|Fast Break: Carmelo Anthony, Knicks stomp Rajon Rondo-less Celtics||03.12.14 at 9:47 pm ET|
A 17-foot Raymond Felton jump shot 58 seconds into the game gave the Knicks a 2-0 advantage, and they never looked back, stretching the lead to 10 in the first 4:21 and ultimately handing the Celtics a 116-92 loss.
The C’s (22-43) kept pace with the Jazz, Lakers and Kings out West for the NBA’s fourth-worst record. Jeff Green‘s 27 points paced the offense, although much of his scoring came in the second half of a blowout and he added just two rebound and no assists. Kris Humphries (15 points), Jerryd Bayless (15 points) and Jared Sullinger (10 points, 8 rebounds) also reached double figures.
Meanwhile, the Knicks (26-40) moved within three games of bumping Atlanta from the eighth seed in the disastrous Eastern Conference. Carmelo Anthony led New York with 34 points and nine rebounds.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Worst first: The undermanned Celtics didn’t exactly make a defensive stand in the opening quarter. The Knicks connected on 63.6 percent of their shots — including 5-of-6 3-pointers — to to snatch a double-digit lead and seemingly put the game out of reach in the game’s first five minutes. The C’s had no answer for Anthony, who netted 13 points on 3-of-4 shooting from distance in the first quarter.
No Rondo: It doesn’t appear the Celtics point guard will make an appearance on the second night of a back-to-back this season. Since the C’s have four such contests in their final 17 games, that should be welcome news to anyone rooting for Ping Pong balls. Of course, they could have sat Rondo on the first night of the back-to-back in Indiana, but alas he sat the more winnable game on paper in front of the home crowd on Wednesday.
Hardaway got away: Would you rather have Kelly Olynyk or Tim Hardaway Jr.? The Knicks selected the Hall of Fame finalist’s son eight slots behind the Celtics, and once you throw in the two second-round picks Danny Ainge dealt to move up and grab the 7-footer, the scales probably tip in Hardaway’s favor. Especially after he submitted a a near-flawless first half against the C’s, scoring 17 points on seven shots to give New York a 68-48 lead at the break.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Hump day: While many Celtics are playing for pride at this point, Humphries is competing for his next contract. A veteran in an ever-changing role on a young squad, he’s been a steady presence in an otherwise unsteady locker room, as the rest of the acquisitions in the Nets trade are through wearing green for the rest of the season. Humphries was the only Celtics player in double figures at halftime, and his chase-down block of Hardaway in the third quarter was the stuff of legend. (Well, as much as a Kris Humphries chase-down block can be.)
Halftime speech: The Celtics could have easily thrown in the towel at the break, but they came out punching in the third quarter. Green’s personal 7-0 run sliced New York’s lead to single digits with 13 minutes to go, but the comeback was short-lived. The Knicks starter quickly reestablished a comfortable advantage.
|Would Paul Pierce play for Celtics again? ‘Yeah, why not?’||03.07.14 at 11:22 pm ET|
Pierce, who scored 10 points in a 91-84 loss to the C’s on Friday night, has told reporters all season he would like to join the team’s front office when his playing career is over, but this is the first time since joining the Nets he has mentioned potentially playing for his former team again. Pierce is in the final year of his contract with the Nets.
Meanwhile, Pierce had plenty to say about current Celtics captain, even joking about the media firestorm that raged after Rajon Rondo stayed in Los Angeles for his birthday while the C’s played on his off day in Sacramento.
“Me and Rondo share a special bond. We’ll always be friends. We’ll always have something in common with our championship. Our kids still hang out together. They hung out for his birthday actually.” Pierce paused for laughter. “I respect him and what he’s doing moving forward with this franchise, and it will always be that way.”
After watching Rondo surpass his career-high in 3-pointers for a season with three in the first quarter, Pierce complimented his former teammate on the added dimension to Rondo’s game.
“He’s unstoppable. I’ve always said, the more he improves, the more he expands his game, he’s one of the best. If he’s coming down and knocking down 3′s, it’s almost impossible to keep him out of the paint at times. The way he shoots that floater, the way he finds people in traffic, if he consistently knocks down that shot, watch out.”
|Fast Break: Rajon Rondo, Celtics freeze Paul Pierce, Nets||03.07.14 at 9:55 pm ET|
Rajon Rondo led all scorers with 20 points, adding nine assists and seven rebounds, and the Celtics (21-41) recovered from Wednesday’s miserable loss to the Warriors to snap a two-game losing streak. Jeff Green (15 points), Kelly Olynyk (13 points) and Jerryd Bayless (14 points) also reached double figures.
The Nets (30-30) fell back to .500, as Pierce finished with 10 points.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Moto Rondo: Perhaps motivated by the presence of rival Deron Williams and old friend Paul Pierce in town, Rondo came to play. He connected on his first three 3-point attempts, setting a new personal standard for a season, and scored 13 first-quarter attempts. The triple-double watch began early, and the C’s led 26-20 after one.
Technical KO: After scoring a team-high 19 points against the Warriors (somebody had to), Olynyk said he felt like he was figuring out opposing NBA defenses — how different players defend the pick-and-roll, drive-and-kick, etc. — and it showed again Friday. Scoring from 3-point range, on the drive and in the post, he abused Mason Plumlee early, even if Plumlee isn’t exactly Kevin Garnett. Now, Olynyk only needs to figure out his own NBA defense, but he showed grit, slapping the ball out of Shaun Livingston‘s hands as he attempted a few post-whistle layups. Had he made the trip, Garnett would’ve respected that. If only he were in Boston to tutor Olynyk on that end.
