Archive for January, 2010

Fast break: Celtics-Magic

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

This is what it takes to win on the road against good teams in the NBA. The Celtics outplayed the Magic for three and a half quarters, but a combination of hot shooting and a one-sided free throw discrepency allowed Orlando to get back into the game.

Down the stretch the Celtics seemed to make all the right plays. Rajon Rondo stole a possession by diving on the floor and outhustling Vince Carter. Rondo then scored on a tough drive to the hoop to give the Celtics a three-point lead with less than a minute to play. They did everything right, and then they lost it in the final 34 seconds.

The Celtics lost 96-94 after Rashard Lewis drove around Kevin Garnett on a busted play, while Rasheed Wallace’s weakside help  was two steps too late. They lost after J.J. Redick made an improbable 3-pointer to tie the game seconds earlier. They lost after the Magic took 40 free throws to the Celtics 18, and they lost after two Eddie House 3-pointers were changed to 2′s.

After all that the Celtics still had a chance to come away with the victory, but Wallace’s 3-pointer at the buzzer sailed wide of the basket. It was a solid, even inspired performance for about 40 of the game’s 48 minutes, but it still wasn’t enough to get the win.

Player of the Game: Rashard Lewis made big shot after big shot for the Magic, but none was bigger than his drive to the hoop in the final seconds. The Celtics actually played good defense on the play as Paul Pierce denied Carter a chance to get the ball, which found its way into Lewis’ hands instead. He drove right around Garnett and laid in the winning points.

Turning Point: Stan Van Gundy made the biggest coaching move of the night, literally, when he brought Marcin Gortat into the game with Dwight Howard and played Lewis at the 3-spot. The Magic were down by double digits when Van Gundy went to the super-sized lineup, but took the lead late in the fourth quarter.

* Kendrick Perkins spent the majority of the first half in foul trouble, but so did Dwight Howard. Call it a draw.

* Orlando had just one assist in the first half and shot 33 percent.

* The Magic cut the Celtics lead to just six points midway through the first half. Then Brian Scalabrine knocked down a corner 3-pointer. On the next possession, Ray Allen hit from long distance on transition and the lead was back up to 12. This pattern repeated itself in the third quarter, but the Celtics once again made shots at the right time. Eddie House buried a 3-pointer with just over a second remaining to put the Celtics up 12 going into the fourth quarter.

* Wallace picked up a technical foul for yelling, “And one,” after a made basket. He also unleashed the loudest “BALL DON’T LIE,” of the season. Unofficially.

* Allen had a bounceback shooting night, going 8-for-12 and 4-for-8 from 3-point range. But he missed a shot that could have put the Celtics ahead late in the game.

Rondo, Pierce named to All-Star team

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce were officially added to the Eastern Conference All-Star team Thursday. Rondo and Pierce join teammate Kevin Garnett, who was voted in as a starter, to give the Celtics three representatives; more than any other team.

This is Rondo’s first selection to the All-Star team. This is Pierce’s eighth All-Star nod.

The rest of the Eastern Conference reserves:

Derrick Rose

Joe Johnson

Gerald Wallace

Al Horford

Chris Bosh

Preview: Celtics-Magic

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

During the course of a long season it is customary for players and coaches to downplay significant games on the schedule. In the matter of the Celtics‘ three-game stretch that begins tonight in Orlando, continues Friday in Atlanta and concludes back home on Sunday against the Lakers, a curious thing has happened. Everyone connected with the Celtics seems to view these games as meaningful and important.

“We understand that these are three great games to be able to play,” Doc Rivers said Wednesday on Dennis & Callahan. “Coaches look forward to them and players look forward to them as well. Once they’€™re over then they become one of the 82. There’€™s no doubt that players look forward to them.”

Danny Ainge also acknowledged their importance. “I think it will tell us a lot about our depth, our conditioning and the quality of our play right now,” he said on The Big Show.

Each game has its own personality. The Magic offer the most compelling 1-through-5 matchups, while the Hawks present their in-season mastery of the Celtics as a hurdle to climb. The Lakers provide their own drama, of course. This is not a make-or-break stretch for the Celtics by any means, but it will reveal something about who they are and where they are going.

