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Kevin Garnett gets his revenge on Andrea Bargnani

11.27.10 at 1:01 am ET
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Call it a lack of respect from certain members of the Raptors, an overwhelming desire to make good on a sub-par performance five days earlier or a kick in the butt from his head coach, Kevin Garnett was a man on a mission Friday night.

After Andrea Bargnani dropped 29 points on the Celtics last Sunday in a 102-101 come-from-behind Raptors win in Toronto, Celtics coach Doc Rivers pulled Garnett aside and essentially told him that can’t happen again. Garnett responded by scoring a season-high 26 points while holding Bargnani to 11 in Garnett’s best two-way game of the season as the Celtics prevailed, 110-101, Friday nigh at TD Garden.

“Doc has different ways of motivating me,” Garnett said. “He pulled me to the side, he wasn’t really happy with Bargnani situation up there and I wasn’t really pleased with that, either. And tonight was more of a concentrated effort to just make sure I kept him under control. It doesn’t take much to motivate me.”

Rivers was far more subtle in his post-game comments but hinted that he saw the KG everyone expected on Friday night.

“Kevin’s energy tonight was off the charts, and you knew it would be, if you know Kevin,” Rivers said. “Because the last time we played them, the guy in his position had a pretty good game, and that’€™s just Kevin Garnett.’€

Then there were the words of Shaquille O’Neal, who hinted that Raptors forward Amir Johnson was talking trash and directing it at KG on the court. Pretty dumb idea, if true.

Garnett said he was inspired by his own fire and Rivers’ words of inspiration.

“It was 50-50 a little bit,” Garnett added. “I didn’t get much sleep [Thursday] night. That’s what it is. I’m going to see Bargnani as long as I’m in the league but I guess the way Doc came at me was the way he wanted it. That’s what he wanted. I likes to see me a little of the chain at times and I don’t mind being like that.”

Read More: Andrea Bargnani, Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett

Rajon Rondo ‘a little rusty’ but C’s will take it

11.27.10 at 12:06 am ET
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Rajon Rondo admitted he wasn’t completely back to his old form but said he felt good being back on the court for the first time since suffering a strained left hamstring. Rondo played 35 minutes in Boston’s 110-101 win over the Toronto Raptors Friday night at TD Garden.

“I was rusty,” Rondo said. “Guys made shots in the first quarter. We got some easy looks from my teammates. My timing was a little off for me. But I feel fine.”

But as for his eight assists in the first quarter and 14 for the game, Rondo said he felt like he was seeing the court very well.

“I was in the zone passing the ball,” said Rondo, who added the extended minutes took its toll afterward. “Tired. I hadn’t played in a week. Playing 35 minutes, I was trying to sit the fourth [quarter].”

Read More: Boston Celtics, NBA, Rajon Rondo,

Shaq calls Rajon Rondo ‘One of the best point guards of all-time’ … again

11.26.10 at 11:22 pm ET
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He also said that Rondo was a cross between Nick Van Exel and Scott Skiles, so …

Here is that, and some other Shaquille O’Neal post-game goodness following the Celtics‘ 110-101 win over Toronto Friday night:

Fast Break: Rondo returns and Celtics beat Raptors

11.26.10 at 10:02 pm ET
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The Celtics broke open what was a semi-close game thanks to a third quarter in which they out-scored Toronto 28-15. The end result was a 110-101 victory for the C’€™s, snapping the Raptors four-game win streak.

Perhaps the biggest news of the night was the return of point guard Rajon Rondo, who had missed the C’€™s last three games with a hamstring injury. Rondo lacked his normal explosion, but more than compensated with some adept passing going toward the hoop.

Rondo would finish with 14 assists to go along with four points (shooting 2-for-6 from the field while missing both of his two free throw attempts). He played 36 minutes, initially coming out of the game with 2:32 left in the first quarter, having already helped the C’s build a 12-point lead with eight assists.

Here is what went right and what went wrong as the Celtics improved to 12-4 …

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE CELTICS

Kevin Garnett dominated the inside for the Celtics (thanks in largepart to the set-ups of Rondo). The forward was active on both ends, resulting in a game-high 26 points and 11 rebounds. His replacement, Semih Erden, also performed admirably, contributing with eight points on 4-for-4 shooting from the floor (8 points) in 11 minutes.

– The Celtics made a living early on going over the top of the Toronto defense, as was evidenced by four alley-oop passes from Rondo in the opening two quarters alone. One in particular stood out, with Shaquille O’€™Neal flying through the air to slam in a Rondo pass, giving the C’€™s a 22-9 lead at the time. The result of the flurry of lay-ins was 67 percent shooting from the floor by the hosts in the first quarter.

– Shaq played inspired ball once again, coming up one rebound short of recording his third straight double-double (this time scoring 16 points to go with nine rebounds). Most notably was O’€™Neal’€™s ability to beat Toronto’€™s Andrea Bargnani down the floor on more than a few occasions. Through three quarters the center was 5-for-5 from the floor, and, even more impressive, 6-for-8 from the foul line.

– Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch was at the game and still looked spry.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE CELTICS

– The Celtics bench had a tough time putting the game away, which was on display both in the first half, and after the C’€™s built a 22-point lead late in the third quarter. The Raptors would ultimately close the gap to six points midway through the fourth quarter. The backcourt combination of Marquis Daniels (one free throw) and Nate Robinson (2 points) didn’€™t yield many dividends.

