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Legler on D&C: Kobe ‘trusts his teammates less and less’ 06.15.10 at 11:20 am ET
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Tim Legler

Tim Legler

ESPN NBA analyst Tim Legler discussed the NBA finals Tuesday morning with the Dennis & Callahan show and among the topics of conversation was Kobe Bryant’s lack of trust in his teammates late in games.

“I think for Kobe Bryant, the problem right now is as the game goes on and the Celtics make a run in the second half, Kobe trusts his teammates less and less and less. And that’s a big problem for the Lakers,” Legler said. “You can see the frustration in the body language and the gestures he made towards some of his teammates and he frustration he showed in a couple of those huddles late in that game. He doesn’t necessarily feel he’s got the guys to with the intestinal fortitude to withstand a team as tough mentally as the Boston Celtics.”

As for the Celtics, Legler noted that, “They trust each other completely. That to me is one of the biggest differences between these two teams.”

Below are some of the highlights from that interview. To hear the entire interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

There could be two things to worry about headed into Game 5. One is the refs changing the tone, and a lot of Celtics get in foul trouble early. The other is this whole mentality of, “We have two chances to win one game?” If you were Doc Rivers, would those bother you?

I don’t think that they’re necessarily thinking that way. I just believe they’re trying to say the right things rather than, “We’re going to go back there. We’re going to close this out in six.” I think they’re just trying to be PC on this one, but I think their mentality is absolutely they’re going to go back there tonight and win the series. And I think they’re very confident they can do that based on how they played against them the last couple games. I think Doc Rivers and that team feel like they now defensively have got this team figured out to the point where they’re not that the Lakers could go off and get into over 100 points. I think that that’s what Doc Rivers’ mindset with this team is right now. He’s very comfortable with the series. Read the rest of this entry »

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Three things that went right and wrong in Game 4 06.10.10 at 11:56 pm ET
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The NBA finals are once again tied after the Celtics defeated the Lakers, 96-89, in Game 4 on Thursday night. (Recap.) The Celtics had six scorers in double figures, led by 18 from Glen “Big Baby” Davis, who was dominant down the stretch, and 19 from captain Paul Pierce. Game 5 is Sunday night back at TD Garden.

THREE THINGS THAT WENT RIGHT

Sparkplugs off the bench: One’s called Big Baby and the other looks like, well, a baby on the floor, but supersubs Glen Davis and Nate Robinson certainly didn’t play like their labels Thursday night. The duo combined for 30 points, but it was the pure energy each provided for the C’s off the bench in the fourth quarter that helped the team to victory. One of the greatest video clips from Game 4 was Davis slobbering with Robinson on his back after Davis made a layup on which he was fouled. That one play electrified the TD Garden crowd and pushed the C’s towards an incredible run in the final quarter, in which Boston outscored the Lakers, 36-27.

Rebounds, rebounds, rebounds: Boston found a way to win again because they were able to keep the Lakers big men off the boards. After being outrebounded 43-35 in Game 3, the Celtics won the battle down low 41-33 in their win in Game 4. All five starters had more than five boards, and Davis added five of his own with four of those coming on the offensive end. By winning the rebounding battle, the C’s were able to take away the size advantage that the Lakers utilized perfectly in their wins in Games 1 and 3.

Paul Pierce’s play in the first quarter: Pierce was the only member of the Big Four without a truly dominating performance in any of the first three games, and several of his critics had said that he needed to step it up if the team was going to succeed. Pierce held up his end of the bargain by going off for 10 points in the first frame while the offense undeniably went through him. The rest of the team managed only nine during that time.

THREE THINGS THAT WENT WRONG

Poor first-half shooting: The C’s had more than their fair share of quality shots in the first half but shot just 41 percent from the field. The C’s missed several open jumpers and even some layups. Those misses translated into just 42 first-half points and a three-point deficit that could have been much larger had the Lakers not had their own offensive struggles.

Allowing Kobe to hit some big 3′s in the third quarter: There was a time in the third that it seemed like Kobe Bryant just couldn’t miss from behind the arc. The C’s were giving him just enough room to pull the trigger, and that’s something you simply cannot do against Bryant. He was 5-for-6 at one point from deep and seemed to be in place to endanger Ray Allen’s finals record for 3-pointers in a game. He eventually cooled, but the three-straight 3′s he made to close out the quarter allowed the Lakers to stay ahead going into the fourth.

