|Three-Pointer: Celtics show age before beauty||02.07.11 at 11:42 pm ET|
‘We’re old,’ said Rondo, who at 24 is the youngest player on the roster outside of the last two guys on the bench, Avery Bradley and Luke Harangody.
The Celtics are indeed old, averaging 31.1 years of age. The good news is that with age comes experience. That’s 902 playoff games and 47 All-Star selections of experience. Generally, that means a lot of victories ‘ just ask the 1997-98 Bulls, who at an average age of 31.6 were the oldest team in NBA history to capture a title, winning 62 games in the regular season and 15 of 21 playoff contests.
But with age also comes aching bodies. Shaquille and Jermaine O’Neal have a combined 14 feet and 550 pounds of bodies — logging a total of 66,669 minutes in their careers — that have translated into 47 missed games already this season. Their consistent absences from the lineup means when other injuries occur (i.e., Delonte West, Marquis Daniels and Semih Erden), Doc Rivers‘ bench looks like Norman Dale’s in ‘Hoosiers’ when he was forced to play Ollie.
Remarkably, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are defying their ages of 35, 34 and 33, respectively, as the only players on the Celtics’ roster to start 40 of the team’s 51 games. Still, that doesn’t mean their old legs aren’t tired on the second night of back-to-back games.
‘I think we have 13 losses, and I know seven of them have come on back-to-backs,’ the Celtics coach told reporters after the C’s fell to 38-13 with a 94-89 loss to the Bobcats (click here for the complete recap). ‘And it’s the same script in five of them, where we win a decent game the day before, we come out, we kind of goof around and then all of a sudden you try to win it in the fourth. Well, then you don’t have anything left.’
|Fast Break: Bobcats’ bench bests Celtics||02.07.11 at 9:41 pm ET|
Despite leading scorer Stephen Jackson getting ejected, the Bobcats got 19 points and 16 rebounds from Gerald Wallace to hand the Celtics a 94-89 loss Monday night in Charlotte. Shaun Livingston and Gerald Henderson combined for 33 points off the bench for the Bobcats.
Ray Allen led all scorers with 25 points, and Rajon Rondo (10 points, 14 rebounds) produced a double-double for the Celtics (38-13), who maintain a slim lead over the Heat for the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Bench scoring: While a lineup of Nate Robinson, Von Wafer, Luke Harangody, Glen Davis and Allen battled the Bobcats fairly even for the first five minutes of the second quarter, they scored just three points in that stretch. Overall, the Bobcats’ bench outscored its Boston counterpart 44-15 for the game. The 6-foot-7 Livingston (17 points) led the way, using his size advantage against Rondo and Robinson.
Off the mark: When the Celtics’ offense is running on all cylinders, they’ll shoot 60 percent as a team. Against the Bobcats, though, they hovered around 40 percent all night. That’s especially bad when you consider Rondo was seeing the floor well.
Banging the boards: Wallace (16 rebounds) and Kwame Brown (12 rebounds) owned the boards against the Celtics. Wallace is undertandable; Brown isn’t. Together, those two helped the Bobcats out-rebound the C’s by 14 (50-36) for the night. The Celtics really felt the absences of both Shaquille O’Neal and Semih Erden, who sat with injuries.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
The Ray Allen watch: Allen sunk a 3-pointer in the first minute of the game — bringing the magic number to three in order to break Reggie Miller‘s all-time 3-point record. He cut that number to two when he sunk another trey in the third quarter.
At times, though, it appeared Allen might want to wait until Thursday’s home game against the Lakers to set the mark. He must’ve taken more pullup jumpers inside the arc than he had all season. Still, Allen finished with 25 points on 9-of-17 shooting.
Getting under Stephen Jackson’s skin: Earlier this week, when he was sitting on 11 technical fouls for the season and had already been suspended for berating a referee, Jackson said, “If me speaking my mend gets me a tech, hey.” Well, that attitude got him another two technical fouls — in succession — when he thought he got fouled going to the basket. As a result, he was tossed from the game while leading the Bobcats with 11 points at the time.
Rajon Rondo’s strong start: Just as he did against the Magic, Rondo made it a point to get to the basket right from the opening whistle, which he did rather easily against Bobcats point guard D.J. Augustin. Rondo had 10 points and five assists in the first quarter alone.
|Spike Lee: Kevin Garnett needs to ‘calm the f#%$ down’||02.07.11 at 5:29 pm ET|
If Kevin Garnett didn’t already have March 21 circled on his calendar, you can bet he will very soon.
Because that’s when the Celtics next visit the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, where director and noted Knicks fan Spike Lee will no doubt be sitting in the front row.
In an interview with ESPN.com, Spike Lee claimed Garnett cursed him out “for no reason” and suggested the All-Star Celtics forward should “calm the f#%$ down” …
“When I go to the games, it’s to have fun. I’m respectful. If I say a player missed a shot, that’s not talking about your mother, your family; it’s all good nature. The players enjoy talking to me and I enjoy talking to them.
