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Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo among leaders in All-Star balloting 12.30.10 at 1:17 pm ET
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Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo are among the starters for the Eastern Conference in the latest round of All-Star balloting, released Thursday by the NBA. Garnett and Rondo both ranked second at their positions (behind Miami’s LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, respectively).

Orlando center Dwight Howard has the most votes of any Eastern Conference player, with Shaquille O’Neal in second at the center position.

Garnett leads Amar’e Stoudemire by about 75,000 votes for the second starting forward spot with Paul Pierce a distant fourth. Rondo’s lead over Derrick Rose is a little more than 50,000 votes. Fans can vote on NBA.com and the final results will be announced Jan. 27.

Here’s a breakdown of the latest results as supplied by the NBA:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Forwards: LeBron James (Mia) 969,459; Kevin Garnett (Bos) 712,555; Amar’e Stoudemire (NYK) 637,486; Paul Pierce (Bos) 381,348; Chris Bosh (Mia) 260,007; Josh Smith (Atl) 193,897; Carlos Boozer (Chi) 159,073; Danilo Gallinari (NYK) 127,726; Andre Iguodala (Phi) 115,660; Danny Granger (Ind) 107,145.

Guards: Dwyane Wade (Mia) 938,402; Rajon Rondo (Bos) 777,310; Derrick Rose (Chi) 721,122; Ray Allen (Bos) 392,441; John Wall (Was) 169,219; Gilbert Arenas (Orl) 144,889; Brandon Jennings (Mil) 128,556; Raymond Felton (NYK) 105,425; Joe Johnson (Atl) 99,598; Jamal Crawford (Atl) 97,809.

Centers: Dwight Howard (Orl) 988,572; Shaquille O’Neal (Bos) 410,663; Joakim Noah (Chi) 153,657; Al Horford (Atl) 120,404; Andrew Bogut (Mil) 110,153; Andrea Bargnani (Tor) 92,822; Brook Lopez (NJ) 77,048; Roy Hibbert (Ind) 70,698; JaVale McGee (Was) 59,508; Ben Wallace (Det) 44,375.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Forwards: Kevin Durant (Okc) 735,521; Carmelo Anthony (Den) 602,516; Pau Gasol (LAL) 597,201; Dirk Nowitzki (Dal) 447,737; Tim Duncan (SA) 436,651; Blake Griffin (LAC) 435,857; Lamar Odom (LAL) 232,299; Luis Scola (Hou) 197,728; Kevin Love (Min) 171,945; Caron Butler (Dal) 168,937.

Guards: Kobe Bryant (LAL) 1,153,694; Chris Paul (NOH) 585,690; Manu Ginobili (SA) 403,632; Steve Nash (Pho) 321,659; Deron Williams (Utah) 313,011; Jason Kidd (Dal) 234,779; Russell Westbrook (Okc) 233,593; Tony Parker (SA) 219,378; Vince Carter (Pho) 185,213; Eric Gordon (LAC) 179,917.

Centers: Yao Ming (Hou) 637,527; Andrew Bynum (LAL) 376,283; Brendan Haywood (Dal) 215,905; Nenê (Den) 211,475; Marc Gasol (Mem) 205,227; Emeka Okafor (NOH) 172,012; Chris Kaman (LAC) 131,741; Marcus Camby (Por) 111,346; Andris Biedrins (GS) 65,908; Robin Lopez (Pho) 62,199.

Read More: All-Star Game, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo,
Doc Rivers on D&C: ‘I think we’re in good shape’ with Kevin Garnett 12.30.10 at 9:47 am ET
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Doc Rivers (AP)

On his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show, Celtics coach Doc Rivers expressed optimism about the health of Kevin Garnett, but added that he will know more later Thursday after Garnett has an MRI. Garnett suffered a leg injury Wednesday night in the first quarter against the Pistons. There was no contact on the play, which fueled fears that Garnett had possibly re-injured his surgically-repaired right knee. The team thinks that the injury was related to a muscle, and not his knee, however.

“I can’t tell you much more than what you know already,” Rivers said. “He’s going to do more tests today. We do think it’s muscle-related. We don’t think it has anything to do with the knee, but we don’t know. So we’re going to wait and see.”

Rivers added, “I think we’re in good shape here, but you just never know. I’m just going to wait for the MRI. I should know by mid-afternoon.”

