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Rajon Rondo on All-Star: ‘To be loved by so many people … it’s a great feeling’ 01.18.13 at 8:08 pm ET
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Rajon Rondo gives it up for Boston fans. (AP)

Rajon Rondo is very grateful to Celtics fans for his selection to the Eastern Conference All-Star squad on Thursday. Before Friday’s game he expressed his appreciation.

“It’s a great feeling, especially being named this way amongst your fans, so many votes,” Rondo said. “It’s humbling and it’s a grateful experience for me.

“To be loved by so many people rooting for me and wanting me to be a starter in the East, it’s a great feeling.”

Rondo garnered 924,180 votes, second only to Dwyane Wade. Rondo will team with Wade, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Kevin Garnett on the starting five for the East on Feb. 17 in Houston.

This is Rondo’s fourth All-Star selection, being named each year since 2010.

Rondo said he will target KG in the post and is still hoping Paul Pierce makes it as a reserve.

“I’m a little bit biased but without Paul, we wouldn’t be where we are right now,” Rondo added. “He’s been Mr. Consistent and he’s brought it every night for us. He’s always carried the load or scoring, which we need at times, so I’d definitely consider Paul as well.”

His mission? To end a run of Western Conference dominance in the game.

“I’ll still try to run the show,” Rondo said. “I want to win this year. We haven’t won in a while … but we definitely want to win this year.”

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Avery Bradley (ribs) out as Leandro Barbosa starts 01.18.13 at 6:48 pm ET
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Avery Bradley

Avery Bradley will sit out Friday night’s game against the Bulls with sore ribs suffered in Wednesday’s loss to the Hornets. Leandro Barbosa will make his second start of the season in his place.

Friday’s starting five of Rajon Rondo, Barbosa, Kevin Garnett, Brandon Bass and Paul Pierce marks the 11th different lineup coach Doc Rivers has used this season.

This is the first game Bradley has missed since missing the first 30 games as he recovered from shoulder surgeries. The team went 14-16 in his absence. With Bradley back, the Celtics are 6-2 and have improved their defense significantly. Bradley is averaging 8.1 points in eight games while the team has not allowed 100 points. The Celtics are allowing just 86.8 points in Bradley’s return.

For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.

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Doc Rivers on Kevin Garnett as an All-Star: That’s ‘pretty cool’ 01.18.13 at 6:43 pm ET
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Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said he was very happy for his players Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett to make the All-Star team. Before Friday’s game with the Bulls at TD Garden, Rivers said both were very worthy and deserving.

“I think it’s great,” Rivers said. “I think they both deserve it. It’s something Rondo, at this point of his life and age, really wants to do and make and probably Kevin wants the honor of it, especially with the fact Kevin didn’t make it last year and to make it this year is pretty cool.”

Rivers laughed when told that TNT NBA TV analysts Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal said Garnett didn’t deserve to be starting on the Eastern squad in place of Tyson Chandler.

“I’ll let them talk,” Rivers added. “That’s fine. Kevin’s on it, right? That’s all that matters. There’s a lot of people that disagree with them.”

Rondo indicated before the game that he will target Garnett during the game in Houston, trying to feed him plenty of lobs to get him in the offense.

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Doc Rivers on coaching against son Austin Rivers: ‘I didn’t enjoy it, honestly’ 01.16.13 at 11:50 pm ET
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Doc Rivers didn’t enjoy himself Wednesday. Not only did his Celtics see their six-game win streak end in a 90-78 loss to the Hornets at TD Garden, he had to coach against his son with incredible mixed emotions. Austin Rivers had eight points in 22 minutes off the New Orleans bench.

“You know, it was strange,” Rivers said. “It was funny, the one time he did something, I was about to say something and I didn’t say it – I caught myself – I forgot he was on the other team. Other than that, it’s just a strange dynamic. 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.”

Did his eye keep drifting to Austin?

“No, you detach from it, but you do see him,” the coach acknowledged. “I mean, you see your son run by you down the floor. I mean, that’s just different. The one time he made the layup in front of our bench and run right by you, you know I’m used to like, ‘Keep going!” and instead I’m yelling at my guy for letting him get to the basket. So it’s just different. George Karl this summer, we were laughing, and he said, ‘It’s going to be strange’ and he said, ‘your guy’s going to play more.’ And he was right.”

When Rivers got knocked to the floor by Paul Pierce at the end of the third quarter, Rivers said he didn’t fear for his son at all. As a matter of fact, he didn’t even flinch.

“No, I don’t,” Rivers said. “That’s one thing my kids know with me; when you go to the floor I don’t flinch. ‘Get the hell up.’ They all laugh at that, because that’s how I’ve always been. I never flinch. My wife would run out there; I’m not going out there. I mean, get the hell up.”

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Celtics stung by Hornets in an upset 01.16.13 at 10:22 pm ET
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Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, right, hugs his son, New Orleans Hornets shooting guard Austin Rivers. (AP)

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.

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Austin Rivers: ‘My father’s gone through stuff 100 times worse’ 01.16.13 at 8:19 pm ET
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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 »

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Rajon Rondo: ‘I may have a mark on my back’ with NBA young guns 01.14.13 at 11:54 pm ET
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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 »

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