Archive for January, 2010

Kobe plays Keyshawn: ‘Give me the damn ball’

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

Bad left ankle or not, injured right index finger or not, Kobe Bryant channeled Keyshawn Johnson on Sunday and made the Celtics pay in the end.

“I didn’t say, ‘Give me one more chance.’ I said, ‘Give me the damn ball.’ I didn’t really give [my team] much of a choice,” Bryant said of the moments in the huddle before his game-winner with 7.3 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

“All we talked about was the execution of [the play], where I was going to catch the ball. That was the only difference. Throughout the course of the game, I was pretty much a decoy because of all the traps they run, but if I catch it at the top of the floor, it’s a different story.”

Then there are Celtics fans, who had a slightly different perspective ‘€” one that had Bryant clearly pushing off of Ray Allen to create space for the game-winner.

“I just tried to create space and get to a spot where I could elevate and knock it down,” Bryant explained.

Speaking of pushing off, Bryant said his left ankle was so sore he couldn’t elevate, leading to this tidy little jab at Allen.

“Oh yeah, I couldn’t push off,” Bryant said. “Ray’s athletic, but my elevator goes to the 12th floor, his stays at the seventh. But I couldn’t get to the 12th floor today, so it was hurting.

“Special for me, personally, because I had opportunity to win the game last year and I didn’t do it. I didn’t get the shot I wanted, so I wanted to make sure I redeemed myself today.”

Mr. Zenmaster himself, Phil Jackson ‘€” who tied Pat Riley for all-time wins by a Lakers coach on Sunday with his 733rd ‘€” said nothing feels better than putting the game in Bryant’s hands.

“He had a couple of looks before that that were good looks in that area and we were mystified he couldn’t put it in. He told me the next one he got out there he would drop it in and so we went with it,” Jackson said.

Fast Break: Celtics vs. Lakers

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

It had all the makings of a momentum-builder. The Celtics overcame a 13-point first-quarter deficit to go up by five at the half. They even held on in the third quarter, a period in which they had struggled recently, and led 73-66 going into the final 12 minutes.

The game was theirs until the final 10 seconds.

Kobe Bryant scored a go-ahead jumper with 7.3 seconds left to give the Lakers a 90-89 lead. Ray Allen was unable to hit a game-winning trey and the Celtics were dealt a crushing one-point loss to the Lakers in Boston.

Player of the Game: Kobe Bryant scored just 19 points, his fewest since Jan. 18, but his final basket was the most important of the game. Had the Celtics won, the honors would have gone to Tony Allen, whose team-high 12 points in the first half gave the C’€™s control of the game.

Turning Point: With the Celtics up 89-88, Paul Pierce was called for an offensive foul with 27.5 seconds to go. The Lakers regained possession to hit the final bucket of the game.

‘€” Rondo’€™s 21 points and 12 assists were career-highs against the Lakers. Going into the game, his career average against the Lakers was 6.0 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. The most points he had scored vs. LA was 16.

‘€” Rasheed Wallace was whistled for his 13th technical foul in the first quarter. Wallace got involved in a spat with Pau Gasol after being fouled. Gasol received a personal and technical foul.

‘€” The Celtics are 0-3 against the Lakers since beating them in the 2008 NBA Finals.

‘€” The C’€™s have lost three in a row. They will take on the Wizards on Monday in Washington, D.C.

KG still finding his way

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

BOSTON — It’s pretty obvious Kevin Garnett is not the same player he was two years ago when he was the NBA Defensive Player of the Year and the centerpiece of Boston’s run to a 17th NBA title.

Surgery to remove bone spurs behind his right knee last summer and a hyperextended right knee suffered late in December has slowed his return to form.

Doc Rivers still believes Garnett can get back to the top defensively ‘€” hopefully taking the Celtics along for the ride. More than that, he still expects it.

‘€œI can [expect Garnett back to form], but not right now,” Rivers said conditionally. “But really, none of our guys who have come back, you can’€™t hold any of them to their normal standards right now. Our biggest issue with our injuries is that they’€™re healthy but they’€™re not ready to play basketball at this level yet.

Paul [Pierce] had his first big game in Atlanta since he’€™s been back. Kevin is still [getting back]. The key is you still have to play them the minutes. The only way they’€™re going to get back is by keeping them on the floor and let them get their minutes. The tough part is while you’€™re doing that, the team struggles a little bit.’€

[Click here to hear Doc Rivers talk about Garnett's return.]

Rivers has maintained all along that the Celtics need Garnett back to form late in the spring ‘€” when the season truly is on the line. In the meantime, they’ll have to live with the inconsistencies.

‘€œI think he can do it,” Rivers said of Garnett returning to form. “The No. 1 thing is getting them back to that level. I just think it’€™s more timing. When you look at Kevin, it’€™s amazing watching him. The Orlando game, his timing was completely off the entire game. Then the Atlanta game, all of sudden he had good timing.

“I just think it’€™s going to be that way for a while. The guy it’€™s most frustrating to is him because he’€™s knows it. The Orlando game at halftime, I thought he was going to beat himself up if he could, because he knew it. He was trying to talk himself into slowing down. I was just telling him, ‘€˜Just play. It is what it is. It’€™s going to happen for you. You just have to keep playing.’€™ ‘€

Doc on Lakers: ‘Better than last year’

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

BOSTON  —  Doc Rivers knows how tough it is to repeat. The Celtics won the title in 2008 and won 66 games.

