|NBA Power Rankings, 1/21||01.21.10 at 9:22 am ET|
1. LA Lakers (2): It’s going to be hard for someone to knock the Lakers from this perch going forward. Of all the elite teams, they’ve looked the hungriest all year. I have no idea what’s driving Kobe Bryant ‘ the rings, Shaquille O’Neal, the Next Michael Jordan comparisons ‘ but he’s been an incredibly determined player the entire season.
2. Cleveland (1): Speaking of Shaq, he volunteered the legs of Kobe, LeBron James and Vince Carter to raise money for Haitian relief. I wonder if it ever occurred to ShaqStimulus that with his massive contract (and endorsements) he’s also well-positioned to do what he’s asking of others.
3. Dallas (4): Dirk Nowitzki was an innocent bystander when Rasheed Wallace and the NBA both lost their minds. Wallace, after running into foul trouble against Dirk, said the officials don’t like to see tough D played against the big man. So the league fined him 35 grand. Silly on both counts. Wallace has to admit that Dirk is a tough matchup, and the NBA has to stop being so insecure about criticism. Thirty-five grand for a comment like that? Come on.
4. Atlanta (7): As scary a team as you’ll see in the Eastern Conference. Before, the Hawks’ weakness was obvious: no bench. I see a team with few weaknesses now, and plenty of confidence ‘ especially when playing the Celtics.
5. Denver (9): The Nuggets are a great team when Chauncey Billups is healthy. Carmelo Anthony certainly can hold his own without Billups, but he’s a much more dangerous player with him on the floor.
|Fast Break: Celtics vs. Pistons||01.20.10 at 10:32 pm ET|
Forty-eight minutes — that’s all Doc Rivers asked for. But after getting out to a hot start against the Pistons, the Celtics slipped up in the second quarter and continued their collapse in the second half. They failed to put together a complete game and fell 92-86 to the Pistons on Wednesday night at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
Player of the game: Rodney Stuckey led all players in scoring (27 points) and rebounding (11 boards). The feisty guard, who is listed at 6-foot-5, grabbed seven more rebounds than Kendrick Perkins, five more than Paul Pierce and four more than Rasheed Wallace. While his scoring burned the Celtics, his aggressiveness on the boards gave the Pistons a critical 45-35 advantage.
Turning point: While the Celtics lost control of the game in the third quarter (outscored 21-13), their problems began in the second. The C’s blew a nine-point first-quarter lead and were outscored 27-26 heading into halftime. Pierce, who had the hot hand early on, scored just two points during the stretch. The Pistons reclaimed momentum and carried it into the second half to get the win.
– Rasheed Wallace received a rowdy ovation from Pistons fans. He scored 16 points (5-13 FG, 2-5 3PG, 5-6 FT) on his first trip back to Detroit as a Celtic.
– The Celtics have lost four of their last five games and are currently on a three-game losing streak. They will look to right themselves on Friday night against the Trail Blazers in Boston, when Kevin Garnett is expected to return to the court.
|Rasheed Wallace fined by NBA||01.20.10 at 3:01 pm ET|
The NBA just released a statement to the press that Rasheed Wallace has been fined $35,000 for publicly criticizing game officials. The fine was a result of Wallace’s comments after the Celtics‘ 99-90 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Monday, January 18th.
|Report: C’s trying to acquire Robinson||01.20.10 at 1:18 pm ET|
Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports reported that the Boston Celtics have made an offer to the New York Knicks for guard Nate Robinson. Robinson was the 21st selection of the 2005 NBA Draft, chosen by the Phoenix Suns before being traded to the New York Knicks. Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni removed Robinson from the Knicks’ rotation for 14 games earlier this season and Robinson’s agent has since urged the team to deal Robinson. Check back for more as this story as it develops. Click here to check out Robinson’s stats.
|Preview: Celtics vs. Pistons||01.20.10 at 10:27 am ET|
Kevin Garnett is close to coming back for the Celtics. He practiced Tuesday and might play Friday against the Blazers, although that seems a little optimistic considering how cautious everyone has been with his various leg injuries.
