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Irish Coffee: The Celtics & Knicks aftermath

12.16.10 at 11:28 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

 

Amid all the glory that was Wednesday night’s 118-116 Celtics last-second win over the Knicks was Nate Robinson‘s faceplant into the floor of Madison Square Garden as he attempted to climb atop the game’s hero — Paul Pierce.

It was the funniest of all the videos Robinson has produced this season, and only because he lived to talk about it (thank God his high-top fade broke his fall).

As Robinson tweeted after the game, Pierce “damn near killed me today, but we won, so hey.” Maybe Robinson could somehow work the faceplant into the dunk contest, since he’s the heavy favorite now that Dwight Howard retired from it.

Paul Pierce takes a bow after he ripped the heart out of Knicks fans. (AP)

THE NEW YORK MEDIA THINKS THE KNICKS WON

I watched Wednesday night’s Celtics game with a diehard Knicks fan friend of mine at The Four’s in Boston. The Celtics fans who braved the cold — including the bartender — kept telling him the same thing: “I had no idea the Knicks were this good; I had no idea Amar’e Stoudemire was this good.”

“They are this good,” he responded. “They’ve won eight in a row and 13-of-14. And they’re just getting warmed up.”

There was no “I’m just glad to be competitive!” discussion from his perspective. In his eyes, they should be competitive. They’re the New York freakin’ Knicks.

It’s funny. When I asked him if he thought the Knicks would land Carmelo Anthony this season, he said, “Probably. Once the New York media gets hold of a story, they pretty much beat it to death until happens.”

And that’s exactly what New York publications did Wednesday night with this whole “Isn’t it wonderful to have a game matter again!” mantra.

Last time I checked, New York fans weren’t satisfied with losses and without titles, but you wouldn’t have known that from reading the New York papers after Stoudemire’s failed buzzer-beating attempt in a 118-116 Knicks loss.

First, it was the New York Post:

And here’s the thing: Even after Bill Kennedy, Courtney Kirkland and Leroy Richardson conferred at the replay table, even after Doc Rivers kept waving the shot off with a wry grin on his face, even after the Celtics wound up receiving the favorable verdict and executed their own interpretive victory dances … even after all that, it still felt good.

It hurt so good.

And think about it: When was the last time you twisted and tossed and turned after a Knicks game, the way you surely did last night? This is what it means to be relevant. This is what it means to matter again.

And then it was New York Magazine:

The Knicks lost 118-16 to the Celtics last night, but no one will ever consider the game a loss. Paul Pierce’s jumper with 0.4 seconds left – a vintage Paul Pierce jumper, the shot he was put on earth to make – seemed like the perfect capper to a wild night in which the teams traded buckets in the fourth quarter to a rather extreme extent. …

That negated Stoudemire shot, though, that makes the night a classic. That’s the underlining of the evening, the Coming Attractions, the perfect way to end a night when the Knicks showed everybody that this is going to keep being so, so fun.

Asked to sum up his thoughts on Stoudemire’s buzzer-beating attempt, my Knicks fan friend said, simply, “It would have been nice if it happened a second earlier.” And trust me: He took no satisfaction from the loss.

RAJON RONDO’S ANKLE GETS RONDO’D

Also lost in the shuffle of the postgame discussion was this: Rajon Rondo left Madison Saquare Garden on crutches, according to Greg Dickerson.

Let’s face it, Rondo’s stat line against the Knicks looked pretty good: 14 assists and 10 points. But to anybody who watched him play, it was fairly evident he wasn’t at full speed — even before he rolled his ankle.

Sure, Rondo got his assists, but he wasn’t driving into the lane.  His assists came mainly from dump-downs on the perimeter. And when he finally did get under the basket, he passed up wide-open looks.

It wasn’t the same Rondo who piled up 24 assists in the Celtics’ last meeting with the Knicks, and it wasn’t the same Rondo who emerged as a legitimate MVP candidate through the first 15 games of the season.

Rondo addressed the ankle he sprained during the game with Chris Forsberg:

“It hurts, but all ankle sprains hurt,” said Rondo, who has also battled a sore left hamstring, which recently sidelined him for five games, and plantar fasciitis. “I expect to play. I think I’m going to do [X-rays Thursday] morning and see how I feel. Get through the night and hope it doesn’t swell up.”

But he didn’t address the issues that were clearly slowing him down before the ankle sprain: First, the plantar fasciitis, then the pulled hamstring, and then a possible knee injury that Celtics color commentator Donny Marshall alluded to last week. Add that all up, and Rondo’s walking on crutches.

As Kevin Garnett said in Forsberg’s piece:

“I worry about him a lot,” said Kevin Garnett, who went over to Rondo as he was being helped off. “He’s a very tough individual and for him to need help — to have to be helped off with [trainer] Ed [Lacerte] — there was concern for me, so I just wanted to make sure he was all right.

“You have to have that something special — that oomph — that makes you what you want to be in this league. We’re going to fight to the end — [Rondo's] foot hurt, his leg hurt, and he’s dealing with multiple injuries — but the kid comes out here and gives everything he has every night. That’s what it is.”

Rondo is the type of guy who will play through the pain, for sure, but the Celtics have to walk this tightrope carefully. The trainers have told Shaquille O’Neal to wait until he’s fully healthy in order to return, and maybe they should do the same with Rondo — at least until he’s 90 percent.

After all, Rondo is the straw that stirs this championship-contending drink, and the C’s aren’t going to be drinking champagne at season’s end without that straw.

I, for one, would be shocked to see Rondo in the lineup against the Hawks on Thursday night, no matter how healthy he claims to be.

WHATEVER HAPPEND TO … ORIEN GREENE

Remember Orien Greene in green? Danny Ainge picked him 23rd in the second round of the 2005 NBA draft, and he played two-plus seasons in Boston before he was dismissed from the team following a late-night joy ride.

Now? Greene’s averaging a ridiculous 23 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals — while shooting 52 percent from the field and 48 percent from 3-point range — for the Utah Flash of the NBA Development League.

So, why isn’t he on an NBA roster? TrueHoop’s Henry Abbott answers that question in a fantastic feature that doesn’t always paint Greene in the best light. A few highlights:

  • On what he’s missed out on in Boston: “Oh man, my friends tell me that all the time. Every time the Celtics are on TV.”
  • On what he’d have done differently: “The drug test. That night in Boston. Everything. … If not for those, maybe I wouldn’t be at this point right now. That’s the thing: I wish that I would have been a little bit more professional when I was in the league.”
  • On failing a drug test while playing in Amsterdam: “It ain’t Jerusalem. You have to go check out Amsterdam for yourself. Can’t really do nothing about that.”
  • On totaling his Lexus with his pregnant girlfriend inside: “It was a real nice car. It was white. I really miss that car.”
  • On why he’s not in the NBA: “Teams don’t want to mess with me because of off-the-court stuff. Not on the court. I just need get my life together, man. Do all the right things. Stay out the street, stay out of all the bulls—, excuse my French, but there ain’t no way I ain’t supposed to be in the league right now. I’m making such-and-such dollars. It ain’t about that, but ain’t no way I shouldn’t be playing with the best guys in this game. I feel like I belong.”
  • His daughter’s name: Heiress
  • On how fatherhood has changed him: “I haven’t messed with no marijuana in two years.”

(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)

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