Archive for February, 2012

Kevin Garnett on Rajon Rondo: ‘He had a bit of rough day’ (before his triple-double)

Sunday, February 12th, 2012


The crowd inside the Celtics locker room waited and waited and then waited some more. But Rajon Rondo never came out and talked about his second triple-double of the season Sunday.

And the Celtics needed every bit of his 32 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds to hold on for dear life in a 95-91 win over the Bulls, providing Boston with arguably its biggest win of the season.

After approximately an hour wait in the dressing room, Kevin Garnett finally came out and gave a clue as to why Rondo was radio silent.

“He had a bit of a rough day but he played through it,” Garnett said. “He was professional. I thought he… played with that edge.”

Asked to clarify what the rough day meant afterward, Garnett would only smile and joke, spinning the following answer: “I’d love to have that kind of rough day.”

Garnett also spoke at length about a tough film session coach Doc Rivers gave to the team before the game, less than 48 hours after Rondo put up a very mediocre performance in an 86-74 loss in Toronto Friday night.

Rondo was 2-of-10 from the field, finishing with five points, seven assists and five rebounds and five turnovers in 41 minutes.

Sunday, he posted his ninth career triple-double. Quite the turnaround.

Was Rondo extra motivated?

“Oh, I don’t know. I’m going to let you guys be that deep,” Rivers said. “I wish I could get in someone’s head that deep. I just think he wanted to win. And I thought we played at a better pace today. You could see it: we were trying to run today. And that’s how we have to play. [If] we didn’t turn the ball over we would’ve had far more points. But I just liked our pace and that’s all we talked about after the game in Toronto and today in our morning walk-through – was enough of the walking. And it was not Rondo, it’s the team. The bigs have to run the floor. [Paul Pierce] and [Ray Allen] have to run the floor.”

Then came another clue as to what might have transpired to contribute to Rondo’s “rough day.”

“It does a lot of things,” Rivers said of Rondo running the fast break. “We get early posts from our bigs, we get jump shots from the break, and we get Rondo in the open court. And when you walk, it’s easy to guard.”

Hmmm. The Celtics finished the game with a 33-7 advantage in fast break points, converting all 13 chances.

Fast Break: Rajon Rondo, Celtics outrun the Bulls

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

BOSTON — Receiving little help from Paul Pierce and Ray Allen through the first three quarters, Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo put the team on his back, taking advantage of reigning MVP Derrick Rose‘s absence and recording a triple-double in leading the C’s to victory against the visiting Bulls, 95-91.

Rondo finished with a season highs of 32 points (11-22 FG, 10-13 FT) and 15 assists to go along with his 10 rebounds. His 4-for-4 free throw shooting down the stretch helped the Celtics snap a two-game losing streak and improved to 15-12.

While Pierce and Allen combined for just 10 points (3-11 FG) and one rebound through the third quarter, they totaled 10 points in the fourth quarter as the C’s built a double-digit lead that nearly disappeared. Fourth amigo Kevin Garnett (13 points, 12 rebounds) contributed a double-double to provide a Robin to Rondo’s Batman.

Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah combined for 38 points and 16 rebounds for the Bulls (23-7) with Rose sidelined by back spasms.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Rondo goes: With Rose nursing his back spasms, Rondo had free reign against Bulls backup point guards C.J. Watson and John Lucas. In the first 10 minutes, Rondo amassed 11 points, two assists and two rebounds as the Celtics PA announcer seemingly called his name every time down the floor. His first-quarter effort staked the C’s to a 28-23 lead. The Celtics entered the game with a 10-2 record when leading after the opening 12 minutes.

Automatic transition: Likewise, without Rose running the floor, Rondo & Co. roamed free on the fast break. The Celtics entered the game averaging just 10.3 fast break points per game (ranked 25th in the NBA). They outscored the Bulls by a 33-7 margin — with Rondo’s layups and alley-oop assists leading the way.

Willing Wilcox: With Jermaine O’Neal and Brandon Bass both sidelined by knee injuries, Chris Wilcox got his first start in a Celtics uniform. He rose to the occasion, totaling 11 points (5-6 FG) and nine rebounds.

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Celtics-Bulls Live Blog

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

Fast Break: Celtics get crushed by Raptors

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Oddly enough, the Celtics have not been that bad in back-to-backs this season. Coming into Friday’s game against the Raptors, they had won four of six on the second night and each of the last three.

However, all four of those wins had been at the Garden and their two losses — at New Orleans and Indiana — ranked as two of the worst losses of the season. You can add Friday night’s 86-74 loss in Toronto to the list as the Celtics looked not only old and tired, but disorganized and ineffective.

They scored 14 points in the first quarter and 17 in the third, placing the blame squarely on the shoulders of the starting five.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Rajon Rondo put together perhaps his most ineffective nine minutes as a Celtic, taking two shots, missing both and turning the ball over four times with no assists. He wasn’t much better in the second quarter, either. Or the third, or the fourth. In what was Rondo’s worst game of the season, he scored five points on 2-for-10 shooting, while allowing Jose Calderon to score 17 points and hand out 13 assists.

– It wasn’t just Rondo. Ray Allen and Paul Pierce combined to shoot 7-for-19. Rondo, Allen and Pierce were outscored by Calderon, DeMar DeRozan and James Johnson by a combined score of 52-23.

Jermaine O’Neal joined Keyon Dooling and Sasha Pavlovic on the injured list. O’Neal has somewhat remarkably missed only five games this season and has already played 49 more regular season minutes than he did all of last season. Somehow, someway the Celtics have to get through the rest of the season with O’Neal playing 75 percent of the games.

