|02.05.09 at 9:04 pm ET|
Ray Allen was driving to work when he got the news that he would be an All-Star for the ninth time in his NBA career. By the time he got to the Garden for Thursday night’s game with the Lakers, he had already received a text message from Kevin Garnett and then congratulations from Paul Pierce. Whatever happens to any of the Celtics great players happens to all of them, which is exactly how the coach wants it.
“I like having those three guys together,” Doc Rivers said. “To me, that’s important.”
For the second year in a row Allen was named as an injury replacement. This time he will be replacing Orlando point guard Jameer Nelson who is out with a torn labrum. The who, what and why mattered little to Allen who has been around the block enough times to know that no one remembers these things in the long run.
After all, Allen poured in 28 points in last year’s game as an injury replacement. “There’s one thing that has changed,” Allen joked. “Doc is not the coach (of the All-Star team). I might be sitting on the bench.”
Cleveland’s Mike Brown has the honor this year (coaches can’t work the game in consecutive years). “That’s true,” Rivers said. “I’m going to tell (Brown) to bench all three of our guys. That would be great.”
In all seriousness, it was easy to see that Allen was very happy with the news.
“Elated. Ecstatic,” was his reaction to the news. “Nine times for me. I think about where I’ve come from and all the things I’ve wanted to do in my career. It’s a team game, but to be recognized as one of the best it’s always an honor. I’ve always considered my time in this league to be a privilege. And to represent this franchise is also an honor.”
Someone asked about LeBron James’ comments that it wasn’t fair that the Celtics and Magic had two representatives (now three) while the Cavs had only him. The obvious omission for LeBron was guard Mo Williams.
“I don’t think this is about fairness,” Allen said. “It’s such an unbalanced equation when you’re talking about the All-Star game. If it was Mo Williams I’d be happy for him. He’s having an All-Star year.”
If you want to talk fairness, it’s hard to argue against Allen’s inclusion, whose shooting percentages (497 FG, 410 3-point, 94 FT) are among the best in the league. Statistically he has been the Celtics best offensive player this season (both new age and old school).
“He’s the most efficient two-guard in the league right now,” Rivers said. “He takes less shots, but he makes them.”
To which Allen echoed, “The game is played in so many different ways. Whatever I do well, I just do it and try to be consistent. No matter how many shots I get up; just be efficient.”
In the weeks leading up to the selections, Allen stayed cool. He talked about taking his family on vacation and promised that he was not at all worried about it. But you could tell it meant a lot to him. “We’ll talk about this for the rest of our lives,” he said meaning himself, Pierce and Garnett. “This is all we have. The experiences, the memories and the time spent together.”
|02.05.09 at 8:54 pm ET|
At the half … Celtics 52, Lakers 51
FIRST HALF WRAP: The Celtics found their momentum late in the first half to go up one in the closing seconds. Bryant leads all scorers with 13, but only three of those came in the second quarter. Pierce, Garnett, and Allen have combined for 38 of the Celtics 52 points. Rondo is solid, though, posting six points, five rebounds, and four assists. The Celtics bench has to get going in the second half because Kobe won’t stay quiet for much longer.
For Paul’s first quarter recap, click here.
Second Quarter Observations
- Celtics fans have not forgotten about Sasha Vujacic’s emotional outbursts during the Finals. They booed loudly when he fouled Paul Pierce, but this time Vujacic kept his feelings in check.
- Leon Powe had a breakout game against the Lakers in June. This season, though, teams are paying closer attention and scouting him with a more watchful eye. As a result, Doc Rivers said Powe is going through pretty common struggles at this point in the season. However he guarantees Powe will break out of the slump.
- Down 31-22, Celtics fans are beginning to get restless. One guy behind me yelled out “Beat LA” with a sad desperation in his voice. Don’t worry, it’s only three minutes into the second quarter. There’s still plenty of basketball to be played.
- Doc’s trying to manage KG’s minutes, waiting until 8:20 left to bring him back in. Garnett’s on the floor with Ray Allen in hopes of giving the second unit a boost. So far the bench has contributed just one basket, coming from Powe.
