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James took lessons learned from battles with Pierce 04.04.10 at 11:58 pm ET
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The matchup between Paul Pierce and LeBron James is one of the most competitive battles in the NBA. But before James was dominating the scoreboard, he was trying to learn from his veteran counterpart.

“When I first came into the league, he was a seasoned vet and I was a rookie just trying to learn the curve and things like that,” James said prior to the Celtics 117-113 win over the Cavaliers. “Over the years, he’€™s still been an All-Star, he’€™s still been competitive. I’€™m just trying to develop my game to be one of the best three’€™s (small forwards) in the league, to be on Paul Pierce’€™s level and all these other guys’€˜ level.”

On Sunday, James outscored Pierce, 42-16 (20 of his points came in the fourth quarter alone). It’s a far cry from their first regular-season matchup seven years ago. On Nov. 13, 2003, James ‘€” as a rookie ‘€” scored 10 points in a 91-82 loss to the Celtics. In that one, Pierce, who was entering his sixth season, led the C’s with 19 points.

‘€œYou learn, the game itself teaches you game after game after game,” James said. ‘€œBut you learn when you go against the best, you see why they are considered the best at that time or still now because of the work they put into it. They never took a night off.’€

James is averaging 29.9 points this season (30.6 in his last five contests) and has scored more than 20 points in all but one game since the All-Star Break. He wrapped up his regular season matchup with the Celtics averaging 36.5 points in four games.

‘€œI’€™ve been able to be recognized as one of the best three’€™s that we have in this league,” James added, “So it’€™s always fun to go against the best guys in the league, and Paul continues to be that since I was a rookie.’€

Read More: Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James, Paul Pierce
Fast Break: Celtics – Cavs 04.04.10 at 3:58 pm ET
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Ray Allen said this game wasn’t about the Cavaliers.

“We focus on what we need to do for ourselves,” he said . “We need to right our ship, so we’€™re not looking at who we’€™re playing on the other side as much as we’€™re thinking about the things we need to do to get the end result that we want.”

On Sunday, the Celtics got the result they wanted with a 117-113 win over the Cavaliers. They snapped a three-game losing streak and prevented the Cavs from securing homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs.

The Celtics jumped out to an 8-1 lead in the first two minutes. It was Ray Allen ‘€” not LeBron James ‘€” who led all players with 10 points in the first quarter. James and Mo Williams were right behind him with eight points apiece for the Cavs. Both teams shot 50 percent from the field in the first.

Doc Rivers turned to his bench when Rajon Rondo picked up two early fouls. First one in: Tony Allen, who is averaging 9.25 points and 3.5 rebounds in the last four games. Interesting move as this left the unit without a true point guard. That didn’€™t halt the Celtics, though, as they outscored the Cavs, 33-24, after the first 12 minutes.

The Celtics continued to build their lead in the second quarter. They were up, 50-40, with 3:23 left before back-to-back fouls on Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett allowed the Cavs to chip away at the deficit. They went on a 7-2 run to get back within five. But the Celtics answered with a 5-0 run of their own, propelled by Garnett and Paul Pierce. Rondo drained a 3-pointer as time expired to give the Celtics a 64-49 halftime lead. Williams led all players with 15 points. James had 10. Rondo and Ray Allen scored 12 each in the first half.

Things got heated in the third quarter. Mike Brown argued a technical foul called on Mo Williams, resulting in his own ejection. Later in the quarter, Rasheed Wallace got T’ed up (and sent to the bench for Shelden Williams). Davis ended the tense quarter on an entertaining note when he hurdled over a fan chasing after a loose ball, ran up the stairs to catch himself, and then fell to the ground fighting for a rebound. Ray Allen scored 15 points in the quarter (4-4 3PG) while James scored 12. The Celtics stayed up, 98-81.

It all changed in the fourth quarter. The Celtics got outscored 23-5 in the first nine minutes before Anthony Parker gave the Cavs their first lead of the game, 104-103, with 2:58 to play. The C’s stayed in the game at the free throw line before Ray Allen drained a 3-pointer to give them a four-point advantage. Tony Allen, however, was called for goaltending on a Parker trey. James failed to knock down a go-ahead three with four seconds left, and Garnett iced the 117-113 win with a pair of free throws.

