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How Rondo is like Brett Favre

01.26.10 at 9:57 pm ET
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WALTHAM ‘€” Celtics coach Doc Rivers wants his supremely talented point guard to get downright defensive.

Rivers has spent the last three years trying to instill in Rajon Rondo the kind of traits Rivers used to gain a reputation as one of the best defensive guards in the NBA in the 1980s.

Right now, Rivers knows the reputation Rondo has around the league. Go at Rondo and make him try to stop you, since defense hasn’t always come naturally for the guard. On Tuesday, following practice, Rivers drew a analogy between Rondo and another pro athlete.

“I think teams try to go at Rondo because of his size and because they want to try and get him to gamble,” Rivers said. “It’s like trying to make Brett Favre try and throw across his body. It’s who you are, and teams know that and try to take advantage of that.”

[Click here to hear Doc Rivers talk about how defense led to Rondo’s development into a possible All-Star]

Like Favre on Sunday with an ill-advised cross-body pass that was picked, Rondo’s season came to a bitter end in Game 7 last spring against the Orlando Magic, a game in which some critics felt Rondo hurt the team by constantly gambling for steals instead of playing solid defense on Orlando’s dangerous backcourt. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Celtics, NBA, nfl, Packers

Glen Davis: Don’t play if you’re not a competitor

01.26.10 at 7:44 pm ET
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WALTHAM  —  The Celtics leave Wednesday morning to begin one of their toughest four-day stretches of the season. On Thursday, they play in Orlando, followed by a road game in Atlanta the next night.

They return home on Sunday to host Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. All three teams have a combined 91 wins entering Tuesday’s play.

‘€œHuge,” Glen Davis said of the week. “These are big, big, big games. If you’€™re not a competitor, you don’€™t need to play in these games. This is a great opportunity for us to keep our win streak alive and also get better with playoff-contending teams. We’€™re looking forward to the challenge. Every game is big but these games are bigger.’€

Speaking of Davis, he said he is on a new path when it comes to his former moniker – ‘Big Baby’

‘€œBig Baby will always be a part of me. But I’€™m going to put Big Baby on the shelf ‘€“ for now,’€ he said.

Asked why Davis, No. 11,  is leaning toward ‘Uno, Uno’ as a new nickname, Davis pointed toward Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco. Davis doesn’t feel the need to formally change his last name, just his handle.

“Every sport has their version of nicknames,” Davis said. “He paved the way. Knock off or not, I’m a different player than Ochocinco. He plays football. I play basketball.”

Davis wouldn’t be the first pro athlete in Boston to follow the Cincinnati receiver’s lead. In 2008, Jonathan Papelbon had ‘Cinco Ocho’ T-shirts made up sporting the reverse of the famous wide receiver, and representing the No. 58 on the back of Papelbon’s uniform.

Read More: Celtics, Glen Davis, NBA,

Scal cleared to play, Marquis begins drills

01.26.10 at 4:12 pm ET
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WALTHAM  —  Brian Scalabrine returned to Celtics practice on Tuesday and was cleared to play on the team’s upcoming trip to Orlando and Atlanta. He had missed two games with separated right shoulder, injured on Jan. 6 in Miami.

“Scal practiced today and showed no sign of injury,” coach Doc Rivers announced following practice. “He shot two airballs and I was like, ‘Scal’s back.’ He’s good. He’ll play.”

Rivers said that Marquis Daniels participated in passing drills for the first time since surgery on his left thumb. Rivers is hopeful Daniels could re-join the team the first game back from the All-Star break.

Daniels missed his 22nd straight game on Monday night, before which Rivers indicated there was a “slight chance” the guard/forward could return on Feb. 10 in New Orleans, the final game before the All-Star break.

Read More: Brian Scalabrine, Celtics, Hawks, Magic

Celtics react to Grizzlies unexpected streak

01.26.10 at 12:51 pm ET
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If you were told at the start of the season that among the Celtics and Grizzlies, one team would win 11 straight at home while the other would lose three consecutive games on their own turf, chances are you would pick the Celtics to be streaking.

That’d be the wrong answer.

