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Fast Break: Rajon Rondo’s triple-double cools Heat 02.13.11 at 3:46 pm ET
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The first half felt like a preseason exhibition, and the second half played like a postseason battle. In the end, the Celtics defeated the Heat, 85-82, recapturing first place in the Eastern Conference by a half-game on Sunday afternoon in the TD Garden.

With 12.5 seconds to go and Lebron James on the line with a chance to tie the game with a pair of free throws, the Heat forward made just 1-of-2. Moments later, Glen Davis nailed a pair on the other end, and Mike Miller missed a game-tying 3-point attempt at the buzzer, as the Heat (39-15) lost to the Celtics (39-14) for the third time in three tries this year.

Rajon Rondo‘s third triple-double of the season (11 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists steered the Celtics, despite Paul Pierce‘s worst offensive performance (1 point) since March 9 of his rooke season. The C’s survived 62 combined points from the Heat’s Big Three of Chris Bosh (24), Lebron James (22) and Dwyane Wade (16).

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Heat get chippy: When things got sloppy midway through the third quarter, it ignited the Celtics — and their crowd. First, Zydrunas Ilgauskas knocked Rondo to the ground on a legal screen, and then Kevin Garnett returned the favor on Miller. That’s when Wade decided to shove Garnett.

As the referees discussed the severity of Wade’s foul (a flagrant-1), Rondo listened in on the Heat’s non-timeout huddle. That’s when James decided to shove Rondo — twice. Those events came during a stretch in which the Celtics expanded a two-point lead to a 13-point advantage.

Don’t get Rajon Rondo angry: Rondo was playing well before Ilgauskas decked him. Afterwards? He was on a mission. The Celtics point guard produced his first triple-double since totaling 22 assists, 12 points and 10 rebounds against the Spurs on Jan. 5. Not to mention the fact he had just one turnover. As a result, Garnett, Davis, Ray Allen, Kendrick Perkins and Von Wafer all reached double figures as well.

Bench boost: Despite leaping 9.5 feet instead of 10 while missing a fast-break dunk attempt, and then belly-bumping Chris Bosh on the rebound, Glen Davis performed admirably off the bench. He totaled 16 points and four rebounds in 30 minutes. Over the previous eight days, in the Celtics’ three losses, he shot 5-of-18 and averaged six points. That was a far cry from the guy who cemented himself as a Sixth Man of the Year candidate earlier this season.

And despite looking lost at times, Von Wafer made two big second-half 3′s to total 10 points.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Paul Pierce feeling the Heat:: After missing practice with an illness earlier in the week, Pierce still appeared sluggish on Sunday against the Heat. He missed all 10 of his shots — including five 3-pointers. Meanwhile, his defensive assignment, James, made 10-of-21 buckets and outscored him 22-1 for the game.

Easy like Sunday morning: Even the crowd didn’t seem entirely into the game in the first quarter. The Celtics took three more shots than the Heat in the opening 12 minutes, yet they trailed 20-15. That’s because the C’s shot just 6-of-20 (30 percent) while defensively allowing the Heat to connect on 9-of-17 field goals (52.9 percent) in that same span.

Riding the starters: Considering the Celtics’ depth was as shallow as a kiddie pool, and they still defeated the next-best team in the East, the C’s couldn’t have asked for much more. It’s a stretch in the “what went wrong” department, but Doc Rivers was forced to play Rondo and Allen 40-plus minutes, Perkins 30-plus minutes for the fifth straight game and a (less than 100 percent) Pierce 35-plus minutes. Since the C’s play just once (Wednesday) in the next nine days, that shouldn’t cause much concern.

Read More: Boston Celtics, LeBron James, Miami Heat, NBA
Irish Coffee: Perfect remedy for loss to Lakers 02.11.11 at 11:30 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

Few game films exist of Bill Russell‘s playing days, but a United States Information Agency documentarian by the name of Gary Goldsmith had some rare footage in his vault: Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals between the Celtics and Cincinnati Royals.

