|04.04.10 at 2:10 pm ET|
The Celtics jumped out to an 8-1 lead in the first two minutes in never trailed in the first quarter. It was Ray Allen — not LeBron James — who led all players with 10 points. James and Mo Williams were right behind him with eight points apiece for the Cavs. Both teams shot 50 percent from the field in the first quarter.
Doc Rivers turned to his bench when Rajon Rondo picked up two early fouls. First one in: Tony Allen, who is averaging 9.25 points and 3.5 rebounds in the last four games. Interesting move as this left the unit without a true point guard. That didn’t halt the Celtics, though, as they outscored the Cavs, 33-24, after the first 12 minutes.
The Celtics continued to build their lead in the second quarter. They were up, 50-40, with 3:23 left before back-to-back fouls on Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett allowed the Cavs to chip away at the deficit. They went on a 7-2 run to get back within five. But the Celtics answered with a 5-0 run of their own, propelled by Garnett and Paul Pierce. Rondo drained a 3-pointer as time expired to give the Celtics a 64-49 halftime lead.
Williams leads all players with 15 points. James has 10. Rondo and Ray Allen scored 12 each. The Celtics are 37-17 when leading or tied at the half.
|04.04.10 at 1:59 pm ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers, like many fans, was extremely happy on Saturday to hear word that Dennis Johnson was finally being inducted into the basketball hall of fame in Springfield this fall. The official announcement is expected to come out of Indianapolis on Monday during the Final Four.
Rivers just wishes that DJ were around to receive the accolades and get his chance to say thank you. Johnson died of heart failure in Feb. 2007.
“In some ways, it’s a little late,” Rivers said. “It would have been better for this to happen when DJ was alive. It would have been great for him to give the speech. That’s the only bad part of this.”
In many ways, the best thing to have ever happened to Dennis Johnson was his trade from Phoenix to Boston following the 1982-83 season for Rick Robey.
In his first year in Boston in ’83-84, Johnson helped contain Philadelphia’s Andrew Toney in the regular season and Magic Johnson in the playoffs as the Celtics returned to glory in a seven-game NBA Finals win.
But, as Celtics coach Doc Rivers correctly pointed out, while he may not have been well known by fans before coming to Boston in the mid-80s, he certainly had built quite the reputation. He led Seattle to its first and only title in 1979 and was voted NBA Finals MVP.
“I think, unfortunately, for DJ is people forget how good he was in Seattle,” Rivers said of Johnson. “They dismiss that part of his career for some reason. Somehow, they forget he won titles on two different teams and was a key player on both.”
After the ’79 title season, Johnson averaged 19.0 points and 4.1 assists, appeared in his second All-Star Game and was named to the All-Defensive first team and All-NBA second team.
However, the Sonics lost in the Western Conference Finals against the Lakers, who had Hall of Famers Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Johnson later called that playoff exit one of the worst disappointments of his professional career.
|04.04.10 at 12:18 am ET|
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.
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.
|04.03.10 at 3:47 pm ET|
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.
|04.03.10 at 12:26 am ET|
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.”
|04.03.10 at 12:05 am ET|
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.
|04.02.10 at 10:28 pm ET|
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.
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