|Why Jason Terry thrives on closing out games||11.24.12 at 1:03 am ET|
The 35-year-old had made a career out of doing it to that point, so it’s safe to say he was champing at the bit for the opportunity to make the shot that either gave the C’s the final lead or proved to be the dagger in a game going down to the wire.
Terry got that opportunity in his 13th game as a Celtic, when, with the C’s holding onto a five-point lead in the final minute of the game against the Thunder, he took a pass from Rajon Rondo and hit a three-pointer to put the final nail in the coffin and make it 106-98 with 51 seconds remaining.
Hitting a big shot is nothing new for Terry, who is fourth on the all-time three-point list with 1,808.
“I’ve been making a living off shots like that my entire career,” Terry said. “I’m never scared of the moment.”
Fourteen years into his career, there hasn’t been too much to suggest that Terry should be afraid of taking the shot when it matters most. So what makes Terry programmed to want the ball in that instance? Surprisingly enough, it’s a past failure from some 20 years ago that has stuck with him ever since.
Terry says that when he was a sophomore at Franklin High School in Seattle in the early 90s, he took the final shot with the game on the line in the state tournament and missed, ending the careers of many of his teammates on a senior-heavy team.
Terry has used that missed shot as motivation ever since, as he says the play taught him to be confident, make or miss.
“My coach always told me, ‘You’ve got big balls to take a shot when you’re the only sophomore on the team and we’ve got all seniors,’” Terry recalled. “It basically ended their careers, but it gave me confidence in mine for the rest of my time.”
Since then, Terry’s put that memory to good use, and his ability to sink shots in the clutch earned him his first NBA championship in 2011. With the series tied at two games apiece and the Mavericks narrowly holding onto a four-point lead in the final minute of Game 5, Terry hit a deep three to make it a seven-point game with 33.3 seconds remaining and seal the victory for Dallas. In the series-clinching Game 6, his pull-up jumper for two points in the final two minutes extended Dallas’ lead to 12 points as the Mavericks and Terry went on to win their first NBA title.
Still early in his Celtic career, Terry hadn’t really gotten to make a big shot for the C’s yet, but he knew the time would come. On the season, five of his 20 three-pointers (he’s attempted 47) have come in the fourth quarter, though none of them were of the magnitude of Friday night’s dagger. His late three on Friday was the first three-pointer Terry had made in the fourth quarter since Nov. 9 against the 76ers, a span of eight games.
Now Terry looks forward to making many more big shots in games that matter down the stretch. After all, this is the same guy who already has a tattoo of the Lucky the Leprechaun with the Larry O’Brien trophy on his bicep. Terry wants to win, and he wants to be the one who closes out wins. All these years later, he owes that mentality to his missed shot as a sophomore in high school.
“Sometimes through your biggest failures, you [achieve] your greatest successes,” he said. “That’s just the way I’ve been bred. You hate for games to come down to situations like that, but I love it.”
|Fast Break: Jeff Green scores 17 as Celtics beat Thunder||11.23.12 at 10:00 pm ET|
Green, who was playing against the Thunder for the first time since being traded to the C’s in February of 2011 in a deal that sent Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City, contributed 17 points off the bench for the Celtics. His points were a season-high, as his previous best this season was a 16-point performance against the Jazz on Nov. 14.
Much of the damage was done in the second and third quarters for the Celtics, as they entered the second quarter trailing, 28-21, before outscoring Oklahoma City 27-17 and 29-20 in the second and third quarters, respectively. The C’s had to fend off a strong fourth quarter from Oklahoma City as the game came down to the wire, but a three-pointer from Jason Terry with 36.7 seconds helped secure the victory for Boston.
The win put the C’s back over .500 with a 7-6 record. Boston had lost two straight entering the contest. The Celtics will next travel to Orlando to face the Magic on Sunday.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
- Rajon Rondo extended his streak of games with 10 or more assists to 36. Rondo picked up his 10th of the night early in the third quarter when he assisted a Jason Terry three -pointer that made it a 58-49 contest in favor of the Celtics. He finished the night with 16 assists.
Rondo’s streak is the third-longest in NBA history, and he can tie John Stockton’s 1989 streak with his 37th such game on Sunday against the Magic in Orlando. Magic Johnson holds the NBA record with 46 games with 10 or more assists.
- The C’s went on a 7-2 run to close the Thunder’s lead when Jared Sullinger came off the bench early in the second quarter. Oklahoma City took a full timeout after Sullinger picked up a rare offensive rebound for the C’s and put in a layup to make it 32-30. Following the timeout, Sullinger answered a Nick Collison layup by knocking down a 20-foot jumper to keep it a two-point game.
- The Celtics were helped during their second-quarter comeback by a Kevin Durant charge that made for the Thunder star’s third foul of the night. Durant came out of the game, and from there the C’s outscored the Thunder, 16-9, until halftime. That included Boston taking the lead, as a 3-pointer from Rajon Rondo followed by a defensive rebound allowed Chris Wilcox to score and give the C’s a 39-38 lead. Boston had trailed by as many as nine, but held a three-point lead (48-45) at the half.