The video has since been shown on NBA TV, and SLAM Magazine recently caught with the filmmaker. Goldsmith takes us through the documentary’s process, and the unquestionable highlight of the interview is this aside on a retired Bob Cousy wandering the Garden hallways:

‘€œHe was holding his head in his hands and saying to somebody, ‘€˜We can’€™t lose. If we lose, they’€™ll never let us up. It will be like the Yankees; they’€™ll grind us in to the earth. We’€™ve got to win.’€™ He wasn’€™t saying this to anybody for publication; this was a private comment that he made. It’€™s that sense of how important it was to sustain their championship level. I got a feel for it from moments like that.’€

Part 1 of Goldsmith’s “The Final Game” is embedded in this blog. Be sure to check out Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5 on YouTube. There’s nothing better than watching a game from the last run of the Celtics’ nine consecutive championship seasons to get over a loss to the Lakers.

The time spent is worth it just to hear Red Auerbach‘s incessant chatter from the sidelines:

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Read More: Bill Russell, Boston Celtics, Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen
Kobe Bryant: ‘I’ll bust your ass’ 02.11.11 at 1:10 am ET
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Kobe Bryant scored 20 of his game-high 23 points in the second half to help his Lakers drop the Celtics 92-86 and even their season series at one apiece. And then he issued a warning to the four Celtics who will be attending the All-Star Game in Los Angeles next weekend.

“It doesn’€™t matter who I play,” said Bryant. “I could play you, and I’€™ll bust your ass.”

During a five-minute interview with the media following the Lakers’ victory, Bryant hit on everything from Ray Allen‘s record-breaking 3-pointer to the latest book assignment he’s received from coach Phil Jackson. Here’s a rundown of the conversation:

  • On Ray’s record: “I just told him congratulations. It’€™s a mutual respect kind of thing, because we came into the league together. There’€™s not too many guys from that draft still playing and competing at a high level. I’€™m just very, very happy for him. We always compete when we go at it. That’€™s part of it. At this stage of our careers, there’€™s a respect because of that. I don’€™t get along with chumps very well, and he’€™s not a chump.”
  • On the Garden: ‘€œIt’€™s great. This is one of the best atmospheres ‘€” if not the best atmosphere ‘€” you can play in in the league today. This arena, what they do, this is a challenging place to play, but it’€™s a lot of fun.’€
  • On his play: ‘€œI wanted to be more aggressive in the first half, but I didn’€™t want to force it too much. I wanted to keep my guys in the game a little bit. In the second half, I just forced it. The game wasn’€™t coming to me, so I took it.’€
  • On the win: “It depends on where we go from here. We don’€™t go to New York and lay a dud. Then this game doesn’€™t much.”
  • On the Lakers: “We always remain a pretty confident bunch. It’€™s good to see the hard work that we’€™ve been putting in paying off. We’€™re seeing results. From the last time we played them until now, we’€™ve gotten a little bit better in our defensive rotations, and we didn’€™t make as many mistakes down the stretch.”
  • On the East: ‘€œ[The Celtics] are right up there. It’€™s them and Miami. We’€™ve played against Boston twice and Miami once, and they look good.’€
Read More: Boston Celtics, Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers, Ray Allen
Fast Break: Lakers put damper on Ray Allen’s night 02.10.11 at 10:54 pm ET
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With two first-quarter 3-pointers, Ray Allen set the all-time record as Reggie Miller could only watch from his broadcasting chair. Oh, and it came against the Lakers ‘€” off a transition pass from Rajon Rondo,  over Kobe Bryant ‘€” but the Celtics lost, 92-86, Thursday night at the TD Garden.

Allen led the Celtics (39-13) with 20 points. Rondo (12 points, 10 assists) and Kevin Garnett (10 points, 11 rebounds) each registered double-doubles, but Bryant scored 20 of his game-high 23 points in the second half as the Lakers (36-17) earned a season split with the C’s.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Rebounding (what’s new?): It was their Achilles’ heel in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA finals, and the rebounding issue reared its ugly head again. The Celtics were outrebounded 35-24 on the defensive end and 47-36 overall against the Lakers.

