|Celtics struggle with Allen’s unexpected absence on the court||04.03.10 at 12:05 am ET|
The Celtics have played without the Big Three this season. Kevin Garnett missed 10 games with a hyperextended knee, Pierce was sidelined for another 10 games with a variety of knee, foot, and thumb ailments, and Ray Allen sat out a night with back spasms.
But it is perhaps more challenging when one of these players is unexpectedly kept off the court. On Friday, the Celtics intended on having Allen for four quarters against the Rockets. Instead, foul trouble allowed him to play just 16 minutes. He picked up two fouls in the first quarter alone and had five going into the fourth. With 2:13 left in regulation and the Celtics up, 104-101, Allen fouled out for the first time all season.
The Celtics missed their sharpshooter in a loss decided by just five points, 119-114, in overtime.
“Ray was in foul trouble the entire game,” said Doc Rivers. “That hurt us down the stretch, clearly, because it took away so many options and it took away space.”
The outcome could have been different if the Celtics hit free throws, Garnett pointed out. The C’s shot just 65 percent from the line (24-for-37) while the Rockets were a consistent 89.3 percent (25-for-28). Allen, the team’s best free throw shooter at 90.6 percent on the season, made it to the line just once. Because of foul trouble, he was forced to watch his team struggle from the same place he has had so much success.
“Any time you miss Paul or Ray or anybody who is in our starting five, it’s a big blow to us,” said Garnett. “Obviously free throws were a big key tonight. If we make or we only miss about four or five of them, we’d win the game by a pretty decent margin. But every game it’s going to be something. But any time you lose a big piece of your offense or anyone in your starting lineup, it’s a big blow.
“Not having Ray in the game, not just for free throw purposes but for offensive attention, he draws a lot of attention on offense. It gets a lot of guys easy shots and different looks and stuff. And with him not in there was big.”
The Celtics will look forward to having Allen, who is averaging 15.9 points per game, back on the court when they face the Cavaliers on Sunday.
|Fast Break: Rockets 119, Celtics 114||04.02.10 at 10:28 pm ET|
Rondo made Celtics history less than five minutes into the game when he broke Bob Cousy‘s 50-year-old single season assist record. He dished his 716th dime of the season, an alley-oop to Kevin Garnett, to set the mark. (Earlier in the season, Rondo passed Rick Fox for the franchise mark in single-season steals.)
The Celtics gave up an early 11-point lead to trail the Rockets, 32-30, after the first quarter. The Rockets closed the quarter on a 19-6 run, led by eight points in less than six minutes from Kyle Lowry. Paul Pierce, Kendrick Perkins and Aaron Brooks also scored eight in the quarter. The Celtics outshot the Rockets, 59 to 50 percent, but were outrebounded, 12-7.
The C’s trailed in the second quarter before Rondo sparked a comeback. Rondo leapt for a defensive rebound and threw an outlet pass as he lost his balance, which Pierce converted for a lay-in. On the next possession, he set up Perkins for a bucket. The C’s took the lead back on a dunk by Tony Allen. The Rockets fought back, though, to go up 57-53 at halftime.
The Celtics were led by Pierce in the third quarter. He scored 13 points off of perfect 4-for-4 shooting from the floor. Chase Budinger responded, however, with 10 for the Rockets. Both teams scored 30 points in the quarter and shot 61.1 percent (11-for-18 FG).
In an unexpected twist, the combination first/second/third unit of Rondo, Tony Allen, Michael Finley, Rasheed Wallace and Shelden Williams opened the fourth quarter on a 15-4 run to overcome a four-point deficit and reclaim the lead. But that would not last the entire 12 minutes. The Rockets slowly chipped away at the lead and tied it up, 109-109, with nine seconds left on an Aaron Brooks 3-pointer. Pierce missed the attempted game-winner as time expired.
In overtime, Tony Allen stepped in for Ray Allen and played with the first unit. The C’s jumped out on a 5-0 run but missed four consecutive shots, allowing the Rockets to get back in the game. The Celtics trailed the final 1:22 of overtime and lost their third straight game, 119-114. (Recap.)
Turning point: Down 117-114 with 13.7 seconds left in overtime, Michael Finley pulled up for a game-tying 3-pointer. But Kendrick Perkins was whistled for an offensive foul, giving the Rockets possession and, ultimately, the win.
Player of the game: Aaron Brooks led all scorers with 30 points, but rookie Chase Budinger put on a veteran performance against the Celtics. He shot 6-for-8 from 3-point range (including several clutch shots) and finished the game with 24 points.
– Ray Allen fouled out for the first time this season with 2:13 left in regulation. He fouled out three times last regular season. One of the games was against the Rockets.
– Playing for the first time in a week, Tony Allen propelled the Celtics bench. He posted 12 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists in 28 minutes. Aside from his stat line, he was reliable while Ray Allen was sidelined with foul trouble.
– Paul Pierce (27 points) scored more than 26 points for the fifth time in nine games.
|Doc’s 25-point plan for free speech||04.02.10 at 9:11 pm ET|
Doc Rivers is a man on a mission.
He wants every player and coach to be able to freely speak their mind without fear of retribution from Stu Jackson, the NBA’s chief officer in charge of behavior.
Jackson levied a fine of $25,000 on Friday to Kevin Garnett for his decision to give Michael Jordan a new middle name when referencing the breaks he thought Kevin Durant was getting from officials on Wednesday night.
