WALTHAM — Shaquille O’Neal didn’t practice Sunday and his status for the week ahead is uncertain. He banged his fibula in a collision with Amar’e Stoudemire Friday late in the Celtics win over the Knicks and did not return. “I always have a freak injury,” O’Neal said Sunday. “We’ll be all right.”
O’Neal said that he hopes to practice Monday, but he may have to sit out for the next few days. The Celtics play at Detroit Tuesday and host the Bucks on Wednesday. The Celtics did get good news, however, when Jermaine O’Neal returned to practice.
“The O’Neal brothers are both banged up a little bit,” Doc Rivers said. “Jermaine actually practiced most of the practice. He went in and out, but he had a pretty good practice. Our fear, and it’s going to happen one day, [is] where we’re not going to have either one of the O’Neal brothers. That would be a concern for us. Right now, I think we’ll have Jermaine [Tuesday] and I don’t know about Shaq.”
If both can’t play, Rivers indicated that he would probably start Semih Erden, rather than Glen Davis because he prefers to have Davis come off the bench and backup the four and five spots in the rotation.
“He knows how to play,” Rivers said of Erden who has not seen any time yet this season. “He’s just trying to learn how to play our way. The language barrier is a problem, there’s no doubt about that. You just got to keep working on him. He’s going to be a good big in this league and he’s going to be a good big for a long time. What we don’t know is he a good enough big right now.”
As for Davis, who has averaged better than 14 points and five rebounds while playing almost as many minutes as the O’Neals have combined, Rivers explained his rationale: “When you start him, you really take away your options. Then if he gets into foul trouble you take away all his options. It would be either Semih or J.O. Like I’ve told you guys for two years, when Baby gets outside of his role is when he struggles. When he stays within himself he’s an excellent basketball player.” (more…)
WALTHAM — It’s been 48 hours since reports about the fight between Delonte West and Von Wafer first became public and the only person who had not been heard from on the incident was West. He spoke after the Celtics ran through practice Sunday and tried to downplay it.
“It’s not that serious,” he said. “We’ve moved past that. We’re competitive guys. I’m competitive, he’s competitive. As long as it’s for the betterment of the team, there’s nothing wrong with healthy competition and pushing each other to get better. Things went a little too far at the same time we’re ready to move past that. We’re professionals and we’re on to something different.”
West did say that the initial report that appeared on Hoops World was inaccurate. The story indicated that the Celtics were ready to cut West, but Danny Ainge denied that.
“I read the reports and a lot of things were taken out of context,” West said. “Facts were made up that were not true how things played out. Guys get into scuffles or whatever you want to call it. At the end of the day we’re like brothers in here. At the end of the day we’re trying to win. We’re competitive. We’ve got fiery guys in here. You got to move on and get to the next thing.”
West was not at TD Garden Friday night. Per NBA rules, suspended players have to be out of the building two hours before a game starts. West is three games into a 10-game suspension after pleading guilty to weapons charges stemming from a traffic stop last summer. He said the he’s been working out at the team’s practice facility during games and then watching them there.
“That’s a penalty you have to pay,” West said. “I’m not arguing with it. I’m still on a team and able to play basketball. It could be a lot worse. There’s no negatives here. I’m positive and I can’t wait to get out there and contribute.”
He also said that he appreciated the support of the Celtics organization. “To be on a team such as the Celtics and they have high hopes for me and asked me to contribute and help them win a championship, that’s a very high compliment, and I take it to heart,” West said. “I don’t want to let this team down.”
West said that his back, which kept him out of several preseason games, felt “100 percent.”
The best thing to happen to Doc Rivers Friday night was Rajon Rondo. Watching his All-Star point guard dissect the Knicks for a career-high 24 assists helped him forget about an ugly occurrence just hours earlier.
Before his team and Rondo beat the Knicks, 105-101, at TD Garden, he had to answer questions about an altercation between Delonte West and Von Wafer earlier in the day after a shootaround – an altercation that Rivers acknowledged by saying “There was a fight. I ‘m not real happy about it. We’ll deal with it.”
Wafer did play, albeit only three minutes off the bench, committing one foul and missing one shot from the floor.
The Celtics trailed by nine early as the Knicks came out shooting well but the Green recovered quickly and led 27-20 after the first. They didn’t trail again and led by as many as 12.
The Celtics are off until Tuesday when they play in Detroit.