- How about a team-best plus-15 for Leandro Barbosa? In 11 minutes, the guard contributed no points, a rebound and two assists, but the results were there for the C’s when he was on the floor.
WHAT WENT WRONG
- The Celtics allowed 100 or more points for the sixth time this season. Last season, they had allowed their opponents to hit the century mark just twice in their first 31 games. Friday’s contest was the first game the C’s had won in which they allowed that many points, as they were 0-5 entering Friday in games in which their opponent scored 100.
- The Celtics created more of a presence inside, as the C’s matched Oklahoma City’s first-half points in the paint with 22, but in the end were outscored in the paint as a team for the third consecutive game (the Thunder held a 46-36 advantage in the paint). In their previous two games, the Celtics were outscored in the paint 58-34 against the Spurs and 44-30 against the Pistons.
- Kevin Garnett had a rather quiet night offensively for for the first three quarters, as he had just six points entering the fourth. Garnett turned it on in the fourth, adding 11 more points to give him 17 on the night. Garnett also finished the contest with a plus-14.
|Doc Rivers on Celtics defense: ‘We have to get our stuff right’||11.23.12 at 7:10 pm ET|
Entering Friday night’s game, the Celtics have allowed 100 or more points in five of their 12 games, with the 6-6 C’s having lost all five games in which they’ve allowed such an offensive night to their opponent. By comparison, the C’s only allowed their opponents to score 100 points twice in their first 31 games of last season (0-2).
After Wednesday’s 112-100 loss to the Spurs, Rajon Rondo lamented the Celtics’ defensive woes, saying that the team needed to do a better job of focusing on assignments during their morning shootarounds. Though the C’s had a light shootaround on Friday, most of the time they spent was looking at video of their in-game defensive woes.
“We’ve got to get our stuff right first. Rondo, in [saying] that, is half-right, but it also starts with each individual doing their jobs,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Friday. “What we wanted to show them today was how many individual breakdowns each guy had. It’s funny when you look at it. It’s not a lot by one guy, but when you have three or four by each guy, that means you’re going to give up 58 percent shooting and give up 100-and-whatever points.”
Rivers pointed to the team’s struggles defending the pick-and-roll, and noted that all of the Spurs’ 3-pointers (they shot 8-of-16 on 3s as a team) came against their pick-and-roll defense.
“That’s us,” Rivers said. “A lot of it is pick-and-roll. When you look at San Antonio, I think every 3 they had came off a pick-and-roll. I think they had one in transition when [Gary] Neal pushed the ball up and pulled up and took a 3, but every single one of their 3s came off our pick-and-roll coverage. We have to be better.”
|Admittedly ‘lackadaisical’ Jeff Green finally shows he can be mean||11.14.12 at 11:32 pm ET|
When Jeff Green emphatically dunked on Al Jefferson in the fourth quarter Wednesday night and proceeded to stare the posterized big man down, things got loud. The Garden was full of fans and teammates alike that were happy to finally see an aggressive Green, but one voice overpowered everyone else.
“I can’t tell you [what he said],” Green added. “Use your imagination. Think Kevin Garnett, and the first thing [that comes to mind]. It was explicit, but he said to me the other day what I needed to be. That’s basically what he said.”
That term would be “an [expletive]-hole,” something Garnett had said Green needed to be following Saturday’s game against the Bucks.
“Jeff’s a really, really nice guy,” Garnett said on Saturday. “Some nights, you’ve just gotta be an [expletive]-hole.”
Green granted that wish when he took a pass from Garnett, drove to basket and dunked with authority over Jefferson. To make it even meaner, Green stared down Jefferson as he walked away, earning him a technical foul for taunting. The 26-year-old Green admitted he earned the tech.
“I did,” he said. “I guess you can’t look at the guy anymore. Courtney Lee said he’ll pay for it, so we’ll see.”
Garnett was not available for comment after the game due to a minor family matter, but he made his thoughts on the play clear on the court, as he could be seen pushing Green and enthusiastically barking his praise following the play.
He wasn’t the only teammate to praise Green, however. As Green prepared to field questions from reporters, rookie Jared Sullinger, whose locker is next to Green’s, gave his teammate daps and said, “Congratulations, Jeff. You made [SportsCenter's] No. 1.”
Green finished the night with 16 points, four rebounds and two assists in a season-high 27 minutes. He said he hopes to see his dunk on SportsCenter, but his biggest takeaway on the night was a much-needed confidence-booster.
“I had been playing a little lackadaisical as far as the effort before the prior couple of games, so it felt good to get that. It kind of boosts your confidence up and gets you going a little bit,” he said.