- Take that back. Eddie House hit consecutive shots — a driving layup and a pull-up three — to bring the Celtics within four and prompt a Lakers timeout.
- A Lakers fan was shown on the Jumbotron taking a picture of another Lakers fan’s (temporary?) tattoo. There is a pretty sizable sea of gold and purple here tonight.
- Gasol didn’t get called for his first foul until 3:45 left in the half. The Celtics should be attacking the paint and drawing whistles. Josh Powell and Chris Mihm are hardly threatening against KG and Perk.
- In the crowd: Bill Belichik and Kevin Faulk (New England Patriots), Lofa Tatupu (Seattle Seahawks), Gosder Cherilus (Detroit Lions), Taylor Twellman and Brad Knight (New England Revolution), and Sudbury native Chris Evans (actor, “Fantastic Four”).
- Boos already? Luke Walton’s trey put the Lakers up by five with under two minutes to go in the half. The Lakers are shooting 52.5% from the field. The Celtics are shooting just 43%.
- A block by Paul Pierce on Derek Fisher followed by a putback from Perk has brought life back into the Garden. Everyone on the court touched the ball on that posession.
|02.05.09 at 8:10 pm ET|
We are high above courtside for tonight’s rematch of last year’s NBA Finals. When last we saw the Lakers in these parts they were getting run out of the joint. How does that affect them? “It doesn’t,” Phil Jackson said. OK.
But what about Andrew Bynum? The big man and supposed difference-maker defensively is out with another knee injury. “He was a go-to guy,” Jackson said. “He was becoming the second guy to Kobe for a while. Andrew had played so well. There’s no replacing his length.” True that.
For the Celtics, Kevin Garnett is back and after missing a few games with the flu. While Doc Rivers is a little worried about KG’s conditioning, especially in the second half, Jackson thinks the days off were good for Garnett and thus will be at full strength. See kids? That’s what we call psychology
At any rate, the Garden is bumping and we’ll be here all night. So do stay with us…
FIRST QUARTER WRAP: Kind of a slow quarter after a frantic start. The Celtics are shooting just 35 percent, but they are getting good looks. Most of them are from the outside, however. For the Lakers, Kobe looks like he’s going to try to win this one himself, and he’s had quite a week already.
This is a big test for the bench coming up. Jess has you covered.
First Quarter Observations
– Gotta hand it to the Garden. They busted out all the stops in the pre-game intros and the place is alive.
– KG is a little hyped. He’s taking Gasol and leaving Perkins on Odom (although that time they got a caught in a switch). Not having Bynum takes another big man out of the middle, obviously, but Doc was mildly concerned about how Odom spreads them out because he plays on the perimete, which leaves things open for Kobe. It’s all in how you look at it.
– Lamar Odom wanted no part of the lane on that trip. It’s fair to say that the Lakers not named Kobe (and Derek Fisher) are still seen as suspect in the eyes of many NBA observers. It might not be fair, but it is fair to say. No one more so than the enigma that is Lamar.
– Over/under in the press room had Kobe going for 35 tonight. (Note to David Stern no money was wagered. Just cookies in the press room). While the Lakers are still adjusting to life without Bynum this seems like a classic Kobe I’ll do everything game.
– Allen missed that 3, but if they’re going to double KG with Fisher it will be a long night for LA. The reason Fisher is on Allen, of course is because the Lakers have Kobe on Rondo.
– The Celtics are actively trying to get KG the ball on the post. They do this when they are confident in the matchup and that certainly holds true with Pau Gasol. Over the summer when I was writing my KG story for Boston mag, Doc told me that they had to remind him that he could score on Gasol and that he should be more aggressive. You’re seeing some of that tonight
Also, by playing a more traditional post game it reduces the need for Rondo to have to drive to start the offense.
– The Lakers have already made three subs–Josh Powell, Trevor Ariza and Jordan Farmar. Same 5 for the C’s, although Baby is coming for KG right now.
– Not sure you want to be throwing the lob to Pierce. It did get him to the line though.
