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Fast Break: Celtics vs. Hornets

02.10.10 at 10:34 pm ET
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At what point does a string of bad performances become a problem that can’t be fixed? At what point does the Celtics uninspired second-half play inspire Danny Ainge to do something to change the mix?

Ainge was a guest on The Big Show hours before the Celtics collapsed (again) in the third quarter of a 93-85 loss to the Hornets Wednesday night and said he was, “not ready to blow it up.” [Click here for a full transcript]. If the Magic breakdown wasn’t enough to change Ainge’s mind, was this one?

There’s a week to go before the trade deadline and the Celtics have shown few signs of breaking out of their funk, which has now stretched to 23 games. The Celtics are 10-13 over that span. Is that the real Celtics, or is it the team that started the season winning 22 of the first 27 games? That’s the question Ainge has to answer, and time is running out.

Player of the Game: Darren Collison. The Hornets rookie who was starting in place of the injured Chris Paul routinely broke down the Celtics defense with dribble penetration and finished with 25 points and nine assists. When Collison wasn’t getting into the paint, he killed them with his pull-up jump shot.

Turning Point: Once again the Celtics collapse started with a sluggish offense and carried over to a lackluster defensive effort. The Celtics actually held serve with the Hornets until the 7:26 mark of the third quarter. That was when Morris Peterson and Peja Stojakovic began to heat up from behind the arc. The 3-point barrage was eerily similar to the Magic game, as was the Celtics lack of an answer on offense.

* Ray Allen was scratched about an hour before the game with back spasms. It was the first game Allen has missed this season.

* The Celtics started off hot, but the Hornets got hotter making eight of their first 10 shots.The C’s also turned the ball over nine times in the first quarter.

* The second unit rode to the rescue, at least momentarily, with an inspired effort. With all five starters on the bench, the reserves opened up a nine-point lead in the second quarter. They did most of their damage down low as Glen Davis (nine points) and Rasheed Wallace (eight points) took advantage of mismatches against the Hornets reserve big men.

* Eddie House and Marquis Daniels also played the entire quarter ahead of starters Rajon Rondo and Tony Allen.

* Paul Pierce did play despite pain in his left foot. After 13 points in the first half, Pierce scored just two points in the second.

* The Celtics made just 3-of-13 free throws during a stretch of the second half.

* Daniels and Wallace were the only Celtics who played strong games. They combined for 27 points, seven rebounds and six assists.

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Celtics vs. Hornets: Third quarter wrap

02.10.10 at 9:57 pm ET
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The Celtics starters came out with better energy to start the second half, but worse execution. The Hornets began to chip away at the lead as Morris Peterson and Peja Stojakovic heated up from 3-point range, giving this game the familiar feel of the Orlando nightmare from over the weekend.

Doc Rivers went to his bench earlier than usual in an attempt to change the flow of the game, but the Hornets kept making shots. The Celtics also missed six straight free throws, which didn’t help the cause. When it was over, New Orleans had outscored the Celtics, 29-12 and taken a 72-67 lead.

They have 12 minutes to turn this thing around, or face a host of uncomfortable questions over the next week.

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Celtics vs. Hornets: Halftime wrap

02.10.10 at 9:12 pm ET
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After an opening quarter in which the Celtics turned the ball over nine times, the second unit rode to the rescue with an inspired effort. With all five starters on the bench, the reserves opened up a nine-point lead, which became a 55-43 edge at the break.

The Celtics did much of their damage down low as Glen Davis (nine points) and Rasheed Wallace (eight points) took advantage of mismatches against the Hornets reserve big men. Eddie House and Marquis Daniels also played the entire quarter ahead of Rajon Rondo and Tony Allen. Paul Pierce leads the Celtics with 13 points.

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Celtics vs. Hornets: First quarter wrap

02.10.10 at 8:41 pm ET
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The Celtics started off hot, but the Hornets got hotter making eight of their first 10 shots in a back-and-forth first quarter that ended with New Orleans holding a 29-27 lead. Playing without Ray Allen, who was sent back to the team hotel with bask spasms, the Celtics turned the ball over nine times.

Paul Pierce did play, however, and he led the Celtics with nine points. Rookie Darren Collison and big man David West each scored eight points for the Hornets. New Orleans coach Jeff Bower picked up a technical foul in the opening minutes.

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Danny Ainge on The Big Show: We’re going to try to do something

02.10.10 at 5:24 pm ET
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Danny Ainge joined Glenn Ordway and The Big Show to talk about trade rumors, Kevin Garnett’s health, what he thought about while watching the Magic go on a 19-0 run and more trade rumors.

