|12.17.09 at 7:58 am ET|
1. Boston (2): Think about this for a second: Kendrick Perkins is making 65 percent of his field goals. Perk actually shoots better from the field than the line, and although I can’t precisely remember each of his 174 field goal attempts this year, I don’t remember a single bad shot from the Celtics center. The other four starters get more attention, but Perk is the perfect symbol for why this team is great: He’s not afraid to lean on you and play shut-down defense, but he also can efficiently outscore you.
2. LA Lakers (1): This team knows entertainment value: Ron Artest does interviews in his boxers and sticks up for Tiger Woods; Lamar Odom still is keeping up with Khloe (I guess I’m an optimist ‘ I actually think they’ll make it); and Kobe Bryant breaks a finger and hits a shot at the buzzer to win in Milwaukee. We’ll know a lot more about the Lakers when they finish this current 10-game stretch, which includes seven roadies.
3. Orlando (3): I love all the Dwight Howard double-double stats. The Magic have played 25 games this year and Howard already has 20 double-doubles, including three games with 20 or more rebounds. I can’t wait to see the Magic-Celtics rematch on Christmas.
4. Atlanta (5): Interesting opinion from Brian Scalabrine: When asked which team in the league poses the biggest threat to the Celtics, he said the Hawks.
5. Dallas (6): This is how much we take the skill level of the modern player for granted: We watch 7-footers like Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Garnett easily run up and down the court, draining jumpers, and think nothing of it. This is NOT normal. Both of these guys are freaks. I don’t give Rick Pitino props for much (and I certainly wouldn’t want to share a late-night meal with him at an Italian restaurant in Kentucky), but he was crazy about Dirk and thought the Celtics had him on the night of the 1998 draft. But Paul Pierce wasn’t a bad consolation prize.
6. Denver (4): Carmelo Anthony is an unstoppable scoring force, but Denver has to be nervous about Chauncey Billups‘ groin injury. The Nuggets have dealt with nicks and suspensions all year, but they’ll tumble if they don’t have Billups for a few weeks.
|12.16.09 at 11:08 pm ET|
Celtics rookie Lester Hudson scored a game-high 25 points in his NBDL debut as the Maine Red Claws defeated the Erie BayHawks, 81-77, on Wednesday night. Hudson, who was assigned to the NBA Development League on Tuesday, premiered with an impressive stat line: 8-19 FG, 4-9 3PG, 5-6 FT, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 block. He had previously scored a total of 11 points in 13 games with the Cs.
Hudson was assisted by fellow Celtic Bill Walker. The forward scored 16 points off of 7-for-18 shooting and grabbed six boards. Walker entered the game leading the Red Claws in scoring and rebounding.
Just as the Celtics are riding a winning streak, the Red Claws have won their last six games.
|12.15.09 at 1:08 pm ET|
‘He’s on a very good team where it’s very difficult to get minutes, but that hasn’t sidetracked his work,’ Doc Rivers told the Boston Herald prior to Monday’s Celtics-Grizzlies game. ‘We’re going to send him down pretty soon to the NBDL for a week or so to get him some games, because I don’t like our young guys going these long stretches without playing games. And then we’re going to bring him back. I think that will help him.’
Celtics forward Bill Walker was assigned to their D-League affiliate earlier in the season.
|12.14.09 at 10:52 pm ET|
Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 19 points but it was a total team effort. Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo scored 18 apiece, Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins both posted 13, while Rasheed Wallace added 15 from the bench. Rudy Gay led all scorers with 23 points.
Player of the Game: Kudos to Rudy Gay for keeping the young Grizzlies team in this game (7-17 FG, 9-9 FT), but it was veteran Ray Allen who iced the game for the Celtics with seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Turning Point: After OJ Mayo drained a three to cut the Celtics lead to 107-105 in the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies read the Celtics offense and nearly picked off Paul Pierce. However Allen quickly recovered with and drained a three as the shot clock expired to put the Celtics up 110-105.
– The Cs and Grizzlies had nearly identical offensive and defensive performances. The Celtics shot 52.5% FG (40-82) and the Grizzlies shot 51.2% FG (42-82). Both teams grabbed 36 rebounds (11 offensive, 25 defensive).
