|Kobe Bryant, the Celtics and the fountain of youth||02.08.13 at 1:54 am ET|
Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett stood shoulder-to-shoulder on the Garden parquet, laughing side-by-side as Gino danced his ridiculous dance on the Jumbotron. The former had submitted his finest performance against the Lakers since walking off the same floor with an NBA Finals MVP trophy. The latter had scored his 25,000th point in owning the league’s most dominant big. Together, they delivered a sixth straight Celtics win sans Rajon Rondo.
They are 35 and 36 years old, respectively. Combined, they’ve played nearly 90,000 minutes, which translates into more than a year of playing time on NBA basketball courts across the country. And they’re not done yet.
“It’s a generational thing,” said 34-year-old Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant after an embarrassing 106-95 loss to the Celtics. “In that generation, we all seem to hold on or have found the same fountain of youth somewhere.”
And not the kind of fountain of youth Alex Rodriquez reportedly found in Miami. “Not that one,” laughed Bryant. “Not that one.” More like a pacemaker that keeps a championship heart beating year after year. Like a 32-year-old Muhammad Ali biding his time against a 25-year-old George Foreman in the Rumble in the Jungle.
“It’s typical Celtics basketball,” said Bryant. “They all just put their hard hats on, and they go out, play hard and figure things out. Whenever their backs against the wall, that’s when you really see the best from them. … It’s just like last year, when they made their playoff run. That’s just what this team does. They kind of rope-a-dope you.”
|Fast Break: Paul Pierce, Celtics slay Kobe Bryant, Lakers to win 6th straight sans Rajon Rondo||02.07.13 at 10:29 pm ET|
Kevin Garnett scored his 25,000th career point, Paul Pierce outshined Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard showed up (but not really), Fab Melo scored his first NBA points and the Celtics won their sixth straight game without Rajon Rondo, 116-95 against the Lakers. All in all, not a bad night for the C’s.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Exclusive membership: With a fadeaway jumper 3:52 into the second quarter, Kevin Garnett became the 16th player in NBA history to score 25,000 points. He joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Moses Malone, Elvin Hayes, Hakeem Olajuwon, Oscar Robertson, Dominique Wilkins, John Havlicek, Alex English, Reggie Miller and Jerry West. Garnett became the first player to amass 25,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 5,000 assists, 1,500 blocks and 1,500 steals in his career. During the following timeout, after Doc Rivers drew up a play, the crowd saluted Garnett, who returned the favor.
Winter Green: For the sixth time in seven games, Jeff Green scored double-digit points. He entered the game averaging 13 points, four rebounds, three assists and two blocks in 26.3 minutes a night this month. That’s 17.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 2.3 blocks per 36 minutes. That’s good. He’s also played better defensively, assuming some of the load on Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant over the past eight games.
The sequence: The Celtics closed the third quarter on a 12-3 run that seemed more like an 83-1 run. The remarkable stretch featured the best of what these C’s have to offer: the Brandon Bass mid-range game (18-footer), Avery Bradley‘s defense (picked Bryant’s pocket), Jason Terry on the runway (a transition triple), Jeff Green‘s athleticism (a fast-break dunk followed by a block of Antawn Jamison) and both Paul Pierce‘s step-back jumper (from 19 feet) and his sense for the moment (a dagger of a 3). All that gave the Celtics a 95-69 lead after three, sent the Garden crowd into a frenzy and reminded just about everyone of Game 6 of the 2008 NBA finals.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Foul mood: In a span of 39 seconds — just two minutes into the game — the Celtics committed five fouls, including two by Kevin Garnett. Enter Jason Collins, who didn’t fare much better despite his reputation as the so-called Dwight stopper. Collins quickly racked up three personal fouls, giving way to Chris Wilcox. On the bright side, the Lakers missed 10-of-18 first-half free throws (Howard: 1-6 FT) and Garnett survived the first half with the two fouls.
Kobe being Kobe: It’s probably hard for Celtics fans to stop and appreciate Bryant’s offensive bag of tricks, but there’s something special about the fact that two natural born scorers like he and Pierce have played in L.A. and Boston for the entirety of their careers. Bryant’s best shot of the night — a ridiculous up-and-under — got waved off by a foul, but his jump shot along the baseline to close out the first half was classic Kobe. Keeping the Lakers within striking distance for most of the night, Bryant finished with 27 points on 9-of-15 shooting.
No Leandro: The Celtics scored 100 points, and somehow Leandro Barbosa wasn’t involved. He finished 0-for-4 from the floor in 16 minutes, but still managed to contribute four rebounds and three assists. This is nitpicking, for sure, but the Celtics ran the Lakers out of the Garden and won their sixth straight game without Rondo. There wasn’t much that went wrong.
|Kevin Garnett to 4-year-old daughter: ‘Better have your ass in bed’||02.06.13 at 10:08 pm ET|
In the span of about 30 seconds after Wednesday”s 99-95 win over the Raptors, Kevin Garnett managed to say “consolidate” for the 10,000th time since Rajon Rondo‘s injury, call Leandro Barbosa “mi amigo,” proclaim the C’s “play hard as crap” (which is actually toned down from his similar, more expletive-laden comments last season) and tell his 4-year-old daughter, who he warmly refers to as Boo Boo, she “better have your ass in bed.” Good times. Garnett finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds and this wild shot over Andrea Bargnani:
|Should we believe Kevin Garnett trade rumors?||02.06.13 at 3:04 pm ET|
By now, you’ve heard the absurd Kevin Garnett trade rumors.
