|Rondo the salesman||07.14.10 at 5:04 pm ET|
WALTHAM — After passing a physical that finalized a two-year free agent deal, Jermaine O’Neal said that Rajon Rondo was the most important person to sell him on the value of signing with the Celtics.
“I had some great conversations with Doc [Rivers], Danny [Ainge] and Paul [Pierce] and Rondo, and Rondo actually was probably the guy who sold it the most, and I had great conversations with all four guys but he really helped me understand where my fit would be,” O’Neal said. “I’m not concerned about shots, I’m not concerned about minutes. I’m not concerned about anything but winning. At the end of the day, you can build up individual goals, but your validation is whether you win or not.”
O’Neal also gave credit to Rasheed Wallace, who also sold him on the quality of the organization. O’Neal said he texted Wallace to see if he could convince him to come out of retirement. He said he hadn’t heard back but would be getting together with him soon.
|Big Baby: Game 7 makes for long summer||06.18.10 at 7:50 am ET|
LOS ANGELES — Was the tank on empty? It was the same question asked after Game 7 against Orlando in 2009. And it’s a question that could linger with the Celtics all summer long after dropping the seventh and decisive game to the Lakers Thursday night at Staples Center.
The Celtics had built leads of 23-14 after one quarter, 40-34 at halftime and 57-53 going into the final period.
But the Celtics were outscored 30-22. And it’s the 30 points that most Celtics pointed to afterward as the real reason for the loss.
“Close is not enough,” summed up Glen Davis. “You’ve got to win it. This is the way it is. Someone else has to lose and it sucks. It’s how you look at it. It’s how you bounce back. I don’t know what’s going on with who’s coming back [next season]. But I’ll be ready when training camp comes around.”
Davis did acknowledge the play of one Laker in particular – Ron Artest. The forward burned the Celtics in Game 7 for 20 points, including a dagger of a 3 with just over a minute left that put the Lakers up six. He also ripped the ball from Davis’ own hands on a loose ball rebound with just under two minutes remaining and the Celtics down one possession.
“Artest was the difference in the game,” Davis said. “He wanted it. He took it from us.”
In the end, like everyone else in green, the next three months could be very difficult to stomach.
“It’s going to be a a long summer because of this. But, like I said, somebody has to lose and you have to take the approach in a positive way and look forward to next year.”
|TA: Hard to come to grips||06.18.10 at 7:24 am ET|
LOS ANGELES — No one took Thursday night’s loss harder than Tony Allen.
He was walking out of the Celtics dressing room and took a right-hand turn before bravely making a U-turn and agreeing to meet with reporters outside. He was the first Celtic player to try and express what had just happened.
Clearly heart-broken, he tried to come to grips with losing Game 7 of the NBA Finals, 83-79, as the Celtics fell short in their bid to win title No. 18. The Lakers won their 16th by rallying in the fourth quarter, outscoring Boston, 30-22.
“Definitely a tough one to swallow,” Allen began. “What I am going to say is I love this group of guys. It’s just a really emotional time for me. Just a tough one to swallow right here.”
Allen admitted that what makes this particularly hard to deal with is the uncertainty regarding veterans like Ray Allen and Rasheed Wallace and head coach Doc Rivers.
“I definitely want to see this group back but who knows,” Allen continued. “It’s not that surprising. We fought hard to get here it’s just a real unfortunate Game 7 for us to lose.
“I definitely want to see Doc back. I don’t know. It’s tough right now.”
With those words, Allen became choked up and was excused by the group of reporters.
|Ray: ‘One of the hardest feelings of my lifetime’||06.18.10 at 2:40 am ET|
LOS ANGELES — Celtics sharpshooter Ray Allen called the Game 7 loss to the Lakers Thursday night “one of the hardest feelings” of his life after the Lakers rallied for an 83-79 win over the Celtics at Staples Center, the first time in five tries the Lakers have beaten Boston in a Game 7.
Allen, in what could be his final game as a Celtic, finished with 13 points on 3-for-14 shooting.
“It’s disappointing,” Allen began. “This is probably one of the hardest feelings I’ve felt in my lifetime. We’re scratching and clawing, trying to do everything we could to pull this one out. That’s probably what hurt the most – just having the opportunity to win down the stretch. It didn’t go our way.”
And the mood in the locker room after what could be the final game together for these particular group of Celtics?
“Tears, just a lot of tears,” Allen said.
And would he return?
“It’s hard to think about playing,” he said. “You’ve got guys that are veteran players that come in and do their job every night. You know, we’re here for a reason. It’s tough to see it end this way.
“I’m extremely proud,” Allen continued. “We’re a group of guys that stay within ourselves and do what we’re capable of. We fought the good fight all the time. When people didn’t believe in us, we stayed true to ourselves and made sure we came in and did our jobs every day. We don’t win this final game, but we still have a lot to hold our heads high for.”
|Sheed gets the starting call||06.17.10 at 8:13 pm ET|
LOS ANGELES — Rasheed Wallace will start for the injured Kendrick Perkins in Game 7 of the NBA finals. Celtics coach Doc Rivers made the announcement about an hour before the game.
