was the execution of [the play], where I was going to catch the ball. That was the only difference. Throughout the course of the game, I was pretty much a decoy because of all the traps they run, but if I catch it at the top of the floor, it’s a different story.”
Then there are Celtics fans, who had a slightly different perspective ‘ one that had Bryant clearly pushing off of Ray Allen to create space for the game-winner.
“I just tried to create space and get to a spot where I could elevate and knock it down,” Bryant explained.
Speaking of pushing off, Bryant said his left ankle was so sore he couldn’t elevate, leading to this tidy little jab at Allen.
“Oh yeah, I couldn’t push off,” Bryant said. “Ray’s athletic, but my elevator goes to the 12th floor, his stays at the seventh. But I couldn’t get to the 12th floor today, so it was hurting.
“Special for me, personally, because I had opportunity to win the game last year and I didn’t do it. I didn’t get the shot I wanted, so I wanted to make sure I redeemed myself today.”
“He had a couple of looks before that that were good looks in that area and we were mystified he couldn’t put it in. He told me the next one he got out there he would drop it in and so we went with it,” Jackson said.
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