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Pierce on C’s turmoil: We ‘talk things out’

04.04.10 at 12:18 am ET
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WALTHAM — Paul Pierce made a admission on Saturday following practice.

The Celtics had some words amongst each other about what was happening on their home court in three straight losses – or more to the point, what wasn’t. And that turmoil was evident several times on Friday as Rajon Rondo had animated discussions with Shelden Williams and Pierce during the fourth quarter as the Celtics were trying to get their defensive house in order.

The team’s ability to defend the simple pick-and-roll was exposed as an apparent weakness on Friday as Aaron Brooks, Kyle Lowry and Luis Scola went to town late in the fourth quarter as the Rockets battled back to force overtime and then erased a five-point hole in OT to score the last 10 points of overtime in the 119-114 Rockets win.

“I think we’re breaking down in just one area,” Pierce said. “And it needs to get better. We have to be better on the pick and roll.”

In other words, when the opposing player passes the ball, a fundamental rule in basketball defense 101 is that the passer becomes the most dangerous potential scorer on the court.

“I think we trust each other,” Pierce said. “It’s just about going out there and doing it and trusting the coaching staff. The good thing about us after a game like [Friday] or the game before, we sit in the locker room and we talk about it. We were in the training room, talking about what we need to do better and what we need to do as a team. That’s a positive sign, how during a tough stretch like this, we stick together and talk things out.”

And that talk continued from Friday night post-game to Saturday pre-film study as Pierce said the team had an animated and frank discussion of the mistakes being made, with everyone in green taking some responsibility.

Now with LeBron James, Antawn Jamison and the NBA-leading Cavaliers coming to town Sunday, the Celtics are just hoping their film study and practice on Saturday is enough to pass the huge test.

He didn’t want to get into it after Friday’s loss, but Celtics coach Doc Rivers gave several examples on Saturday of the problems that led to his team’s meltdown.

There was the lack of respect given to 3-point sharpshooter Chase Budinger, after several reminders from the coaching staff to get in his face and stick with him on defense. They failed.

There was the shot taken by Nate Robinson at the end of the second quarter, leading to a three-point swing that gave Houston a four-point lead instead of one. And there was Pierce dribbling out the clock before halftime without getting off a shot.

All of that said, Saturday was a time to look forward to preparing for the Cleveland Cavaliers, a team that beat them by 20 on the same court on Feb. 26. Looking back on Friday’s loss on film was not what Doc ordered on Saturday.

Read More: Cavaliers, Celtics, LeBron James, NBA

Report: DJ voted to Hall of Fame

04.03.10 at 3:47 pm ET
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Point guard Dennis Johnson has been elected to the basketball Hall of Fame, according to a report in the Boston Globe. Sources tell the paper that Johnson will be inducted in the latest class this fall in Springfield, Mass.

The official announcement is expected on Monday. Johnson led three teams to NBA championships, including the 1984 and 1986 Celtics. Johnson also led the Seattle SuperSonics to their only championship in 1979, earning NBA Finals MVP.

Johnson, drafted 29th overall in 1976 by Seattle, began his professional career as a shooting guard. After a short stint with the Phoenix Suns, he became the starting point guard for the Celtics and led the team to the NBA title in 1984, his first season in Boston.

‘DJ” was voted to five All-Star teams, one All-NBA first and one second team, and nine consecutive All-Defensive first and second Teams.

Read More: Basketball hall of fame, Celtics, Dennis Johnson, NBA

KG on his fine: ‘I could care less’

04.03.10 at 12:26 am ET
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Kevin Garnett was fined $25,000 by the NBA for his comments about Kevin Durant after the Celtics lost to the Thunder Wednesday. Garnett rather memorably said, “I thought we were playing Michael [Bleeping] Jordan with the way he was getting the whistles.”

Durant shot 15 free throws in the game, while the Celtics shot 17 as a team.

Garnett found about the fine before Friday night’s game with the Rockets from an unlikely source: Rasheed Wallace. Or maybe it wasn’t so unlikely considering how often he has been fined himself.