CELTICS (29-13, 5-5 last 10)

Points Per Game: 99.7

Points Allowed: 93.7

Differential: +6.0 (3rd)

Offensive Efficiency: 107.9 (13th)

Defensive Efficiency: 101.4 (1st)

Pace: 91.7 (22nd)

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

Injuries: Marquis Daniels (thumb), Brian Scalabrine (shoulder)

MAGIC (29-16, 505 last 10)

Points Per Game: 101.1

Points Allowed: 96.3

Differential: +4.8 (7th)

Offensive Efficiency: 108.4 (11th)

Defensive Efficiency: 103.2 (5th)

Pace: 93.1 (12th)

Likely Starters: Jameer Nelson, Matt Barnes, Vince Carter, Rashard Lewis, Dwight Howard

Injuries: None (more…)

NBA Power Rankings, 1/28

Thursday, January 28th, 2010


1. Cleveland (2): It’s surprising how well the Cavaliers have matched up with the Lakers this year. With or without Shaq in Cleveland’s lineup, I just didn’t think that they had the big men to deal with LA’s size. As for player-coach-mayor LeBron, I’ve seen him carry a worse team than this to the Finals … but he did it when the Eastern Conference was worse, too. After last year, regular-season dominance means nothing. Can this team be this good in late May and early June?

2. LA Lakers (1): What fickle person comes up with these rankings, anyway? Wasn’t it just last week that “it’s going to be hard for someone to knock them from this [No. 1] perch”? That someone was the Cavaliers, who swept the season series from the Lakers. (An aside, from the world of trashy TV: The fellas might think I’m crazy on this one, but do you know which Kardashian is really starting to grow on me? Khloe. Lamar Odom’s girl. Kim and Kourtney get all the hype, but … I’m just saying … never mind.)

3. Denver (5): What the Nuggets have done this year is amazing. They’ve won some games without Carmelo Anthony, they’ve won some games without Chauncey Billups, they’ve won some games without bench guy J.R. Smith. They were conference finalists last year, and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if they were able to return and make it even more interesting than last time.

4. Dallas (3): I love the way they’re playing, but I don’t believe in the way they’re playing. It’s great for the regular season. But when the playoffs arrive and scouting and defense becomes more intense, there’s one player I definitely trust (Dirk, of course) and two maybes (the Jasons: Terry and Kidd).

5. Boston (6) KG is back and the world is back to normal for the C’s. They closed out two games, against the Clippers and Blazers, that they probably would have lost without the presence, sound and fury of No. 5. Speaking of which, does anyone know any good lip readers? I swear, before the year is over, I’m going to the Garden with a lip reader whose only assignment will be to focus on KG the entire night. Some people are offended by his rants. I’m not. I just want to know what he’s saying beyond the obvious, you know, “Take that, mother…” and other assorted f-bombs.

(more…)

Ainge on The Big Show: Trade rumors fiction

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Celtics boss Danny Ainge joined Glenn Ordway and the gang on The Big Show Wednesday afternoon to talk about Glen Davis, Kevin Garnett’s return, trade rumors and his long-term philosophy.

On Glen Davis wanting to change his nickname: Did this upset you guys in the front office?

Why would it upset us in the front office? First of all, this guy and all the players, there are people around them constantly. It’s why I don’t think players should Twitter or Facebook, there are so many things said on the spur of the moment that aren’t thought through. I don’t think there was anything he meant. Maybe he just thought he should change his nickname and it becomes a huge story. It’s incredible to me. I know Glen. I know his intentions. I know where his heart is and what his goals are. I just think it was blown completely out of context.

Why engage this after getting fined [for the Detroit incident]?

My thing is why would you ever want to bring attention to yourself when things aren’t going great. Glen is a funny guy. He’s an outgoing guy, he’s a very spontaneous guy and I think that, not making any excuses for him, of course that wasn’t a great thing to say, but it doesn’t change how we feel about him. We just know his personality and those kinds of things come out of him. I don’t think he has any selfish motives by doing it, or things that go against the grain of the team, it was just not the brightest thing for him to say.

He hasn’t played as well this season, obviously the injury had a lot to do with it, but he hasn’t seemed as bouncy and funny when he’s talking to the media. Away from the press, is he the same personality?

Yeah, he’s a good personality. He’s happy when he comes in every day. he puts his work in. I think he was humbled by the whole experience. I think the difference is, he hasn’t had a chance to play. You don’t get that rhythm. He was getting 15 and 7 last year in the playoffs. I’m very confident that if something happened to one of the guys ahead of him in the rotation and he was put in a position to play the minutes that he did last year he would produce every bit like he did last year, if not better.

You’ve had Kevin Garnett back for a few games. How has it worked out?

