|Rajon Rondo gets inside the heads of the Heat||02.13.11 at 7:24 pm ET|
Rajon Rondo may be a guard but he certainly is getting accustomed to being in the center of the action.
“D-West talked to me coming out of halftime and couple of guys told me to try and up the tempo and the only way I could do that was by pressuring the ball,” Rondo said.
Even if it meant picking up LeBron James at midcourt. And he did. And the Celtics responded with a 20-3 run that gave them the lead they never relinquished.
“I was just trying to cut the head of the horse, just wanted to change the tempo of the game,” Rondo added.
Rondo had a triple-double with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists and Kevin Garnett added 19 points as the Celtics won for the third time in as many tries against King LeBron and the Heat, 85-82, Sunday afternoon at TD Garden.
So Doc, whose brilliant idea was it?
“It was Rondo’s idea,” Rivers said. “Really what it was, was that we just ‘ I told him to pressure the ball, and he took that whoever brought it up. I didn’t mean that. He took it that way and then I stayed with it. He actually during a time-out thought we were going to switch back, and when I didn’t say anything he was surprised. Because I liked it.
“Sometimes you go off the book and today was clearly that. That match-up made no sense, honestly. And it hurt us a couple times. The only thing I saw honestly is that it gave us life. Because he was trying so hard and working so hard, I just sort of force everybody else to join in. And even [Assistant Coach] Lawrence [Frank] was like ‘We can’t do this!’ And I said, ‘You’re right, but we’re just going to keep doing it.’ And it was good for us.’
The Celtics, who scored just 11 points in the fourth quarter, reclaimed first in the Eastern Conference by a half-game over the Heat, improving to 39-14 while the Heat fell to 39-15. With a chance to tie the game, James missed the front end of a pair of free throws with 12.5 seconds remaining and Mike Miller missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer just before the buzzer.
The Celtics had six players in double figures but captain Paul Pierce was not one of them. He missed all 10 shots and finished with just one point in 39 minutes. The Celtics shot just 30 percent in the opening quarter and 37 percent in the first half, and trailed 43-39 at the half. But Boston outscored Miami, 20-3, to open the third quarter and take command of the game.
The third quarter also featured some playoff-brand physical play and frustration from the the Heat. After Zydrunas Ilguaskas set a devastating screen on Rondo, who immediately got up. Moments later, Garnett got retribution with a clean pick on Mike Miller. But Dwyane Wade took exception and threw an elbow at Garnett. Wade was whistled for a flagrant foul and the two teams had to be separated.
The Celtics are off until Wednesday when they host the Nets in the final game before the All-Star break.
After missing all 10 shots from the field on Sunday, an ailing Paul Pierce said he will have an MRI on his aching left foot on Monday to determine the extent of the injury. Pierce also aggravated his sprained right hand, which he first injured Saturday in practice.
“I sprained my hand yesterday in practice, it got hit today and then just have to get my foot checked out tomorrow, going to get an MRI on it and go from there.”
Despite scoring just one point, Pierce played 40 minutes and the Celtics beat the Heat for the third time in as many tries this season, 85-82.
‘It was tough, you know right now, just battling a couple minor injuries to my hand and my foot,” Pierce said after his least productive game of the season. “So I think that really explains my tentativeness and my off-shooting today. I told Doc that I really didn’t have it today but I just tried to grind it out and thank goodness we came out with a win.’
Asked when he injured it, Pierce said, “it happened about a week ago, actually.”
Pierce, who missed Wednesday’s practice home sick with flu-like symptoms, said he wasn’t sick on Sunday.
|Fast Break: Rajon Rondo’s triple-double cools Heat||at 3:46 pm ET|
The first half felt like a preseason exhibition, and the second half played like a postseason battle. In the end, the Celtics defeated the Heat, 85-82, recapturing first place in the Eastern Conference by a half-game on Sunday afternoon in the TD Garden.
With 12.5 seconds to go and Lebron James on the line with a chance to tie the game with a pair of free throws, the Heat forward made just 1-of-2. Moments later, Glen Davis nailed a pair on the other end, and Mike Miller missed a game-tying 3-point attempt at the buzzer, as the Heat (39-15) lost to the Celtics (39-14) for the third time in three tries this year.
Rajon Rondo‘s third triple-double of the season (11 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists steered the Celtics, despite Paul Pierce‘s worst offensive performance (1 point) since March 9 of his rooke season. The C’s survived 62 combined points from the Heat’s Big Three of Chris Bosh (24), Lebron James (22) and Dwyane Wade (16).