Instead of the player paying it, he wants the people responsible to foot the bill.
“The next time that happens, I have a solution. Each one of you guys should pitch in a thousand dollars until we get to [fine total],” Rivers suggested, tongue-in-cheek we think.
The reason there’s some truth in what Rivers believes occurred last year when Rivers was docked $25,000 during the playoffs when he was asked during a press conference if he thought Kendrick Perkins was being targeted by officials.
But in all seriousness, Rivers shed some light on how the fines are administered. They are automatically deducted from a player or coach’s paycheck.
“If we had to write a check,they’d never get the money,” Rivers said, again joking we think.
Rivers also talked before the game about the progress of the second unit and how Nate Robinson, even when he isn’t scoring that much like Wednesday night, is still having a positive impact on the reserves.
|Halftime: Celtics – Rockets||04.02.10 at 8:41 pm ET|
Rajon Rondo made Celtics history less than five minutes into the game when he broke Bob Cousy’s 50-year-old single season assist record. Rondo dished his 716th dime of the season, an alley-oop to Kevin Garnett, to set the mark. (Earlier in the season, Rondo passed Rick Fox for the franchise mark in single-season steals.)
But back to the game. The Celtics gave up an early 11-point lead to trail the Rockets 32-30 after the first quarter. The Rockets closed the quarter on a 19-6 run, led by eight points in less than six minutes from Kyle Lowry. Paul Pierce, Kendrick Perkins, and Aaron Brooks also scored eight in the quarter. The Celtics outshot the Rockets, 59 percent to 50 percent, but were outrebounded, 12-7.
The C’s trailed in the second quarter before Rondo sparked a comeback. Rondo leapt for a defensive rebound and threw an outlet pass as he lost his balance, which Pierce connected for a lay-in. On the next possession, he set Perkins up for a bucket. The C’s took the lead back on a dunk by Tony Allen. The Rockets fought back, though, and are up 57-53 at halftime.
Brooks leads all players with 17 points. Pierce has 14 for the Celtics. Rondo has a game-high seven assists.
|Garnett fined for ‘Michael @#$% Jordan’ remark||04.02.10 at 1:51 pm ET|
After Kevin Durant made all 15 free throws and the Celtics made just 13-of-17 at the line, Garnett said, “I thought we were playing Michael [expletive] Jordan the way he was getting the whistle. Durant damn near shot more free throws than our whole team for the game.”
Stu Jackson, NBA Vice President for Operations, made the announcement.
|Preview: Celtics-Rockets||04.02.10 at 11:05 am ET|
When the month of March began the Celtics were coming off a loss to the Nets and looking at 17 games in 31 days and 10 of those 17 at home. This was a chance for them to reassert themselves at TD Garden as well as get some of their pride back after struggling through January and February.
The Celtics went 11-6 in March and 7-3 at home, which are both solid marks, but not particularly noteworthy. They swept the Texas teams, but blew a halftime lead in Utah. They beat the Nuggets, but lost by 21 to the Spurs. They handled sub-500 teams on their schedule, but got crushed by Memphis. And, once again, they couldn’t hang with the Cavaliers for 48 minutes.
Have the Celtics improved over the last month? Absolutely. Have they inspired any more confidence that they have a serious postseason run in them? Not really. They are still in fourth place in the East and ninth in point differential. They remain good, maybe even dangerous, but outside the ranks of the top contenders.
ROCKETS (37-37, 4-6 last 10)
Points Per Game: 101.5
Points Allowed: 101.9
Differential: -.4 (16th)
Offensive Efficiency: 107.0 (17th)
Defensive Efficiency: 107.4 (16th)
Pace: 93.8 (8th)
CELTICS (47-27, 6-4 last 10)
Points Per Game: 98.6
Points Allowed: 94.5
Differential: +4.1 (9th)
Offensive Efficiency: 107.1 (16th)
Defensive Efficiency: 102.6 (2nd)
Pace: 91.7 (20th)
Injuries: Pierce (Shoulder, probable), Perkins (Knee, probable) Read the rest of this entry »
|Doc’s three-point plan for success||04.01.10 at 5:23 pm ET|
To that point, Doc Rivers outlined two areas he believes his team has improved since the All-Star break and one more he believes still needs work before the second season begins.
Rivers told reporters following Thursday’s practice that the team has cut down on its turnovers since the break and has done a better job of rebounding in recent games.
But the one area he still feels his team needs work on its weak-side defense. In other words, Rivers wants to see more green and white shirts flying to the open shooter and not allow wide open shots, especially from three-point range.
That was particularly evident on Wednesday when Jeff Green nailed back-to-back three-pointers in the final two minutes to seal Oklahoma City’s 109-104 win over the Celtics.
“Turnovers are going down but we’ve had the sporadic bad game,” Rivers said. “We’re rebounding better, we’ve had the sporadic bad game. And then there’s the weak-side defense.
“To me that’s the biggest concern, a guy is going to get beat off the dribble, that next guy being there to take the charge and the next guy being there to get his body in the way and then the next guy getting on that guy’s body. That’s the next step we have to make.”
Rivers also said his players were more upset with three free-throw discrepancy than he was.
“I thought we could’ve gone to the line more but I thought we could’ve been more aggressive going to the basket as well since we took a lot of threes,” Rivers said. “I thought they were complaining more they were playing good defense on some of those and they were playing good defense.”
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