– The Celtics most noticeable advantage came at the point guard position. They dished 25 assists, 11 more than the Grizzlies. Rajon Rondo added nine dimes to Mike Conley’s four.
– The Celtics won their first Monday night game of the season.
|12.14.09 at 10:21 pm ET|
‘He’s on a very good team where it’s very difficult to get minutes, but that hasn’t sidetracked his work,’ Doc Rivers told the Herald prior to the Celtics-Grizzlies game. ‘We’re going to send him down pretty soon to the NBDL for a week or so to get him some games, because I don’t like our young guys going these long stretches without playing games. And then we’re going to bring him back. I think that will help him.’
Hudson, who was selected with the 58th pick in the 2009 Draft, has played a total of 49 minutes in 13 games this season. He has been working out with assistant coach and former point guard Tyronn Lue. Hudson has also put in extra time with Rajon Rondo after practice to improve his defense.
|12.14.09 at 10:45 am ET|
Poor Allen Iverson. He gets traded from Philadelphia to Denver and the Sixers spend the next two years in the playoffs. He goes from Denver to Detroit and the Nuggets go to the conference finals. He gets waived by the Memphis Grizzlies after one game and the Grizzlies become good? There might be a pattern developing here.
Memphis has won four of its last five and included in that are wins over Dallas, Cleveland and a 28-point victory Sunday night in Miami. The Grizz might not be playoff good, but they probably would be if they were in the East. So, does A.I. get the blame, or does Jamaal Tinsley get the credit? (That was a rhetorical question).
CELTICS (19-4, 10-0 last 10)
Points Per Game: 100.4
Points Allowed: 90.6
Differential: 9.8 (First)
Offensive Efficiency: 109.3 (Ninth)
Defensive Efficiency: 98.6 (First)
Pace: 91.4 (25th)
GRIZZLIES (10-13, 6-4 last 10)
Points Per Game: 101.5
Points Allowed: 104.4
Differential: -2.9 (19th)
Offensive Efficiency: 107.8 (14th)
Defensive Efficiency: 110.8 (28th)
Pace: 93.3 (12th)
Injuries: Darrell Arthur (Torn pec muscle)
Key Matchup: We’re going to talk about offensive rebounding again. The Grizzlies rate as the NBA top offensive rebounding team and Randolph is the primary reason. He’s getting almost five offensive boards per game — a number that is a little inflated after he pulled down 11 in a game against Oklahoma City last week. The Celtics have done a better job on the boards in recent games, but they will have to keep a body on Randolph. It will also be interesting to see how the Celtics matchup Garnett and Perkins with Randolph and Gasol.
Celtics in a Paragraph: There is no hotter team in the NBA now that the Lakers had to move out of the cozy confines of their home arena and venture out on the road. In their 10-game winning streak Rondo has averaged 14.2 points, 10.4 assists and 4.5 rebounds and has pushed his free throw percentage above 50 percent. That he’s not higher in the All-Star voting is a joke.
Grizzlies in a Paragraph: Speaking of the All-Star game, there was a story in the Memphis paper last week about Randolph getting left off the ballot, which seems ridiculous on its face until you start to take a look at what the bizarre big man has been doing this year. He’s averaging better than 18 points and 10 rebounds and has teamed with Gasol to give Memphis one of the better low-post tandems in the league. At least from an offensive standpoint. Defensively, Randolph and Gasol are not exactly Charles Oakley and Anthony Mason.
What to Watch For: Memphis is no longer a pushover. The Celtics are playing the final game of their road trip before heading home for a nice stretch. Will this be the NBA’s version of the get-away game, or will the Celtics continue their road dominance?
|12.13.09 at 10:48 pm ET|
Green, who turns 24 next month, most recently played with the Mavericks last season. He was also a member of the Celtics, Timberwolves, and Rockets in four NBA seasons. Green is best known for winning the 2007 Slam Dunk Contest, although he had been trying to shake the reputation of just being a dunker.
‘I just really wanted to stay focused on basketball,’ he told WEEI.com last season. ‘I didn’t want the misconception that everybody thinks I’m just trying to dunk. Dunking is fun. That’s not my skill. So that’s one thing I was trying to do, just stay focused on basketball and not really worry about it.’
Green averaged 7.5 points and 2.0 rebounds per game in 181 NBA contests.
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