|Three-Pointer: Celtics show age before beauty||02.07.11 at 11:42 pm ET|
‘We’re old,’ said Rondo, who at 24 is the youngest player on the roster outside of the last two guys on the bench, Avery Bradley and Luke Harangody.
The Celtics are indeed old, averaging 31.1 years of age. The good news is that with age comes experience. That’s 902 playoff games and 47 All-Star selections of experience. Generally, that means a lot of victories ‘ just ask the 1997-98 Bulls, who at an average age of 31.6 were the oldest team in NBA history to capture a title, winning 62 games in the regular season and 15 of 21 playoff contests.
But with age also comes aching bodies. Shaquille and Jermaine O’Neal have a combined 14 feet and 550 pounds of bodies — logging a total of 66,669 minutes in their careers — that have translated into 47 missed games already this season. Their consistent absences from the lineup means when other injuries occur (i.e., Delonte West, Marquis Daniels and Semih Erden), Doc Rivers‘ bench looks like Norman Dale’s in ‘Hoosiers’ when he was forced to play Ollie.
Remarkably, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are defying their ages of 35, 34 and 33, respectively, as the only players on the Celtics’ roster to start 40 of the team’s 51 games. Still, that doesn’t mean their old legs aren’t tired on the second night of back-to-back games.
‘I think we have 13 losses, and I know seven of them have come on back-to-backs,’ the Celtics coach told reporters after the C’s fell to 38-13 with a 94-89 loss to the Bobcats (click here for the complete recap). ‘And it’s the same script in five of them, where we win a decent game the day before, we come out, we kind of goof around and then all of a sudden you try to win it in the fourth. Well, then you don’t have anything left.’
|Fast Break: Bobcats’ bench bests Celtics||at 9:41 pm ET|
Despite leading scorer Stephen Jackson getting ejected, the Bobcats got 19 points and 16 rebounds from Gerald Wallace to hand the Celtics a 94-89 loss Monday night in Charlotte. Shaun Livingston and Gerald Henderson combined for 33 points off the bench for the Bobcats.
Ray Allen led all scorers with 25 points, and Rajon Rondo (10 points, 14 rebounds) produced a double-double for the Celtics (38-13), who maintain a slim lead over the Heat for the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Bench scoring: While a lineup of Nate Robinson, Von Wafer, Luke Harangody, Glen Davis and Allen battled the Bobcats fairly even for the first five minutes of the second quarter, they scored just three points in that stretch. Overall, the Bobcats’ bench outscored its Boston counterpart 44-15 for the game. The 6-foot-7 Livingston (17 points) led the way, using his size advantage against Rondo and Robinson.
Off the mark: When the Celtics’ offense is running on all cylinders, they’ll shoot 60 percent as a team. Against the Bobcats, though, they hovered around 40 percent all night. That’s especially bad when you consider Rondo was seeing the floor well.
Banging the boards: Wallace (16 rebounds) and Kwame Brown (12 rebounds) owned the boards against the Celtics. Wallace is undertandable; Brown isn’t. Together, those two helped the Bobcats out-rebound the C’s by 14 (50-36) for the night. The Celtics really felt the absences of both Shaquille O’Neal and Semih Erden, who sat with injuries.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
The Ray Allen watch: Allen sunk a 3-pointer in the first minute of the game — bringing the magic number to three in order to break Reggie Miller‘s all-time 3-point record. He cut that number to two when he sunk another trey in the third quarter.
At times, though, it appeared Allen might want to wait until Thursday’s home game against the Lakers to set the mark. He must’ve taken more pullup jumpers inside the arc than he had all season. Still, Allen finished with 25 points on 9-of-17 shooting.
Getting under Stephen Jackson’s skin: Earlier this week, when he was sitting on 11 technical fouls for the season and had already been suspended for berating a referee, Jackson said, “If me speaking my mend gets me a tech, hey.” Well, that attitude got him another two technical fouls — in succession — when he thought he got fouled going to the basket. As a result, he was tossed from the game while leading the Bobcats with 11 points at the time.