THREE THINGS THAT WENT RIGHT
Rajon is Rondo-ing everyone right now: The point guard had a career 24 assists and is clearly the team leader. No one in an opposing uniform can seem to keep up with him in the half-court. About the only thing Rondo is doing wrong now is making passes that are so good, his teammates don’t always anticipate them, like Marquis Daniels midway through the fourth. Rondo’s 24 assists were the second-most in Celtics history, trailing only Bob Cousy’s 28. To put a cherry on the sundae, Rondo finished with a triple double, adding 10 points and 10 rebounds to his astronomical helper total.
Celtics dominated the paint: Thanks to the work of Rondo, the C’s went to the paint early and often and kept going there consistently throughout the game. They finished the game outscoring the Knicks, 54-38, in the paint. Glen Davis had 16 points off the bench, a huge contributor to the 54-point total.
Celtics found their shooting range:Paul Pierce shot 9-of-20 – including 4-of-6 from long distance – and finished with a team-high 25 points while Kevin Garnett made 12-of-17 from the floor and finished with 24. Shaquille O’Neal connected on 5-of-7, all from in close as the Celtics finished around the basket.
THREE THINGS THAT WENT WRONG
Still too many turnovers: Despite talking about the issue before the game, Doc Rivers had to sit on the bench and watch as his team committed another 18 turnovers. The Celtics have now committed 55 turnovers in their first three games. The turnovers were the biggest reason a team like the Knicks, who shot only 44 percent, were able to close to within two with 17.5 seconds remaining on an Amar’e Stoudemire three.
Celtics look their age coming out of the block: That has be a huge concern considering they are starting the season fresh. They are getting beat in two aspects of the game the Celtics of the last three seasons have dominated. They are getting beat on rotations, allowing the ball to find its way to the open shooter and too often they are getting beaten in transition. When Rajon Rondo is trailing on defense, you have a serious issue to address.
Big men are knicked up: With 5:11 left in the fourth, Shaquille O’Neal left for the locker room limping. Already without Jermaine O’Neal and Kendrick Perkins, the C’s can hardly afford to lose another big man or they run the risk of burning out Big Baby who looks as fresh as he has in his career. Shaq did not return to the game. He bruised his right knee when he banged into Stoudemire. He said after the game that he would be fine and not miss any time. Jermaine O’Neal meanwhile is day-to-day with swelling in his left knee, an ailment that cropped up after the loss in Cleveland.
[Click here to listen to Celtics coach Doc Rivers acknowledge the fight between Wafer and West.]
Before the Celtics game with the Knicks Friday, Von Wafer tried to downplay the incident that occurred between him and Delonte West earlier in the day.
“I don’t know what’s going on but you’ve got to talk to Doc [Rivers] and Danny [Ainge] about that,” Wafer said before the Celtics game with the Knicks. “What happened?” Pressed further, Wafer continued to deny that an altercation took place. “I don’t know nothing about it,” he said. “First time hearing about it.”
Both Ainge and now Rivers have confirmed that there was a fight between West and Wafer after practice Friday, the second incident between the two in the last week.
“There was a fight and that’s all you need to know,” Rivers said. “I’m going to leave it alone, but obviously I’m not real thrilled with it. We’ll handle it.” Rivers went on to say that it shouldn’t have been made public. “It should stay inside the locker room,” he said. “It didn’t and that’s OK, but we’re just going to leave it alone.”
Asked if it could have an affect on the Celtics, Rivers said, “It could. I doubt it. I hope not. You never know. I hope it does not.”
Wafer also denied posting anything to his Twitter account Friday afternoon. “I didn’t Tweet anything today,” Wafer said. “I didn’t Tweet one word today.” A post which was later deleted from Wafer’s account read: “Today was a test!…I am a professional and will continue to conduct myself as one…God has a plan for me.”
West was not in the Celtics locker room before the game. Other Celtics refused to answer questions about the incident.
“I was out of the locker room at the time,” Ray Allen said. “I just walked in and heard about it so I don’t really know anything about it. Everybody’s in here getting ready to play the game.”
“From my interpretation being here it was business as usual,” Allen continued. “We’re around each other too long. It’s 82 games and playoffs. I told you guys earlier in the year we argue to no end. A lot of times we have to agree to disagree. We are brothers. Kevin [Garnett] and I have known each other a long time. We argue with the best of them. We always have a difference of opinion. It is what it is. That’s just the nature of competition.”