– The Celtics switched to a zone to get more shooting on the floor, but they didn’t play it well. The Raptors made just 1-of-11 3-pointers through the first three quarters, but buried 4-of-8 in the fourth.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Avery Bradley, on the other hand, did what Avery Bradley does. He caused havoc on the defensive end, brought the ball up the court without incident on the offensive end and then got out of the way. Unfortunately, Bradley could only give them seven minutes because of an injured shoulder.

Kevin Garnett scored 17 points and had eight rebounds, but it wasn’t nearly enough.

Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum ‘can be a dominating couple’

Friday, February 10th, 2012

BOSTON — He might look like a llama, but he sure doesn’t play like one.

Lakers forward Pau Gasol recorded 25 points and 14 rebounds against the Celtics on Thursday night, but his biggest play of the 88-87 Los Angeles victory came when he blocked Ray Allen‘s put-back attempt off a Paul Pierce miss as the overtime buzzer sounded.

“Probably, for sure,” Gasol said when asked if he thought Allen’s attempt would have sunk the Lakers had he not blocked the shot. “I think he had momentum, he was going to the rim, he’s obviously got amazing touch and I continued to play. I made a big play down the stretch, which could have cost the game.”

The Lakers wouldn’t have been in position to win the game had it not been for Gasol and center Andrew Bynum‘s combined 41 points and 31 rebounds — 20 of which came on the offensive end.

“We try to play hard and dominate every game and be a dominating couple every game,” added Gasol. “I think with our size and our level of skills, we can be. Sometimes we get to do it. Sometimes it doesn’t work both ways, but I think tonight obviously we got a great effort from Andrew. … I was able to be effective, too.”

By sending a second defender Kobe Bryant‘s way each time he touched the ball, the scheme designed by Celtics head coach Doc Rivers & Co. dared Gasol and Bynum to beat them.

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Irish Coffee: Kobe Bryant on his admiration of Austin Rivers, love of Rob Gronkowsi and ignorance of Jeremy Lin

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Despite his team emerging victors by an ugly 88-87 margin in an overtime game, Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant sounded more impressed by the Celtics than his own squad when asked if the two once great and now aging championship clubs mirrored one another.

“I don’t know,” said Bryant, who finished with 25 points on 24 shots. “They’ve got three Hall of Famers and a fourth one coming. That don’t look too familiar to me over here.”

Not only did Bryant sound off about his own teammates, but he pulled no punches on the topics of Rob Gronkowski, Austin Rivers and Jeremy Lin (particularly priceless stuff), among other subjects thrown his way. The following are highlights from the Black Mamba’s postgame interview.

Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant called Ray Allen and the Celtics "old school." (AP)

ON THE CELTICS

“We know each other so well. The unit we had on the floor, and their unit — we’ve played against each other so many darn times. We know what’s coming before it happens.”

[Asked again about the rivalry:] “It’s always a brawl in every fight. It’s ugly. It’s physical. I’ve enjoyed competing against them. I like all of them personally. On the court, that personal stuff goes out the window. It’s been fun.”

[And again:] “It’s a throwback in the sense that we’re old school. Ray [Allen] is old school. Paul [Pierce] is old school. Kevin [Garnett] is old school. And so is Rajon [Rondo]. How we prepare for the game, how much the game means to us, you can see the emotion that they pour into it, how much they put into the game, you don’t really see that too much from the young guys nowadays.”

[And again:] “It’s been great. It’s been a dream come true growing up and watching it. Here I am part of it. It’s great. The only difference between us and the ‘80s is that guys over there in the other locker room I actually know and like. That’s the big difference between this time around and the ‘80s.”

[And again:] “They’ve been playing extremely well. They’ve won nine out of their last 10 games coming into tonight, so they’re figuring things out obviously. Us, we’re still searching. It’s a whole new system. We’re trying to figure things out still. You kind of see it on the court. You kind of see things that are kind of botched plays every now and then, miscommunication now and then, because we’re kind of practicing things on the fly. But all in all, we’ll be Ok. Both of us will.”

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Doc Rivers is prepared for all the ‘Jurassic Park’ jokes

Friday, February 10th, 2012


Usually, even after a gut-punching loss like Thursday night to the Lakers, Doc Rivers can put a positive spin on things.

Such was definitely not the case after his team looked old and slow to loose balls and rebounds in an 88-87 overtime loss at the Garden.

Part of the problem was in the stat sheet where both teams shot 39 percent in a game that had just 11 combined points in the five-minute overtime.

“Listen, both teams shot 39 percent,” Rivers said. “Someone had to win. That’s how it looked. Game looked in slow motion at times. So, I’m sure all the jokes [are out there about] two old teams and Jurassic Park.”

Another issue was the Celtics’ inability to deal with the Lakers’ size in the front court, as the visitors outrebounded the Green, 55-45.

One bright spot, however, was the defense of Mickael Pietrus on Kobe Bryant for most of the night. Bryant finished with a game-high 27 points but was 11-of-24 from the field and didn’t get a shot off until 2:54 left in the first quarter.

“They’re tough,” Rivers said. “They’re really long. They’re good. I thought we did a pretty good job on Kobe, overall. We mixed up our coverages. I thought every time we did trap, they got an offensive rebound because we’re scrambling as far as our rotations. I thought Pietrus did a phenomenal job on him.”

But oh, those rebounds, loose balls and intangibles when you play a team like the Lakers, even if they’re getting old, too. The Celtics were beaten in the paint, 46-38, and on second-chance points, 24-13.

“We talked about it before the game: longer teams, you’ve got to go hit them,” Rivers said. “You’ve got to put a body on them. If you think you can just turn and rebound when a guy’s five inches taller than you, it’s not going to happen. I bet they got four or five rebounds where we were actually in the inside position; they just reached over us. But you know, if you drive them back, they can’t get those. Then it’s over your back.”