3 party: In addition to Rondo’s trio of 3-pointers, undrafted rookie Chris Babb drained a couple and the Celtics connected six of their 13 attempts from long-distance before the break. (Like Chris Johnson before him, Babb is earning well deserved playing time purely on effort.) But the bigger story was Brooklyn’s futility from beyond the arc. The Nets missed all 17 of their first-half attempts and naturally trailed 53-41 heading into the locker room.
|Rajon Rondo gives Louis Corbett his autographed game-worn sneakers||03.06.14 at 5:10 pm ET|
Rajon Rondo gets a lot of flak, but this was an extremely cool move. The Celtics granted 12-year-old New Zealander Louis Corbett‘s wish of seeing his favorite team play before losing his eyesight to retinitis pigmentosa.
Corbett’s favorite player, Rondo, who greeted him before the game, made sure Celtics public relations director Heather Walker delivered his autographed game-worn sneakers to the young boy. The Corbetts posted video of his reaction on their Facebook page. Rondo being Rondo, he probably would have preferred nobody ever knew.
As Brad Stevens said after the C’s lost 108-88 to the Warriors, “It’s the way we should be. It’s the way the organization should be. We should give back to the community. I don’t know that we should necessarily be applauded for it. I think we should just do it, and stories like that are uplifting to all of us.”
(h/t Red’s Army)
|Nets’ Kevin Garnett (back) will not travel to Boston||03.06.14 at 4:40 pm ET|
The former Celtics star will miss a fourth straight game with back spasms. He has averaged 6.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 21.0 minutes over 49 games for the Nets (30-29) this season. Mason Plumlee will start at center in Garnett’s absence.
Paul Pierce, however, will make the trip. He is averaging 13.5 points (43.2 FG%), 4.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.1 steals in 28.8 minutes over 54 games in a Brooklyn uniform. The Celtics paid video tribute to Pierce and Garnett in their emotional return to the Garden on Jan. 26.
“I think as long I’m in the NBA, it’s still going to be a little emotional for me,” Pierce told New York Newsday. “I played so many regular-season games, so many big games on that floor, so many memories that are never going to go away on that floor. So, it’s still going to be a little emotional. Probably not as much, but when you have those memories, it’s tough to let it go.”
|Fast Break: Warriors wallop punchless Celtics||03.05.14 at 9:47 pm ET|
As the Warriors’ lead ballooned to 30 by the end of the third quarter, Celtics fans grew restless at the Garden. They chanted “Let’s go Tupac” after a lookalike of the rapper appeared on the Jumbotron, and then followed with a “Scal-a-bri-ne” chorus for old time’s sake (Brian Scalabrine is now an assistant coach on Mark Jackson‘s staff).
Indeed, the season has come to this. Golden State delivered a 108-88 knockout blow that felt even worse, and the Celtics (20-41) held onto the NBA’s fourth-worst record. (Might as well plug the latest weekly NBA Draft Watch.)
Only because it’s customary, here are Wednesday’s double-digit scorers for the Celtics: Kelly Olynyk (team-high 19 points), Rajon Rondo (14 points, 7 assists), Brandon Bass (11 points, 8 assists), Jared Sullinger (11 points) and Jerryd Bayless (10 points).
WHAT WENT WRONG
Turnovers: After Andre Iguodola‘s block of Jeff Green led to a rare two-handed Stephen Curry dunk midway through the first quarter, the Celtics threw two straight passes to the Warriors that would have become three consecutive fast-breaks dunks had it not been for an even more rare Kris Humphries chase-down block. The turnovers kept on coming, reaching a dozen by halftime, when the Warriors owned a 61-40 lead.
Iggy vs. Green: Speaking of that small forward matchup, Green (4 points, 2-7 FG) struggled mightily opposite the Warriors’ defensive anchor. Meanwhile, Iguodola’s early bunnies contributed to Golden State’s 58 points in the paint. Needless to say, their plus/minus numbers soared into the twenties in opposite directions.
General apathy: One second-quarter possession pretty much summed up what turned out to be one of the most lackluster performances of this lackluster Celtics season. In the span of 16 seconds, Jerryd Bayless missed a layup, Draymond Green blocked Kelly Olynyk‘s layup and Jermaine O’Neal (yes, that guy) blocked Kris Humphries‘ layup. For those of you counting at home, that’s three straight misses at the rim. By the end of the third quarter, the Celtics had 17 field goals and 17 turnovers. And trailed 84-54. Oh, it was ugly.
|Gerald Wallace undergoes surgery, officially out for remainder of Celtics season||03.04.14 at 1:04 pm ET|
Gerald Wallace is officially out for the remainder of the season, the Celtics announced on Tuesday. He underwent separate arthroscopic surgeries to repair a torn meniscus on his left knee and bone spurs in his left ankle.
Thus ends the first season of the cumbersome three years and $30.3 million remaining on his contract when Boston acquired him in the trade that sent Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets this past summer.
After failing to show up for his introductory press conference, he professed his love for David Ortiz and Tom Brady at Media Day. That’s where the highlights of his first Celtics season begin and end. The former NBA All-Star averaged 5.1 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.3 steals in 24.4 minutes over 58 games — all while regularly calling out his teammates over a lack of effort.
Meanwhile, Kelly Olynyk (toe) has shed his walking boot and could return from his two-game absence for Wednesday’s home tilt agains the Warriors. Likewise, Avery Bradley (ankle) will undergo an MRI to determine his status, according to reports out of Celtics practice.