– Kind of quietly, Rondo has four points, four rebounds and three assists already.
|02.05.09 at 1:43 pm ET|
The Boston Celtics are not in awe of Kobe Bryant.
That simple message was delivered at Thursday morning’s shoot-around here in Waltham, mere hours before they take on the reigning NBA MVP and his Lakers on the parquet of the TD Banknorth Garden.
That, and we’re not changing what we do just for Kobe.
“We just play him,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers announced. “We don’t have any Kobe rules or anything like that. We play our defense every night. We literally don’t change our style. Rarely, we may change them for a possession here or there, but you just try to keep him in front of you and wish for the best of luck because he’s tough. If it were easy to defend him, he wouldn’t be Kobe.”
Yes, Pau Gasol is starting to emerge as a scoring force alongside Kobe as they pick up the slack for their injured big man Andrew Bynum.
“They’re a good basketball team,” Rivers said. “They’re no different. Obviously, they miss Bynum’s length but they’re going to get through the regular season and get him back for the playoffs and they’ll be fine. Kobe has clearly picked it up the last couple of games but so has Gasol. Gasol has had 31 points the last couple of games himself.”
Yes, Kobe has gone off for a combined 97 points against the 21-27 Knicks and the 19-32 Raptors this week.
“We didn’t play in any of those games that we know of,” Rivers keenly observed. “We can’t do anything about that. That’s the way we always look at that. Let’s hope he doesn’t score 97 tonight. That would be very important for us trying to win this game, I can tell you that.”
Ask Rajon Rondo and the Celtics point guard is quick (and right) to point out that the Knicks have just as much to do with the 61 Kobe scored on Monday at MSG as anything else.
“He’s a great player,” Rondo said. “Sixty-one doesn’t happen all the time in the league but a lot of great scorers go off at times. That was transistion game he played against the Knicks. LeBron had 52 last night. That’s just the style (the Knicks) play.”
And yes, the Los Angeles Lakers come to town tonight with a Western Conference-best 39-9 mark, winners of four straight, playing on the same court they suffered their most humiliating loss in franchise history, that 39-point quit job last June in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
“I’m sure they’ve seen it enough,” Rivers said. “I’m sure no one’s run that on TV at all. Well, they should be. Why wouldn’t they be? They’ll be up for the game. We’ll be up for the game.”
Therein lies the key difference between the Celtics and the Lakers. The Lakers are all about superstars, albeit great scoring superstars, but individuals nonetheless. The Celtics, during their second double-digit winning streak of the season, have built their dominance around defense.
Yes, the Celtics are weakened a little by the flu bug that has run through Kevin Garnett and the rest of the team.
“He felt strong,” Rivers said of Garnett at this morning’s shootaround in Waltham. “He’s fine. We’ll find out tonight. It’s easy to feel strong in a shoot-around but when you’re running up and down the floor when you haven’t done it, that’s a different story. I think there are six guys on Z-Paks, probably all due to Kevin, who knows.”
Z-Paks, for those who didn’t go to medical or pharmaceutical school, are antibiotics given to help those fighting off viruses.
The Celtics will want to be at full strength as they try to ward off Kobe and the Lakers.
|02.04.09 at 4:08 pm ET|
Less than 24 hours after Ray Allen drained a game-winning three over the Philadelphia 76ers, he was not named to the 2009 Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout. It is the second time in a week that Allen has been snubbed. Last Thursday he was overlooked as a reserve on the Eastern Conference All-Star team.
Sharpshooter Eddie House was also left out of the shootout, despite his recent hot streak in which he shot 22-for-32 over a four-game stretch. He has also made more three-point attempts this season than any of the contestants.
