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Sean Grande: Not your Garden variety night for Celtics in New York

04.18.12 at 10:59 am ET
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Carmelo Anthony posted a triple-double against the Celtics on Tuesday night. (AP)

Editor’s note: This is a guest piece by Celtics radio play-by-play announcer Sean Grande. He wrote the story just before 3 a.m., after the Celtics’ 118-110 loss Tuesday night to the Knicks in New York.

You know what’s a bad idea?

Starting a blog at 3 a.m. But hey, doubling down on Carmelo Anthony and giving J.R. Smith and Steve Novak open looks at 3′s also is a bad idea.

So bad, in fact, it made history.

And that’s really what I’m doing here at 3 a.m., and what you’re doing there, likely early in the morning, maybe putting off the work that you left sitting in your cubicle when you went home last night. Because, hey, if it could wait overnight, it can wait another few minutes.

Besides, it’s going to be a long, long time before we see another one like that.

At 6 p.m., as the Celtics were preparing to leave their hotel in midtown Manhattan, an SUV pulled up in front of our bus. A few seconds later, from the back, emerged one William Martin Joel.

In New York, and the rest of the world, but really in New York, everyone calls him Billy.

He once said, in a song he considered a real next-level breakthrough for him, that it’s either sadness … or euphoria.

And it’s a shame that “It’s fantastic!” was just so darn catchy, because the NBA could have easily adopted that as its slogan instead.

It’s been a remarkable second half for the Celtics. Their 21-9 record is one of the NBA’s best, Wednesday night on their home floor they can clinch their fifth straight division title, the defense has been the league’s standard and they’ve put together a string of outstanding nights and quality wins that with the playoffs approaching have made people think about what’s still possible.

This … was not one of them.

Big picture, the 118-110 loss to the Knicks Tuesday night may end up just a footnote on a division championship season with the truly memorable moments still ahead in the playoffs.

But these were some remarkable footnotes.

One impress-your-friends-with-a-dazzling-display-of-geek-trivia fact after another.  Here they are.

  • It had been over five years since anyone made seven 3′s in a game against the Celtics.  Tuesday, Smith and Novak both did it. Another way: 427 games, no one did it. Tuesday, two guys did. The last to do it, by the way, was a guy named Kobe Bryant, with at least some of the Garden crowd chanting MVP for him, on Jan. 31, 2007 (Game 13 of the 18-game losing streak).
  • No great surprise, but the 19 3-pointers by New York were the most ever against the Celtics. There had been before Tuesday night 1,823 Boston Celtics games since the 3-point shot was adopted in 1979. In none of them had either the Celtics or their 1,823 opponents made 19 treys. None of them.
  • The Celtics shot 55 percent from the floor, their third-best shooting night of the 62-game season, and lost by eight.
  • Anthony’s was the fourth 35-point game against the Celtics this year. He has two of them: the season-high 37 on Christmas Day in the opener and 35 on Tuesday. LeBron James and Marcus Thornton — yes, Marcus Thornton — have the other two.
  • That happens when you let a team shoot 57 percent from the floor and of course an obscene 19-for-32 from 3-point range. It was just the third time in the 390-game New Big Three era that a team had shot that well against the Celtics, and the first in the C’s 196 road games.

C’S OPPONENTS’ HIGHEST FIELD GOAL PERCENTAGE – NEW BIG 3 ERA

.580 — vs. Raptors, Jan. 23, 2008
.574 — vs. Mavericks, Jan. 18, 2010
.568 — at Knicks, April 17, 2012
.560 — at Heat, Dec. 27, 2011
.559 — vs. Suns, March 26, 2008 (W)
.557 — vs. Raptors, Nov. 27, 2009 (W)
.557 — at 76ers, Dec. 5, 2007 (W)
.557 — at Pistons, Dec. 29, 2010
.551 — at Cavaliers, April 12, 2009
.550 — vs. Grizzlies, March 10, 2010

  • Looking for streaks getting snapped? We’ve got plenty, take your pick. By getting outshot (and barely, as it turned out), the Celtics’ streak of 18 straight games outshooting their opponent came to an end.  It was the longest streak in the NBA this year and the longest for the Celtics since January of 1991. Their starting center that night? Robert Parish. Chief played 32 minutes that night; he’d play six more years and finish his career in the NBA’s top 10 all-time in minutes played. A spot he would own …
  • … until Tuesday night. In the first quarter, Kevin Garnett, whose staggering statistical accomplishments are just now hitting home over the last few months, reached 45,705 minutes played in his NBA career, bumping Chief from the top 10. Ahead of Moses Malone. Ahead of Hakeem Olajuwon. Ahead of Shaquille O’Neal, Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, Patrick Ewing and so on.
  • Another streak that ended? The Celtics had won 13 straight games when scoring 100 points. The Celtics are now 13-4 when scoring 100 points this year … but 0-2 at Madison Square Garden. Speaking of which …
  • … it’s the first time in 12 years the Celtics have failed to win a game at Madison Square Garden. 1999-2000, the last time the Knicks were defending Eastern Conference champions, was the last time that Boston went winless at MSG. Including the playoff series last April, Boston had been 18-4 in its last 22 games in New York. Go on, read that again, that’s 18 wins … and four losses … on the road. And that includes nights when the Celtics’s Big Three was like Pierce, Mark Blount and Ricky Davis.

