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Game 6: First quarter update

04.30.09 at 7:51 pm ET
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After one, the Celtics quest to finish the Bulls got off to a rough start, with Chicago using a 10-0 run to take an early 21-11 advantage and ultimately building a 37-26 lead. The big drama came at the end of the quarter when Rajon Rondo and Kirk Hinrich squared off. Rondo was assessed a Flagrant 1 foul, while Hinrich received a technical. The difference is huge. A Flagrant 2 would have led to Rondo’s ejection.

The refs are calling this one tight. Joakim Noah picked up two quick fouls, but the Celtics couldn’t capitalize because Kendrick Perkins also got two fouls–two more than Perk got in 48 minutes+ of Game 5. Ben Gordon and Brad Miller also picked up two fouls. Without Perkins in the middle, the Bulls attacked the inside of the C’s defense, and when they kicked the ball out John Salmons was there to make six of seven shots and score 16 points.

Ray Allen and Paul Pierce combined for 19 points and Brian Scalabrine came off the bench to score seven. The rest of the team was 0-for-5. The Bulls, meanwhile, shot 68 percent in the first quarter.

Read More: Bulls, Celtics, Game 6,

Game 6: Rondo gets a flagrant

04.30.09 at 7:47 pm ET
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Late in the first quarter of Game 6, Rajon Rondo got tangled up with Chicago’s Kirk Hinrich and appeared to throw Hinrich into the scorer’s table. Hinrich came back at Rondo with a shove and the two squared off. Rondo was assessed a Flagrant 1 Foul, a huge break for the Celtics because a Flagrant 2 would have resulted in his ejection and could have led to a possible suspension.

Hinrich was assessed a technical foul on the play. It was the culmination of a tightly-called first quarter that saw 15 fouls called.

Read More: Kirk Hinrich, Rajon Rondo,

Positive impression left by Marbury

04.30.09 at 4:27 pm ET
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For many of the Knicks, there was no love lost by the time Stephon Marbury officially left New York in February. Their relationship had been tarnished for months, if not years. But there was one player who had been positively impacted by Marbury in just a matter of weeks.

“It’s funny that you asked me [about him]. He was a very good mentor to me,” said Anthony Roberson. “When I got here in the short time I knew him, he was very encouraging to me. He always made sure I kept a good attitude and was working hard and always had good, positive stuff to say about always getting better every game.”

Roberson, now a member of the Chicago Bulls, met Marbury after signing with the Knicks last summer. He was returning from a stint in Turkey and was trying to get acclimated with his fifth organization in four years. The veteran took the newcomer under his wing during the preseason.

“When he was in practice we always shot together after practices, he was my partner,” Roberson said. “He always had a very positive attitude toward me in the time he was here with me. I enjoyed all the things he told me, just helped me get better every single day and keep a level head and a positive attitude.”

He added, “[He was] very accessible to me. I would always talk to him if I had a question, from offense to how to really react to certain situations to being on the court to always being ready and prepared for my opportunity, and always staying ready. He was very positive and the things he said were very valuable to me in the time he was [in New York].”

Marbury was eventually banished from the Knicks. Roberson was eventually traded to the Bulls. Now the two are on opposing teams in the first round of the playoffs. Despite their different uniforms, there was a time when they only wanted each other to succeed.

Said Roberson, “He had a good heart and was encouraging to me.”

Read More: Anthony Roberson, Boston Celtics, Stephon Marbury,

Ref assignments for Game 6

04.30.09 at 3:45 pm ET
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As part of the NBA’s new transparency in the wake of the Tim Donaghy fiasco, the league has been posting referee assignments in advance of games. Here’s the crew for Game 6 in Chicago:

Joey Crawford

Ed Malloy

Derrick Stafford

Crawford is known throughout the league as the official you most want to have if you’re on the road in a big game, although San Antonio would probably disagree. (He also once threatened to give me a technical in a media 3-0n-3 tournament but that’s neither here nor there. I’m telling you, it was a charge.)