James led all players with 42 points (14-31 FG, 0-9 3PG, 14-22 FT). He also added seven rebounds and nine assists. Ray Allen led the Celtics with 33 points.

Turning point: Up 109-108 with 47.5 seconds left, Ray Allen drained a 3-pointer to give the Celtics a four-point lead. They never trailed again.

Player of the game: Ray Allen scored a game-high 33 points off of an impressive stat line — 10-17 FG, 6-9 3PG, 7-7 FT.  His clutch 3-pointer with less than a minute to go gave the Celtics a critical four-point lead to hold on for the win.

– James missed eight free throws (14-22), including a critical miss with 11 seconds to go that could have brought the Cavs back within one.

– The Celtics stayed alive at the free throw line. They shot 31-for-38, compared to the Cavs 26-40.

– Technical fouls were called on Mo Williams, Mike Brown (ejected), Rasheed Wallace, LeBron James, and Rajon Rondo.

– The Celtics led by as many as 22 points. The Cavs biggest lead was just one point. There were six lead changes and two ties.

First half: Celtics – Cavs 04.04.10 at 2:10 pm ET
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The Celtics jumped out to an 8-1 lead in the first two minutes in never trailed in the first quarter. It was Ray Allen — not LeBron James — who led all players with 10 points. James and Mo Williams were right behind him with eight points apiece for the Cavs. Both teams shot 50 percent from the field in the first quarter.

Doc Rivers turned to his bench when Rajon Rondo picked up two early fouls. First one in: Tony Allen, who is averaging 9.25 points and 3.5 rebounds in the last four games. Interesting move as this left the unit without a true point guard. That didn’t halt the Celtics, though, as they outscored the Cavs, 33-24, after the first 12 minutes.

The Celtics continued to build their lead in the second quarter. They were up, 50-40, with 3:23 left before back-to-back fouls on Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett allowed the Cavs to chip away at the deficit. They went on a 7-2 run to get back within five. But the Celtics answered with a 5-0 run of their own, propelled by Garnett and Paul Pierce. Rondo drained a 3-pointer as time expired to give the Celtics a 64-49 halftime lead.

Williams leads all players with 15 points. James has 10. Rondo and Ray Allen scored 12 each. The Celtics are 37-17 when leading or tied at the half.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers,
Doc on DJ: ‘People forget how good he was’ 04.04.10 at 1:59 pm ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers, like many fans, was extremely happy on Saturday to hear word that Dennis Johnson was finally being inducted into the basketball hall of fame in Springfield this fall. The official announcement is expected to come out of Indianapolis on Monday during the Final Four.

Rivers just wishes that DJ were around to receive the accolades and get his chance to say thank you. Johnson died of heart failure in Feb. 2007.

“In some ways, it’s a little late,” Rivers said. “It would have been better for this to happen when DJ was alive. It would have been great for him to give the speech. That’s the only bad part of this.”

In many ways, the best thing to have ever happened to Dennis Johnson was his trade from Phoenix to Boston following the 1982-83 season for Rick Robey.

In his first year in Boston in ’83-84, Johnson helped contain Philadelphia’s Andrew Toney in the regular season and Magic Johnson in the playoffs as the Celtics returned to glory in a seven-game NBA Finals win.

But, as Celtics coach Doc Rivers correctly pointed out, while he may not have been well known by fans before coming to Boston in the mid-80s, he certainly had built quite the reputation. He led Seattle to its first and only title in 1979 and was voted NBA Finals MVP.

“I think, unfortunately, for DJ is people forget how good he was in Seattle,” Rivers said of Johnson. “They dismiss that part of his career for some reason. Somehow, they forget he won titles on two different teams and was a key player on both.”

After the ’79 title season, Johnson averaged 19.0 points and 4.1 assists, appeared in his second All-Star Game and was named to the All-Defensive first team and All-NBA second team.

However, the Sonics lost in the Western Conference Finals against the Lakers, who had Hall of Famers Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Johnson later called that playoff exit one of the worst disappointments of his professional career.

Read More: Celtics, Dennis Johnson, NBA, Seattle SuperSonics
Pierce on C’s turmoil: We ‘talk things out’ 04.04.10 at 12:18 am ET
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WALTHAM — Paul Pierce made a admission on Saturday following practice.

