|Magic know formula to beat Celtics||11.21.09 at 12:05 am ET|
BOSTON ‘ It has been nearly a year since the Magic faced a healthy Celtics squad. On Friday they proved they can beat the Celtics with or without Kevin Garnett.
‘It’s very important especially when they are full strength to show you that we’re still a good team,’ Rashard Lewis told WEEI.com after the Magic’s 83-78 victory (Recap). ‘You know they’re a great team. This is only one game, it’s early in the season and I definitely would not count them out at all. Every time we play the Boston Celtics it’s going to be a tough, tough game.’
The Celtics were 0-2 last regular season against the Magic without Garnett and were eliminated from the Eastern Conference Semifinals by the Magic without him. But the truth is, the Magic have held their own against the Celtics in recent years. They improved to 5-3 against the Cs since the 2007-08 regular season.
‘I think the biggest thing playing their team is not allowing them to get a lot of second chance points, hold them to one shot, and then run,’ said Dwight Howard.
The Celtics actually outshot the Magic 87-to-70 from the floor, but the Magic shot 10-for-22 from three-point range while Celtics were a mere 2-for-19. Vince Carter attempted 29 field goals — ‘All of them weren’t open, I’ll be the first to tell you that,’ he said with a laugh — the same number as Ray Allen and Paul Pierce combined. Stifling the Celtics offense was a must-do for the Magic.
‘You’ve got to play defense,’ said Lewis. ‘I think every time we play this team we really buckle down on the defensive end and we try to take their main guys out ‘ Ray Allen at the three-point line, and we try to crowd Paul Pierce and make other guys beat us. Tonight I think we did a good job of that.’
The Celtics lost their lead just three minutes into the first quarter, and the Magic held off a 17-12 fourth quarter run after Rasheed Wallace tied the game at 78 apiece. Lewis said his team regained their composure after coach Stan Van Gundy called a timeout and buckled down, realizing how easily the Celtics can fight back from a double-digit deficit. The Magic diminished the Celtics homecourt advantage and held on in the TD Garden’s playoff atmosphere.
‘We’re not going to do that [back down] to anybody,’ said Jason Williams. ‘I mean, we feel that we’re just as good as anybody else. So if we come out and do what we’re supposed to do, we’re going to win more times than not.’
On Friday night, like they have so many times in recent games against the Celtics, the Magic came out on top. Neither team can read too much into this victory, though. While the Magic know how to beat the Celtics, but they also know either team is capable of winning at any time.
‘I don’t want to say we got their number because anything can happen on any given night,’ said Lewis. ‘Tonight the ball kind of bounced our way and towards the end of the game we were able to get away. It’s not like we blew them out. We won by like four points so it could have easily gone the other way.’
|Magic: Can’t Afford to Foul Rondo||11.20.09 at 7:46 pm ET|
BOSTON — Even though Rajon Rondo enters Friday’s game shooting a mere 25 percent from the free throw line, the Magic are not going to give him extra trips to the charity stripe. Just because free throws have been a weakness for Rondo this season that doesn’t mean the same is true for his teammates.
‘With their team you don’t want to foul unnecessarily,’ said Anthony Johnson. ‘Even though maybe he’s not shooting well, Paul Pierce, KG, all the other guys, they’re going to draw fouls.’
In spite of Rondo’s struggle (4-16 FG), the Celtics are still in the middle of the pack around the league. Ray Allen is ranked eighth in the NBA (89.3%) while Shelden Williams and Pierce are both shooting better than 80 percent.
‘If you waste your fouls on Rondo, it’s going to help them as a team get into the bonus and it’s going to give those guys free points,’ Johnson said. ‘So as much as possible we want to keep them off the line, including him, and try to make them make tough shots over the top of us.’
The Magic have a lot more to worry about with Rondo than just free throws. They are without starting point guard Jameer Nelson (knee) and will depend on veterans Johnson and Jason Williams to contain Rondo.
“He’s a guy that plays with a lot of energy offensively and defensively so you’ve got to always keep him in front of you, don’t allow him to really dictate the tempo with his ball pressure and just putting pressure on our defense getting into the paint,” said Johnson. “So we’re going to have to keep him in front of us and not let him orchestrate and make all the big plays.”
|Pierce to strike again for charity||11.15.09 at 11:19 pm ET|
On Monday evening Paul Pierce will trade his basketball sneakers for bowling shoes at ‘The Truth Strikes Again,’ a celebrity bowling tournament to raise funds for the Truth on Health Campaign and FitClub 34 by Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. Pierce is scheduled to be joined by his teammates, including Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins, Rasheed Wallace, Glen Davis, Eddie House, Marquis Daniels, Tony Allen, Brian Scalabrine, Lester Hudson, and Bill Walker. The event will take place at Kings Lanes in Dedham. For more information on Pierce’s initiatives, visit www.paulpierce.net.
|Walker makes unexpected return||11.11.09 at 11:19 pm ET|
‘Actually I think he wanted me to get one more practice in, get more acclimated with everything before he wanted to put me in, but he just happened to put me in,’ said Walker following the Celtics 105-86 win over the Jazz.
Walker had not played in the regular season since tearing the meniscus in his right knee during training camp. But with Brian Scalabrine sidelined, Rivers turned to Walker to give Rasheed Wallace a rest. He checked into his first game with just over two minutes left in the fourth quarter.
