|Celtics stung by Hornets in an upset||01.16.13 at 10:22 pm ET|
In a game that was billed as the father-son contest, it was a twin brother who spoiled the night for the Celtics and put an end to their season-high six-game winning streak. Robin Lopez – the twin of Brooklyn’s Brook Lopez – scored 17 points while Al-Farouq Aminu added 16 points and eight rebounds to lead the Hornets to a 90-78 win over the Celtics Wednesday night at TD Garden. The Hornets pounded the Celtics on the glass, 48-33, and outscored them, 48-32, in the paint.
Austin Rivers, the son of Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, entered the game late in the first quarter, played 22 minutes and scored eight points. His highlight was drawing a foul on Paul Pierce with 0.4 seconds left in the third quarter. He made one of two free throws while the crowd booed.
Kevin Garnett had 15 points while Pierce had 12 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Celtics, who fell to 20-18 on the season. The Hornets, who were just 6-13 on the road coming in, improve to 13-26.
For the second straight night, the Celtics jumped out in front of an inferior opponent and appeared to be in for an easy night. But for a second straight night, the Celtics went mysteriously cold at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half, allowing the Hornets back in the game.
The Celtics opened up a 21-10 lead in the first quarter as Brandon Bass had seven points in the opening period as the Celtics took a 25-20 into the second quarter. But the Celtics went cold in the second quarter and were dominated on the board by rookie Anthony Davis and the Aminu. With the Celtics leading 29-22, New Orleans went on a 16-3 run to take the lead. The Celtics responded to take the lead on a Pierce three with 28 seconds left in the half. But Ryan Anderson answered with his own 3-pointer to give the Hornets a 44-43 lead at the half.
The Celtics were ice cold to open the third, as New Orleans went on a 8-0 run to open the period to build a 52-43 lead. Pierce finally ended the drought when he hit an 11-foot turnaround with 8:16 left in the third. New Orleans, behind Aminu and Robin Lopez, built their lead to 12 twice, leading 61-49 when Jason Terry sparked a 7-0 run with a jumper and a three.
The Celtics, who trailed 68-63 after three, closed to within three in the fourth quarter but could get no closer and faded down the stretch.
The Celtics conclude their season-long five-game homestand on Friday when they host the Bulls at 7 p.m. at TD Garden. For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Austin Rivers: ‘My father’s gone through stuff 100 times worse’||01.16.13 at 8:19 pm ET|
It has been a predictably difficult transition from the college game to the NBA game for rookie Austin Rivers. The Hornets rookie is shooting just 32.8 percent from the field after getting off to a hot start in the first month of the season. He’s coming off the bench for the 12-26 Hornets.
But all he had to do was look across the floor at the Celtics bench for inspiration. Rivers was in the building when his dad’s Celtics beat the Lakers in Game 6 in 2008 to claim their 17th world championship. It had extra special meaning for him.
“When they won versus LA. I saw the emotion on my dads face,” Austin Rivers said of Doc Rivers. “That was probably one of the happiest times I’ve ever felt for someone else. I was so proud and so happy just becaue Ive seen my father go through season where he’s only one 15 game, 20 games, and I’ve seen people come to the stands saying ‘fire Doc’….you wanna talk about a tough time? You think I’m having a tough time…my father’s gone through stuff 100 times worse, and look where he’s at now. To have someone in my corner who has been through all that, I know if he can do it, I gotta work hard and I can do it too.”
Doc has given Austin plenty of advice over the years and now is no different.
“Just to never let times or situations change the way you play or what you do best,” the rookie said. “I think that’s something I really need to work on is going out there and doing what I do best, and not trying to be somebody I’m not. I think when I do that I play a lot better, so that’s the main thing hes really focused with me on, lately in the past couple weeks, so that’s what I’m gonna continue to work on.
“I talk to him just about every day, or every other day, and we have been talking the past couple. You know I haven’t really been playing well and haven’t played my best the past four or five games, so I’ve got to go out there and play my game and be confident in myself. When you go out there and try to do things you’ve never done before, ever, its not going to work for you, especially in this league. So I’ve just got to go out there and be confident and have fun and stop thinking too much. You know, if you go out there and give it your all and do what you do, and things don’t go well, that’s life, that’s basketball. But I know they will turn around, so that’s what I’ve got to do, I’ve got to go play basketball and have fun.”