The Clippers inquired about him, or so Sporting News reporter Sean Deveney‘s sources said.
‘ Sean Deveney (@SeanDeveney) February 3, 2013
Or maybe the Clippers and Celtics never had that conversation, as ESPN, FOX Sports West and the Los Angeles Times reported. And maybe a reporter from SportsOnEarth.com who uses the Twitter handle @Powell2daPeople knows the inner desires of Garnett, one of the most guarded NBA superstars you’ll ever find.
Told Kevin Garnett will not waive no trade unless Pierce is dealt, and then only to LA. Lives in Malibu.
‘ Shaun Powell (@Powell2daPeople) February 4, 2013
Ok, so first the Celtics must trade Paul Pierce, and then Garnett will waive his no-trade clause for a deal that’s never been discussed? Got it. Actually, wait, what about Denver? Does KG want to play for the Nuggets in another trade that’s never been mentioned? Not according to The Denver Post’s Mark Kiszla: “Through his representatives, Garnett has let it be known he has no current interest in the Nuggets.”
The question everyone should be asking: Which teams would want Kevin Garnett?
|Grant Hill on Doc Rivers: ‘He’s a great communicator’||02.04.13 at 10:45 am ET|
On an afternoon when Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro didn’t exactly cover himself in glory, his veteran wingman Grant Hill had high praise for the coach in the locker room across the hall.
Del Negro opted not to foul Celtics Courtney Lee or Paul Pierce in the final 26.6 seconds of a 103-101 game. As a result, Lee delivered the ball to Pierce, who dribbled the clock down before sinking a game-clinching 3-pointer with 2.6 seconds remaining. And the Clippers coach wouldn’t have changed a thing.
“I wouldn’t foul him there,” said Del Negro. “I wouldn’t want to foul Paul Pierce there. It was right on the number. We’ve done it both ways. If we get a stop there, we have three or four seconds to go. We’ve got plenty of time in a two-point game. If I was going to do it, I would’ve foul Courtney Lee early right when he got the ball, but you play the percentages. We went back and forth with it. We just felt like we could get it done.”
Lee (88.6 FT%) is actually shooting better from the free throw line this season than Pierce (78.8 FT%), and while the latter has made just 38.3 percent of his isolation attempts this winter, even if Pierce missed his shot with 2.6 seconds left, the Clippers would still have had to track down a long rebound and call timeout.
‘If coach addressed that,” said Hill, “then I don’t need to address it.’
The 40-year-old Hill played two seasons against Celtics coach Doc Rivers as a player and then three-plus years under the former Magic coach in Orlando from 2000-03.
“Doc’s a good friend and somebody who I’ve enjoyed getting to know — him and his family. I competed against him as a player and obviously played a little bit for him,” said Hill, who of course attended Duke, where Doc’s son Austin Rivers played his lone college season. “He’s just a good man. He’s come up here and had tremendous success, and you’re happy that he’s been able to establish himself as one of the better coaches in the league.”
|Courtney Lee: ‘We’re playing hard for Rajon Rondo’||02.03.13 at 5:36 pm ET|
“I wouldn’t say that all,” said Courtney Lee, who replaced Rondo in the C’s starting lineup. “Rondo’s an All-Star. Any time you can add an All-Star to your team, your team is going to be better, so we definitely miss Rondo. We don’t look at it as we’re better off without Rondo, I think we came together and we’re playing hard for Rondo.”
That those remarks come from Lee might come as a surprise to those who listened to Grantland writer Zach Lowe‘s assertion that “Lee has been really unhappy in Boston because he feels like the whole offense is Rondo pounding the ball, and he doesn’t get to do anything.” Lee has since denied the report.
|Fast Break: Paul Pierce, Celtics sink Clippers ship||02.03.13 at 3:44 pm ET|
The Celtics nearly blew a 19-point halftime lead, as the Clippers closed to within a single possession with three minutes to play, but a long Jason Terry jumper with 1:09 remaining and Paul Pierce‘s 3-pointer with 2.5 seconds on the clock helped put the game away, 106-104. Matt Barnes and 37 combined turnovers made for an ugly basketball game, but the C’s improved to 4-0 since All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo‘s season-ending ACL injury.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Bench production: Facing what many consider the NBA’s best bench — save for Eric Bledsoe‘s insertion into the Clippers starting lineup in place of the injured Chris Paul (knee) — the C’s reserves made a statement in the first half. The Celtics bench outscored their counterparts 32-5 in the opening 24 minutes, reaching that total on just 15 shots. Terry and Jeff Green led the way with nine points apiece by the break.
Jamal ball: Conversely, the Celtics kept Jamal Crawford and his explosive offense under control until he heated up late. C’s coach Doc Rivers stuck Avery Bradley on the perennial Sixth Man of the Year candidate, and when Bradley picked up three first-half fouls, Courtney Lee picked up where his backcourt mate left off. Crawford, who broke his nose against the Raptors on Friday, grew so frustrated that he abandoned his protective facemask.
Balancing act: Once again, just about everybody stepped up in Rondo’s absence. Green, Terry and Leandro Barbosa all reached double digits off the bench. Pierce owned the third quarter. Brandon Bass tied his career high in assists (4). And Jason Collins set a new season high for scoring (5). Rivers needed to capture his team’s attention after a 20-23 start; it’s too bad it took Rondo’s season-ending injury to do it.
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