After two sluggish games to start the season, Jermaine O’Neal – playing with torn cartilage in his left wrist – is getting the night off against the New York Knicks. Rookie Luke Harangody is active for the first time this season in three games.
O’Neal was just 1-for-5 in the first two games, scoring just three points. Harangody, drafted in the second round (52nd overall) last June out of Notre Dame, was named to the AirTran Airways All-Summer League first team after averaging 16.6 points and 6.8 rebounds in July.
The Celtics will stick with the same starting lineup of Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, Shaquille O’Neal, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett as they look to bounce back over .500 against New York.
Delonte West reportedly threw a punch at Von Wafer during practice this afternoon. (AP)
Following HoopsWorld’s report that Delonte West and Von Wafer exchanged blows during a practice before tonight’s 7:30 p.m. game against the New York Knicks at the TD Garden, we put together a simple timeline of an offseason that explains a little why the Celtics may be considering dumping West even before he fulfills the 10-game suspension levied upon him this summer …
July 15: On trial for six weapons charges from a 2009 traffic stop in Maryland,West pleaded guilty to carrying an eight-inch bowie knife and transporting a handgun on his motorcycle. He was sentenced to eight months of home detention, two months of probation and 40 hours of community service. As a result, NBA commissioner David Stern suspended West for the first 10 games of the 2010-11 season.
The Washington Post reported: “Three guns were found — a 9mm Beretta in West’s waistband, a Ruger .357 Magnum strapped to his leg, and a 12-gauge shotgun in a guitar case slung over his back, authorities said. West also had additional shotgun shells in a backpack, investigators said.”
July 26: In the wake of “The Decision,” the Cleveland Cavaliers traded West — along with Sebastian Telfair — for Ramon Sessions and Ryan Hollins.
August 3: In order to save $4.1 million in salary, the T-Wolves released West.
September 1: The Celtics signed West to a non-guaranteed deal for the veteran minimum.
September 27: Officially donning a Celtics uniform again on Media Day, West denied rumors that sufraced during the 2010 NBA Playoffs that he and LeBron James‘ mother, Gloria, had engaged in a relationship.
“Not at all,” he told reporters. “I come from an era where you don’t say nothing bad about someone’s parent, so not at all.”
October 11: In an open diary to the public on ESPN.com, West praised the camaraderie of this veteran Celtics team. He also commented on his past:
“People make mistakes but that’s what life is,” West wrote. “You’ve got to learn from them and keep going. This team is here to win. The unselfishness stands out. Everyone is just submerging themselves within the team. It’s all about team here. That’s the type of player I am anyway, I’m always about the team. I put the team before my individual goals my whole career. It’s good to be on a team like this.”
October 13: Ona preseason road trip, the Celtics sent West back to Boston from New York to undergo testing for the back spasms that had been ailing him throughout training camp.
October 22: Still healing from his lower back injury, West returned to practice in a limited fashion.
October 24: In a game of 2-on-2 (West and Semih Erden vs. Wafer and Luke Harangody), West and Wafer exchanged words after West drove hard to the basket and scored consecutive baskets against Wafer — with West telling Wafer to “do something about it.”
October 26:Shaquille O’Nealtold ESPN’s Brian Windhorst that he encouraged Celtics vice president Danny Ainge to sign West, because the two had respect for each other as teammates in Cleveland.
“I know he won’t get out of line,” O’Neal told Windhorst. “There’s five or six guys that he truly respects here. Last year I don’t think he respected anybody but me on that team. So I was able to talk to him.”
“He got out of control a lot of times and usually when people get out of control they shut their buttons off to somebody they respect,” O’Neal added. “I know he respected me because I can get out of control too. I had to yoke (sic) him up once or twice, tell him to let it go bro.”
October 26: In an interview with WEEI’s Big Show, Ainge admitted that the team considered the risks of re-signing West.
“I think everybody is aware that Delonte has had challenges off the court,” Ainge told The Big Show. We are trying to give him the support that he needs. The players that were with him before, our coach that was with him before and myself and ownership I think we were aware of that risk and I think we were comfortable with that risk.”
October 29: Following a physical game of 3-on-3 in practice, Wafer returned to the locker room as West taunted him with obscenities, according to HoopsWorld. West allegedly threw a punch at Wafer in the locker room, leading to a scuffle. Now, Ainge is reportedly considering terminating West’s deal.
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
Six years after the Boston Celtics terminated him for violating his alcohol treatment program, a near-broke Vin Baker has come to terms with how alcoholism and depression squandered a 13-year career — and an $87 million contract.
