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Fast Break: Celtics roll Kings

03.26.10 at 10:03 pm ET
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The Celtics treated the Kings exactly the way they should have Friday night at the Garden. The final score was 94-86, and despite some anxious moments in the fourth quarter it wasn’t really that close.

The Kings cut down what had been a 24-point Celtics lead down to six late in the game, but that came mostly against the second unit that had logged considerably more time than usual. The starters returned in the final five minutes and held serve.

The Celtics have now six of their last seven games since losing in Cleveland two weeks ago. With the win, and a Toronto loss, the Celtics clinched their third straight Atlantic Division title. That officially gives them the tiebreaker for third place in the East with the Hawks if they wind up with the same record.

The Celtics received even more good news Friday as the Hawks lost in Philadelphia. That puts the C’s a full game ahead of Atlanta.

The Kings were missing rookie Tyreke Evans, but it wouldn’t have mattered all that much if he had played. The Celtics jumped on Sacramento early and never looked back. They led by 15 points after one quarter and by 20 at the half.

Player of the Game: Rajon Rondo passed Rick Fox for the Celtics single-season record for steals with 167 and he moved passed Sherman Douglas for second on the single-season assists list. Next up for Rondo is Bob Cousy who has held the mark since the 1959-60 season (715). With a career-high 18 assists Friday night, Rondo has 696 for the season for the season. He could pass Cooz on this homestand.

Turning Point: With the Celtics leading by nine with 1:45 left in the game, they forced a 24-second shot clock violation and Kevin Garnett threw down a dunk at the other end to push the lead back up to double digits.

* Tony Allen came off the bench with the first wave of reserves and Marquis Daniels did not. Doc Rivers said before the game that Allen had earned some more playing time and he was as good as his word. This will be an interesting dynamic as the season plays out.

* Kevin Garnett had an incredibly active first quarter with seven rebounds. Garnett recorded his second straight double double with 18 points and 13 rebounds.

* Kendrick Perkins sat the game out with soreness in his knee. Rasheed Wallace started in his place and drew two quick fouls. Wallace wound up fouling out in 25 minutes with six points and just one rebound.

With Perkins out Shelden Williams got some extended time and played well with six points and three rebounds in 23 minutes.

* Ray Allen scored 18 points in the first half on 7-for-11 shooting.

* Nate Robinson sprained his left ankle at the 7-minute mark of the second quarter. Robinson was taken to the locker room and did not return.

* Brian Scalabrine entered the game late in the third quarter. It was his first action since March 7 against the Wizards. That was also the last game before the Celtics activated Michael Finley.

Read More: Celtics, Fast Break, Kings,

First half summary: Celtics vs. Kings

03.26.10 at 8:45 pm ET
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The Celtics picked the perfect night for Kendrick Perkins to rest his sore left knee.

Thanks to the Rajon Rondo highlight show in the first half, the Celtics cruised to the locker room with a 57-37 halftime lead.

Rondo was credited with a steal midway through the second quarter, his 168th of the season, helping him pass Rick Fox for the all-time single-season Celtics mark.

He also had a remarkable 10 assists in the first 24 minutes to pass Sherman Douglas for second on the Celtics all-time single-season assist list. Douglas had 683 in the 1993-94 season and the way Rondo is playing, he should soon pass Bob Cousy’s 1959-60 mark of 715.

Several of those 10 assists went to Ray Allen, who had a game-high 18 points, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range.

The C’s held the Kings to just 17 points in the first quarter as they opened a 32-17 lead.

With his brother Marcus playing in the D-League for the Celtics in Maine, Carl Landry is putting on quite the show himself for the Kings in Boston. He has 18 to match Ray Allen for game honors so far.

The only bit of bad news was Nate Robinson turning his left ankle on a baseline drive to the basket. He suffered a sprain, left for the locker room in the second quarter and will not return.

Read More: Celtics, Kings, NBA, Rajon Rondo

Doc on Rondo’s thievery: ‘He does have a gift’

03.26.10 at 8:00 pm ET
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The thing that has impressed Doc Rivers the most this year about Rajon Rondo’s single-season steals record is not the number itself but the effort behind it.

“That means he’s a better defender,” Rivers said. “You can lead the league in steals and not gamble all time. You can be solid and get a lot of steals and I think that’s what he’s done. With Rajon, you want to make sure he doesn’t hurt the team but he does have a gift and you always want to play to that gift as long as he’s not hurting the team.”

Rondo was credited with a steal midway through the second quarter, his 168th of the season, helping him pass Rick Fox for the all-time single-season Celtics mark. He had one more before halftime to give him 169.

He also had six assists in the first quarter to pass Sherman Douglas for second on the Celtics all-time single-season assist list with 684.

It appeared Rondo also stole the ball less than a minute into Friday’s game against Sacramento, which would have given him 168 for the season and a new single-season steals mark, passing Fox’s old mark of 167 in the 1996-97 season. But that steal was credited to Ray Allen, keeping Rondo momentarily tied with Fox.

Read More: Celtics, NBA, Rajon Rondo, Rick Fox

Perk out with sore left knee

03.26.10 at 7:15 pm ET
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The Celtics will not have the services of center Kendrick Perkins for Friday’s game against Sacramento. The big man will rest his sore left knee.

The team did not say how long Perkins is expected out of action. Rasheed Wallace will start in his place.