The question for Garnett and the Celtics is: Which KG will we see on the floor? The one at the beginning of the season was tentative and out of rhythm offensively. The KG we saw before the injury was one of the best shooting big men in the NBA and a strong rebounder. Even when he’s not at his best, Garnett remains an excellent passer and a terrific help-side defender, and the Celtics have been struggling with stagnant offense and sub-par defensive rotations.
It’s too much to ask Garnett for him to pick up right where we he left off, but he needs to be that player again at least by the All-Star break if the Celtics are going to have any time to get everything in place for the playoffs. Marquis Daniels is also tentatively scheduled to be back by that point and that would be the first time this season the Celtics would have their nine-man rotation fully upright and operational.
CELTICS (27-12, 4-6 last 10)
Points Per Game: 100.2
Points Allowed: 93.8
Differential: +6.4 (Second)
Offensive Efficiency: 108.7 (10th)
Defensive Efficiency: 101.7 (Third)
Pace: 91.7 (21st)
PISTONS (14-26, 3-7 last 10)
Points Per Game: 92.2
Points Allowed: 97.1
Differential: -4.9 (27th)
Offensive Efficiency: 103.6 (24th)
Defensive Efficiency: 109.9 (21st)
Pace: 88.5 (29th)
|Inside the Game: Eddie House and the art of sharpshooting||01.20.10 at 12:22 am ET|
When the NBA announces the contestants of the Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout in early February, Eddie House hopes to see his name on the lineup.
‘The wind can’t stop me. The cold weather can’t stop me,’ he proclaims in a promotional video in which he shovels snow off the court to shoot treys in a hat and winter coat.
Even when it’s cold out, House has the ability to get hot from long-range. Yet even though he has made his mark in Boston as a 3-point threat, he didn’t always spend most of his time behind the arc.
Seven years before he signed with the Celtics, House was a second-round pick of the Heat in 2000. He had played four years at Arizona State, where he left as the school’s all-time leading scorer (2,044 points) and tied Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for most points scored in a Pac-10 game (61).
But by the time House (who is listed at 6-foot-1) squared off against NBA players, he quickly realized he couldn’t score at ease like he had on his way to the pros. And since he was coming off the bench, his coaches weren’t looking for him to score 30 points every night either.
So he began to adapt. House took his jumper and moved further and further away from the basket. As his role on the court changed, so did his game.
He honed in on his long-range shot, a decision early in his career that has paid long-term dividends in his career. House has spent the last three years as one of the Celtics’ offensive go-to guys off the bench and has proven himself to be reliable down the stretch. Last season he broke Danny Ainge’s single-season 3-point shooting percentage (44.4 percent). This season he is shooting 37.1 percent from behind the arc, second on the team only to Paul Pierce.
As part of WEEI.com’s ‘Inside the Game’ series with the Celtics, House explains that even though he may be known for his 3-point skills, it took more than just treys (think 1,000 shots a day in the offseason) to become a successful sharpshooter:
Knowing his role: House shot less than 35 percent from 3-point range during his first three NBA seasons. After perfecting his craft, he has ranked in the top 10 among all players in two seasons.
‘I think I probably developed [3-point shooting] more in the league more than anywhere else. Being in college and high school, you’re the guy who’s getting the most buckets and you’re like the man on the team, to where you come to the league and you have to become a role player. It was a role that because I was able to shoot the ball, that was the role that I was given so I had to start working on it. … Just repetition, practice, practice, practice, practice.”
Art appreciation: Hitting 3-pointers may look flashy during a game, but House always enjoys seeing more fundamental shots on the court.