The Celtics had some words amongst each other about what was happening on their home court in three straight losses – or more to the point, what wasn’t. And that turmoil was evident several times on Friday as Rajon Rondo had animated discussions with Shelden Williams and Pierce during the fourth quarter as the Celtics were trying to get their defensive house in order.

The team’s ability to defend the simple pick-and-roll was exposed as an apparent weakness on Friday as Aaron Brooks, Kyle Lowry and Luis Scola went to town late in the fourth quarter as the Rockets battled back to force overtime and then erased a five-point hole in OT to score the last 10 points of overtime in the 119-114 Rockets win.

“I think we’re breaking down in just one area,” Pierce said. “And it needs to get better. We have to be better on the pick and roll.”

In other words, when the opposing player passes the ball, a fundamental rule in basketball defense 101 is that the passer becomes the most dangerous potential scorer on the court.

“I think we trust each other,” Pierce said. “It’s just about going out there and doing it and trusting the coaching staff. The good thing about us after a game like [Friday] or the game before, we sit in the locker room and we talk about it. We were in the training room, talking about what we need to do better and what we need to do as a team. That’s a positive sign, how during a tough stretch like this, we stick together and talk things out.”

And that talk continued from Friday night post-game to Saturday pre-film study as Pierce said the team had an animated and frank discussion of the mistakes being made, with everyone in green taking some responsibility.

Now with LeBron James, Antawn Jamison and the NBA-leading Cavaliers coming to town Sunday, the Celtics are just hoping their film study and practice on Saturday is enough to pass the huge test.

He didn’t want to get into it after Friday’s loss, but Celtics coach Doc Rivers gave several examples on Saturday of the problems that led to his team’s meltdown.

There was the lack of respect given to 3-point sharpshooter Chase Budinger, after several reminders from the coaching staff to get in his face and stick with him on defense. They failed.

There was the shot taken by Nate Robinson at the end of the second quarter, leading to a three-point swing that gave Houston a four-point lead instead of one. And there was Pierce dribbling out the clock before halftime without getting off a shot.

All of that said, Saturday was a time to look forward to preparing for the Cleveland Cavaliers, a team that beat them by 20 on the same court on Feb. 26. Looking back on Friday’s loss on film was not what Doc ordered on Saturday.

Read More: Cavaliers, Celtics, LeBron James, NBA
Report: DJ voted to Hall of Fame 04.03.10 at 3:47 pm ET
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Point guard Dennis Johnson has been elected to the basketball Hall of Fame, according to a report in the Boston Globe. Sources tell the paper that Johnson will be inducted in the latest class this fall in Springfield, Mass.

The official announcement is expected on Monday. Johnson led three teams to NBA championships, including the 1984 and 1986 Celtics. Johnson also led the Seattle SuperSonics to their only championship in 1979, earning NBA Finals MVP.

Johnson, drafted 29th overall in 1976 by Seattle, began his professional career as a shooting guard. After a short stint with the Phoenix Suns, he became the starting point guard for the Celtics and led the team to the NBA title in 1984, his first season in Boston.

‘DJ” was voted to five All-Star teams, one All-NBA first and one second team, and nine consecutive All-Defensive first and second Teams.

Read More: Basketball hall of fame, Celtics, Dennis Johnson, NBA
KG on his fine: ‘I could care less’ 04.03.10 at 12:26 am ET
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Kevin Garnett was fined $25,000 by the NBA for his comments about Kevin Durant after the Celtics lost to the Thunder Wednesday. Garnett rather memorably said, “I thought we were playing Michael [Bleeping] Jordan with the way he was getting the whistles.”

Durant shot 15 free throws in the game, while the Celtics shot 17 as a team.

Garnett found about the fine before Friday night’s game with the Rockets from an unlikely source: Rasheed Wallace. Or maybe it wasn’t so unlikely considering how often he has been fined himself.

“To be honest I didn’t even know I got fined until Rasheed told me a couple of minutes before we hit the floor,” Garnett said. “I could care less.”

Read More: Kevin Durant, Kevin Garnett, Rasheed Wallace,
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