Here is a look at who did make the team, compared to Allen and House: (As of February 4)
Eddie House, Boston: 144 – 339 (42.5%)
Rashard Lewis, Orlando: 137 – 327 (41.9%)
Danny Granger, Indiana: 120 – 299 (40.1%)
Ray Allen, Boston: 120 – 293 (39.8%)
Mike Bibby, Atlanta: 114 – 279 (40.9%)
Daequan Cook, Miami: 105 – 256 (41.0%)
Roger Mason, San Antonio: 103 – 229 (45.0%)
Jason Kapono*, Toronto: 52 – 124 (41.9%)
* Defending champion
|02.03.09 at 11:28 pm ET|
While Ray Allen was the hero of the Boston Celtics dramatic win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night, the Cs would not have been in striking distance if it weren’t for one player stepping up in Kevin Garnett’s absence. For the second straight game, Glen Davis has thrived in his role as the Celtics starting power forward.
Davis posted 12 points (6-11 FG) and 11 rebounds against the 76ers (RECAP HERE). Of his six field goals, only one came in the paint. On Sunday, he added 12 points (5-12 FG) and six rebounds against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Davis isn’t just attacking the hoop like a traditional big man. Big Baby is getting the job done with his jumper.
“I think it’s going to help my game tremendously,” Davis said recently. “If I can spread the floor for my team … I can move up to the four, pick and roll to help out with Paul (Pierce), and hit the jumper. I kind of just train myself to be ready to hit that big shot.”
His preparation paid off when he hit knocked down a 17-footer with 1:30 left in the fourth quarter. The basket brought the Celtics back within three and sparked an 8-to-4 run to close out the game.
This season Davis has developed a knack for mid-range jumpers. Even though the majority of his baskets have come at the rim – his biggest responsibility is attacking the glass – he has been in the zone away from the paint. He entered Tuesday’s game shooting nearly 50% from just inside the arc and almost 40% from the top of the key. Davis has made it a point to fit his jumpshots into his training regimen.
“It doesn’t take that long [in practice],” he said. “I might go 30 minutes hard, just jumper, jumper, jumper, jumper, and get mine in for the day. I just try to do it every day.”
Davis’ shot has been a work in progress over the years, according to his childhood friend, Dallas Mavericks forward Brandon Bass. The two also played college basketball together at LSU. Bass has seen Davis transform from a banger to a finesse player. It’s a move that was necessary for the 6-foot-9 forward to adapt as an undersized big man in the NBA.
“He never had a bad jumpshot,” Bass said. “He always could shoot it, but he wasn’t necessarily a jumpshooter. He was more of a guy you could throw it to on the block and he could get you a bucket, or he’d eat the glass up and get an offensive rebound. When I left [LSU in 2005] he developed a jumpshot a little more.”
Garnett (flu) is expected to return for Thursday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers. While Davis won’t get as many looks off the bench, this extra playing time has helped his confidence with his shot. The skills are there; now it’s just a matter of showcasing them when given the opportunity.
“I feel like I always had the talent to do a lot of things,” Davis said. “It’s just all about working on them and doing them. But I always in college had flashes of myself taking the ball up the court, playing at a smaller position than the power forward and the center. So I know I can do it. It’s just about going out there and doing it and having confidence and working on it consistently.”
|02.02.09 at 12:24 am ET|
It’s only the first half of the season and Kendrick Perkins has already been whistled for nine technical fouls and a Flagrant 2. His latest call against Jason Maxiell during Friday’s game against the Detroit Pistons earned him a $10,000 fine. But Perkins isn’t worried about developing a bad reputation around the league. If anything, he says, his early technicals helped the officials understand his game.
“I think it’s mostly gaining the respect from the referees, having a better relationship,” he said prior to the Boston Celtics game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. “So now when I get mad at a call they’re not just quick to jump on me. It’s more of a respect thing.”
Perkins has noticed the referees have eased up since he got called for his ninth T in early December.
“They let me get physical on the block as far as defending people,” he said. “So I think since I’ve calmed down – I haven’t got a technical in about 25 games – so I’ve been pretty cool.”
As for the Flagrant 2 against Maxiell, Perkins attests he was not aiming for his neck. He’ll accept the consequences, though, knowing it comes with the territory of going hard on the court.
“I think I’ve just got to keep going out there playing my game, being physical and just being smart at the same time,” he said. “There are a lot of hard fouls that I’ve given that aren’t flagrant, so it’s cool.”
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