Rajon Rondo’s strong start: Just as he did against the Magic, Rondo made it a point to get to the basket right from the opening whistle, which he did rather easily against Bobcats point guard D.J. Augustin. Rondo had 10 points and five assists in the first quarter alone.
|Spike Lee: Kevin Garnett needs to ‘calm the f#%$ down’||at 5:29 pm ET|
If Kevin Garnett didn’t already have March 21 circled on his calendar, you can bet he will very soon.
Because that’s when the Celtics next visit the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, where director and noted Knicks fan Spike Lee will no doubt be sitting in the front row.
In an interview with ESPN.com, Spike Lee claimed Garnett cursed him out “for no reason” and suggested the All-Star Celtics forward should “calm the f#%$ down” …
“When I go to the games, it’s to have fun. I’m respectful. If I say a player missed a shot, that’s not talking about your mother, your family; it’s all good nature. The players enjoy talking to me and I enjoy talking to them.
“But this last time against Boston — you know that game where they disallowed [Amare] Stoudemire‘s 3? — Kevin Garnett lost it. He was cursing me out for no reason. Maybe because Stoudemire gave him 39 points, but take that vulgarity to Stoudemire. I’m not holding you, and I did not even say s#!@ to Garnett the whole game. That really surprised me. He lost it. He was cursing at me the whole game. He needs to calm the f#%$ down.”
And Lee didn’t stop there. Here’s the rest of his exchange with blogger Jared Zwerling:
- JZ: “Well, you know what? It came back to bite him in the butt, because STAT [Stoudemire] is starting for the East in the All-Star Game, and KG is not.”
- SL: “Next time they come is on March 21. So, look, I don’t like the Celtics, but I respect Doc [Rivers]. Doc’s a good friend. You know I love Ray Allen. I hate the Celtics, but look, they’ve got good guys on that team. I’ve got friends on that team. Nate [Robinson]’s on the team. But Garnett needs to calm the f#%$ down. There’s no reason he should be cursing at me the way he did the last game. So you can put that in the article. It was disrespectful and I would never do nothing like that to him.”
- JZ: “That’s crazy. Garnett has definitely had his share of temper tantrums — no question about that.”
- SL: “I’m not even playing, and I didn’t say nothing to him the whole game anyway. So, if you’re mad, start cursing out STAT, Stoudemire. But you’re not going to do that s#!@ because Stoudemire’s not going to take it. So he cursed at me and I’m 5-foot-6 ½, 150 pounds. What he was saying was worse than Reggie Miller. It was uncalled for.”
- JZ: “We’ll all be ready for that next game.”
- SL: “I’m going to get him that time.”
So, to summarize Lee’s conversation: 1) he sat angelically on the sideline as Garnett unleashed an unprovoked verbal assault on him; 2) there’s no reason to use vulgarity, but Garnett should calm the f#%$ down; and 3) Garnett should turn his trash talk to Stoudemire, but Lee’s going to “get him” next time. Gotcha, Spike. Appreciate the unbiased analysis.
Now that Miller is retired — and about to be eclipsed by Ray Allen for the NBA’s all-time 3-point record — Lee needs a new feud to stay relevant. Because recent movies like “She Hate Me” and “Bamboozled” aren’t doing the job.
|Doc Rivers: Rajon Rondo, Big Baby and other things that made the Celtics super on Sunday||at 1:47 pm ET|
For many reasons, the first 12 minutes and 59 seconds didn’t start out very well for the Celtics on Sunday.
There was Orlando jumping out to a 12-2 lead as Dwight Howard dominated. There was Glen Davis leaving a mark in the parquet with the back of his head, suffering a bruised skull. But as he returned to the bench to start the second quarter, that paled in comparison to the bruise to the spinal cord of Marquis Daniels as he ran into the chest of Gilbert Arenas and fell suddenly to the floor.