Has he thought about what will happen when he first checks into game?
“I think ill probably just check into the game,” Rivers said. “It’s not just another game. People can say that, but it’s not. I’m just going to go in there and try to play, well I’m gonna play and have fun. I know there will be free throws where I might say something to him, just like I would do with other coaches I know in the league…and just have fun with this man, just go iut there and compete and just play has hard as I can, because those guys in the other locker room, there’s gonna come after us, especially me probably. So I’ve got to go out there and be ready and just have fun with this.”
Other highlights from the Austin Rivers press conference before Wednesday’s game: Read the rest of this entry »
|Rajon Rondo: ‘I may have a mark on my back’ with NBA young guns||01.14.13 at 11:54 pm ET|
Rajon Rondo doesn’t need much to get motivated, so when he was asked by longtime Worcester Telegram & Gazette beat writer Bill Doyle before the game why his assist totals were down over the last 12 games, he had all the fuel needed to burn the Bobcats on Monday night. And burn them he did, recording his third triple-double of the season and 26th of his career, scoring 17 points, dishing 12 assists and grabbing 10 rebounds in Boston’s 100-89 win.
Doyle, to his credit, asked Rondo after the game if he were inspired by the pregame line of questioning.
“Because you told me my assists were down and I just wanted to just go out there and prove it to you that I can step up my game when need be,” Rondo said. “Greg [Dickerson] was asking me about Kemba Walker. I’m getting a little bit older and so the younger guys are coming in and I may have a mark on my back, being an older guy, made a couple of All-Star [Games], but I’m a target every night and I just want to go out and defend what I do best, and that is run the show. I made a lot of lucky shots tonight.”
And who are Rondo’s targets?
“Myself,” he said without hesitation.
As Doc Rivers pointed out pregame, he wasn’t that worried about Rondo’s assist totals. Rondo had just four double-digit assist games in his last 12 but was still averaging 8.9 assists in that stretch.
That changed Monday night when he had nine points, five assists and six rebounds in the first quarter alone.
“They made some shots and the ball bounced to me,” Rondo explained. “My bigs did a good job of blocking out and I was able to start quickly.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Rajon Rondo triples up on the Bobcats as Celtics win sixth straight||01.14.13 at 9:58 pm ET|
Rajon Rondo recorded his 26th career triple double and sparked a second-half rally as the Celtics shook free of the lowly Bobcats, 100-89, for their sixth straight win Monday night at TD Garden. Rondo completed the triple double with a rebound with four minutes left in the game and finished with 17 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. Paul Pierce led the Celtics in scoring with 19 points while Avery Bradley had 16 points, including 4-of-7 shooting from 3-point range. Jeff Green added 11 points off the bench for the Celtics, who improved to 20-17 on the season. Charlotte lost for the 23rd time in 25 games and fell to 9-28.
The Celtics appeared to be in line for an easy night when they jumped out to a 11-2 lead in the opening three minutes. Rondo was red-hot early, scoring seven points, dishing out four assists and grabbing four rebounds in the first five minutes. The Celtics built their first quarter lead up to as many as 13 points, 28-15, before settling for a 28-18 lead after one. The Celtics shot 63.2 percent in the first 12 minutes while the Bobcats were ice-cold at 7-for-25 (28 percent). Rondo finished the quarter with nine points, six rebounds and five assists, all team highs.
The Celtics built their lead to 18, 50-32, on a Pierce three-point play with 4:31 left in the second quarter. The Bobcats made a bit of a run at the end of the first half, closing on a 13-6 spurt, as the Celtics took a 56-45 halftime lead.
The tables were turned in the second half as the Celtics came out ice cold and were outscored by the Bobcats, 9-0, to open the third quarter. Rondo’s jumper stopped the run but Charlotte eventually tied the game, 58-58. The Celtics then scored the next seven points to take the lead for good. Boston led 76-70 after three.
The Bobcats were within four, 78-74, when Jared Sullinger and Rondo made back-to-back baskets to start a 9-0 run and open a 13-point lead. The run was capped by a Courtney Lee 3-pointer.