Last year, the Celtics won 62 but lost in seven games to the Magic in the Eastern Conference semifinals when being without Kevin Garnett proved to be just too much to overcome.

Instead of a repeat, the Lakers won the title. And before Sunday’s game, Rivers sounded just a tad envious because instead of losing two key players like Boston lost in James Posey and P.J. Brown, the Lakers added Ron Artest, Shannon Brown and a healthy Andrew Bynum.

‘€œI think having won the title, having the same title back , adding Artest, that continuity and health I think those have been three pretty good things for them,” Rivers said. “Gasol has been in and out for them, which hurt them early in the year, too. It’€™s rare when you get a championship team that adds to their team and they did. You don’€™t see that very often. People are taking away from championship teams. It’€™s rare that they come back better and they’€™re better than last year.

‘€œI thought we took away from it. Losing Posey hurt us, losing P.J. Brown hurt us. But I think we’€™ve addressed that. Bringing in Marquis this year, bringing in Rasheed this year.”

[Click here to listen to Rivers compare his 2009 Celtics to the 2010 Lakers, teams attempting to defend a title.]

Fast Break: How the Hawks swept the Celtics

Friday, January 29th, 2010

The inability to play 48 minutes of basketball has been detrimental to the Celtics this season. But on Friday, they had difficulty playing just 12. The C’s jumped out to a double-digit lead early in the first but  failed to maintain the advantage. The Hawks quickly erased their deficit, kicked up their energy, and controlled the rest of the game.

In the end, the Celtics were outscored 29-8 on fastbreak points. The combination of the Hawks’ athleticism and long-range shooting dealt the Celtics a 100-91 loss on Friday in Atlanta. (Recap.) The Hawks completed a 4-0 sweep of the regular season series.

Turning Point: The C’s were up by nine with 3:40 to go in the first quarter until the Hawks picked up their energy and began slicing away at the lead. When Jamal Crawford drained a halfcourt buzzer-beater to end the quarter, the Celtics found themselves trailing by one. The shift in momentum set the tone for the rest of the game.

Player of the Game: Paul Pierce scored a game-high 35 points (11-15 FG, 12-13 FT) for the Celtics in the losing effort. On Friday, though, it was a different player who took over in the fourth. Joe Johnson scored 16 points in the fourth alone (27 for the game), and his three-pointer in the face of Pierce with a minute to go iced the win.

– The Celtics’ second unit hurt their team tonight. Not only were they unable to prevent the Hawks from adding to their lead early in the second quarter, but they also made it difficult for Doc Rivers to give his starters a rest. The Celtics bench was outscored 44-18.

Rasheed Wallace, Kendrick Perkins, and Zaza Pachulia were all whistled for technical fouls. Josh Smith was called for a flagrant against Perkins.

– The Celtics have lost two in a row, and dropped to 4-5 in back-to-back games. They will return to Boston to face the Lakers on Sunday.

Celtics recall Giddens from Red Claws

Friday, January 29th, 2010

The Celtics recalled J.R. Giddens from the Maine Red Claws, their NBA D-League affiliate, the team announced on Friday.

The recall is procedural, according to multiple reports. Giddens recently injured the meniscus in his left knee and is scheduled for surgery.

Giddens played in four games for the Red Claws during his recent assignment, averaging 18.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 3.0 assists. He is averaging 1.1 points and 1.1 rebounds in 21 games for the Celtics this season.

Preview: Celtics-Hawks

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Kevin Garnett insisted to one and all Thursday night that he wasn’t hurt and that he just played like a euphemism for garbage. Certainly Garnett is entitled to an off night just three games into his comeback, but the problem is that no one really believes him.

Because of the way his comeback ended last season and because of the way his injuries were handled this season (10 days, 10 more days, etc.), he and the Celtics, frankly, don’t have a lot of credibility on the issue. However, Garnett had a string of lackluster performances earlier in the season where he looked slow and old and then rebounded to play his best stretch in over a calendar year. So, perhaps there’s hope that Thursday was just a momentary blip.

We should find out a lot Friday night when the Celtics play the Hawks and Garnett matches up against what should be a highly-motivated Josh Smith. Not only is it the second game of a back-to-back, but Garnett will be facing a player who is a decade younger and who should be (justifiably) ticked that he was left off the All-Star team. If you’re on the KG watch, it starts tonight.

CELTICS (29-14, 4-6 last 10)

Points Per Game: 99.6

Points Allowed: 93.7

Differential: +5.9 (3rd)

Offensive Efficiency: 107.9 (13th)

Defensive Efficiency: 101.6 (1st)

Pace: 91.6 (22nd)

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

Injuries: Marquis Daniels (thumb)

HAWKS (29-15, 7-3 last 10)

Points Per Game: 102.6

Points Allowed: 97.3

Differential: +5.3 (Fifth)

Offensive Efficiency: 111.9 (3rd)

Defensive Efficiency: 106.1 (12th)

Pace: 91.1 (25th)

Likely Starters: Mike Bibby, Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams, Josh Smith, Al Horford

Injuries: None (more…)