It isn’t every day that you hear a professional athlete volunteer to a scrum full of reporters and camera that his effort hasn’t been there. That’s normally the type of stuff that gets revealed deep into a 1-on-1, if it all. Perhaps Green just knows that more is expected of him, and he’s ready to be a little meaner.
“I don’t think anybody needs to tell me to be aggressive,” Green said. “It’s something that I see. It’s something that I need to do.”
Ben Rohrbach contributed to this report.
|Chris Wilcox: Wednesday’s performance ‘motivation for me to keep going’||11.08.12 at 1:54 am ET|
Chris Wilcox doesn’t know when he’s getting into a game or for how long, so he’s come up with a motto to keep him fresh.
“If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready,” Wilcox said after the Celtics‘ 100-94 overtime win over the Wizards. “That’s my motto and that’s what I go by. I just go and work out hard and do whatever I’ve got to do, so when my number is called I’ll be right in the rotation and do exactly what the coach wants me to do.”
Wilcox stayed ready on Wednesday, as he came in with just over three minutes left in the third quarter and made the most of the four minutes he played. The power forward made his presence felt right away by blocking a Kevin Seraphin jump shot and drawing a foul on Jan Vesely to set up a pair of successful free throws. After a Rajon Rondo steal, Wilcox put in a layup on which he was fouled, though he failed to make it a three-point play.
That missed free throw proved to be Wilcox’ only blemish on the night, as he dew another another foul late in the third and made both free throws. By the time he returned to the bench early in the fourth quarter, he had six points and two rebounds to go with his block, and the Celtics were a plus-8 with him on the floor.
Wilcox, of course, was limited to 28 games last season by a heart irregularity, as he and teammate Jeff Green both underwent heart surgery for their conditions. He’s still easing his way back in after back issues in the preseason, but both Wilcox and his teammates can look at Wednesday’s performance as encouraging.
“I thought Chris played great for us tonight. He gave us great minutes,” said Kevin Garnett. “For he and Jeff, knowing their story, knowing their journey, it’s inspirational to be honest with everybody here. To get a chance to see someone still get a chance to do something that they love and do it passionately is moving, and I’m just glad he had a great night. He was able to help us, and I thought he turned the game around.”
Said Wilcox: “I’m trying to get back there. I’m not 100 percent where I want to be, but great things like this happen, and that’s motivation for me to keep going. Like I said, I just have to stay ready so I don’t have to get ready.”
|Jason Terry de-ices the ‘Jet’ and makes a golf analogy||11.07.12 at 11:47 pm ET|
Terry, who signed with the C’s in the offseason to anchor Boston’s bench, had his best game as a Celtic Wednesday, a night that was highlighted by him doing his signature “Jet” celebration after sinking a three-pointer in the fourth-quarter to give the C’s an 80-76 lead.
“We finally de-iced the Jet,” C’s rookie Jared Sullinger said after the win. “He’s back.”
“They’ve been begging for it, and I was finally able to give it to them tonight,” Terry said with a grin. “The ‘Jet’ just don’t come out for nothing. [If] we’re losing, you won’t see no runway, none of that. We needed a spark, we needed some energy and the fans responded well to us.”
Both Terry’s minutes (32) and points (16) were season-highs for the 35-year-old. Though teammates praised his performance, Terry wasn’t thrilled with making just two of his five attempted threes.
“For me it’s about making shots,” Terry said. “If this was golf, I thought I left a couple birdies out there from deep tonight, but it will come. I said this is a process, and for us it’s about playing 48 minutes of Celtics basketball. Tonight we played in spurts, we played in stretches. That’s not going to be good enough for us, so we’ll be back at practice tomorrow and working hard and building for the next game.”
|Doc Rivers went to see ‘Argo’ during the election||11.07.12 at 7:02 pm ET|
Doc Rivers donated $5,000 to Barack Obama‘s campaign, so his rooting interest in Tuesday night’s election was well-known. However, the Celtics coach did not spend Tuesday night glued to the television awaiting results, but instead went to the movies to pass the time.
“That was a lot of fun,” Rivers said of seeing Obama get re-elected. “Nerve-racking, actually. I went to a movie during the middle of it because I couldn’t take it anymore. I was getting texts from people telling me what was going on, and I didn’t trust that, so I was turning into Karl Rove. It was unbelievable.”
Rivers went to see “Argo,” the Ben Affleck movie about the Iran hostage crisis of 1979, but he didn’t make it all the way through the movie.
“I got a text in the middle of it that he won, so I left, so I didn’t see the end of ‘Argo,’” Rivers said with a laugh. “And it was terrific, so I’ve got to go pay again, which if you know me, that really pisses me off, having to pay twice.”
A reporter was quick to point out that Rivers didn’t need to see the end of the movie to know what happened, as it’s based on a true story.
“Yeah,” a grinning Rivers replied. “It’s like [knowing the end of] ‘Titanic,’ but it’s still a good movie.”