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

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 ‘€œIt’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.


.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 [4], April 12, 2009
.550 — vs. Grizzlies [5], March 10, 2010

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

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.


39 — Paul Pierce [16] 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 [17], 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 [18] 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 [19] 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.