Timing could have been everything: Although they certainly didn’t affect the outcome, Rasheed Wallace and Nate Robinson both had ill-timed technical fouls in the fourth quarter. Wallace’s technical came after the team had garnered an eight-point lead in the fourth. It very well could have sucked away all the momentum the team had gathered over the previous two minutes and change. Robinson’s T two minutes later threatened to do the same thing. If the C’s want to continue to thrive in the final stanza, they cannot pick up potential game-changing T’s in close games.

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C’s minority owner could face fine 06.10.10 at 4:39 pm ET
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Celtics minority owner Jim Pallotta may be receiving a fine from NBA commissioner David Stern after Pallotta verbally confronted the commissioner with complaints about the Game 3 officiating after the Celtics’ 91-84 loss at home, according to a Boston Globe report.

Pallotta reportedly told Stern that the league should be embarrassed by the job its officials are doing. There have been 159 fouls called in the first three games of the NBA finals, with the Celtics outnumbering the Lakers by nine in that category.

Stern has a past of fining owners who criticize NBA officials, most notably Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who has doled out as much as $250,000 for his critical comments. Cuban’s comments, though, were made in the public sphere. Pallotta’s comments were made to Stern directly, meaning that there is a slight chance that his fine could be for less if there is even a fine at all.

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Menino flubs again, criticizes NBA officials 06.10.10 at 2:18 pm ET
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Tom Menino is at it again.

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Tobin Community Center in Boston Wednesday, the Boston mayor thanked “Donald Sterns” and the NBA instead of David Stern, the actual NBA commissioner. (Click here for the video evidence.) The flub is somewhat defensible, given that Donald K. Stern was the U.S. attorney for the Bay State from 1993 to 2001. It’s probable that the mayor simply mixed up his Sterns.

This, however, is the second time in recent memory that Menino has mixed up his sports icons. Last month, at the ceremony commemorating the new Bobby Orr statue in front of the TD Garden, he claimed that Boston sports remember “Varitek splitting the uprights,” rather than Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri, as one of the “ionic” moments in Boston sports history.

Earlier in his Wednesday speech, Menino came very close to directly criticizing the much-publicized officiating of this year’s NBA finals.

“I’m not saying anything; the commissioner is right behind me,” Menino said, according to a Los Angeles Times piece by Baxter Holmes. But in just saying that, Menino had said enough.

Later in the piece, which can be read in its entirety by clicking here, the mayor talked about the effects a high-foul count has on the game.

“You just can’t take control,” Menino said. “You ruin it for the fans. The referees aren’t supposed to be the show. The players are supposed to be the show, but sometimes the referees want to be the show. That’s unfortunate.”

Eddie F. Rush, Scott Foster and Greg Willard have been announced as the referees for Thursday’s Game 4.

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Update: NH man walks to NYC from Boston, will sit courtside for Games 3, 4 and 5 06.08.10 at 12:15 pm ET
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Tyler McGill walked from Boston to New York to get the opportunity to watch the Celtics take on the Lakers in Games 3, 4 and 5 in the NBA finals. (AP)

Tyler McGill walked from Boston to New York to get the opportunity to watch the Celtics take on the Lakers in Games 3, 4 and 5 in the NBA finals. (AP)

After a nearly week-long, 200-mile journey that sent him from the TD Garden in Boston to New York City on foot, Tyler McGill will finally be able to sit Tuesday night in his courtside seats to Game 3 of the NBA finals after completing the challenge set forth by friends in exchange for the exclusive tickets to all three championship games at the Garden.

McGill, a native of Rye, N.H., finished the epic quest when he finally reached the Big Apple Tuesday morning and said, despite some intense chaffing and several sock changes, he would do all it over again if given the chance.

“Come on dude, what would you do for Celts tickets? I would have walked even further,” McGill said.

Now that he’s won his chance to see the game, expect McGill to make the most of it.

“I’m going to be in Shannon Brown’s head all day. I’m going to be riding Kobe [Bryant] like a pony out there,” McGill said. “The Celts are going to have an extra man on the court with them at all times.”

For fans both in the Garden and watching on television, look for McGill in a reflective police vest that he picked up from Sherborn police en route to New York as well as a bright neon green Summer Sessions Surf Shop shirt from the store he and his brother own in the Granite State. He says his seats will be at center court across from the benches.

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Stern on D&C: ‘We’re proud, believe it or not, of our officials’ 06.08.10 at 11:40 am ET
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David Stern defended the officiating during his appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show. (AP)

David Stern defended the officiating during his appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show. (AP)

NBA commissioner David Stern talked with the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning, and the topic of conversation, as it has mostly been after the first two games of the NBA finals, was officiating. Stern was quick to back the referees, who have called 112 fouls between Games 1 and 2 alone.