To hear the whole interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Garnett is still likely to miss some games. Rivers said that he expects to start Glen Davis in Garnett’s place and go with a combination of Marquis Daniels and Luke Harnagody in a rotation.

He is also looking for more from Jermaine O’Neal who has played the last three games after missing time with a knee injury. “We need him,” Rivers said. “He struggled against obviously Orlando, first game back. I thought Indiana in the second half he was terrific. I thought [against Detroit] he was one of the few bright spots. He played with great energy and did his job defensively.”

Rivers also said that Rajon Rondo continues to be day-to-day with his ankle injury and he may not be available Friday when the Celtics play the Hornets. “I don’t know if we’ll see him tomorrow or not but he’s getting close,” Rivers said. “Each time he’s worked out there’s been some swelling. That’s a concern. We’re going to take it slow. We’re not going to push him back, we’ll just wait until he’s ready to play.”

Here are more highlights from the conversation: Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Doc Rivers, Glen Davis, Jermaine O'Neal, Kevin Garnett
Kevin Garnett injures leg 12.29.10 at 9:35 pm ET
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Kevin Garnett went up for a dunk late in the first quarter against the Pistons Wednesday night, and by the time he came down the Celtics’ season flashed before everyone’s eyes. What’s wrong with Garnett is still not entirely clear, although it appears that the Celtics, and Garnett, may have dodged a major bullet.

Garnett had X-rays in Detroit, which were negative. That ruled out a possible fracture. According to a tweet from Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Garnett is scheduled to have an MRI back in Boston on Thursday. The Celtics initially called it a “lower leg injury,” which could mean anything.

After the game, Celtics coach Doc Rivers suggested the injury was muscle-related, likely to Garnett’s calf, and was not a knee injury. Rivers also said that it’s likely that Garnett will miss some games. They will know more after the MRI.

On their official Twitter account, the Celtics posted the following message: “Official word on KG: Muscle injury to the outside of his right leg, below the knee and above the ankle. MRI tomorrow.”

On the play, Garnett went up clean and didn’t land awkwardly, but he was obviously in pain. He hobbled up the court and had to intentionally foul Tayshaun Prince to stop the game. Garnett then crumpled to the ground and tried to stretch out his leg before being helped to the bench. Garnett was able to make his way back to the locker room under his own power, but he was clearly limping.

In 2009, Garnett was injured in a February game against Utah when he went up for an alley-oop. As in the Detroit game, there was no contact, but that doesn’t mean the two incidents are related. Garnett’s 2009 injury was a strained popliteus tendon on top of bone spurs that had been bothering him all season, and he had surgery in the offseason to remove the spurs.

Here’s the play from Wednesday:

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Fast Break: Celtics pace themselves against Indiana 12.28.10 at 9:31 pm ET
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For the first 18 minutes of Tuesday night’s game with the Indiana Pacers, the Celtics played like a team that has been away from home for a week during the holidays. They were slow to rotate, hesitant to pass to the open man and generally looked like they’d rather be anywhere but Conesco Fieldhouse.

Then Paul Pierce started hitting jumpers and the Celtics got back in the game. They started the second half in much the same way, but rallied behind Marquis Daniels who took control after Nate Robinson banged heads with Mike Dunleavy and had to go back to the locker room.

The Celtics emerged with a 95-83 win in a game where they played well for maybe two quarters. Here’s how they did it:

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Marquis Daniels had a very Marquis Daniels-like game: The notion that a player’s contributions don’t show up in the box score is more often than not, ridiculous. Almost every thing an NBA player does in a game is recorded, tracked and committed to the stat sheet, so if a player has no stats it’s not usually because what he does is so sublime, it’s because he didn’t actually do anything.

Daniels is one of those rare players who can have a positive impact without accumulating stats. He handled the ball when it was necessary, but not so much that he would racked up a bunch of assists. He scored, but never forced. He found mismatches and exploited them. In short, Daniels did all the things the Celtics need him to do, and his stats were solid: 12 points, five rebounds, four assists and only two turnovers.

Paul Pierce arrived just in time: Pierce picked up two fouls in the first four minutes of the game, which sent him to the bench and took the rest of the Celtics offense with him. Without Pierce in the game, the Celtics 40 percent in the first quarter and trailed 26-19. By the time he heated up in the second quarter, the Celtics were down by 10 points, but he shot them back in the game.