The Grizzlies have not lost at home since falling to the Celtics on December 14, 2009. After winning just 16 games in Memphis last season, they have put together a string of victories that includes wins over the playoff contending Nuggets, Jazz, Suns, and Spurs.

On Monday, they extended the streak to 11 with a win over the Magic, the Celtics’€™ next opponent, tying the previous mark set by the Cavaliers and Lakers this season.

‘€œIt’€™s pretty tough,’€ Rasheed Wallace said when told of the Grizzlies achievement. ‘€œYou have good teams coming in night in and night out, some top-notched teams and some teams that are lower than you that are not playing on your level. That’€™s what makes it harder because you want to try to get your ball club to stay on that high level and not stoop down.’€

Even though the Celtics have won their last two games at home, they can appreciate the Grizzlies accomplishments. This season they learned how vulnerable they can be on their own court. After posting 35-6 records at the TD Garden the previous two seasons, the Celtics uncharacteristically dropped three in a row this month. The C’€™s understand what goes into a streak like the Grizzlies.

‘€œIt’€™s very hard, but I think they’€™re focused,’€ said Kendrick Perkins. ‘€œThey’€™re playing with a  lot of confidence, they’€™ve got a pretty good coach over there, good young talent, and they’€™re just sticking together, grinding out games.’€

Perkins knows firsthand the obstacles faced by a young team, making the Grizzlies streak that much more notable. He was a member of the 2007 Celtics squad that lost 18 straight during a rocky youth movement.

‘€œThey’€™re young but their basketball IQ’€™s a little bit better than how we were,’€ he said. ‘€œThey’€™re playing team ball and tough defense. They’€™ve got a lot of smart guys.’€

The Grizzlies will look to extend their home streak to 12 on Saturday against the Hornets, while the Celtics will try to make it three in a row in Boston on Sunday against the Lakers. The Grizzlies will test the C’€™s at the TD Garden on March 10.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kendrick Perkins, Memphis Grizzlies, Rasheed Wallace

Mr. Smith comes back to Boston

01.26.10 at 2:24 am ET
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BOSTON — For all the attention paid to the return of Marcus Camby to town as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers, it’s easy to forget another former New England college star who came back on Monday night at TD Garden.

Craig Smith scored 2,349 points in his collegiate career at Boston College (2002-06), placing him second on the school’s career scoring list, trailing only Troy Bell.

In his senior season, he averaged 17.6 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.2 steals, and 0.8 blocked shots as the Eagles reached the Sweet 16. There, they lost a heartbreaker to Villanova at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. He also attended Worcester Academy for a year as a post-graduate student before college.

When the time arrived to turn pro following his four years at BC, he was regarded as one of the most promising young power forwards in the draft. Yes, he was just 6-7 but he could rebound and proved he had a scorer’s mentality in college. Those factors were enough for the Timberwolves to take him in the second round (36th overall) in the 2006 NBA draft.

After two seasons in Minny, he was dealt this past summer, along with Sebastian Telfair and Mark Madsen to the Clippers in exchange for Quentin Richardson.

On Monday night, Smith scored 13 points in 21 minutes for the Clippers in a 95-89 loss to the Celtics.

‘€œCraig’€™s been giving us a lot of good work off the bench the last couple of weeks, and you know when we’€™re scoring down there, we’€™ve been going to him and he’€™s been able to deliver for us and we had a good mix,” Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. “Like I said, hey, we had good inside opportunities, we got to the free throw line some, and we didn’€™t convert on some fast break opportunities and some wide open shots and that was the big difference for us.’€ Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Celtics, Clippers, Craig Smith, NBA

About those wet spots

01.25.10 at 11:19 pm ET
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Before the game even started, the Clippers were not happy with the condition of the floor at TD Garden Monday night. After warmups, the players told coach Mike Dunleavy of their concern. The floor was slippery in spots, particularly under the basket in front of the Clippers bench.

“They brought the captains in,” Marcus Camby said. “They brought me, Paul [Pierce] and Kevin [Garnett] and Doc [Rivers] and Mike. It was very slippery out there. I thought it was just one area, but it was all over the floor. I think it was the ice, the humidity in the gym that combined to [cause it].”

