|02.01.09 at 1:28 pm ET|
After a tremendous quarter the Celtics are holding an 18-point lead. Interesting that Doc Rivers found time for Patrick O’Bryant to start the second quarter. Now is the time to find out what they have with the young 7-footer and while his four minutes weren’t the most brilliant four minutes it was good for him to get some meaningful run.
The Celtics defense has also stepped up after a sleepy opening. They seem to be hitting on all cylinders and it’s huge to keep cranking out wins with the race for the Eastern Conference’s top spot likely going down to the wire.
On to the second half…
THIRD QUARTER WRAP: And we’ve got a ballgame folks. Al Jefferson lit his old team up scoring 14 of his 30 points and Minnesota is back within 14 points at 87-73. It’s a comfy lead for the Celtics, but it’s not a done deal yet by and stretch.
For the C’s, Paul Pierce was the man with 14 of his 29. Big Baby also gave the Celtics good minutes, taking two charges and scoring five points.
Third Quarter Observations
— Had a quick cup of coffee with the local chairman of the Bassy Telfair fanclub at halftime. For obvious reasons he shall remain anonymous. At any rate he pointed out that during the pregame intros Craig Smith got a nice hand, Ryan Gomes got a nicer hand, Al Jefferson got a standing O and Kevin McHale got the biggest cheers. Bassy got booed.
We’re in the fourth year of his career and it still remains to be seen if he will ever be an effective NBA player. No doubt he’s playing better than he has at other points in his career but his game remains a serious work in progress. Would a year or two playing for Rick Pitino have made a difference? It may have, but at this point he’s looking at a Marcus Banks-esque career.
— This is gut-check time for the Wolves, and don’t you just hate cheap sportswriting cliches? They’ve got it down to a dozen and there’s still 18 minutes or so left in this one. Big Al has gone for 24 and seven on 10-for-13 shooting but the defensive presence just isn’t there at the other end. A solid NBA team would look at the next few minutes as an opportunity to get into position to try and steal one. Will the Wolves?
— For the Celtics, this is Pierce time. The Captain has been able to get essentially what he wants this afternoon and now would be a good time for him to re-establish control.
— The Celtics are a little out of sorts offensively. They tried to go into Pierce (who has Randy Foye on him) but Minny is doubling him at all times. Somebody’s got to make a shot.
— Still a lot of contact going on out there. Still, not a lot of calls. Consistency is good, so long as its stays that with through crunch time. (If there is a crunch time today).
— Pierce is carrying the Celtics.
|02.01.09 at 12:48 pm ET|
FIRST HALF WRAP: One player is not enough to beat the Celtics. Perhaps the Timberwolves will realize that down 18 points at halftime. Al Jefferson leads all scorers with 16 points and while he is having a standout game, his teammates aren’t doing much to help. (Sebastian Telfair has 8, Ryan Gomes has 6). I’m looking for more out of rookie Kevin Love (0 points, 3 rebounds) in the second half. Meanwhile the Celtics are leading a balanced attack without KG. Pierce and the Allens have combined for 41 points. Perkins has added eight points and seven boards. The Timberwolves have their work cut out for them in the next 24 minutes.
Second Quarter Observations:
For Paul’s first quarter recap, click here.
– Patrick O’Bryant is getting some early play at the start of the second quarter.
– Tony Allen is showing no lingering signs of his ankle injury. He’s back to the old TA this afternoon, driving hard to the basket.
– Paul Pierce heads to the bench with a game-high four assists.
– Cue the highlight reel. Eddie House drained his first three of the game, prompting a T’Wolves timeout and a collection of his treys on the Jumobtron set to Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “The House Is Rockin.'”
– Even with Al Jefferson on the court, the Timberwolves are not attacking the hoop. They have scored just two points in the paint in the first six minutes of the second quarter. Big Al can’t do it all on his own, and as a result he ends up snubbed for the All-Star Game because of his supporting cast.
– Ryan Gomes vs. Paul Pierce: This is a match up Gomes was excited for. This week he told WEEI.com, “It was always a challenge to guard him in practice and it’s a challenge now. He was MVP of the Finals and everyone knows his game. He can score and put the ball in the basket, he’s the kind of guy who can make his team go. Everyone’s playing well for him. But I have to defend him also so it’s going to be a good challenge because when I was in college I tried to model my game after him a little bit, so it’s always good to play against one of the best players in the NBA at the small forward position.”
