|Delonte West plans to return Feb. 22||02.06.11 at 6:23 pm ET|
In the aftermath of the Celtics‘ 91-80 win over the Eastern Conference rival Magic on Sunday afternoon, Delonte West said he plans to return from his wrist injury on Feb. 22 against the Warriors in Oakland.
“Righ now, they think I’ll be back the first game after the All-Star break,” said West, adding that he will be returning to full-contact practice soon.
West hasn’t played since breaking his right wrist against the Nets on Nov. 24. The Celtics’ reserve guard played just five games after serving a 10-game suspension to open the season for a weapons charge . He averaged 6.8 points and 2.0 assists in 17.6 minutes in those games.
After recently getting his cast removed, West has participated in non-contact drills at practice in addition to shooting prior to games.
As for Sunday’s game action, West expressed concern for Marquis Daniels, who suffered a bruised spine and is expected to miss a month. West also said of Rajon Rondo, who scored a season-high 26 points: “In my opinion, Rondo is the best point guard in the NBA, but I guess you’ll have to leave that to the experts.”
|Fast Break: Celtics silence Magic||02.06.11 at 5:16 pm ET|
After an opening 15 minutes that was both scary and sloppy, the Celtics rallied to put away the Magic, 91-80, led by a season-high 26 points by Rajon Rondo. The C’s won the season series against their Eastern Conference rivals, 2-1.
Glen Davis and Marquis Daniels both hit the ground hard on separate first-half instances. Davis (head bruise) returned. Daniels (neck injury) did not. Meanwhile, the Celtics made only five field goals in the first 15 minutes and trailed by as much as nine points.
Rondo added seven assists, as the Celtics improved their East-leading record to 38-12. Ray Allen (11 points) made 2-of-4 3-pointers on the afternoon to bring himself within four of breaking Reggie Miller‘s all-time record. Howard recorded game-highs of 28 points and 13 rebounds in a losing effort for the Magic (32-20).
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Rallying around Marquis Daniels: Just as they did in a comeback win over the Nets when Delonte West broke his wrist, the Celtics rallied around an injured member of the team. Daniels left with the scary neck injury 59 seconds into the second quarter, when the C’s trailed 24-17. Over the next 19:37 — stretching late into the third quarter — the C’s outscored the Magic by 22 points.
Rondo playing aggressive: Led by a concerted effort by Rondo to get to the rim, the Celtics earned (a rare) 34 trips to the free-throw line. They even made 28 of them (82.4 percent). Entering the game shooting just 51.6 percent from the charity stripe, Rondo made seven of his nine free-throw attempts (Paul Pierce made 10-of-12). The Celtics point guard also converted seven layups around the hoop. Rondo’s effort throughout the game helped the C’s stay in a game when their outside shooting wasn’t as sharp as normal.
Defense: As they did against Kobe Bryant in their win over the Lakers, the Celtics appeared content allowing Howard to pile up buckets as long as Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson & Co. didn’t also heat up. The plan worked, thanks to the efforts of Pierce and Allen on the latter two Magicians.
The Celtics held the Magic to 43 first-half points. Howard scored 22 points on 9-of-14 (64.3 percent) shooting from the field entering the break, while the rest of the team was just 9-of-36 (25 percent). In all, Orlando shot 32-of-93 from the field (34.4 percent) and 3-of-24 from 3-point range (12.5 percent), despite Howard’s 10-of-20 shooting on the afternoon.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Marquis Daniels goes down: Colliding with Gilbert Arenas around the rim, Daniels fell to the floor and lay motionless on the parquet for what seemed like forever. As paramedics brought out a stretcher and strapped Daniels in, the Garden crowd stood deathly quiet. Daniels was conscious and talking as he was taken to New England Baptist Hospital. He reportedly later moved all extremities and will be Ok.
Glen Davis also hit the floor hard in the first quarter, taking a charge against Magic point guard Jameer Nelson of all people. Davis walked with team Dr. Brian McKeon. Shortly afterwards, the Celtics announced Davis suffered a “head bruise” and would return. He did, to start the second quarter.