I think probably better than we expected after a guy was sitting out for a while, from being rusty and having his timing off. He’s been making shots, and making big shots for us down the stretch of games. You see the energy that he brings to our defense, and just the accountability and confidence he gives to our players when he’s on the court. It’s every bit as important as his production. He’s been huge, and health-wise he’s good. He looks great in practice. He’s still obviously not as bouncy as he was two years ago, but he’s better than he was last year and I think he’s better today then he was in training camp. (more…)

NBA suspends Arenas, Crittenton for season

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

NBA commissioner David Stern suspended Wizards guards Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton without pay for the remainder of the 2009-10 season, the league announced on Wednesday.

According to a statement issued by the NBA:

‘€œThe NBA has conducted a thorough investigation of events relating to this matter.

‘€œIt is not disputed that, following an argument on the team’€™s flight home from a game in Phoenix, both Mr. Arenas and Mr. Crittenton brought guns to the Verizon Center locker room and ‘€” with other players and team personnel present or nearby ‘€” displayed them to one another in a continuation of their dispute. The players engaged in this conduct despite a specific rule set forth in the collective bargaining agreement between the NBA and the Players Association prohibiting players from possessing a weapon at an NBA facility, and reminders of this prohibition given annually by the NBA to players both in writing and in person.

‘€œThe issue here is not about the legal ownership and possession of guns, either in one’€™s home or elsewhere. It is about possession of guns in the NBA workplace, which will not be tolerated.

‘€œI have met separately with Mr. Arenas and with Mr. Crittenton. Both have expressed remorse for their actions and an understanding of the seriousness of their transgressions. Both have volunteered to engage in community service in order to turn the lessons they have learned into an educational message for others. I accept fully the sincerity of their expressions of regret and intent to create something positive from this incident.

‘€œNevertheless, there is no justification for their conduct. Accordingly, I am today converting Mr. Arenas’ indefinite suspension without pay to a suspension without pay for the remainder of the 2009-10 season, and am also suspending Mr. Crittenton without pay, effective immediately, for the remainder of the 2009-10 season.’€

Arenas has not played since Jan. 10. The Celtics will face the Wizards on Monday in Washington, D.C.

Rivers on trade talk: Don’t think so

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

In his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan program, Celtics coach Doc Rivers downplayed the recent trade talk that has swirled around the Celtics.

“I don’€™t think so,” Rivers said when asked if the team was likely to make a move. “I really don’€™t. I’€™ve heard some silly talk over the last two or three days about trades that we’€™ve been discussing, which I wish I had I had known about. They were interesting. Obviously if we can improve our team we’€™re going to. But, I don’€™t think there’€™s a trade out there that we can pull off and I don’€™t mind if we don’€™t.” [Click here for a full transcript.]

A published report on CSNNE indicated the Golden State Warriors would consider offering a package of players for Ray Allen, with Monta Ellis prominently involved. The struggling Warriors acknowledged they needed to make changes, but coach Don Nelson laughed when asked about the rumor.

For his part, Allen told reporters after practice Tuesday that he wanted to remain with the Celtics beyond this season when his contract expires, and that he understands that he would probably have to take less money to make that happen.

The trade deadline is Feb. 18 and the Celtics have a number of expiring contracts, with Allen’s potentially the biggest bait. But the Celtics are eager to see what this team can do when everyone is healthy, which has not happened yet. Marquis Daniels is on track to rejoin the team around the All-Star break, which won’t give them much time to make a decision, if there even is one to be made.

UPDATE: Danny Ainge was a guest on the Big Show (click here for a full transcript) and he also shot down the rumors.

“There’€™s one little rumor, that’€™s made up by the way, that gets reported that actually ends up being a story every day for a couple of weeks,” Ainge said.

Ainge said he did talk to Allen about  the rumor and that Allen understands the nature of the business.

“Ray gets it,” Ainge said. “He knows there’€™s no such thing as players being untradeable. He knows he’€™s 34 years old and at the end of his contract. At the same time he knows that he is a very valuable piece to what we’€™re trying to do right now, which is win a championship and he’€™s one of our key components. So, he gets all of it and he understands the business. It’€™s unfortunate that someone says something and then players have to respond and coaches have to respond for weeks at a time sometimes with no validity to it.”

Ainge went on to say that he believes Allen has a lot of basketball left in him and that he feels the Celtics, as constituted, are good enough to contend for a championship.