“But this last time against Boston — you know that game where they disallowed [Amare] Stoudemire‘s 3? — Kevin Garnett lost it. He was cursing me out for no reason. Maybe because Stoudemire gave him 39 points, but take that vulgarity to Stoudemire. I’m not holding you, and I did not even say s#!@ to Garnett the whole game. That really surprised me. He lost it. He was cursing at me the whole game. He needs to calm the f#%$ down.”
And Lee didn’t stop there. Here’s the rest of his exchange with blogger Jared Zwerling:
- JZ: “Well, you know what? It came back to bite him in the butt, because STAT [Stoudemire] is starting for the East in the All-Star Game, and KG is not.”
- SL: “Next time they come is on March 21. So, look, I don’t like the Celtics, but I respect Doc [Rivers]. Doc’s a good friend. You know I love Ray Allen. I hate the Celtics, but look, they’ve got good guys on that team. I’ve got friends on that team. Nate [Robinson]‘s on the team. But Garnett needs to calm the f#%$ down. There’s no reason he should be cursing at me the way he did the last game. So you can put that in the article. It was disrespectful and I would never do nothing like that to him.”
- JZ: “That’s crazy. Garnett has definitely had his share of temper tantrums — no question about that.”
- SL: “I’m not even playing, and I didn’t say nothing to him the whole game anyway. So, if you’re mad, start cursing out STAT, Stoudemire. But you’re not going to do that s#!@ because Stoudemire’s not going to take it. So he cursed at me and I’m 5-foot-6 ½, 150 pounds. What he was saying was worse than Reggie Miller. It was uncalled for.”
- JZ: “We’ll all be ready for that next game.”
- SL: “I’m going to get him that time.”
So, to summarize Lee’s conversation: 1) he sat angelically on the sideline as Garnett unleashed an unprovoked verbal assault on him; 2) there’s no reason to use vulgarity, but Garnett should calm the f#%$ down; and 3) Garnett should turn his trash talk to Stoudemire, but Lee’s going to “get him” next time. Gotcha, Spike. Appreciate the unbiased analysis.
Now that Miller is retired — and about to be eclipsed by Ray Allen for the NBA’s all-time 3-point record — Lee needs a new feud to stay relevant. Because recent movies like “She Hate Me” and “Bamboozled” aren’t doing the job.
|Irish Coffee: The Kevin Garnett controversy timeline||02.07.11 at 1:19 pm ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
The first time I can remember controversy around Kevin Garnett was in 2004, when as a member of the Timberwolves he said he was going to break out grenades, missile launchers and M16’s to take down the Kings in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals.
Also in Minnesota, Garnett had confrontations against such immortal NBA legends as Mark Pope, Anthony Peeler, Rick Rickert, Francisco Elson and Tyrone Nesby. Those issues haven’t subsided in Boston, where his latest dust-up came Friday against the Mavericks — and nearly again Sunday when Hedo Turkoglu knocked Garnett to the ground.
As a result, I figured it was time we sorted these incidents out in a timeline of his indiscretions:
- April 28, 2008: In Game 4 of a first-round series, Hawks center Zaza Pachulia headbutted Garnett after a hard foul. In Game 7, Garnett exacted revenge, executing a backcourt pick.
- Nov. 7, 2008: After throwing a blow at Bucks center Andrew Bogut‘s face, Garnett was suspended for one game.
- Nov. 10, 2008: Defending Jose Calderon, Garnett wagged his finger at the Raptors point guard Dikembe Mutombo-style.
- Dec. 5, 2008: Getting on all fours and barking like a dog in the backcourt, Garnett taunted Portland rookie guard Jerryd Bayless. Oh, and he made Glen Davis cry.
- Oct. 11, 2009: In a preseason game against the Nets, Garnett shoved then New Jersey forward Yi Jianlian‘s arms aside and bumped bodies with him during a dead ball.
- April 17, 2010: In an attempt to clear Quentin Richardson away from Paul Pierce, Garnett elbowed the Heat forward and was subsequently suspended for Game 2 of a first-round playoff series.
- Nov. 2, 2010: Following a Celtics win over the Pistons, Detroit forward Charlie Villanueva Tweeted that Garnett called him “a cancer patient.” Garnett fired back, claiming he said, “You are cancerous to your team and our league.”
- Nov. 10, 2010: A handful of days after a Celtics win over the Bulls, Chicago center Joakim Noah told a local radio station, “[Garnett]‘s a very mean guy. Where’s the love? None at all. Ugly, too.” After the Richardson incident, Noah had already called Garnett “a dirty player.”
- Jan. 28, 2011: In a Celtics loss to the Suns, Garnett issued a low blow on Phoenix forward Channing Frye‘s groin during a 3-point attempt. Garnett was ejected. And Suns coach Alvin Gentry later said, “I lost a little respect for him.” Garnett refused to apologize.
- Feb. 4, 2011: Following a fast-break foul by Mavericks guard J.J. Barea, Garnett grabbed the referee’s arm during the dust-up and got hit with a technical.
|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.”