‘I felt ready,’ he said. ‘I felt pretty good after Monday’s practice. One thing that was missing was probably my conditioning. It’s a different type of conditioning from just running to actually getting out there, trying to dodge guys, getting hit, that type of thing. I’ll be fine though.’
Walker, who has suffered several knee injuries in the past, will take all the precautions to make avoid any irritation.
‘Icing and rest, just get off my legs,’ he explained. ‘Just take advantage of the down time we have and come in early tomorrow, get treatment, still work on everything I need to work on on my lower body.’
As Walker works his way back on to the court, he will judge his progress in practice. There is one play he looks forward to accomplishing again.
‘You finally get out there and you’re chasing Ray [Allen] off a screen and you’re in front of him when he comes off of it,’ he said with a laugh. ‘That’s a signal because not a lot of guys can do that. But I don’t know, it’s just getting out there and playing and not really favoring or thinking about your injury. That’s when you know you’re back.’
|Celtics generous in win over Jazz||at 11:00 pm ET|
There is a reason why the Celtics entered Wednesday’s game leading the league in assists. It isn’t only because of Rajon Rondo — point guards Steve Nash, Chris Paul, and Deron Williams are all ahead of him in dimes per game. It’s because the Celtics as a team look to pass, and that ball movement and selflessness were determining factors in their win over the Jazz.
‘Doc [Rivers] and Coach [Armond] Hill were just saying move the ball,’ Rondo said after the Celtics 105-86 victory. ‘It started in practice. We kept getting each other involved and we made plays for each other.’
The Celtics dished out 30 assists to the Jazz 18. Rondo accounted for 11, which totals more than Jazz starting guard Deron Williams and Ronnie Brewer combined.
They looked for not just one or two extra passes on Wednesday. One of the most significant possessions of the game involved four in the third quarter — Rondo to Ray Allen, Allen to Kendrick Perkins, Perkins behind the back to Kevin Garnett, Garnett back to Rondo for the lay in.
That sequence was memorable to many, but Rondo is so accustomed to sharing the ball that it was just another trip down the floor for him.
‘I don’t even remember the play,’ he said. ‘I think it was like five passes maybe, but I don’t remember how I got there.’
If the Celtics continue to see each other on the court like they did against the Jazz, they will remember how they ended up in the win column throughout the season.
|Veterans Day has special meaning for Allen||at 7:17 pm ET|
Wednesday night is more than just another game for Ray Allen. Veterans Day has a special meaning for the guard who grew up in a military home.
Allen’s father, Master Sergeant Walt Allen, spent 26 years in the Air Force. The senior Allen, who battled cancer this summer, made the trip from South Carolina to attend his first game since the 2008 season.
“When you say today is Veteran’s Day, that’s why I think about where I’ve come from,” Allen said prior to game against the Jazz. “I come from a background of a lot of great military presence. So any time I see any soldier, I love seeing soldiers. I run into Marines all the time and it’s always great to sit down and talk to them. You just always say thank you, thank you for your services, thank you for being selfless because to put your life in harm’s way is something that a lot of people would not do.”
Allen depicted his military upbringing in T-Shirt designed to benefit World Diabetes Day. (His son Walker was diagnosed with the disease during the 2008 playoffs.) The graphic follows a paper plane, representing the armed services, and traces through several basketballs that eventually end at his uniform number, 20.
On the front of the shirt it reads, “W.W.J.S.D.” (What Would Jesus Shuttlesworth Do?) The back of the shirt displays the quote, “No Journey is Too Great When One Finds What He Seeks,” one of Allen’s favorite lines from the movie “Coming to America.”
He uses the quote as motivation to fight against diabetes. It can also pertain to the military’s journey to protect the country.
“I’m just grateful for them because they protect our freedoms here,” said Allen. “We get to play basketball but we’re playing here so we can do this what we’re doing and we can encourage and motivate them while they’re watching us play. So they’re protecting us and I appreciate it.”
(For more information on Allen’s t-shirt to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, visit www.muzeclothing.com)
|House Stays Hot with Suns||at 1:03 am ET|
‘I call him the ‘Cheat Code,’ really because every time he shoots you think it’s going in,’ Frye said. ‘Like in a video game, a basketball game, you put one person into one spot and they’re going make it every time. And that’s him. Yeah, he’s the ‘Cheat Code.’ ‘
Frye came up with the moniker after watching House drain trey after trey, day after day this summer. House, who played in Phoenix during the 2005-06 season, lives in Arizona during the offseason. He trained with Frye and the Suns before reporting to training camp in Boston.
‘That’s the best runs that you can get in Arizona,’ House explained. ‘So as soon as those guys start getting into town, I go up there and we get some runs.’
House donned his Celtics workout gear and hit the court with the Suns to stay hot during the offseason. He capped off last regular season by breaking the Celtics franchise record previously set by Danny Ainge for 3-point shooting in a single season (.444). The Suns were impressed by the skills that earned him that mark.
‘Any time he’s open it’s like, ‘Dang it’s going in,’ ‘ said Jason Richardson.
Added Frye, ‘We were playing to 15 and he’d make five 3′s ‘ one, two, three, four, five ‘ boom, game over.’
Grant Hill chimed in as well.
‘I tell you what, that guy did not miss. He’s a great shooter,’ Hill said. ‘There were some days that he got hot, and when a guy like him gets going it can be fun to watch.’