Fast Break: Shavlik Randolph, Celtics shoot down Hawks
|03.29.13 at 9:59 pm ET|
In his first game back on the Celtics bench since his knee surgery, Rajon Rondo witnessed everything his new-look team had to offer. Shavlik Randolph (9 points, 13 rebounds) turned in the finest performance of his NBA career and Jeff Green (27 points) submitted another critic-silencing effort in a 118-107 victory against the Hawks that gave the C’s a 2.5-game lead on the seventh seed over the idle Bucks.
Kevin Garnett may have missed his fourth straight game with a foot injury, but fellow over-35 club members Paul Pierce (20 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) and Jason Terry (24 points) shined. Here’s what else went right.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Shav: In eight first-half minutes, Shavlik Randolph made both his shots and grabbed five boards. The C’s trailed by four when he entered early in the second quarter and led by 11 when he left. Given his team’s depth and Chris Wilcox‘s struggles, Celtics coach Doc Rivers has been turning to Randolph earlier, and the 6-foot-10 big man has delivered in limited action. His biggest contribution has been rebounding (10.4 per 36 minutes), but he also appears to grasp the defensive rotations, which doesn’t hurt in Doc’s book.
Terry and Terrence: Sounds like a bad Disney Channel program, right? Actually, the duo put on a good show. A second quarter, Terry (7-10 FG) made back-to-back 3-pointers to tie the game, and Terrence Williams sandwiched a pair of emphatic dunks around a Pierce layup to give the C’s a lead. That kickstarted a 22-6 run that pushed the edge to double digits. Terry scored 14 points on 4-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc in the frame.
Green and Pierce: The two Celtics wings have each raised their game for a Celtics squad in desperate need of leaders without Garnett on the floor. Green, obviously, has been the bigger surprise, eclipsing 20 points for the fourth time this month and fourth time in eight starts. Meanwhile, despite hobbling his way through a portion of the game, Pierce continued to do Truth things, submitting his third triple-double of the season. In all, they combined for 47 points, 14 assists and 14 rebounds.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Wilcox: On the one-year anniversary of Chris Wilcox‘s heart surgery, Rivers had little sympathy for his current struggling starting center in his pregame interview. “I told him, ‘Now, no more excuses,’” the coach said. “I don’t think I gave him the love he was expecting.” Rivers didn’t show the love on the court, either. As Randolph continued to excel, Rivers didn’t play Wilcox a wink in the second quarter and gave him the early hook in the third quarter, when Wilcox committed a pair of fouls (one offensive) and a turnover in the first 2:50 of the third quarter.
Defense: As good as the Celtics’ offense was in the first half, their defense was nearly as bad. While the C’s scored a season-high 66 points in the first two quarters, the Hawks totaled 56 points on 48 percent shooting. Josh Smith (18-6-4), in particular, torched Brandon Bass & Co. to the tune of 16 first-half points (and for some reason was benched in the fourth quarter). Meanwhile, the quickness of Jeff Teague (17 points, 7 assists) continued to give Avery Bradley & Co. fits in the early going.
Fourth-quarter failure: After Green gave the Celtics a 14-point lead 27 seconds into the fourth quarter, Maine Red Claws product Shelvin Mack helped the Hawks slice the lead to 100-94 midway through the frame with a 12-4 run. Mack had five points and two assists in that span. However, Terry quickly pushed the C’s advantage back to double digits, draining a jumper, assisting to Bass from mid-range and sinking his fifth 3-pointer.