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Heat get chippy: When things got sloppy midway through the third quarter, it ignited the Celtics — and their crowd. First, Zydrunas Ilgauskas knocked Rondo to the ground on a legal screen, and then Kevin Garnett returned the favor on Miller. That’s when Wade decided to shove Garnett.
As the referees discussed the severity of Wade’s foul (a flagrant-1), Rondo listened in on the Heat’s non-timeout huddle. That’s when James decided to shove Rondo — twice. Those events came during a stretch in which the Celtics expanded a two-point lead to a 13-point advantage.
Don’t get Rajon Rondo angry: Rondo was playing well before Ilgauskas decked him. Afterwards? He was on a mission. The Celtics point guard produced his first triple-double since totaling 22 assists, 12 points and 10 rebounds against the Spurs on Jan. 5. Not to mention the fact he had just one turnover. As a result, Garnett, Davis, Ray Allen, Kendrick Perkins and Von Wafer all reached double figures as well.
Bench boost: Despite leaping 9.5 feet instead of 10 while missing a fast-break dunk attempt, and then belly-bumping Chris Bosh on the rebound, Glen Davis performed admirably off the bench. He totaled 16 points and four rebounds in 30 minutes. Over the previous eight days, in the Celtics’ three losses, he shot 5-of-18 and averaged six points. That was a far cry from the guy who cemented himself as a Sixth Man of the Year candidate earlier this season.
And despite looking lost at times, Von Wafer made two big second-half 3′s to total 10 points.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Paul Pierce feeling the Heat:: After missing practice with an illness earlier in the week, Pierce still appeared sluggish on Sunday against the Heat. He missed all 10 of his shots — including five 3-pointers. Meanwhile, his defensive assignment, James, made 10-of-21 buckets and outscored him 22-1 for the game.
Easy like Sunday morning: Even the crowd didn’t seem entirely into the game in the first quarter. The Celtics took three more shots than the Heat in the opening 12 minutes, yet they trailed 20-15. That’s because the C’s shot just 6-of-20 (30 percent) while defensively allowing the Heat to connect on 9-of-17 field goals (52.9 percent) in that same span.
Riding the starters: Considering the Celtics’ depth was as shallow as a kiddie pool, and they still defeated the next-best team in the East, the C’s couldn’t have asked for much more. It’s a stretch in the “what went wrong” department, but Doc Rivers was forced to play Rondo and Allen 40-plus minutes, Perkins 30-plus minutes for the fifth straight game and a (less than 100 percent) Pierce 35-plus minutes. Since the C’s play just once (Wednesday) in the next nine days, that shouldn’t cause much concern.
|Irish Coffee: Perfect remedy for loss to Lakers||02.11.11 at 11:30 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
Few game films exist of Bill Russell‘s playing days, but a United States Information Agency documentarian by the name of Gary Goldsmith had some rare footage in his vault: Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals between the Celtics and Cincinnati Royals.
The video has since been shown on NBA TV, and SLAM Magazine recently caught with the filmmaker. Goldsmith takes us through the documentary’s process, and the unquestionable highlight of the interview is this aside on a retired Bob Cousy wandering the Garden hallways:
‘He was holding his head in his hands and saying to somebody, ‘We can’t lose. If we lose, they’ll never let us up. It will be like the Yankees; they’ll grind us in to the earth. We’ve got to win.’ He wasn’t saying this to anybody for publication; this was a private comment that he made. It’s that sense of how important it was to sustain their championship level. I got a feel for it from moments like that.’
Part 1 of Goldsmith’s “The Final Game” is embedded in this blog. Be sure to check out Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5 on YouTube. There’s nothing better than watching a game from the last run of the Celtics’ nine consecutive championship seasons to get over a loss to the Lakers.
The time spent is worth it just to hear Red Auerbach‘s incessant chatter from the sidelines:
|Doc Rivers: We weren’t up the challenge of the Lakers||at 10:57 am ET|
One characteristic Doc Rivers has always admired about his team was that it fights through almost every kind of adversity.
On Thursday night, he didn’t have that feeling. Whether it was the overwhelming number of injuries, the foul trouble of Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, Kobe being Kobe or just all of the above, Rivers just didn’t have the feeling that his team had the energy or will to overcome all of it. And that, more than the 92-86 loss to the Lakers at TD Garden seem to bug him the most.
“I thought they came out and jumped on us early in the third quarter, first ‘scored the first 10 points,” Rivers began. “And I never thought we fought through it, really. I mean obviously the fatigue and all that ‘ you know, one of our concerns going into the game were Paul or Ray couldn’t get in foul trouble obviously, because of what we had left. And that happened.
“But I just thought mentally we were not a very good team tonight and usually we are. I didn’t think we fought hard enough through adversity, and we’re great at that usually.”