– In this case, what could have gone wrong for the Celtics: Shaq swinging his fist around violently after missing a lay-up after being fouled. Toronto guard Jerryd Bayless, who was just inches away from the roundhouse, might not have survived if he was positioned differently.

Von Wafer saw some rare early action, presumably getting a chance to fill in for some of the minutes left behind by the injured Delonte West. But after two second-quarter minutes, his presence was negligible.

Preview: Raptors at Celtics

11.26.10 at 12:52 pm ET
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In the five days since the Celtics were embarrassed in a Sunday afternoon matinee in Toronto, they regained their swagger in Atlanta, gutted out a win over New Jersey and lost one of their most indispensable reserves in Delonte West.

West’s injury casts a pall over the C’s, and there are no easy solutions for them right now. The immediate plan seems to be to stand pat with what they have, which means more playing time for Von Wafer and an accelerated learning curve for rookie Avery Bradley. This also means an increased role for Marquis Daniels, who was just getting comfortable as the backup small forward. he now has to return to being the team’s most versatile reserve.

These are tough times for the Celtics who didn’t begin to suffer team-wide injury breakdowns until after the new year last season. If they can survive this stretch, and continue to win games, it will serve them well in the second half of the season when Doc Rivers will likely ease off on his veterans. That luxury doesn’t exist right now, and so it will be up to Wafer, Daniels and Bradley to fill in the gaps.

The Raptors have won four straight after a dreadful start and serve as a strong test to the Celtics resolve.

RAPTORS (6-9, 5-5 last 10)

Offensive Rating: 106.2 (15)

Defensive Rating: 107.7 (19)

Pace: 94.6 (8)

Likely Starters: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Sonny Weems, Reggie Evans, Andrea Bargnani

Injuries: None

CELTICS (11-4, 7-3 last 10)

Offensive Rating: 108.2 (11)

Defensive Rating: 100.5 (3)

Pace: 90.4 (26)

Likely Starters: Nate Robinson, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O’Neal

Injuries: Rajon Rondo (Hamstring, questionable), Delonte West (Wrist, out), Jermaine O’Neal (Knee, out), Kendrick Perkins (Knee, out) Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Celtics, Preview, Raptors,

NBA Power Rankings, 11/25

11.25.10 at 3:18 pm ET
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Obviously, we’re going to release a Thanksgiving Day version of the NBA Power Rankings, taking a look at what teams should be thankful for one-sixth of the way through the season. So, without further ado, here they are:

1. L.A. Lakers (13-2): The two-time defending champion Lakers can still be thankful for Memphis Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace for deciding to deliver Pau Gasol to them. Statistically, Gasol is the most efficient player in the NBA right now, cementing himself as the best big man in the league.

2. San Antonio (13-1): The Spurs can be thankful that Richard Jefferson is still alive, Tony Parker has a renewed focus solely on basketball and Manu Ginobili is healthy. Surround those guys with the ever-productive Tim Duncan and a nice core of young talent, and you’ve got a championship-contending formula once again.

3. Boston (11-4): The Celtics can be thankful that they didn’t land the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft that turned into Greg Oden. As a result, the C’s decided to go another route, trading for Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. As an aside, it’s a shame that Delonte West broke his wrist on Wednesday night; after overcoming some personal issues, he was truly embracing this season.

4. New Orleans (11-3): The Hornets can be thankful Chris Paul hasn’t gone completely insane over their inability to surround him with enough talent to contend. I’m not sure how they’re doing it this season, but they’re winning with a group of guys that — outside of David West — aren’t exactly household names. You can’t argue with their success against a tough schedule.

5. Dallas (10-4): The Mavericks can be thankful that Dirk Nowitzki was still available with the ninth pick in the 1998 NBA Draft and that their owner is a bazillionaire who is willing to spend money to surround him with the talent to win 50 games a season year in and year out. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA, power rankings

Danny Ainge on Delonte West injury: ‘We’ll stay with our roster’

11.25.10 at 9:59 am ET
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Celtics GM Danny Ainge told the Boston Globe that he had no plans to make a trade to replace point guard Delonte West, who suffered a broken right wrist on Wednesday and could be out for months.

‘€œWe like our guys, and Avery [Bradley] is starting to get healthy and Avery and [Von Wafer] are going to have to step up and play,’€™’€™ Ainge told the Globe. ‘€œIn order to make a move we’€™d have to let someone go and we like our guys. It’€™s tragic for Delonte. Basketball is a very important part of his life. I hate to see this happen. But Delonte will be able to return late in the season to help us.’€™’€™

West missed the first 10 games of the season, during which the Celtics went 8-2. However, the team’s depth at point guard has been further depleted by the absence of Rajon Rondo, who missed his third straight game on Wednesday and, according to Celtics coach Doc Rivers, could miss Friday’s contest as well.

Still, the Celtics have Nate Robinson and Marquis Daniels to play the position in addition to Rondo and Bradley.

“We like those guys when the season started and I like them even more now with the work they are putting in and this league is a league of opportunity,” Ainge said. “So we’ll stay with our roster for now and see what we got.”

Read More: Avery Bradley, broken wrist, Danny Ainge, Delonte West
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