While promoting a book he’s written about his ordeal, Baker admitted in an appearance on Connecticut’s Stan Simpson Showthat he began to recognize the existence of a problem before the 2002 trade that sent him from the Seattle SuperSonics to the Celtics.
“Towards the end of my Seattle career, when I was traded to Boston, I knew something was going on that I had to change,” Baker told Simpson. “At the time, I really couldn’t change it, because it’s a disease. It affects 18 million Americans. At the time, I didn’t know what was going on. I had to fix it. It was a situation where the support system around me was tough.”
Irish coffee, indeed.
One season removed from an Eastern Conference Finals appearance in 2001-02, the Celtics had hoped Baker could return to some semblance of the player that made four straight All-Star Games from 1995-98 and won a gold medal at the 2000 Olympics.
In Boston, Baker sunk deeper into the diseases that had already derailed a promising career. In just 89 games over two seasons, he averaged only 7.7 points and 4.6 rebounds before being suspended from the team when coach Jim O’Brien smelled alcohol on his breath during a practice. Baker said he wanted to change, but couldn’t.
“I had to figure out a way to make it right,” Baker said in his appearance on the Connecticut FOX affiliate. “I couldn’t make it right. The Celtics – a great organization – they worked with me, but with my issues I didn’t take the time I needed to take to make it right.”
It’s a shame Baker’s career fell off so sharply and abruptly, considering that four-year stretch — averaging 19.7 points and 9.6 rebounds — before a 1998-99 NBA lockout that saw the New England native balloon to 300 pounds.
“When you’re doing certain things on the court, a lot of times people just trust your talents,” Baker added in the interview. “They don’t know what’s going on inside your heart and your mind, and it becomes very difficult to relay to people that, you know, I might be struggling with something. Entertainers, basketball players, NFL players – sometimes it gets to a point where they don’t understand who you are as a person. They just look at the money, the power, the fame.”
You can't really stop Brian Scalabrine (right); you can only hope to contain him. (AP)
SCALABRINE ON THIBODEAU
In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Brian Scalabrine revealed what made Tom Thibodeau such a valuable asset in Celtic practices over the last few seasons: The C’s assistant coach and defensive guru wasn’t afraid of anybody, including Kevin Garnett.
“He likes KG, and KG loves Thibodeau, but he stared right at Garnett and said, ‘We’re doing it this way, you have to do it better, do it harder, and do it more together or I’m going to have to make a change,’” Scalabrine told the Tribune. “If coach Thibodeau can do that to Kevin Garnett, he can do that to anybody.”
The question moving forward is — when this year’s Celtics suffer defensive lapses — can Lawrence Frank do the same to guys like KG and the O’Neal brothers? Time will tell.
By the way, if you’re wondering how Scalabrine is performing in Chicago, the answer is: Just fine, thank you very much. He’s shooting 100 percent from the field. Of course, he’s only taken one shot in 11 minutes.
Oh, and my new favorite Twitter personality to follow is @FakeScalabrine. Over the last few days, he’s given us gems like: “Shaq is picking up my slack with the missed layups,” and, “Watching Nate clank threes and just thinking, ‘Man, that could be me.’”
SI: GARNETT GOING STRONG
Speaking of Garnett, Sports Illustrated’s Kevin Mannixdetails just how much KG’s knee problems affected his play last year — and how far he’s come since.
One Eastern Conference scout told Mannix that he thought KG was “finished” last season after seeing Andray Blatche score 23 points on the 2007-08 Defensive Player of the Year.
“Offensively, he understood what he could or couldn’t do,” Doc Rivers told Mannix of last season. “He had become a pick-and-pop player. It frustrated him that he couldn’t post more. He couldn’t get his balance. Defensively, guys were driving by him, beating him off the dribble. He couldn’t get blocked shots.”
“Watching Kevin now is like night and day from last season,” Rivers added in the interview. “In camp last year, I thought he was physically healthy, but mentally he wasn’t sure. He was scared to do things.”
One of the driving forces behind KG’s return to the old KG was Pau Gasol’s 18.6 points, 11.6 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game in the 2010 NBA Finals.
“Gasol having that good series,” Rivers added, “really ticked Kevin off.”
RONDO’S NEW SHOE
Nike revealed a new shoe: Zoom Hyperfuse Rajon Rondo PE. What do you think?
(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)