Ray Allen did the rest: As Pierce tailed off in the second half, Ray Allen picked up the slack, scoring 12 of his 17 points in the final two quarters. The Celtics once again had great balance with four players in double figures and five players posting 10 or more shots.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Rajon Rondo didn’t play: The new timeline for Rondo’s return to the court is now Friday when the Celtics return home to play the Hornets on New Years Eve. (Coincidentally or not, that’s also just in time for a matchup with Chris Paul). The Celtics aren’t going to rush Rondo back, but his return can’t come soon enough.

Their offense, which once featured so much flow and ball movement, has devolved into a one-pass and shoot stagnant system. The Celtics are talented enough to get by like this for a while, but they are becoming very predictable and predictably easy to stop.

Foul trouble for Shaq again: Shaquille O’Neal didn’t get into foul trouble early this time, but he made up for lost time with a flurry of violations that had him setting on the bench with five fouls less than six minutes into the second half. Shaq was fined $35,000 for his comments after the Magic game, and like it or not, he’s becoming a target of the refs for his hard fouls.He lasted 16 minutes before fouling out for the second straight game.

Free throw shooting: The Celtics shot 15-for-22 and for a change, they can’t blame Shaq (or Rondo) for that sub-par number. Shaq made five of his six shots, which left the rest of the team 10-for-16 and that’s not good enough.

Read More: Celtics, Fast Break, Pacers,
Fast Break: The end of the streak 12.25.10 at 5:29 pm ET
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The end of the Celtics 14-game winning streak came inauspiciously. For 45 minutes, they had controlled their matchup with the Orlando Magic, and then in the final three minutes and 20 seconds, everything fell apart in an 86-78 loss. The Celtics were outscored 15-1 over that span as the absence of Rajon Rondo finally caught up to them.

Nate Robinson shot 2-for-15, Ray Allen shot 3-for-13, and Paul Pierce once again had to direct the offense instead of working into the flow. The Celtics have felt for weeks that they weren’t playing their best basketball, but still they found ways to win. It was only a matter of time until that run ended, but it was still something of a shock that it fell apart so quickly in game they seemingly had in their back pocket.

WHAT WENT WRONG

The limits of Nate Robinson as a point guard: It’s been said again and again that Robinson is not a true point guard, and he’s not. The Celtics have tried to figure out a way to play with Robinson in place of Rondo that allows him to be him, and also allows them to continue to function as a pass-first, unselfish unit.

But in order for that to work, Robinson has to make shots. The Magic laid off Robinson and let him fire away from the perimeter. He was 0-for-5 in the first half and 1-for-10 before he knocked down a wide-open 3-pointer. When Robinson did go to the bench, the Celtics went with Avery Bradley, which was more about defense than running the team.

The Celtics not only don’t have a point guard right now, they don’t have a backup either. That is took this long to catch up to them is a testament to all the other things they’ve done well, but it was only a matter of time.

J.J. Redick is Ray Allen’s Kyrptonite: Once again Allen had a dreadful time shooting the ball against Orlando, and once again Redick was with him every step of the way. It’s been like this since the 2009 playoffs and it’s well past time to give the former Duke sharpshooter his due. He’s become much more than just a jumpshooter, unfortunately for Allen.

Jermaine O’Neal will need some time: O’Neal’s return came at the perfect time with Semih Erden feeling ill, but it was clear watching him play that he’s going to need a few games (at least) to get his conditioning back. There’s no sugar-coating this: Jermaine O’Neal has been a huge disappointment so far this season.

However, there is ample time for him to save his career and salvage his reputation in Boston. If the Celtics are going to do what they want to do this season, they will need him and in order to get there he’s just going to have to burn minutes.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Even without Kendrick Perkins, the Celtics still had the right gameplan for Dwight Howard: Without Perk, the Celtics went on the offense to defend Howard. They did this by pounding the ball in to Shaquille O’Neal early in the game in the hopes of getting Howard in foul trouble. It worked as Howard picked up his second late in the first quarter and was in foul trouble again early in the third quarter.

Howard continued to be his own worst enemy, getting called for a 10-second violation on a free throw attempt and compounding that by getting a technical foul. He didn’t score his first basket until a minute into the fourth quarter. The Magic’s trades were all about helping Howard, but if he is going to ascend to true MVP-level, he still has to learn to help himself against teams like the Celtics.