Things were just completely out of whack. But then it was Rajon Rondo‘s time to take over the game. And did he ever. Immediately after kneeling to check on the well-being of Daniels, Rondo came out of the delay and drove to the basket for a lay-up exactly 20 seconds later that energized the crowd and – more importantly – his teammates. He was on his way to a season-high 26 points.
So, what was the difference in his point guard Sunday?
‘Well, after ‘ you mean after the first six minutes of horrendous basketball from our team?” Rivers replied rhetorically. It just looked like the first six minutes, we were there to play basketball but I thought they were really invested into the game. And you know, why that changed I don’t know, but it was good. We went to an open set which we rarely do. I just didn’t see us with any ‘ we didn’t have anything going.
“And Jameer [Nelson] picked up that one foul and we just decided to go basically open spread. And we told Rondo to get to the rim, and, you know, use his instincts. He’ll find open guys.’
The Celtics went with a spread offense that allowed more lanes for Rondo to drive to the basket and create off the dribble.
‘Well it really depends on the game,” Rivers said. “I want him to be aggressive every game. We’re not going to run spread every game because it doesn’t make a lot of sense every night. We’d like to match up with him, especially Jameer wanted to stay on the floor because of his fouls, but that is how we want him to take the ball to the basket.
“Whenever he does go, we want him to go with power and speed and be willing to get fouled. And I thought over everything that was it. Obviously he made great shots and all that. I just liked the fact that he had no problem if he got fouled.’
Then there were the 21 missed 3-pointers by the Magic, who missed 61-of-93 shots. After the Celtics allowed the Mavericks to beat them on 8-of-17 shooting from long range, Rivers realized early his team was committed to not allowing that again.
Rivers asked for prayers for Davis and Semih Erden, who drew the assignment of guarding Dwight Howard when Kendrick Perkins was forced to the bench to rest. Those prayers were essentially answered in the form of a 91-80 win. Yes, Howard ate up Big Baby, Perkins and Erden for 22 points in the first half. But he had just six points in the second half as the Celtics put on the defense clamps, led by Davis’ ball denial in the post.
‘Phenomenal,” Rivers said of the effort. “Great defense. I think any time you lose a game where you think you broke your principals and defensively you were not right, then the next time you play if you’re a defensive team, you’re probably going to have a good defensive effort. And I thought we did that. I said this with Baby and Perk, it was a test for them.
“It was tough because we were going to leave them on an island and Dwight had it going early. And we just kept telling them, ‘We’re doing the right thing. Just keep doing it.’ And that was tough for them, and the fact that they stayed with it and stayed on it was good.’
|Irish Coffee: The Kevin Garnett controversy timeline||at 1:19 pm ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
The first time I can remember controversy around Kevin Garnett was in 2004, when as a member of the Timberwolves he said he was going to break out grenades, missile launchers and M16’s to take down the Kings in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals.
Also in Minnesota, Garnett had confrontations against such immortal NBA legends as Mark Pope, Anthony Peeler, Rick Rickert, Francisco Elson and Tyrone Nesby. Those issues haven’t subsided in Boston, where his latest dust-up came Friday against the Mavericks — and nearly again Sunday when Hedo Turkoglu knocked Garnett to the ground.
As a result, I figured it was time we sorted these incidents out in a timeline of his indiscretions:
- April 28, 2008: In Game 4 of a first-round series, Hawks center Zaza Pachulia headbutted Garnett after a hard foul. In Game 7, Garnett exacted revenge, executing a backcourt pick.
- Nov. 7, 2008: After throwing a blow at Bucks center Andrew Bogut‘s face, Garnett was suspended for one game.
- Nov. 10, 2008: Defending Jose Calderon, Garnett wagged his finger at the Raptors point guard Dikembe Mutombo-style.