The Celtics are now 3-0 on their season-long five-game homestand, which continues Wednesday with a game against New Orleans and finishes up on Friday against the Bulls. For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Paul Pierce: Jared Sullinger at All-Star weekend is a ‘no-brainer’||01.14.13 at 9:15 pm ET|
Entering Monday, there wasn’t a hotter rookie in the NBA than Jared Sullinger. The first-year player out of Ohio State was a huge reason the Celtics bench had awoken from its slumber and helped the Celtics run off five straight wins. Sullinger had back-to-back double-doubles against the Suns and Rockets and is averaging 25.5 minutes per game in the first six games of January.
Sullinger is fourth among all rookies in rebounding at 5.9 rebounds per game and tied for fourth in double-doubles with three. But perhaps most significant to the Celtics is the contribution he’s made as a rookie on a team with championship expectations. Anthony Davis (New Orleans), Andre Drummond (Detroit) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Charlotte) are all on teams that will likely be watching the playoffs on TV in the spring.
Celtics captain Paul Pierce said there is no doubt in his mind Sullinger should be part of NBA All-Star weekend activities when a team of the best rookies take on a team of the best second-year players in Houston.
“I think that’s like a no-brainer,” Pierce said with a smile. “In the rookie class, I can’t even name five quality rookies. [Sullinger] is playing well and playing significantly for the ball club. I definitely think he should be there.”
|Doc Rivers: Rajon Rondo lower assist totals ‘just one of those stretches’||01.14.13 at 8:08 pm ET|
Celtics head coach Doc Rivers says he is not overly concerned about the lower assist totals of point guard Rajon Rondo in the last three weeks. Entering Monday’s game, Rondo averaged 8.3 assists over his last 12 games. He recorded double-digit assist totals in just four of those games.
“I don’t know. Maybe I’ll call [assistant GM, team counsel and stat guru] Mike Zarren and figure it out,” Rivers laughed. “Honestly, bench is playing really well and his minutes are down over the stretch as well. Ball movement is better and maybe it’s a by-product of that, but we can do that and he can still have high assist games as well. It’s just one of those stretches.”
Rivers also spoke about not taking the 9-27 Bobcats lightly. Charlotte started out the season 7-5 before losing 22 of their last 24 coming into Monday’s game in Boston. Rivers also confirmed that big-man Chris Wilcox (thumb) is getting closer to returning, and would dress but not play in Monday’s game as the Celtics need to dress 12 players for the game.
|Jared Sullinger ‘happy to hack’ while Celtics winning||01.12.13 at 1:29 am ET|
Jared Sullinger may be soft spoken but he certainly isn’t shy.
For the fifth time in 36 games, the Celtics rookie fouled out of a game. But all of the fouls are rolling off his back during a five-game winning streak that has transformed the Celtics from a 14-17 team to a 19-17 club that is starting to click and move up the Eastern Conference standings.
“As long as we’re winning I’m happy. Happy to hack,” Sullinger said with a big smile. “No biggie.”
Sullinger wasn’t laughing with 10:01 left in the game Friday when he picked up his fifth foul, with the Celtics leading 83-69. The Rockets scored the next 12 points.
But earlier in the game, Sullinger was the biggest reason the Celtics built a double-digit lead. He had 14 points and eight rebounds off the bench in the first half. That was the same number the Celtics starters had combined late in the first half.
“It’s coming easier,” Sullinger said. “Obviously, it’s been 36 games, so I should be used to the NBA by now. It’s just me and my comfort zone right now.”
“He’s playing better, so the coach has more confidence in him,” Doc Rivers added. “That’s [No.] 1. I said it early in the year, when he’s on the floor, he does the right stuff. And a lot of stuff you don’t see, just being able to throw him the ball. How many rookies have we ever thrown the ball to at the top of the circle, and he decides which way he wants to go with it? He just has a great calm about him. He helps us. Especially with that second unit, because you gotta always have a passing big in our offense, and he gives us that extra passing big.”
Sullinger finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds, his second straight double-double.
“We’re just playing hard, we’re in a groove right now. Five games, you know obviously we’re in a great groove right now,” Sullinger said. “I’m just playing hard, that’s all it is.”
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