|Fast Break: Rajon Rondo’s triple-double can’t keep Celtics from five-game skid||01.24.13 at 10:43 pm ET|
Give them this: At least the Celtics played with heart, but the Knicks still handed them their fifth straight loss, an 89-86 defeat made even more discouraging by J.R. Smith‘s wide-open 3-pointer and Paul Pierce‘s turnover with several chances to tie the game in the final minute. Here’s what else went wrong (and right).
WHAT WENT WRONG
Terry dry: Since his return to the bench, where he’s been most comfortable during his career, Jason Terry continues to slump. He entered the game shooting under 40 percent from the field and 30 percent from 3-point range in 22 minutes a night this month, and those numbers didn’t get any better. After getting off to an 0-for-4 start in his first six minutes, Rivers limited his playing time. Terry finished 1-for-6 in 14 minutes, including a costly fourth-quarter turnover.
Brain farts: As well as the Celtics played in stretches, they still took their foot off the pedal at times. The Knicks started the second quarter on a 9-0 run made up of a couple Amar’e Stoudemire buckets around the basket, a J.R. Smith layup and a Pablo Prigioni 3-pointer. In the third quarter, the Celtics committed five turnovers, including three that directly led to layups and New York’s 72-66 lead after three quarters.
Off the mark: While the C’s defense held the Knicks below 40 percent shooting on the night (38.6 percent FG), their offense wasn’t much better (40.8 percent FG). Despite getting a ton of open looks, the Celtics missed jumper after jumper. They combined for 3-of-18 shooting from beyond the arc, including an 0-for-5 night for backup guards Terry, Courtney Lee and Leandro Barbosa. Compounding that fact, the C’s didn’t tally a single point off their misses, getting outscored 16-0 on second-chance points.
|LeBron James thinks Paul Pierce got All-Star snubbed||01.24.13 at 8:14 pm ET|
Count Heat superstar LeBron James of all people as the first NBA player to count Celtics captain Paul Pierce among the Eastern Conference’s All-Star snubs. Pierce was left off the team for the first time since 2007, when he missed 35 games due to injury; the 35-year-old 10-time All-Star also made the East roster from 2002-06.
|Big Baby wants PB&J, and he wanted it yesterday||01.24.13 at 11:12 am ET|
Oh, Glen Davis, how do I miss thee? Let me count the ways … [thinking] … [still thinking] … on second thought, let’s not. Even if he has twice the production this season, I’m still taking Brandon Bass every day and twice on Sundays. Think of all the money the Celtics saved on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches alone?
|Was Avery Bradley firing a Twitter shot at Rajon Rondo?||01.23.13 at 3:08 pm ET|
After the Celtics‘ fourth straight defeat — a 95-90 loss suffered at the hands of Kyrie Irving (40 points) and the Cavaliers — guard Avery Bradley tweeted: “Nobody will score 40 on [me] unless they take 40 shots.”
Irving scored his 40 on 24 shots, although just three of those attempts came against Bradley; meanwhile, the Cavs point guard made 6-of-11 attempts against Celtics point Rajon Rondo, according to Synergy Sports (h/t @ESPNForsberg. That may not even include plays like Irving’s isolation drive past with 22 seconds left in the fourth quarter, when he blew by Rondo and got (questionably) fouled by Jared Sullinger on a three-point play.
So, why wasn’t Bradley — considered by many the best on-ball defender in the NBA — facing the surefire All-Star, particularly in that situation? While he’s recovering from a rib injury, Bradley played 26 effective minutes and was on the floor for the span from 2:31 to 0:22 of the fourth quarter, when Irving scored nine points on four layups.
When the C’s guard took to Twitter just minutes after the conclusion of the game, many considered it a veiled shot at Rondo, although Bradley quickly deleted the tweet and posted instead: “No shots at anybody. It’s confidence.”
|Celtics ‘monitoring’ Greg Oden’s comeback attempt||01.17.13 at 3:17 pm ET|
In their everlasting search for frontcourt depth, “the Celtics are among the team’s monitoring” 2007 NBA draft No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden‘s comeback attempt, according to CBSSports.com columnist Ken Berger.