- Dec. 5, 2008: Getting on all fours and barking like a dog in the backcourt, Garnett taunted Portland rookie guard Jerryd Bayless. Oh, and he made Glen Davis cry.
- Oct. 11, 2009: In a preseason game against the Nets, Garnett shoved then New Jersey forward Yi Jianlian‘s arms aside and bumped bodies with him during a dead ball.
- April 17, 2010: In an attempt to clear Quentin Richardson away from Paul Pierce, Garnett elbowed the Heat forward and was subsequently suspended for Game 2 of a first-round playoff series.
- Nov. 2, 2010: Following a Celtics win over the Pistons, Detroit forward Charlie Villanueva Tweeted that Garnett called him “a cancer patient.” Garnett fired back, claiming he said, “You are cancerous to your team and our league.”
- Nov. 10, 2010: A handful of days after a Celtics win over the Bulls, Chicago center Joakim Noah told a local radio station, “[Garnett]’s a very mean guy. Where’s the love? None at all. Ugly, too.” After the Richardson incident, Noah had already called Garnett “a dirty player.”
- Jan. 28, 2011: In a Celtics loss to the Suns, Garnett issued a low blow on Phoenix forward Channing Frye‘s groin during a 3-point attempt. Garnett was ejected. And Suns coach Alvin Gentry later said, “I lost a little respect for him.” Garnett refused to apologize.
- Feb. 4, 2011: Following a fast-break foul by Mavericks guard J.J. Barea, Garnett grabbed the referee’s arm during the dust-up and got hit with a technical.
|Celtics show they are a band of ‘brothers,’ like in 2008||02.06.11 at 11:58 pm ET|
When Marquis Daniels went down early in the second quarter, it was like a vacuum sucked up every bit of noise and energy in the Garden. Players, coaches and fans all stood silent as Daniels was being tended to on the court as he lay motionless.
‘Honestly I didn’t really know what was up,” Celtics captain Paul Pierce said. “Obviously when you see guy lay down there for a sense of time you get worried and you pray and hope that he’s alright. When we came back to the locker room at half time I asked how he was doing and they said he was moving and doing pretty good. I guess he has some type of condition in his neck or spine that I don’t know about. Hopefully, you know, he can take some time off, hopefully if he can get back on the court but most importantly we’re more worried about his health.”
Daniels will be out for at least a month as doctors perform tests on his bruised spinal cord, a condition that Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and team doctor Brian McKeon said afterward was preexisting before Daniels became a Celtic.
As for the current day Celtics, they turned a 24-17 deficit at the time of Daniels’ injury into a 91-80 demolition of the Magic.
‘I don’t know if it’s a coincidence that after Marquis went hurt that we kinda rallied together,” Pierce said. “I guess it seemed that way but I’m just glad that usually when you see a guy get injured that teams use that as an excuse and have a letdown and you know kind of go through the motions for the rest of the game worried about the guy that went down because your worried about him.”
Just like on Nov. 24, when the Celtics watched helplessly as Delonte West went down with an ugly fracture of his right wrist. The Celtics were down 40-36 after West’s lay-up with 2:48 left in the second quarter. Ironically, that night it was none other than Daniels who came into replace West.
The Celtics would win that game 89-83. On Sunday, it was Ray Allen‘s turn to take the place of a fallen teammate, as he came in with 11:01 left in the second quarter.
‘I was trying to process what just happened, and when I saw the way he hit the ground it was I just started thinking about any time I watched a football game, and I saw a guy on the ground, how their body just kind of didn’t respond to anything,” Allen said. “It looked like he got hit in the wrong spot where whatever happened to his body he just couldn’t move. And when I saw his face, it was the scariest feeling because it was almost like he couldn’t do anything. It’s the risk we always run, but for that moment it just seemed like ‘let me go to the hospital and let me do what I need to do to see that he’s all right’, cause basketball is the last thing on my mind.’
