|02.26.10 at 2:39 pm ET|
Before every game, NBA coaches and their assistants place the names of players to contain on a board as part of the game plan.
But it’s obvious now that they need to add a fourth name: Rajon Rondo.
He showed why in the first quarter on Thursday night, with 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the floor and six assists as the Celtics raced out to a 31-21 lead. James stopped short of saying Rondo has become the most important Celtic but not by much.
“I don’t know if I can say that,” James began. “When you scout for Boston, there are certain guys that make that board before the game, these type of guys you have to stop and he’s one of those guys.
“First couple of years here in Boston, he wasn’t on that board. He was fast point guard, you have to get back but other than that you didn’t talk about him, you didn’t talk about Rondo.”
[Click here to hear LeBron talk about Rondo.]
Rondo earned his first All-Star berth this winter and players like King James have taken note.
“Last year, he made a name for himself and he makes that board when you’re talking about, ‘This is what we’re doing again Paul, this is what we’re doing against Ray and this is what we’re doing against KG and this is what we’re doing against Rondo.’ When you make that board, you’re definitely a very good player.”
As for whether Rondo can get the Celtics back in gear and challenge the 45-14 Cavaliers, that remains to be seen. But James isn’t taking the Celtics lightly, even after a 20-point win on Thursday at TD Garden.
“They’re a very good team,” James said. “No one doubts Boston. No one who ever comes into this building or plays Boston on the road doubts that team. They have too many weapons, they’re too experienced. They have a good coach, a good coaching staff. No one ever doubts them and you better play well or they can embarrass you.”
|02.26.10 at 6:57 am ET|
‘When I came here early I did take an extra step that way [toward the Celtics locker room] because I’ve never been in this locker room before now,’ he said, laughing, ‘I came here, I was like, ‘Oh this locker room’s trash.’ I was like, ‘Oh, no wonder I’ve never been in here.’ ‘
On Thursday night he returned to the building where he played his first NBA game, won a championship, and spent the first three years of his career.
As it turns out, it was also the same building where he experienced another first.
After missing 10 months with a torn ACL, Powe made his regular-season debut with the Cavaliers on, of all place, the Garden parquet.
It took a minute to register when coach Mike Brown gave him the nod late in the second quarter.
‘He called my name like three times,’ Powe said. ‘I didn’t even know, was he calling me? I was looking down, I’m the only Leon, OK. All right, I’m going to go in now. So I wasn’t really sure. My teammates tapped me ‘ ‘Hey, hey, go in man.’ I was like, ‘Oh, OK. I haven’t played in a while, but it felt good getting back out there a little bit.’
Powe made the most of his four minutes of playing time. He scored four points, hit two free throws, and grabbed a pair of rebounds.
His main focus, though, continues to be tough defense. His assignment against the Celtics? Defend Kevin Garnett.
‘I was just messing with him a little bit, talking a little junk to him. He said a couple of things to me so I said something back,’ Powe chuckled. ‘You know me and KG, anybody can attest to this, at practice we’d go at it all the time, yelling, pushing, going at each other all the time. It was just like old times. It’s just his way of saying what’s up.’
Not only did Powe appreciate Garnett’s greeting, the response from the Celtics fans went a long way too. Just two days after giving Eddie House a standing ovation when he returned as a Knick, the crowd greeted Powe with a loud cheer.
‘The fans appreciated the hard work I did while I was here, and that’s big to me.’ he said. ‘I just hope that they continue to stick with me so any time I come here, I’d get a standing ovation.’
|02.26.10 at 1:20 am ET|
Before Thursday, LeBron James had pretty much mastered every opponent on every court in the NBA.
The lone exception was Boston. Including four games of the 2008 playoffs, the Celtics had beaten Cleveland nine straight on the parquet. And after one quarter, the Celtics certainly appeared headed for No. 10 with a 31-21 lead. But that’s when the Cavaliers, and specifically James and teammate Mo Williams, said enough was enough.
James had 36 and Williams canned four of his five 3-pointers in the second half as the Cavs ran away from the Celtics, 108-88, at TD Garden.
Afterward, he spoke to the great play of his team in the second half, what it was like to finally win in Boston and picking up the slack for the injured Shaquille O’Neal.
|02.26.10 at 1:06 am ET|
Marquis Daniels is sick.
Not sniffly nose sick, but that stay-in-bed-all-day kind of sick where you can’t help but feel bad for him when you see that pained look on his face.
He fought through picks, defenders, and illness. Daniels hustled for 31 minutes, defended LeBron James, grabbed three rebounds, and picked off a steal along the way.
‘He did a great job,’ said Glen Davis. ‘Being sick is tough. He’s a competitor and he plays hard. But he went out there and did what he had to do.’
After the game Daniels looked exhausted as he slouched at his locker. His voice was faint and he simply shook his head when asked how he felt.
The Celtics will not practice on Friday. Daniels will wait until then to talk to the doctors about what he kind of activity he should or should not do.
But even though he is sick, it’s his dedication that’s most contagious.
‘I commend him because the last day or so he’s been somewhat shaky and not strong,’ said Ray Allen. ‘You could tell that his energy was very low. So for him to be out there, I definitely commend him.’
|02.25.10 at 10:48 pm ET|
Well, it happened again.
The Celtics blew a one-point fourth quarter lead and found themselves looking at a double-digit deficit down the stretch.
The Cavaliers simply had more hustle and more energy when it counted. They outscored the Celtics 35-14 in the fourth to take away a 108-88 victory in Boston.
Player of the Game: LeBron James carried his team the entire game. He had scored 32 of the Cavaliers 73 points after three and finished the night with 36.
Turning Point:The Cavaliers took a 75-74 lead off of a J.J. Hickson bucket and never looked back. Even with James on the bench, they stretched the lead and created a cushion for James when he returned.
– Kendrick Perkins and James got involved in a tiff in the fourth quarter. Perkins took offense to James’ foul, and Anderson Varejao stepped in to interject. Varejao got whistled for a technical.
– It was a night of debuts at the Garden. Former Celtic Leon Powe played his first game of the regular season while newly acquired Marcus Landry made his debut for the C’s.
|02.25.10 at 10:14 pm ET|
Third quarters have been causes for concern for the Celtics this season. The good news for the C’s is they didn’t blow the lead. The not-so-good news for the Celtics is the Cavs got back within one.
The C’s entered the third quarter up eight, 56-48. But the more LeBron James got to the basket, the smaller their edge got. The Cavs trailed just 74-73 heading into the fourth.
James scored 12 points in the quarter and got to the line seven times. (He made four attempts.) Ray Allen led the Celtics with seven points in the quarter, but Rajon Rondo added just one to his total (15 points).
The Celtics have contained James’ teammates so far, but no lead is ever guaranteed with a clutch player on the court late in the game.
|02.25.10 at 9:20 pm ET|
Rajon Rondo has 14 points and eight assists, while Ray Allen has 13 on 5-for-7 shooting and 3-for-3 from 3-point range. Kevin Garnett also had a big half with eight points and six rebounds. LeBron James leads all scorers with 21 points.
Doc Rivers played Rondo and Nate Robinson together in the backcourt for a significant stretch of the second quarter. The Cavalier guards presented an excellent opportunity for Rivers to try the alignment as Mo Williams and Delonte West don’t present matchup problems with their size. Robinson scored six quick points off jump shots on the pick and roll.
Shaquille O’Neal went to the locker room halfway through the second quarter. He will miss the rest of the game after suffering a thumb injury. Former Celtic Leon Powe made his season debut for the Cavaliers and received a standing ovation from the crowd. Powe had been rehabbing after knee surgery.
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