Plagued by a series of knee injuries, the 7-foot, 250-pound Oden played just 82 games in a Blazers uniform, the last of which was played on Dec. 5, 2009. Portland waived him in March 2012 after his third surgery in five years.
Last week, ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein reported several teams, including the Heat, have already shown interest in signing Oden this winter with the hope of bringing him to training camp this fall. The Spurs and Cavaliers also appear to be in the mix for the former Ohio State star, CBSSports.com said.
Oden’s appeal is obvious. He’s a 7-footer who averaged 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 22.1 minutes per game in his limited NBA action. The Celtics can’t offer more money than either the Heat or Spurs, but Jared Sullinger apparently has a relationship despite playing for the Buckeyes five years apart.
|Did Danny Ainge deny Leandro Barbosa’s trade request?||01.17.13 at 2:19 pm ET|
Celtics guard Leandro Barbosa asked Danny Ainge to be either traded or released, but the C’s president of basketball operations “will not let me go,” Barbosa told a Brazilian sports radio station (h/t CelticsBlog).
Here’s the rough Portuguese-to-English translation from Google Chrome:
“I will not lie to you: I tried to get out several times, but Danny Ainge does not want to let me go,” Barbosa told Bradesco Sports FM. “He’s a guy that admires my basketball skills for many years. I was supposed to have got a good contract with the Boston Celtics, but did not. He will not let me go.”
The fifth guard on the roster after Avery Bradley‘s return to the backcourt, Barbosa’s 10.7 minutes and 4.9 points per game are both career lows, and Celtics coach Doc Rivers failed to bring the explosive scorer off the bench on Wednesday until it was too late in a game tailored for his instant offense.
“I should’ve played LB earlier when we were struggling for energy,” Rivers said after the 90-78 loss to the Hornets. “He’s an energy guy. It was easy [to say] now, obviously, but that’s what I’ll probably see when I watch the film.”
In the final 2:35 of the fourth quarter, Barbosa scored seven points on four shots. His 36-minute averages of 16.5 points (44.2 FG%, 39.3 3P%), 4.1 assists, 2.6 rebounds and 1.2 steals aren’t far off from 2006-07, when he won the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year honor, and they’re superior across the board to fellow offensive-minded guard Jason Terry‘s 36-minute averages of 12.8 points (42.5 FG%, 36.1 3P%), 2.9 assists, 2.5 boards and 1.2 steals.
|Austin Rivers wouldn’t rule out Celtics in future||01.17.13 at 1:53 am ET|
For the Celtics, facing the boy they watched grow into a top-10 NBA draft pick during his dad’s nine seasons in Boston, it was weird to finally see Austin Rivers looking back at them on the parquet in a Hornets uniform.
“It’s just a strange dynamic,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers after losing to his son, 90-78. “I didn’t enjoy it, honestly. I know it’s neat for everyone else, but as a father, I don’t know if I enjoyed that.’
“It was strange for everybody in here,” added Kevin Garnett. “If we didn’t feel old [before], we feel a little old [now], obviously, seeing a little kid that used to say absolutely nothing, dribble his ball and kind of be in his own little world to being a young man now in the league, trying to make something of himself, doing a good job of it, talking trash, running up and down, leading his team. It’s good. It’s good to see Austin doing real good.”
Garnett might have wanted to seem do a little worse, actually, since Austin’s eight points on 3-of-6 field goals — including a running layup during their momentum-stealing run in the second quarter — marked his best scoring and shooting night this month. His 23 minutes were more than he played in his previous three games combined.
Maybe that’s why it was the 20-year-old Rivers who felt the most comfortable in such a strange situation.