“He’s old. I figured I’d play the oldest guys,” Rivers joked of the 35-year-old Wallace before giving a serious explanation. “I just think it’s a good combination with Kevin [Garnett] because of the size, with Bynum’s size. I just think it’s a better fit for us.
“It also may give [Rajon] Rondo a chance to get loose early because of the spacing on the floor.”
The decision to go with a taller lineup against Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol also means that Glen Davis will come off the bench. Otherwise, Rivers doesn’t expect many other changes with the loss of Perkins to two torn ligaments in his right knee in Game 6.
“We’re not going to change a lot. We could, and if the game dictates that we need to do that, we’re ready to do it. But we’re not going to recreate the wheel tonight. We’re going to be basically who we’ve been. Not having Perk, we may have to do it a little different, but not much.”
[Click here to listen to Doc Rivers explaining his move to start Rasheed Wallace for the injured Kendrick Perkins.]
|Ray shoulders blame for Game 6||06.16.10 at 8:40 pm ET|
LOS ANGELES — Ray Allen took the blame for the bench not scoring a single point through three quarters on Tuesday in an 89-67 loss to the Lakers in Game 6 at Staples Center. The Celtics’ bench was outscored 24-0 through three periods as the Lakers built a 25-point lead.
That was some readily evident in Wednesday’s film session before practice in Los Angeles.
“A lot of missing and a lot of everything,” Allen said. “Just offensively, we’ve had this conversation before about the ball being stuck. We didn’t make the extra pass. It sucks, too, because we talk about this a lot in the aftermath of our losses. We saw it on film.
“You’re talking about the first quarter. We didn’t set a good trend. And talking about what our bench didn’t do, I take sole credit in the starting five for that because as the starters we didn’t set a good precedent. It’s on us me, Rondo, Kevin, Paul sitting right there, that’s the guys. You can look around at the guys coming off the bench or our coaching staff, but we’ve got to start the game on parallel, like getting back on defense, moving the ball on offense. Those are things that we have to do. Regardless of what plays are called, that’s the way it’s got to be for [Thursday's] game.
Desperation along with other emotions are on the line now.
” I think it’s a whole bunch of those emotions that you throw in the pot and mix them around,” Allen said. “As a team, as individuals, I don’t want to be sitting around in July having to ask myself, did I do everything that I could have done? Have any regrets? I don’t want to be that person. I want to do everything I can to leave it all on the floor.”
|Lakers preparing for a ‘fight’ in Game 7||06.16.10 at 7:50 pm ET|
LOS ANGELES — Game 7 is the ultimate test. For the Los Angeles Lakers it means even more.
The Lakers have a chance to finally beat the Celtics with the title on the line in a seventh and deciding game. Four times before the Lakers have had a chance and four times the Lakers were denied, most recently at the old Boston Garden in 1984 as the crowd rushed the parquet.
In 1969, it was the Celtics going on the road to the old Forum in Inglewood and winning Game 7, 108-106.
Thursday, the scene will be the Staples Center. And millions will be watching to see if the Lakers can finally get it done or do the Celtics walk away with their 18th title.
“Historic,” Lamar Odom said in a one-word characterization. “When you’re talking about these organizations and these teams, what they stand for, the pride. This is what you envisioned when you were a kid playing in your backyard. This was what it was all about.”
Odom said he is expecting a fierce battle from the Celtics, especially with Kendrick Perkins out with torn ligaments in his right knee.
“It’s going to be a fight,” Odom said. “It’s going to be a fight. We expect a tough game. You know, all these games have been tough. Even with last night’s score, to me that’s misleading, sometimes the games just go like that. That team still plays hard, still makes you work.”
The Lakers have battled back from two losses in Boston to tie the series. And now they enjoy the same chance the Celtics had in Game 6 two years ago – celebrating a title over their arch-rival with their own fans on their home court.
“It is what it is,” Derek Fisher said. “It’s something that each time a series starts, you don’t necessarily know how it’s going to play out and what’s going to happen and how the momentum is going to swing back and forth. But here we are, and to have this opportunity on our home floor to win a championship, you know, I don’t know if you can ask for anything else, regardless of the Game 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7. Whatever it would take to win, and we have an opportunity.
“I just think that after losing Game 5, we have been in a position since then that was not very complicated,” Fisher said. “It was pretty simple. You have to win the next game or your season is over, and not over in a way you’d like it to be. You know, as opposed to kind of, I guess, starting to become selfish and kind of bunker mentality.”
“Whether it’s pretty or not, the Lakers can get another monkey off their back with a win. In 1985, Magic Johnson and the Lakers had never beaten the Celtics for a title. They did and followed with one two years later. So, would this mean anything more special?
“It’s hard to answer that question,” Odom said. “A championship is a championship. Any time you have to fight this team really makes you fight I guess you appreciate it a little bit more.”