Read More: Celtics, refs,

Celtics among most popular jerseys

04.30.09 at 9:59 am ET
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The Big Three were  a big draw in merchandise sales this season. Kevin Garnett (#4), Paul Pierce (#7), and Ray Allen (#12) ranked among the top 15 most popular NBA jerseys for the 2008-09 season, based on sales at the NBA Store in New York City and online at www.NBAStore.com. Kobe Bryant ranked number one. The Celtics, who ranked first in team sales last season, dropped to second behind the Lakers.

Top  15  Most  Popular NBA Jerseys:
1. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
2. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
3. Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets
4. Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics
5. Allen Iverson, Detroit Pistons
6. Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
7. Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics
8. Nate Robinson, New York Knicks
9. Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers
10. Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
11. Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls
12. Ray Allen, Boston Celtics
13. Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns
14. Shaquille O’€™Neal, Phoenix Suns
15. Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets

Top 10 Most Popular Team Merchandise:
1. Los Angeles Lakers
2. Boston Celtics
3. New York Knicks
4. Cleveland Cavaliers
5. Chicago Bulls
6. New Orleans Hornets
7. Phoenix Suns
8. Miami Heat
9. Detroit Pistons
10. San Antonio Spurs

Read More: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen,

Marbury opens up on E:60

04.29.09 at 11:25 pm ET
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On this week’s episode of ESPN’s E:60, Lisa Salters sat down with Stephon Marbury for an in-depth look back at his road to the Boston Celtics. Marbury opens up about the highs and lows of his 13-year NBA career, including leaving Kevin Garnett and the Minnesota Timberwolves, returning home to the New York Knicks and the turmoil that ensued, the impact of his father’s death, and signing with the world champions.

On 2009 NBA season:
Everything that I went through this year, it was tough. It was like being in jail. Then to end up in this situation, it’s like you go from hell to being in heaven.

On demanding a trade from the Timberwolves in 1998:
I don’t want to tell you that I’ma stay, I’ma stay, I’ma stay here, and then when it’s time to re-sign, then I leave and then ya’ll stuck and then ya’ll don’t have a point guard. So I was looking out for the franchise and I was trying to do the honorable thing. [Salters: Why didn't you want to stay?] I just wanted to, I wanted to move, move on. You know I wanted to leave Minnesota. I didn’t want to live there.

On joining the Knicks in 2004:
That was one of the happiest times of my life. [Salters: Why?] Because I got an opportunity to go back home. I got an opportunity to play for the team that I idolized. I felt like going home was gonna be perfect for me.

On Knicks sexual harassment case:
I wasn’t proud of the things that I did. Not at all. You know it wasn’t the right thing, you know. I made a mistake, I’m human. And I asked for forgiveness, I apologized. There wasn’t nothing else I could do.

On death of father, who suffered heart attack during Knicks game unbeknown to Marbury:
I basically lost my mind when my father died. You know, going to the psychiatrist was the best thing that I ever did. You know growing up, growing up in the projects you think you go to a psychiatrist, people are gonna think you’re crazy. No. You’re crazy if you don’t go. I had post traumatic stress from different things that was going on. [Salters: Was it diagnosed as post traumatic stress?] Yeah. He told me, he was like you’re a mess right now, basically.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, ESPN, Stephon Marbury,

No punishment for Rondo

04.29.09 at 4:37 pm ET
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According to the Boston Globe, an NBA official has confirmed Celtics guard Rajon Rondo will not face further action in response to his Game 5 foul on Brad Miller. The Bulls had argued Rondo committed a flagrant foul in the closing seconds of overtime. The Celtics and Bulls will play Game 6 on Thursday night in Chicago.

The league did hand down on punishment, though, on Wednesday. Dwight Howard was suspended for Game 6 of the Magic-76ers series for elbowing Samuel Dalembert in the face.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Miller, Rajon Rondo,
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