But not on this night. While the Celtics are not a great rebounding team to begin with, they usually find a knack of dominating their opponent in the paint. Not on this night when they were outscored, 50-32.
They usually get to loose balls and find a way to score on second-chance points. Not on this night. They were outscored, 16-9, in that category. And while Rajon Rondo posted his 21st double-double of the season, he was just 5-of-14 and – after feeding Ray Allen for his record-breaking three in transition – couldn’t let his team back. It didn’t help that Nate Robinson went down with a bruised right knee in the second quarter and didn’t return.
“It was one of those nights; I just thought we didn’t do a very good job of [battling],” Rivers said. “And we obviously did have a lot of adversity with the injury of Nate and foul trouble and the lack of bodies, but you know that that could happen before the game and I don’t think we handled that very well.’
And watching Kobe Bryant – with just three shots in the first half – take over in the third quarter didn’t help either.
‘Well once he saw there was a chance to win, Kobe was going to be Kobe,” Rivers said. “I think we knew that a week ago. And, he also knew that we had foul problems on the floor and he was aggressive. Kobe didn’t win the game with his offense. Kobe won the game today with his defense. I thought defensively he was absolutely phenomenal. He was everywhere. He was trapping, he was helping, you know off Rondo all night, and trapped the post, blocked shots. I mean, he just had a great floor game to me more than just scoring.’
The Celtics face another NBA superstar when LeBron James and the Heat come calling on Sunday. The same Heat team that has been dominated twice this year by the Green. And whether or not Delonte West returns from a broken right wrist, the C’s better find their fight on Sunday or history will repeat itself.
Ray Allen has always been known as a stoic, some would say ice-cold, figure on the court. You could never really truly ever figure out if he was happy or upset with his play or his shooting. Perhaps that’s what has made him ‘ now ‘ the most prolific 3-point artist in NBA history.
But Thursday night was different for Allen the moment he stepped on the parquet.
There were the extra media members on hand for a national broadcast between the two fiercest rivals in the NBA. There was the tremendous build-up and then, of course, there were the fans who were chanting his name and cheering, beginning in warm-ups.
Allen needed just two 3-pointers to pass Reggie Miller and make NBA history smack dab in the middle of a Lakers-Celtics game.
‘What I thought about is, is it really going to happen,” Allen said. “I know I only needed two 3′s, and on any other day, any other game, it seems like it would happen just like that, I wouldn’t have to think about it. But that second 3, almost, it seemed like it was slow motion for me, cause I’ve seen the whole thing develop. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve played the game and I can see it, somewhat in a second motion so to speak. Where the ball kind of comes so slow, like somebody is almost slow motioning it on TV. That’s exactly how it felt, because the minute we got the stop and Rondo got the ball. In my mind it just started, and I just said to myself this is it.”
|Kobe Bryant: ‘I’ll bust your ass’||at 1:10 am ET|
Kobe Bryant scored 20 of his game-high 23 points in the second half to help his Lakers drop the Celtics 92-86 and even their season series at one apiece. And then he issued a warning to the four Celtics who will be attending the All-Star Game in Los Angeles next weekend.
“It doesn’t matter who I play,” said Bryant. “I could play you, and I’ll bust your ass.”
During a five-minute interview with the media following the Lakers’ victory, Bryant hit on everything from Ray Allen‘s record-breaking 3-pointer to the latest book assignment he’s received from coach Phil Jackson. Here’s a rundown of the conversation:
- On Ray’s record: “I just told him congratulations. It’s a mutual respect kind of thing, because we came into the league together. There’s not too many guys from that draft still playing and competing at a high level. I’m just very, very happy for him. We always compete when we go at it. That’s part of it. At this stage of our careers, there’s a respect because of that. I don’t get along with chumps very well, and he’s not a chump.”
- On the Garden: ‘It’s great. This is one of the best atmospheres ‘ if not the best atmosphere ‘ you can play in in the league today. This arena, what they do, this is a challenging place to play, but it’s a lot of fun.’
- On his play: ‘I wanted to be more aggressive in the first half, but I didn’t want to force it too much. I wanted to keep my guys in the game a little bit. In the second half, I just forced it. The game wasn’t coming to me, so I took it.’
- On the win: “It depends on where we go from here. We don’t go to New York and lay a dud. Then this game doesn’t much.”
- On the Lakers: “We always remain a pretty confident bunch. It’s good to see the hard work that we’ve been putting in paying off. We’re seeing results. From the last time we played them until now, we’ve gotten a little bit better in our defensive rotations, and we didn’t make as many mistakes down the stretch.”
- On the East: ‘[The Celtics] are right up there. It’s them and Miami. We’ve played against Boston twice and Miami once, and they look good.’