– “Where best fans in the world happens” – the Celtics made their own tribute to the Boston faithful with a take on the “Where amazing happens” videos.
– Sebastian Telfair has been impressive in the first half. He has a lot more control over his game than he did with the Celtics and he’s making smart choices with the ball.
- At the half … Celtics 62, Timberwolves 44
|02.01.09 at 12:06 pm ET|
Greetings from the Garden where we are live for today’s game between the Celtics and the Timberwolves, aka the former Celtics. The question for today: Is there any force on this mortal coil that could keep Kevin Garnett from making his appointed rounds against hid old team? Apparently there is. It’s called the flu and it has knocked KG out for today and possibly into next week.
Big Baby Davis gets the start in his place and he has been playing the best ball of the season. He’ll have his hands full trying to help stop Al Jefferson, et al. We’re about ready to begin and we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that Kevin McHale just got a standing ovation during pregame warm-ups when his image filled the JumboTron.
KG may not be here, but Jess and I are back in force. Let’s have at it…
FIRST QUARTER WRAP: Great quarter by Kendrick Perkins who went for nine points and five rebounds. The Celtics are owning the boards, 13-5, even without Kevin Garnett in the lineup. Minnesota has cooled off after a fast start. It will be interesting watch how this game is called the next three quarters. The refs let a lot of contact go without calls in the first 12 minutes.
First Quarter Observations
— Of course Kendrick Perkins will have Big Al most of the day, but Baby will have to keep an eye out to help. That’s where a player like Garnett would have been valuable today.
— That’s the second time I’ve seen Rondo break out the overhead diagonal bounce pass on the fast break. Those things aren’t accidents folks. It may look funky sometimes but there’s not much that Rondo does that he hasn’t thought through a few times.
— If Minny is going to insist on putting Craig Smith on Perk, that’s a matchup the Celtics should be able to exploit. Perk’s offensive game has been coming along nicely the last year or so. If he gets just a little more fluid, he has the touch, and you know he has the bulk, to be a very productive low-post option.
— If you could have one guy back from the KG trade–besides Al Jefferson–whom would it be? Got to be Ryan Gomes, right? A versatile 6-8 or so forward with range would be ideal on this team. Of course, it’s still a trade you make every day of the week and twice on Sundays, but I think the rest of the league is finally acknowledging that it wasn’t the straight-up steal people thought it was at the time.
— Four turnovers already for the Celtics. If they keep a lid on that they can go for 110 again. Great start by Paul Pierce who is 4-for-4 and nine points. This is a game for Pierce to really pick up his scoring. As has been noted several times, I love the way he’s playing this year. He’s in the flow, so to speak. Time for him to ride the wave this afternoon.
On the other side, you can see what not having KG does to the defense. The T-Wolves are getting good looks, and they’re making them.
— Great move by Ray Allen. He pump-faked the 3 and went hard to the basket. He’s doing that so much more than he did last year when he was basically a catch-and-shoot player. And yes, he got robbed for the All-Star team. Rondo too.
— Minnesota has zero rebounds. Sorry, now they have one.
— Kevin Love and Mike Miller are in for Minny. Miller is the subject of much trade rumor mongering and he would definitely help a contender. The guy has very quietly put together a solid career. Love, meanwhile has also put together a decent, if not overwhelming, rookie campaign. Safe to say he’s a better rebounder than people thought he would be. Once he extends his range he should be a solid NBA player for the next decade.
|01.30.09 at 6:21 pm ET|
An NBA title with the Boston Celtics has made it easy to forget about Kevin Garnett’s days with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He is no longer the player who couldn’t win it all. Rather he is the champion who proved anything is possible.
Yet the former Celtics who were involved in the blockbuster deal are still known as ‘the guys traded for Garnett.’ It has been two seasons, though, since the move and now they are ready to make a name for themselves in Minnesota.
‘We’re thankful for what [the Celtics] gave us but now we’ve got to set our own trends, set our own careers,’ Ryan Gomes said in a telephone interview. ‘We’re not with the Celtics anymore. We know who they have and what they’ve accomplished, but now we’ve got to try to set other goals for ourself.’