There have been new trade rumors since the last time we talked. What about this Glen Davis to Charlotte rumor? Any truth?

Any truth to what? That he’s going to Charlotte? No.

Any truth to it?

None. I haven’t had any discussions with Charlotte.

You have had zero conversations with Charlotte?

Right, I haven’t had any conversation with Charlotte. There was speculation that they were looking for 4 and we were looking for a backup [point guard]. People try to put things together, but I have not had conversations. I like the player mentioned in the trade rumor [D.J. Augustin] but we like Glen Davis a lot, too.

The fact that rumors get out there, do you get more calls from other teams when rumors get out there?

Well, there’s so much media people so there’s so many distractions. People from the media try to verify every rumor.

No, that’s not what I meant. Other teams?

No, it does not instigate more calls. Maybe something bigger might, but no. It has not.

What was your feeling watching the Magic go on a 19-0 run? Did it disturb you?

Yeah, it’s frustrating to watch because it didn’t feel like we wanted to fight through it. The NBA is a game of runs. When a team is hot that’s one thing. But when you’re giving up easy baskets and then not doing what it takes to execute. You’re not paying the price. We all go through offensive droughts during the course of game but I just didn’t feel like there was any fight in getting back in the game. I think our guys are resting on their past experiences and think they can turn it on and win games. I’m not saying they’re making conscious decisions to do that, but that’s just the way it appears. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Big Show, Danny Ainge, Rumors,

Perkins could provide all-world defense for Team USA

02.10.10 at 2:39 pm ET
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When Jerry Colangelo and Mike Krzyzewski were forming the potential pool of players for Team USA, they were looking for a ‘€œtrue center’€ who could guard potential big men all around the world.

They may have found that man in Kendrick Perkins.

On Wednesday, Perkins was named to the 27-man roster that is eligible to compete in the 2010 FIBA World Championships in Turkey and, if the team qualifies, in the 2012 London Olympics. The 27 players will be invited to a July mini-camp in Las Vegas, where the roster will be trimmed down going forward.

Perkins’ selection was one which which Krzyzewski – who led the 2008 team to a gold medal – was comfortable because of the center’s ability to play with Hall of Fame talent and his most glaring strength’€¦defense.

‘€œHe plays on a team that’€™s a championship level team and he knows how to play with great players,’€ Krzyzewski said during a teleconference on Wednesday. ‘€œI think he is one of the better defensive players in the league and that really appealed to us about Kendrick.’€

Perkins will be competing with Dwight Howard, Brooke Lopez, Ama’€™re Stoudemire and former Celtic Al Jefferson for one of the center spots on the 2012 Olympic team. Colangelo said Perkins could fit in and be the perfect role player on a team that will highlight some of the best talent in the NBA.

‘€œWe are not talking about the top 27 or 28 best all-around basketball players necessarily. Perkins can guard the bigs,’€ said Colangelo. ‘€œHe should be able to perform very well competitively very well in the international game.

‘€œAs we look at our roster there is also a need for how are you going to defend against the bigs that we see on a number of European teams, South American teams and he has the ability to do that. He has a significant opportunity.’€

Perkins is averaging a career-high 11.4 points per game this season, while grabbing 8.1 rebounds a night. He is also averaging just under two blocks a game, and has been one of the most consistent and healthy players for a banged-up Celtics squad this season.

Perkins was the only Celtics player selected to the pool of 27, a list that didn’€™t include first year All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo.

‘€œRondo was not responsive to the inquiries regarding his interest,’€ said Colangelo, who said along with Andrew Bynum, three or four unnamed players declined the invite. ‘€œSo we just assumed that was the case.’€

The US team is loaded at the point guard position, with Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Chauncey Billups all being selected to the pool. Jason Kidd declined the invite, as he retired from international competition after the 2008 Beijing Games with a gold medal.

Nine players and the entire coaching staff return from the 2008 gold medal team, including Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. To see the entire list click here.

Read More: Kendrick Perkins, Rajon Rondo, team usa,

Perkins on Team USA

02.10.10 at 11:19 am ET
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Kendrick Perkins is one of 27 players named to USA Basketball’s national roster who will compete in the FIBA World Championships in Turkey this summer and the 2012 London Olympics. Perkins joins eight holdovers from the 2008 gold-medal winning team. Conspicuously absent from the list, which is not yet final: Rajon Rondo.

Click here for the full roster.

Read More: Kendrick Perkins, Rajon Rondo, USA Basketball,
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