Shooting: The Celtics made only four first-quarter field goals and did not hit a 3-point shot until Allen knocked down his third attempt with 4:09 left in the second quarter. In all, the C’s made just 14-of-33 shots (42.4 percent) in the first half.
Subtract Rondo and Garnett (a combined 8-of-14) from the equation in that opening 24 minutes, and the rest of the C’s were shooting just 31.6 percent entering the break. They rallied to shoot 16-of-30 in the second half for a 47.6 percent clip for the game.
Taking care of the ball: Whether it was the Sunday afternoon start or anticipation for the Super Bowl, the Celtics looked extremely sloppy to start the game, committing six first-quarter turnovers. That number declined to an average of three over the next three quarters.
|Kevin Garnett: ‘I never apologize for my actions’||02.04.11 at 4:34 pm ET|
The Cetics All-Star forward took us step-by-step through the last six games, starting with the road loss to the Wizards on Jan. 22 and finishing with the victory in Sacramento against the Kings.
That stretch, of course, covered the Celtics‘ loss to the Suns during which Garnett was ejected for an apparent low blow against Phoenix’s Channing Frye. However, in his blog, Garnett — who said he never apologizes for his actions — claims he was thrown out of the game for “talking too much.” Let him explain:
We “played a back-to-back in Phoenix. This game was physical as well and super ugly. I never apologize for my actions, as I play with passion. I actually got ejected for (the ref said) ‘talking too much.’ Can you believe that? It was unfortunate, and I hate to leave my team out there without being around to support them. Doc [Rivers] got ejected and then fined $15,000 for not leaving the court in a timely manner. A TIMELY MANNER. WOW. The game ended, and we got worked over. It could’ve been the back-to-back and travel, but they played well.”
As reported in The Arizona Republic, Suns coach Alvin Gentry recently said of Garnett in a weekly radio interview, “I lost a litte respect for him. I love his competitive nature but there is not a place for what he was doing in our game.” Based on his blog post, though, Garnett doesn’t seem to care.
Here are the rest of the highlights from Garnett’s most recent blog post:
On the Wizards: “The Wiz game was a bad game, and we started out strong but couldn’t make a shot. We settled for outside shots and stopped attacking. As bad as we played, we still got two looks to win the game, but we never made a shot.”
On the Cavaliers: “The Cavs game went quick, and I didn’t play as much, which was good.Eighteen minutes was all I logged. They are struggling, and we kept their losing streak going. It was also MY HOMIE’s FIRST GAME BACK! Big Perk [Kendrick Perkins] came in, and it was awesome to see him back. The crowd gave him a standing ovation! Well deserved. Perk works extremely hard, and it was great to play with him.”
On the Trail Blazers: “We boarded a plane and left for Portland. It took over 6 1/2 hours for us to get there. It’s in a different time zone, so we gained three hours. The game was real physical, and we were banging with the Blazers. It was a close INTENSE game, but we found a way to win. It was a sloppy game, but we did enough things to get the W.”
On the Lakers: “After the [Suns] game, we boarded the plane (1 a.m.) and by 2 a.m. the crew decided that we could not get to L.A. due to fog. We ended up busing back to the hotel and had to stay over. We had a 3 p.m. flight, so I got my lift in and we headed to L.A.
“When I go home to Cali, I get to get to my crib and relax! We had an early game on Sunday, so not much free time.
“The energy was hyped in L.A., and I thought we’d come out sluggish, but we came out early and applied force. Kobe [Bryant] and P2 [Paul Pierce] were going back and forth exchanging baskets. Pau Gasol came hard at us, but we were ready for him. He did hit me with a ‘bow,’ and I needed five stitches. It didn’t hold me out long and got me even more energized! The second unit really played well, and it helped us get the lead and get a great victory. We executed our offense really well (60 percent field-goal percentage) and locked down the defense for our victory. Another great win.”
On the Kings: “Sacramento fought all night, but we got it done. Ray [Allen] gave an emotional halftime speech and got us going. If Ray’s yelling, then something’s not right. He was right, we needed to play in control and not get caught up in the crap that Sacramento was trying to get us to do. We pulled it out and ended the road trip with a victory.”
|Irish Coffee: Celtics’ Top 10 NBA All-Star performances||02.04.11 at 1:14 pm ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
5. PAUL PIERCE sunk all five money balls in the final round of the 2010 NBA 3-Point Shootout. Neither Stephen Curry or Chauncy Billups could match Pierce, and the Celtics captain took home the title.