“To be honest I didn’t even know I got fined until Rasheed told me a couple of minutes before we hit the floor,” Garnett said. “I could care less.”

Read More: Kevin Durant, Kevin Garnett, Rasheed Wallace,

Celtics struggle with Allen’s unexpected absence on the court

04.03.10 at 12:05 am ET
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The Celtics have played without the Big Three this season. Kevin Garnett missed 10 games with a hyperextended knee, Pierce was sidelined for another 10 games with a variety of knee, foot, and thumb ailments, and Ray Allen sat out a night with back spasms.

But it is perhaps more challenging when one of these players is unexpectedly kept off the court. On Friday, the Celtics intended on having Allen for four quarters against the Rockets. Instead, foul trouble allowed him to play just 16 minutes. He picked up two fouls in the first quarter alone and had five going into the fourth. With 2:13 left in regulation and the Celtics up, 104-101, Allen fouled out for the first time all season.

The Celtics missed their sharpshooter in a loss decided by just five points, 119-114,  in overtime.

“Ray was in foul trouble the entire game,” said Doc Rivers. “That hurt us down the stretch, clearly, because it took away so many options and it took away space.”

The outcome could have been different if the Celtics hit free throws, Garnett pointed out. The C’s shot just 65 percent from the line (24-for-37) while the Rockets were a consistent 89.3 percent (25-for-28). Allen, the team’s best free throw shooter at 90.6 percent on the season, made it to the line just once. Because of foul trouble, he was forced to watch his team struggle from the same place he has had so much success.

“Any time you miss Paul or Ray or anybody who is in our starting five, it’s a big blow to us,” said Garnett. “Obviously free throws were a big key tonight. If we make or we only miss about four or five of them, we’d win the game by a pretty decent margin. But every game it’s going to be something. But any time you lose a big piece of your offense or anyone in your starting lineup, it’s a big blow.

“Not having Ray in the game, not just for free throw purposes but for offensive attention, he draws a lot of attention on offense. It gets a lot of guys easy shots and different looks and stuff. And with him not in there was big.”

The Celtics will look forward to having Allen, who is averaging 15.9 points per game, back on the court when they face the Cavaliers on Sunday.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen,

Fast Break: Rockets 119, Celtics 114

04.02.10 at 10:28 pm ET
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It started off as a celebratory night for Rajon Rondo and ended in a disappointing overtime loss for the Celtics.

Rondo made Celtics history less than five minutes into the game when he broke Bob Cousy‘€™s 50-year-old single season assist record. He dished his 716th dime of the season, an alley-oop to Kevin Garnett, to set the mark. (Earlier in the season, Rondo passed Rick Fox for the franchise mark in single-season steals.)

The Celtics gave up an early 11-point lead to trail the Rockets, 32-30, after the first quarter. The Rockets closed the quarter on a 19-6 run, led by eight points in less than six minutes from Kyle Lowry. Paul Pierce, Kendrick Perkins and Aaron Brooks also scored eight in the quarter. The Celtics outshot the Rockets, 59 to 50 percent, but were outrebounded, 12-7.

The C’€™s trailed in the second quarter before Rondo sparked a comeback. Rondo leapt for a defensive rebound and threw an outlet pass as he lost his balance, which Pierce converted for a lay-in. On the next possession, he set up Perkins for a bucket. The C’€™s took the lead back on a dunk by Tony Allen. The Rockets fought back, though, to go up 57-53 at halftime.

The Celtics were led by Pierce in the third quarter. He scored 13 points off of perfect 4-for-4 shooting from the floor. Chase Budinger responded, however, with 10 for the Rockets. Both teams scored 30 points in the quarter and shot 61.1 percent (11-for-18 FG).