But once the game re-started, the Celtics were all business.
“it seemed like the complete opposite and I think we kind of fed off of it and it was kind of like let’s do this for Quis kinda, Pierce added. ” I mean that’s what I saw you know it just seemed like our energy went up because I was on the bench at the time and I was watching and it just seemed like that’s what started the run so we’re happy that he’s okay and unfortunately he probably gave us the spark. Thanks Quis, hope you’re doing good buddy.’
‘Well this is a very close knit team. I mean, this is one of the closer teams, it kind of reminds me of the team in 08. It’s like when Marquis goes down it’s like your brother, when Delonte goes down it’s like your brother,” Pierce said. “If you ever have a family member and something ever happens to them you don’t feel right. And we’re around each other so much; plane, bus, we even go to each other’s houses so it’s like we created this bond with one another and when something bad happens to him we all feel for him but the rest of us try and rally together and that’s what you kind of saw in those two injuries.’
Of course, everyone remembers how 2008 ended. As long as Daniels is healthy, the Celtics wouldn’t mind history repeating itself.
When Marquis Daniels stumbled to the floor Sunday afternoon – just 59 seconds into the second quarter – it was an all-too-familiar sight for Doc Rivers. He immediately flashed back to Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against the same Magic team when Daniels fell awkwardly to the ground. It seemed like the exact same injury.
After Sunday’s game, the Celtics announced that – for all intents and purposes – it was.
The team announced that Daniels, who quickly regained full movement in all extremities, has a preexisting condition in his spinal cord that makes him vulnerable to the spinal cord “bruise” he suffered as he hit the ground Sunday.
“And this one looked worse,” Rivers said in a somber tone after the 91-80 win over the Magic at TD Garden. “I don’t actually know how our players kind of got back their senses that quickly, because they all knew it, too.
The Celtics trailed 24-17 at the time but gathered themselves to outscore the Magic, 74-56, the rest of the way.
“I knew it immediately,” Rivers added. “It was no doubt. Right when he went down, I was already out on the floor. Gilbert [Arenas] or someone was standing near him and I just told him, ‘Don’t touch him,’ because, you could see it was not good.’
The good news was that Daniels had full function of his motor skills following a scary injury in the second quarter of Sunday’s game at TD Garden, according to Celtics general manager Danny Ainge, who left to visit him at New England Baptist Hospital.
“Marquis is doing well,” Ainge said. “I was just with him at New England Baptist Hospital. He’s moving, he’s fine. His arms and legs are fine.”
Ainge was flanked by team doctor Brian McKeon, who announced that Daniels will be out “indefinitely” and that guard has a pre-existing condition that contributed to Sunday’s freak injury, sustained one minute into the second quarter. Daniels fell awkwardly to the court after driving to the right on Gilbert Arenas and remained motionless for over four minutes before being wheeled out on a stretcher.
“He basically bruised his spinal cord,” McKeon said. “He’ll be out indefinitely. We’re getting all the tests at the Baptist and we’ll have more information [Monday]. We’ll get CT scans, MRIs and serial examinations.”
McKeon confirmed that Sunday’s injury was directly related to the same injury sustained in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals last spring, when the team announced at first that Daniels had a concussion.
“It’s not a concussion,” McKeon announced. “This is the same type of neck injury that he had so it’s just a little bit worse. He’s got some spine issues in the past that have been addressed by other teams and so we’ll just have to see how it plays out in the next few days.’
“I think he was scared when he was out on the court because he couldn’t really move there for a short period of time so that scared him,” Ainge said. “But he’s had some issues with this before and some tingling in his body and his arms and things before so I think he wasn’t scared, he was fine. He had it last year against Orlando in Game 5 and I’m not sure before that. He’s had a couple of episodes throughout his career.’
On Sunday, it was apparent that – when and if Daniels returns this season – he’ll be dealing with a lot more than just getting back in game shape.
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