4. SHAQUILLE O’NEAL (as a member of the Lakers) recorded 24 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks to lead the West to a 136-132 win over the East and capture 2004 NBA All-Star Game MVP honors. Also the 2000 and 2009 All-Star Game MVP, O’Neal announced in his postgame interview, “Can you dig it?”
3. RAY ALLEN (as a member of the Bucks) outdueled Peja Stojakovic for the 2001 NBA 3-Point Shootout championship. Entering the final rack, Allen needed to make 3-of-5 to tie. He made four.
1. KEVIN GARNETT (as a member of the Timberwolves) outperformed Michael Jordan in the Bulls legend’s final NBA All-Star Game in 2003. Amassing the most points in an All-Star contest since Jordan’s 40 in 1988, Garnett totaled 37 points, nine rebounds, five steals and three assists to lead the West to a 155-145 double-overtime victory against the East, capturing MVP honors in the process.
“The All-Star Game is not about individual,” said Garnett. “It’s totally a group effort. It’s a time for you to share stories, good times, emotional times with your teammates.”
Given the Celtics’ storied history in NBA All-Star Games ever since Ed Macauley captured MVP honors with 20 points and six rebounds in the league’s first-ever All-Star competition, I’d be remiss if I didn’t also provide the top-five All-Star Weekend performances by former Celtics …
|NBA Power Rankings, 2/3||02.03.11 at 6:14 pm ET|
The Celtics haven’t claimed the top spot in our NBA Power Rankings since Jan. 6, but as Paul Flannery wrote following the C’s 109-96 victory against the Lakers on Sunday, “The Celtics’ performance proved that as of this moment they are the team to beat in the NBA. On their best day, and this may have been it, no one can even come close to matching them.”
There are four other legitimate contenders for the 2011 NBA title — the Spurs, Bulls, Heat and Lakers — and the Celtics have beaten all of them, recording six wins in seven games against those teams. That’s kinda good.
The C’s have now defeated 23 of the 29 other teams in the league. The only two teams they haven’t faced yet are the Clippers and Warriors. They’ve lost their only games against the Mavericks, Suns, Rockets and Hornets so far, but they get their respective shots at revenge on Friday, March 2, March 18 and March 19.
In short, pretty much everybody has praised the Celtics as one of, if not THE best in the league. Kevin Garnett might be one of the most disliked opponents in the league, but the C’s are getting their share of respect. That’s why we’ve decided to highlight the best quotes about the Celtics from opposing coaches and players in this week’s edition of the Power Rankings. Without further ado, here goes …
1. Boston (37-11): I don’t care that the Celtics have lost to the Wizards, Pistons, Raptors and Cavaliers. I don’t care that they scored only 71 points against the Suns. Four of those losses occurred on the road after playing the previous night, and the other came at 1 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon. When the Celtics are motivated, they’ve been almost unbeatable. Just ask the Spurs, Lakers and Heat.
2. San Antonio (40-8): Spurs coach Gregg Popovich after losing to the Celtics on Jan. 5, 105-103: “It’s just frustrating that we’re a definite, significant notch below the big boys — of course, Boston being one of the big boys — come playoff time if this continues. You know, Boston is third in field-goal percentage ‘D,’ and first in defensive rebounding. Those are the kind of stats we used to have defensively to do what you need to do to be the last team standing.” (via Sporting News)
3. Chicago (34-14): Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau after losing to the Celtics in overtime on Nov. 5, 110-105: “They’ve got a lot of weapons, they’re experienced, they know how to work the game and they’re hard to guard. I think the thing that often gets overlooked with them is not only their individual greatness but their collective greatness and willingness to share with each other. ‘¦ It puts enormous pressure on your defense. Your defense can’t get set, and that’s something we’re striving for.”