“I don’t just love the 3-pointer ‘ I love the jump shot. I think it’s kind of a lost art. You don’t have too many jump shooters in the game anymore. You have a lot of set shooters. I think it’s a pretty art that’s something that’s gone away from the game. There aren’t too many jump shooters at a premium, so to be one of them in the league, I think if you can shoot the basketball, you have a great chance of staying in this league for a while.”
No time to waste: One of House’s biggest strengths is his ability to quickly get rid of the ball ‘ into the basket. His efficient catch and release not only helps the tempo of the game, it also helps him get better looks at the hoop.
“I guess if I took too long, then I’d probably get my shot blocked. So it’s just something that I developed by not trying to get my shot blocked. Knowing I’m not the tallest guy on the court, if I take too long I might get it blocked so it’s something you have to adapt to, and it wound up happening.”
Counting their weapons: Even though House is part of the Celtics’ second unit, he often plays alongside the starters. The combination of offensive weapons poses problems for their opponents.
“[Ray Allen is] another guy that has to be accounted for. You know they’re not going to help off him ‘ you know they’re not really going to help off me ‘ but at times if I’m out on the court and it’s Ray, Paul, Kevin [Garnett], [Rajon] Rondo, when they drive, someone’s got to give, and usually I’m the guy that they give from, so I get open shots.”
Two was enough: Surprisingly, House’s most significant shot was not a 3-pointer. He remembers a clutch jumper during the Celtics’ historic comeback against the Lakers in Game 4 of the 2008 NBA Finals.
“It wasn’t a 3-point shot. I think the biggest shot I made in my career was against the Lakers. It put us up when we were making that comeback from being down 24 in the third quarter. Then in the fourth quarter, we ran a play, I set a pick and rolled out, Paul [Pierce] dribbled out, hit me in the corner and I hit the shot. It put us up for the first time and we never looked back. I think that was the most important shot I made in my career.”
Second generation shooting: The oldest of Houses’ three sons, Jaelen, is already gravitating toward the arc. Oh, yeah, he’s only 8 years old.
“Jaelen tries to shoot it right now. He can make college 3-pointers. He started this past summer because he plays with older kids that are around 12. They’re shooting the shot and it’s easy for them, and he’s trying and it’s too much of a push for him. We never work on those things when we work out. I have him work on everything else but the first thing he always wants to do is go behind the 3 and shoot the shots. I don’t know why.”
|KG at practice but C’s still have work to do||01.19.10 at 5:52 pm ET|
WALTHAM — While the head coach and captain were very happy to see Kevin Garnett back at practice on Tuesday afternoon, they tempered their enthusiasm with a heavy dose of reality.
The Celtics have a lot of work to do, even when their defensive MVP returns to game action.
“He looked real fluid,” Paul Pierce said. “He got up and down the court, got him the ball in the post. It’ll be a positive to get him back whenver he comes back. We don’t know if that’s going to be tomorrow, later in the week or whenever. But it just good to have him out there, his presence. You feel it and you see it when he’s out on the court.
“We ain’t thinking about that but definitely we know we’re going to better when Kevin comes back, obviously. He makes a better team on both ends of the court. We have to take care of responsibilities while he’s out. If he’s going to play the next game or not, we still have to go out there and turn this thing around going into the All-Star break.”
Then there’s Doc Rivers‘ attitude.
“When Kevin gets back, we still have to grow as a team,” Rivers said. “The way I look at it, with him out, our growth has been stunted. When he comes back, it’ll continue our growth. It’s not the answer yet. We still have to grow as a team.”
While Garnett looked terrific, his conditioning wasn’t. And that came as no surprise to Rivers, who reiterated time and time again, KG will NOT return to game action Wednesday in Detroit.
“He actually looked really good,” Rivers added. “He played well. His conditioning was awful. That’s why I stopped [practice] because he was going well. I didn’t want to take him to the next step yet. He’ll do some running [Wednesday]. We may do something Thursday, or not, and then Friday, we’ll see.”
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