“We have a long way to travel, no doubt, as long as we’re going to be using humans, but we’re proud, believe it or not, of our officials. And we thank you very much for caring so much,” Stern said.

He also easily dismissed notions to change the rules concerning suspensions given to players who amass seven technical fouls in the playoffs. Kendrick Perkins currently has six for the Celtics and is just one away from a one-game suspension.

“At some point, our players have to play according to the rules,” Stern said. “We don’t want to have to spend our time issuing lots of technicals. You know what’s amazing? When they get close to the limit, they stop. What do you think about that?”

A transcript of the interview follows. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

One NBA league source told Sports Illustrated’s Ian Thomsen that more than anything else the league doesn’t want a brawl in the NBA finals thus perhaps the 112 fouls called in the first two games. Does that border on “overofficiating?”

I don’t know what league source. I’ll talk to Ian, because what he does and what many people do is they find somebody who’s a third assistant PR person on a team, and they dub them a league source. So I give no credibility to that.

Sources aside, it seems like the officials this year are determined to keep order, and it has hurt the flow. Do you disagree?

We can check the numbers. I look at them. I was sitting at the game on Sunday, being very thankful that I wasn’t an official. Because the pace and the speed and the intensity and the passion with which our guys play is very, very difficult to officiate. And once you make a decision that a foul has occurred in front of you and you are not going to call it, then you are endangering our players. That’s all. And it’s a hard job that these guys have.

These games are particularly intense. The teams have enough time to figure out what they’re going to do to the other. And they test the officials. They test them. They push and push and push. And if the officials don’t step up, then you’re going to have chaos and a game decided on [something] other than its merits. I recognized the risk that you are going to have a lot fouls called as well. But we’ve got very large bodies in small places, and it’s our job, our duty to protect these players. Read the rest of this entry »

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Barry on D&C: ‘We could see history again’ 05.27.10 at 4:23 pm ET
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ESPN basketball analyst Jon Barry joined the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning after the Celtics’ 113-92 Game 5 loss to the Magic. He discussed the urgency of Game 6 in Boston, how he believes Kendrick Perkins and Glen Davis will both be back for that game, and the ramifications of not sweeping the Magic when the Celtics had the chance.

“I’ll tell you, it’s unfortunate, and that’s exactly why you take care of business when you can, Barry said. “Injuries, technicals, ejections, all those things come into play. Now, you have a very confident Orlando team, and Boston’s going to have their hands full tomorrow night.”

What follows is a transcript of that interview. You can listen to it in its entirety at the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

You’ve said, “I wasn’t worried about the Boston Celtics, but I am now.” This is a team in trouble, is it not?

With all the stuff that went down last night, concussions and Rasheed Wallace’s back is now hurting. To me, [Rajon] Rondo looks like he’s not 100 percent. He’s not playing the same. You’ve got a confident Orlando team. Everything they couldn’t do in the first three games, they’re able to do now. Game 6 is basically Game 7 for the Celtics. I really do believe that. I think they have to get it done at home, or we could see history again. I don’t know how the Boston fans are going to deal with it with the Bruins doing it and the Celtics in the same year. Hard to believe.

We expect Kendrick Perkins to have one or two of his technicals rescinded. Do you agree with that, and do you think there’s any way Glen Davis plays? Are you expecting to see Perkins but no Big Baby like we are?

I’m expecting to see both. I am. Like Doc [Rivers] said, Baby would have a hard time passing a test if he was perfectly normal because he’s a little bit kooky anyways.

But the culture has changed. There’s a much higher burden of proof today to prove you can play after a head injury.

Yeah, there is. He’s going to have to get cleared certainly, but I believe he’ll be out there. Certainly Perkins, it wouldn’t surprise me if both technicals were rescinded, certainly one of them should be. It was a tough break for them obviously. The final score wasn’t really indicative of what happened. This was a pretty tight game. You can’t lose Kendrick Perkins. I think Kendrick Perkins plays Dwight Howard as good as anybody does in the league. Kevin Garnett, I didn’t even mention him. I think his leg looks different than it did a week ago.

The longer you go in a series, obviously the tougher it becomes. This is an older team, and they don’t look the same like they did in the first three games. That’s why Game 4, you do not mess around. Sitting with Magic Johnson, he said, “Take no games for granted. You have a team 3-0 and you’re at home, you take care of business.” And they didn’t do that. Read the rest of this entry »

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