4. Miami (34-14): Heat forward LeBron James on Wednesday: “We’re way behind [the Celtics]. Just look at the number of games played, the number of playoff series those guys have had. We’re only a few months in together — 40-something-plus games. I’ve seen the statistics. Boston has like 250-plus games played together. We’re way behind those teams.” (via ESPN.com)
|Irish Coffee: Shaquille O’Neal talks Hoopz||02.03.11 at 12:31 pm ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
During the filming of “Flavor of Love” on VH1, Nikki “Hoopz” Alexander dominated Flavor Flav in a game of one-on-one. Then she owned some dude named “Entertainer” with a flurry of profanities on “I Love Money” — another VH1 reality show.
But she’d probably have a tougher time defeating her current boyfriend, Shaquille O’Neal.
Sudbury’s most famous couple went two-on-one in an interview with The Globe’s Meredith Goldstein for a Home & Lifestyle section cover story. Here’s what we learned:
- Hoopz, 28, on Shaq, 38: ‘I knew he was a goofball. We’re the same. We’re both goofballs.’’
- Shaq is 7-foot-1; Hoopz is 5-foot-2. A full Nelson de la Rosa separates them.
- Hoopz is filming another reality show, based on their suburban life and her desire to become a women’s heath and self-defense guru. Like I won’t watch that.
- Shaq has a pit bull named Shamrock. Do you think the dog has a Kobe Bryant chew toy?
- Ther’s a room in Shaq’s house that features Taylor Swift and “Alice in Wonderland” posters on the wall and candy canisters everwhere. Oh, and there’s a pink bathroom, too. Thankfully, that room is Hoopz’s. Shaq calls it the “dungeon.”
- Hoopz won “Flavor of Love” Season 1, capturing Flavor Flav’s “on-camera affection” and the ultimate prize: a set of gold teeth. I think I just found my Valentine’s Day gift.
- Hoopz then took home $250,000 for winning ‘I Love Money,’’ a crazy reality show spinoff about the craziest VH1 reality show castoffs that could only happen in America.
- Hoopz once followed another basketball player, James “Boo” Jackson, to Tennessee. A gym gypsy of sorts, Jackson left town for another team. Hoopz stayed behind.
- Hoopz and Shaq’s first date was in Las Vegas. Luckily, it didn’t end up at The Best Little Chapel — a la Stu and Jade in “The Hangover.”
- The next few dates between Hoopz took Shaq included fishing, visiting a Waffle House and listening to music by Brad Paisley and Taylor Swift. You know, typical Shaq things.
- Shaq on Hoopz: ‘She’s my first female best friend, besides my mother.’’
- Shaq has a live-in chef. Unfortunately, it’s not Chef from “South Park.”
- Hoopz and Shaq watch “Spartacus” on Starz together. Loin cloths optional.
- Hoopz attends every Celtics home game. Shaq attends most, too.
|Irish Coffee: Time to start Kendrick Perkins||02.02.11 at 12:57 pm ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
It’s time for Kendrick Perkins to start.
Despite Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge‘s claim on WEEI’s Big Show last week that he doesn’t think it matters who starts between Shaquille O’Neal and Perkins, the man who hasn’t lost a playoff series starting alongside Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo has proven within five games that he deserves his spot back.
In Perkins’ first three games since returning from ACL surgery this past offseason, the Celtics were better off with either O’Neal or Semih Erden starting the first and third quarters. The numbers back it up. The C’s outscored their opponents by a total of three points to start each half before Perkins entered the game against the Cavaliers, Blazers and Suns. They were subsequently outscored by a total of 11 points with Perkins on the floor in those three games.
However, in the last two games — victories over the Lakers and Kings — the C’s have outscored their opponents by 22 from the moment Perkins entered the game in the first and third quarters to the time somebody substituted for him. That’s nine points better than they were in those two contests with O’Neal on the floor to start each half.
In his first five games this season, Perkins’ minutes have steadily risen to the mid-20s, culminating in a near double-double against the Kings. His performance Tuesday night marked the first game he vastly outperformed the C’s starting center.
Take a look at Perkins’ progression upon entering each half since his return compared to the Celtics’ starting center that night (each player’s plus/minus statistics are in parentheses):