The game was delayed for several minutes in the first quarter while the arena crew feverishly mopped the floor. The crew continued its work during timeouts and when the action was on the other end of the floor. According to Rivers, the game was close to being called at one point.

“You know, [referee] Joey [Crawford] was terrific,” Rivers said. “Mike and I came together. We, at that point, were very close. The next guy, if anybody slipped in the next two minutes, the game was over. And Joey was going to make that call. Mike said the same thing. We said almost simultaneously, ‘We can’t afford a guy to get injured on this floor.’ ”

(Click here to listen to Doc Rivers’ complete analysis of the wet floor.)

Camby was not happy with the way the situation was handled.

“Oh my goodness,” Camby said. “We were all slipping. It seemed like every Clipper was slipping, then when Ray Allen slips, they want to bring it in and address the issue. So that’€™s what we were chirping about. It was kind of dangerous out there for both teams.”

“Terrible,” was how Rasheed Wallace summed it up. “Terrible. I think it was condensation from it being a little warm outside and it was warm in the building with it still being winter. It made it a little slick out there. Had to play cautiously the whole game. You can’t put them brakes on when you want to because you don’t know if you’re going to slide. Saw a couple of guys slipping out there like Peggy Fleming. It’s part of it when you play in arenas that have ice under the floor.”

Read More: Ice, Peggy Fleming,

Fast Break: Celtics-Clippers

01.25.10 at 10:10 pm ET
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This was the Celtics team we have grown accustomed to watching over the last few seasons. The passing was crisp, the open man was found and the Celtics played from the inside out. It’s been several weeks since we’ve seen that Celtics team on a regular basis and they picked a perfect time to rediscover the formula.

The result was loads of wide-open looks and four starters scoring in double figures (Kendrick Perkins had nine points) in a 95-89 win over the Clippers Monday night at TD Garden. The Celtics also clamped down defensively, holding the Clippers to just 15 points in the third quarter. It was their second-straight win, their first winning streak since Jan. 6.

It wasn’t all peaches and cream, to quote a favorite Kevin Garnett saying. They played uninspired basketball in the first 12 minutes, turning the ball over six times and allowing four offensive rebounds.

The Celtics also had trouble putting the Clips away in the fourth quarter, but give Los Angeles’ other team credit: They came to play. Former Boston College star Craig Smith was a beast in the fourth quarter, scoring all 13 of his points in the final 12 minutes, but none down the stretch after Garnett picked him up.

Player of the Game: If Rajon Rondo wanted to make one last good impression before the All-Star teams are announced he certainly stated his case well with 16 points, seven rebounds and 12 assists. Like the rest of his teammates Rondo started slowly, but he picked his game up early in the second quarter. It was one of his finest performances in weeks.

Turning Point: With the Celtics trailing by nine points early in the second quarter Doc Rivers subbed out his second team for the starters. That was when Ray Allen got hot, scoring 10 quick points and knocking down a pair of 3-pointers. The Celtics didn’t retake the lead until early in the second half, but that’s when they began to build momentum

* Kevin Garnett looked strong taking the ball to the basket on a couple of occasions. On one drive he made former Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Camby look foolish with a pump fake before jamming over a defenseless Clipper.

* There was a lot of talk about Rondo’s defense before the game, but none of it seemed to bother him before, and during the game. Rondo spent most of the pregame watching video of Baron Davis and talking strategy with assistant coach Armond Hill. He put that into practice keeping Davis in check, holding him to 5-for-13 shooting.

* Things got heated late in the game with Garnett going strong with Smith, Ricky Davis jawing with Ray Allen and Kendrick Perkins and Baron Davis also going at it.

* Speaking of Ray Allen, he scored 10 of his 14 points during a key stretch of the second quarter. He finished with a pedestrian 5-for-14 shooting line, but his hot streak was a big reason the Celtics were able to get back in the game.

* Perkins had a huge rebounding night with 15 boards. Paul Pierce led the scoring with 22 points and was a perfect 11-for-11 from the line.

Read More: Celtics, Clippers, Fast Break,
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