Points in the paint: With the O’Neal “brothers” and Semih Erden all out of action, the Celtics had little if any depth behind Kendrick Perkins at the center position. They not only paid for it on the glass but in the paint as well. Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum combined for 36 points and 19 rebounds, as the Lakers outscored the C’s 50-32 in the key.

Emotional letdowns: The Celtics rode an emotional wave after Allen’s record-breaking trey to a 45-30 lead midway through the second quarter, but the Lakers responded with a 14-4 run that cut the lead to five and gave LA its confidence back. Another 10-0 run to start the third gave the Lakers a lead and even more momentum.

Finishing the game with just four healthy players on the bench ‘€” two of them rookies ‘€” the C’s had nobody but Von Wafer to give them a lift, especially considering the fact that Glen Davis struggled from the floor (3-for-10) all night long.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Ray Allen’s big 3: In what was probably the best singular moment at the new Garden since the 2008 title run, Allen ripped his record-setting 2,561st career 3-pointer 10:12 into the game. The crowd let out a deafening roar as Allen pumped his fist in celebration.

Following the first quarter, the C’s recognized Allen, who in turn acknowledged the fans, shook Miller’s hand, hugged his mother Flo and kissed his wife Shannon and his children.

The shot also helped Allen record 12 points in the first quarter, as the C’s took a 27-20 lead.

Taking care of the ball: The emotion of the night didn’t hurt the Celtics’ concentration. They committed just three first-half turnovers. Much of the credit went to Rondo, who the Lakers simply had no answer for in the first half. The point guard had eight assists and zero turnovers in the opening 24 minutes of the game, helping the C’s establish a 53-45 halftime advantage.

In the second half, however, Bryant cracked down on defense. Rondo produced just five points and two assists in the final two quarters. The C’s finished with only 10 turnovers. Of course, one of them was an errant Paul Pierce pass on a fast break that would’ve cut the lead to three with two minutes to go.

Von Wafer’s boost: With Marquis Daniels (bruised spinal cord) and Nate Robinson (bruised right knee in 3:39 of playing time) out, the Celtics had to rely heavily on Wafer. And he produced. His eight second-quarter points actually gave him an 8-3 scoring edge against Bryant at the half. Yup, you read that correctly.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA
NBA Power Rankings, 2/10 02.10.11 at 8:28 pm ET
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A quick explanation of the top four: While the Celtics and Lakers have fallen prey to the annual February malaise at times, the Spurs continue to separate themselves in the standings, establishing a 5.5-game lead for homecourt throughout the playoffs.

Meanwhile, neither the Heat nor the Lakers have proven this season they can beat the Celtics, although that could change when both come to town in the next four days. While the Mavericks have won 10 straight and swept the C’s this season, I’m still not confident they’re any better than the third-best team out West. There you have it.

Now, it’s time to unveil this week’s full NBA Power Rankings. In a tribute to Ray Allen‘s chase for Reggie Miller‘s all-time 3-point record, we give you the best current and former long-distance shooters on each of the league’s 30 teams …

1. San Antonio (44-8): Sinking 916-of-2,450 (37.4 percent) in his Spurs career, Manu Ginobili is both the team’s current and all-time leading 3-point shooter.

2. Boston (38-13): Sinking 1,540-of-4,158 (37.0 percent) in his Celtics career, Paul Pierce is both the team’s current and all-time leading 3-point shooter. Allen has made 639 of his 1,586 3-point shots (40.3 percent) since coming to Boston in 2007.

3. Miami (38-14): Sinking 806-of-2,263 (35.6 percent) in his Heat career, Tim Hardaway is the team’s all-time leading 3-point shooter. Dwyane Wade is Miami’s current 3-point shooting leader, making 288-of-985 (29.2 percent) in his career with the team.

4. LA Lakers (36-16): Sinking 1,370-of-4,042 (33.9 percent) in his Lakers career, Kobe Bryant is both the team’s current and all-time leading 3-point shooter.