Read More: Celtics, Kendrick Perkins, NBA,

Preview: Celtics-Kings

03.26.10 at 11:23 am ET
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John Schumann of recently broke down the numbers and made an interesting observation about the Celtics that has generated much discussion around the Internet. Schumann’s main finding is that the Celtics are a poor second-half team, particularly in the third quarter. This was most clearly seen against Utah earlier this week when the Jazz rallied from a five-point halftime deficit and turned a Celtics lead into a blowout loss.

There are many conclusions one can draw from that bit of information, but what it really seems to boil down to is that the Celtics have done a poor job of executing after halftime. Whether it’s age, focus or some other factor, Schumann’s analysis helps bring this whole nebulous conversation about their struggles into sharper focus.

As the Celtics continue through the regular season pay close attention to their play after halftime during their final 11 games. That might help tell us if they are actually becoming a contender again.

KINGS (24-48 3-7 last 10)

Points Per Game: 100.4

Points Allowed: 104.5

Differential: -4.1 (24th)

Offensive Efficiency: 105.4 (21st)

Defensive Efficiency: 109.7 (23rd)

Pace: 94.2 (6th)

Likely Starters: Beno Udrih, Francisco Garcia, Donte Greene, Carl Landry, Spencer Hawes

Injuries: Tyreke Evans (Concussion), Jon Brockman (Knee)

CELTICS (46-25, 6-4 last 10)

Points Per Game: 99.0

Points Allowed: 94.4

Differential: +4.6 (8th)

Offensive Efficiency: 107.4 (14th)

Defensive Efficiency: 102.4 (1st)

Pace: 91.8 (20th)

Likely Starters: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins

Injuries: None. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Celtics, Kings, Preview,

Journey to the D-League, Part 4: The game

03.26.10 at 9:16 am ET
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(Editor’s note: Paul Flannery recently spent some time with the NBA Development League’s Main Red Claws, who are affiliated with the Celtics. He documented his observations about the organization, the players and the fans, who regularly fill to capacity the team’s home arena. Here’s the final part of his four-part series.)

Part 3: The players
Part 2: The Red Claws
Part 1: The ‘D’

PORTLAND, Maine ‘€” It’€™s an hour and a half before tipoff, and the scene inside the Expo already is humming. A few early arriving fans already are lined up to get inside for ‘€™70s Night, and Blondie’€™s ‘€œHeart of Glass’€ is playing.

Jana Spaulding, the Red Claws’€™ able and efficient PR person, already is busy at work, as are the other members of the team’€™s office staff, including Cam Twiss, son of longtime Celtics PR honcho Jeff Twiss. The training and development in the D-League doesn’€™t end with the team. One of the Red Claws dancers has earned a tryout with the Patriots cheerleaders, which is a point of pride for everyone.

‘€œThat’€™s what we do,’€ said Jon Jennings, the team’€™s president and general manager. ‘€œWe develop front office people. We develop players. We develop a dance team.’€

The team’€™s operation staff is getting ready to put on a show for the sellout crowd. Every break in the action will feature the usual array of distractions from the dance team to an overly exuberant MC leading kids activities and disco contests.

But in an admirable bit of minor league restraint, it will not come at the expense of the evening’€™s main attraction: a showdown between the Iowa Energy and the Maine Red Claws. The Energy have the best record in the D-League. They also have one of the most stable rosters, but they recently lost Othyus Jeffers to the Utah Jazz, and he was a key component to their success.

The Energy have former NBA center Earl Barron in the middle and onetime Bobcat Cartier Martin on the wing. They also have only one true point guard, a hard-nosed player from Chicago named Curtis Stinson, and Red Claws coach Austin Ainge plans to try to force him to be a scorer. Stinson will wind up playing all but 36 seconds of this game and will take 21 shots, but he’€™ll score 25 points and hand out 10 assists. Nobody said it was going to easy. Read the rest of this entry »

Wyc Grousbeck on D&C: Full transcript

03.25.10 at 7:09 pm ET
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One of the many captivating stories of the 2010 Celtics season has been the development of point guard Rajon Rondo, who is shooting at a 51.3 percent clip.

Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck joined Dale & Holley Thursday morning to talk a little bit about Rondo as a player, how he came about to be a member of the Celtics and how important the Kentucky alum will be for the Celtics as they move toward the future.

‘€œI’€™ve been very proud of Rondo since day one,’€ Grousbeck said. ‘€œI’€™ve loved the way he’€™s played and the way he’€™s developed. He’€™s going to be here for five years after this, and I’€™m really proud of that, and we’€™ll build from there.’€

Grousbeck also touched on the big win over the Nuggets, as well as which NBA team scares him the most ‘€” and it doesn’€™t include LeBron James, Dwight Howard or even Kobe Bryant.

‘€œThe team that makes me nervous is the Celtics. I’€™m serious, I think we have a chance to be as good as anybody at any given time. We’€™re worried about a lot of teams, but it starts with us.’€

Below is a transcript. To listen to the whole interview, click here.

That was fun last night, wasn’€™t it?

I had a smile on my face from beginning to end, nice little 14-point win over the Nuggets. I was out there in Denver when we lost to them, month-and-a-half two months ago, so it’€™s nice to get them back.

When you sit that close, you ever think you’€™re going to go after the refs, chase them down?

No, but they can hear me from there. I reminded one of them that we were on national TV last night, ESPN, and he better sharpen up his game a little.

I normally think Tommy’€™s over the top, last night I was right with him. What the hell were they watching?

I don’€™t know. I guess, I would say that it seemed to be equally distributed from my standpoint. I know the guys are trying, but we try to encourage them to remember certain rules, like three seconds and charging and goaltending and some of that. Read the rest of this entry »

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