But here is the one we’ve been waiting for.

  • On Feb. 15, 2006, Pierce scored 50 points in an overtime loss to LeBron and the Cavs. That year, it seemed like he was a threat to score 40 every night. He had done it three times already that year. But he wouldn’t do it again. In fact, no Celtic would do it again for a very, very long time. Saturday night in Newark, N.J., the Celtics played their 500th consecutive game without a 40-point scorer. Sunday in Charlotte was their 501st. They entered the game Tuesday at Madison Square Garden just seven games shy of the NBA record. They would not reach it. After 501 games, and 74 months, the streak ended with Pierce’s 43. (Now, please, for the less-than-1 percent of you who do this every time and for the love of all things Twitter, please, please stop tweeting us about Pierce’s 41 in Game 7 against the Cavs in ’08 and Ray Allen‘s 51 the next year in Chicago, both in the playoffs. The record, as we’ve said a million times, is a regular-season record. I mean, I love you guys dearly, you know that, but I have to tell you, I was there, courtside, they happened right in front of me. “Eddie House stole the ball and it is over at the Garden, Game 7 is history … in every way there is.” “Jesus Shuttlesworth! Is Ray Allen on fire tonight?” Yeah, that was me. Just saying. I realize I’m getting old and rapidly losing my mind, but I do remember them.)

The streak was remarkable. For a variety of reasons, but the short version is this: The night Pierce scored 50? The Celtics lost that game. They split the aforementioned playoff games and they lost Tuesday night. It’s not a coincidence that this streak took off during the most dominant Celtics era in a quarter-century. It’s an ubuntu stat if there ever was one. Here was the final tally of near-misses in the 501-game streak: 24 times a Celtic reached 35 points, but none got to 40, until Pierce Tuesday night in New York.

CELTICS’ TOP-SCORING GAMES SINCE LAST 40-POINT GAME

39 — Paul Pierce at Lakers, Feb. 26, 2006
39 — Paul Pierce at Knicks, Nov. 18, 2006
39 — Paul Pierce vs. Raptors, Jan. 12, 2009
38 — Paul Pierce vs. Heat, March 1, 2006
38 — Paul Pierce vs. Nuggets, Dec. 15, 2006
37 — Paul Pierce at Trail Blazers, Feb. 23, 2006
37 — Paul Pierce at SuperSonics, Dec. 27, 2007
37 — Paul Pierce at Bulls, March 17, 2009
36 — Paul Pierce vs. Nuggets, March 12, 2006
36 — Paul Pierce vs. Suns, Dec. 8, 2006
36 — Paul Pierce vs. Raptors, Nov. 10, 2008
36 — Ray Allen at Raptors, Jan. 11, 2009
36 — Paul Pierce vs. Timberwolves, Feb. 1, 2009
36 — Paul Pierce vs. Heat, March 18, 2009
36 — Paul Pierce at Bobcats, March 26, 2012
35 — Paul Pierce vs. Hornets, Nov. 8, 2006
35 — Wally Szczerbiak vs. Hornets, Nov. 8, 2006
35 — Paul Pierce at Hornets, Dec. 16, 2006
35 — Ray Allen vs. Trail Blazers, Jan. 16, 2008
35 — Paul Pierce vs. Spurs, Feb. 10, 2008
35 — Ray Allen at Pacers, Dec. 7, 2008
35 — Paul Pierce at Hawks, Jan. 28, 2010
35 — Ray Allen at Heat, Nov. 11, 2010
35 — Rajon Rondo vs. Pistons, Feb. 15, 2012

So there you have it. In the big picture.

But the biggest victim of all? The recap of our Saturday night second-half visit from WWE legend and New York Times best-selling author Mick Foley, which would have occupied this space were it not for all the history on Tuesday.

Damn you, Steve Novak. No wonder you wear that fake title belt around your waist. (By the way, at less than $1 million in salary, I’d suggest that Novak as the NBA’s leading 3-point shooter, is the true discount double-check.)

One crazy night in New York. But 24 hours later, the Celtics get another chance to wrap up the Atlantic Division and take a big step toward homecourt advantage in the first round. In other words, the Celtics go right back to work.

Feel free to do the same.

Read More: Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Sean Grande Print  |  Email  |  Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
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