5. Dallas (37-15): Sinking 1,175-of-3,084 (38.1 percent) in his Mavericks career, Dirk Nowitzki is both the team’s current and all-time leading 3-point shooter.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA, power rankings
Shaquille O’Neal to levitate over the Garden? 02.10.11 at 3:43 pm ET
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Since joining the Celtics as a free agent, he dressed as a drag queen on Halloween. He appeared as a statue in Harvard Square. Now, Shaquille O’Neal is planning his next big stunt in Boston.

Accompanying girlfriend Nicole “Hoopz” Alexander on WGBH’s Emily Rooney Show Thursay, he announced plans to perform a magic act on top of the TD Garden.

“Now, listen,” O’Neal told WGBH. “I asked Criss Angel to levitate me over the top of the TD Boston Garden, and he said yes so we just have to figure out a date.”

Angel is a magician who appears on an A&E television show entitled “Mindfreak.”

Alexander also revealed that the two have taken dancing classes together in their hometown of Sudbury. Unfortunately, there’s no video available of that. She and O’Neal also debated whether or not she’s ever defeated him 1-on-1 in tennis.

Suffering from an inflamed Achilles tendon, O’Neal hasn’t played since Feb. 1 against the Kings. He is expected to miss Thursday night’s game against the Lakers and could be out through the Feb. 18-21 NBA All-Star break.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Criss Angel, NBA, Nicole "Hoopz" Alexander
Irish Coffee: Ray Allen 3-Point Timeline 02.10.11 at 1:46 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

In case you haven’t heard, Ray Allen trails Reggie Miller by one 3-pointer for the NBA’s all-time record of 2,560 career treys. Considering he’ll likely surpass Miller against the Lakers on Thursday night, what better time than now to create the Ray Allen 3-Point Timeline?

  • Nov. 1, 1996 (Bucks 111, 76ers 103): Allen made the first 3-pointer of his NBA career.
  • Nov. 2, 2000 (Rockets 114, Bucks 93): Allen made the 500th 3-pointer of his NBA career.
  • Jan. 1, 2003 (Bucks 106, Cavaliers 94): Allen made the 1,000th 3-pointer of his NBA career.
  • Jan. 11, 2005 (Sonics 104, Clippers 99): Allen made the 1,361st 3-pointer of his NBA career, passing Dan Majerle for fifth on the all-time list.
  • Nov. 9, 2005 (Cavaliers 112, Sonics 85): Allen made the 1,500th 3-pointer of his NBA career.
  • Dec. 13, 2005 (Warriors 110, Sonics 107): Allen made the 1,543rd 3-pointer of his NBA career, passing Tim Hardaway for fourth on the all-time list.
  • Dec. 20, 2005 (Suns 111, Sonics 83): Allen made the 1,560th 3-pointer of his NBA career, passing Glen Rice for third on the all-time list.
  • April 7, 2006 (Sonics 121, Trail Blazers 108): Allen made the 1,720th 3-pointer of his NBA career, passing Dale Ellis for second on the all-time list.
  • Jan. 5, 2008 (Celtics 92, Pistons 85): Allen made the 2,000th 3-pointer of his NBA career.
  • Dec. 25, 2010 (Orlando 86, Celtics 78): Allen made the 2,500th 3-pointer of his NBA career.

When Allen had a chance to tie or surpass a milestone or a top-five 3-point shooter, he generally accelerated past them. In fact, the only time he had the chance to set a new milestone but didn’t was the night before he eclipsed 2,000, finishing 0-for-3 that evening.

Given a chance to pass those milestones, Allen finished 35-for-70 (50.0 percent) from 3-point range in those games. He also averaged 23.5 points under those circumstances.

With 1,540 3-pointers in his NBA career thus far, Paul Pierce needs just seven to pass Hardaway and Jones for 10th on the all-time list. Oh, Avery Bradley and Kendrick Perkins have a shot at sinking the first 3-pointer of their NBA careers. Allen has just 236 fewer career 3-point baskets than the entire rest of the Celtics team combined.

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Read More: 3-pointer, Boston Celtics, Ray Allen, record
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