Defense, defense, defense: The Magic shot less than 40 percent and Howard never got going. This loss was all about the offense. The defense was once again, dominant.

Paul Pierce as point forward: For one half anyway, Pierce was the best point guard on the floor, scoring 16 points and dishing out four assists as the Celtics took control. The Celtics are asking a lot from Pierce, and this time they may have asked too much because he wasn’t able to build on his first-half performance.

Read More: Celtics, Fast Break, Magic,
Preview: Celtics at Orlando, Game 28 12.24.10 at 5:33 pm ET
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For the last three years, the Celtics have kept one eye the Magic and the other on the Lakers. Truth be told, the Celtics always saw Orlando as their prime challenger in the Eastern Conference and that bore out in two rugged playoff series.

The 2009 Celtics took the Magic to seven games without Kevin Garnett. They were undone ultimately by Garnett’s injury, but also by a lack of size up front behind Kendrick Perkins. So, they went out and signed Rasheed Wallace. Say what you want about Sheed’s time in Boston, but he was a difference-maker last year against Orlando when the Celtics won in six games.

For their part, the Magic cut ties with Hedo Turkoglu and brought in Vince Carter to replace him. Carter was supposed to be able to create offense from the wing, especially against a team like the Celtics who were able to play Dwight Howard straight up, effectively negating their double-team kickout for open 3-pointers.

Unfortunately for the Magic, it didn’t work as planned and with the Celtics gathering strength and the Heat on the rise, Orlando general manager Otis Smith elected for the big shake-up, trading Carter, Marcin Gortat, Mickael Pietrus, Rashard Lewis, a draft pick and cash in exchange for Jason Richardson, Gilbert Arenas, Earl Clark and Turkoglu.

The moves leave the Magic with an upgrade at the 2-guard spot (Richardson is simply much better than Carter at this stage of their careers) and woefully thin up front behind Howard. They also brought in two high-stakes gambles in Turkoglu and Arenas, who will either recapture part of their glory days or definitively prove that they are past their primes.

The results so far have been mixed. The Magic dropped games to Atlanta and Dallas, but they recovered in a big way Thursday with a blowout win over the Spurs. “We certainly have a great deal of respect for the old Orlando team,” Danny Ainge told The Big Show on Thursday. “I don’t know what’s going to happen with this new Orlando team. On paper they’re still a great basketball team. I just don’t know what to expect.”

CELTICS (23-4, 10-0 last 10, 14-game winning streak)

Offensive Rating: 109.4 (Points per 100 possessions, 10th)

Defensive Rating: 99.3 (Points allowed per 100 possessions, 1st)

Pace: 91.0 (20th)

Likely Starters: Nate Robinson, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O’Neal

Rotation: Glen Davis, Marquis Daniels, Semih Erden, Jermaine O’Neal

Injuries: Jermaine O’Neal (Knee, probable), Rajon Rondo (Ankle, doubtful), Delonte West (Wrist, out), Kendrick Perkins (Knee, out).

MAGIC (17-12, 2-8 last 10)

Offensive Rating: 106.1 (16th)

Defensive Rating: 102.2 (6th)

Pace: 91.4 (19th)

Likely Starters: Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, Brandon Bass, Dwight Howard

Rotation: Gilbert Arenas, J.J. Redick, Ryan Anderson, Quentin Richardson

Injuries: Malik Allen (Ankle, questionable), Daniel Orton (Knee, out). Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Celtics, Magic, Preview,
Ray Allen likes playing on Christmas 12.23.10 at 6:06 pm ET
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Ray Allen

Many players, and coaches, have expressed their dislike for playing on Christmas Day, which is one of the NBA’s showcase days. Ray Allen, however, is not among them.

“I always felt like it was a privilege,” Allen said Wednesday night before the Celtics played the 76ers. “You come into the league and you see the team playing on Christmas, it’s always the upper echelon teams in this league. You feel like you made it. It’s a similar feeling with playoff basketball. People at home are watching and you want to be one of those teams playing.”

Allen said that one of the highlights of his Christmas was watching Michael Jordan play. He also acknowledged that players aren’t the only ones who have to do their jobs.

“That’s just the environment we live,” he said. “It’s entertainment. We work, everyone else in the building has to work. I think these are those times you appreciate them and you take full advantage of them because when we retire we’re not going to be a part of them. You try to enjoy it now because it doesn’t last forever.”

Read More: Ray Allen,
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