Gomes, Al Jefferson, and Sebastian Telfair are the only remaining players on the Timberwolves from the 2007 trade. (Gerald Green and Theo Ratliff have signed with other teams.) Last season they finished 22-60, their worst record since the pre-Garnett era. In attempt to establish a new identity, the Timberwolves made off-season moves to acquire a highly-touted rookie and veteran shooter. Nonetheless they got off to an eight-game losing streak.
‘What people should understand is that we had high expectations coming into this season, with the trade of Mike Miller and getting Kevin Love and Brian Cardinal and Rodney Carney,’ explained Gomes. ‘We had high expectations and it didn’t work out for the first 35 games.’
The Timberwolves were 4-15 when head coach Randy Wittman was replaced by former VP of Basketball Operations Kevin McHale. Ironically it was a Celtic great who got the Timberwolves playing their own style of basketball. They headed into the new year hot off a five-game winning streak.
‘In the beginning we did go through a rough time,’ Gomes said. ‘Our schedule in the month of December was real tough and we were trying to find ourselves. But now we’ve found ourselves and I think that’s why we’re playing well. Everyone’s understanding their roles and fulfilling them, and I’d say that’s the most important thing. Whenever you have success that means everyone’s doing their part.’
Gomes points to a demoralizing loss as the source of their improved play. In December the Timberwolves (then 6-24) blew a 29-point lead in the third quarter to the Dallas Mavericks. In spite of losing, the Timberwolves gained confidence and momentum.
‘We ended up losing that game and that was what turned it around,’ said Gomes. ‘We had seen what we could become and where we were at, and then they took it away from us. They kept fighting and kept pushing through it and believing they could win, and I think that’s what we took out of it. We had a tough stretch where we lost 13 games in a row early in the season and that game showed that we can bounce back and we can make something of the season. There’s a lot more games to be played, and once that came in January we got off on the right foot and we’ve been rolling ever since.’
The Timberwolves are 9-3 since January 1, including upsets over the New Orleans Hornets and Phoenix Suns. They will look to continue their streak when they face the Celtics on Sunday in Boston. Their former teammates have taken notice.
‘First of all, Big Al’s playing like an All-Star,’ said Kendrick Perkins. ‘Second of all, Randy Foye has stepped his game up. Rodney Carney, the rookie (Kevin) Love, Sebastian (Telfair), they’re all playing well. Since coach Kevin McHale got the job, they’ve been playing well. They’re playing good defense and I’ve been watching them lately on TV, so they’ve been playing really well.’
With just under 40 games left on their regular season schedule, the Timberwolves are nine games out of the eighth spot in the Western Conference. A postseason berth is a longshot, but Gomes doesn’t mind waiting. Even if their time doesn’t come this season he is confident it’s only a matter of time before the Timberwolves establish themselves as a playoff contender.
‘I think the Timberwolves are a team on the rise and this year is not over,’ Gomes said. ‘We’ve got a lot of games to play and if we play the way we’ve played this month for the rest of the season, who knows where we’ll be. Hopefully we can maybe sneak in the playoffs and if not we could be right there. Next year should be our breakout year to take what we did this year and carry it over next year from the beginning and have a successful season. So the Timberwolves should be a team that teams should be worried about in the West and in the East because of the way we’ve been playing lately.’
|01.30.09 at 12:58 am ET|
Eddie House has been unstoppable from behind the arc, knocking down eight three-pointers against the Sacramento Kings this week. So just how well is House playing? It’s the best basketball of his nine-year career.
Game- High 3PG Made (Regular season)
07-08: 5 (2x)
04-05: 3 (3x)
03-04: 3 (4x)
01-02: 4 (2x)
00-01: 2 (3x)
3PG % when making 5+ treys
House isn’t just topping his personal bests. He and Ray Allen are the only two players this season to hit eight three-pointers in a single game. He is also shooting better this season than those who once ruled from behind the arc.
For more on House’s streak, listen to Sounds of the Game.
|01.29.09 at 7:22 pm ET|
Western Conference Reserves:
|01.29.09 at 6:47 pm ET|
The Boston Celtics may be on a nine-game winning streak but they are out of luck in one sense of the word. Damon Blust, who played the mascot Lucky the Leprechaun, has left the team. On Thursday the Celtics issued the following statement:
“Damon Blust who played the role of “Lucky” the Celtics mascot is no longer employed by the team. We appreciate his many efforts in entertaining Celtics fans as well as his work in the community while a member of the Celtics organization.”
Blust recently appeared on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.”
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