In an unexpected twist, the combination first/second/third unit of Rondo, Tony Allen, Michael Finley, Rasheed Wallace and Shelden Williams opened the fourth quarter on a 15-4 run to overcome a four-point deficit and reclaim the lead. But that would not last the entire 12 minutes. The Rockets slowly chipped away at the lead and tied it up, 109-109, with nine seconds left on an Aaron Brooks 3-pointer. Pierce missed the attempted game-winner as time expired.

In overtime, Tony Allen stepped in for Ray Allen and played with the first unit. The C’s jumped out on a 5-0 run but missed four consecutive shots, allowing the Rockets to get back in the game. The Celtics trailed the final 1:22 of overtime and lost their third straight game, 119-114. (Recap.)

Turning point: Down 117-114 with 13.7 seconds left in overtime, Michael Finley pulled up for a game-tying 3-pointer. But Kendrick Perkins was whistled for an offensive foul, giving the Rockets possession and, ultimately, the win.

Player of the game: Aaron Brooks led all scorers with 30 points, but rookie Chase Budinger put on a veteran performance against the Celtics. He shot 6-for-8 from 3-point range (including several clutch shots) and finished the game with 24 points.

– Ray Allen fouled out for the first time this season with 2:13 left in regulation. He fouled out three times last regular season. One of the games was against the Rockets.

– Playing for the first time in a week, Tony Allen propelled the Celtics bench. He posted 12 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists in 28 minutes. Aside from his stat line, he was reliable while Ray Allen was sidelined with foul trouble.

– Paul Pierce (27 points) scored more than 26 points for the fifth time in nine games.

Doc’s 25-point plan for free speech

04.02.10 at 9:11 pm ET
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Doc Rivers is a man on a mission.

He wants every player and coach to be able to freely speak their mind without fear of retribution from Stu Jackson, the NBA’s chief officer in charge of behavior.

Jackson levied a fine of $25,000 on Friday to Kevin Garnett for his decision to give Michael Jordan a new middle name when referencing the breaks he thought Kevin Durant was getting from officials on Wednesday night.

Instead of the player paying it, he wants the people responsible to foot the bill.

“The next time that happens, I have a solution. Each one of you guys should pitch in a thousand dollars until we get to [fine total],” Rivers suggested, tongue-in-cheek we think.

The reason there’s some truth in what Rivers believes occurred last year when Rivers was docked $25,000 during the playoffs when he was asked during a press conference if he thought Kendrick Perkins was being targeted by officials.

But in all seriousness, Rivers shed some light on how the fines are administered. They are automatically deducted from a player or coach’s paycheck.

“If we had to write a check,they’d never get the money,” Rivers said, again joking we think.

Rivers also talked before the game about the progress of the second unit and how Nate Robinson, even when he isn’t scoring that much like Wednesday night, is still having a positive impact on the reserves.

Read More: Doc Rivers, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett, NBA

Halftime: Celtics – Rockets

04.02.10 at 8:41 pm ET
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Rajon Rondo made Celtics history less than five minutes into the game when he broke Bob Cousy’s 50-year-old single season assist record. Rondo dished his 716th dime of the season, an alley-oop to Kevin Garnett, to set the mark. (Earlier in the season, Rondo passed Rick Fox for the franchise mark in single-season steals.)

But back to the game. The Celtics gave up an early 11-point lead to trail the Rockets 32-30 after the first quarter. The Rockets closed the quarter on a 19-6 run, led by eight points in less than six minutes from Kyle Lowry. Paul Pierce, Kendrick Perkins, and Aaron Brooks also scored eight in the quarter. The Celtics outshot the Rockets, 59 percent to 50 percent, but were outrebounded, 12-7.

The C’s trailed in the second quarter before Rondo sparked a comeback. Rondo leapt for a defensive rebound and threw an outlet pass as he lost his balance, which Pierce connected for a lay-in. On the next possession, he set Perkins up for a bucket. The C’s took the lead back on a dunk by Tony Allen. The Rockets fought back, though, and are up 57-53 at halftime.

Brooks leads all players with 17 points. Pierce has 14 for the Celtics. Rondo has a game-high seven assists.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets, Rajon Rondo,
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