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Green passes up dunk 01.25.09 at 5:32 pm ET
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No matter how much he fights it, it is difficult for Gerald Green to shake the perception that he is just a dunker. He can shoot, he’ll tell you. He’s working on his defense, he’ll say. So Green is passing on the Slam Dunk Contest that he once dominated. This season isn’t about being a high-flyer. It’s about being a Dallas Maverick.

“It’s not really important,” Green said following the Mavericks-Celtics game in Boston (RECAP HERE). “It’s just something that really my friends and family want for me. They wanted me to get into it this year. I said no.”

Dunking may have been one of the skills that got Green in the NBA, but it couldn’t keep him there. In eight months he had been traded twice and eventually waived by his hometown Houston Rockets. He had been out of the league for nearly four months when the Mavericks signed him to a one-year deal last summer. Now Green wants to repay the Mavs for taking a chance on an unemployed 22-year-old.

“I just really wanted to stay focused on basketball,” he said. “I didn’t want the misconception that everybody thinks I’m just trying to dunk. Dunking is fun. That’s not my skill. So that’s one thing I was trying to do, just stay focused on basketball and not really worry about it.”

Green’s focus has been challenged by inconsistent playing time. He averaged 14 minutes per night in November, then appeared in just four games in December. He was on the court for just a minute in two of those contests. This month he has started twice but has not played in eight other games. On Sunday, he was in street clothes against his former team.

“It’s tough for me right now but I’ve just got to still think positive,” he said. “I love the situation, I love the organization, I love the team. I’ve just got to wait my chance. Right now it’s up and down, start, inactive. It’s tough, I’m not going to lie. But it’s a situation I’m dealing with.”

The Mavericks appreciate Green’s commitment despite the sporadic minutes. He asks his veteran teammates for advice “all the time,” according to guard Jason Terry. What they see in his dedication goes beyond the box scores.

“Oh man, the kid has a tremendous upside,” said Terry. “When I watch him play, I think he could be an All-Star in this league. He just has to get on the right team and in the right system. When he has played, he’s helped us tremendously just because his athleticism. He can score with the best of them.

“Like I said, he’s still young though. 22-years-old in his fourth year in the league, he’s going to have a long career ahead of him if he just stays humble and continues to work hard. He’s always in the gym shooting late nights, so his hard work is going to pay off eventually.”

Nothing is guaranteed for Green, so he hits the court hard every time. Not only does it improve his game, it also challenges his teammates to be better.

“He’s just one of those guys who sticks with it, and you know if you’re guarding him in practice he’s going to come at you,” said Antoine Wright, adding, “He comes into practice every day and treats it like it’s his game, and that’s something that you have to do when you’re not playing. And being a young guy, it gives him an advantage because it shows the coaches that he’s still in tune to what’s going on.”

Even though Green is focused on the Mavericks this season, he isn’t hanging up his dunking shoes just yet. He has plenty of family in Texas who wants to see him in the 2010 contest in Dallas.

“Next year will be a totally different year,” he said. “If things go well I think I’ll probably do it in Dallas. I missed the one that was in Houston, but I’ve got a lot of family in Dallas and hopefully if I’m still in Dallas next year – I’m a free agent so I don’t know how it’ll go – I can’t predict the future but I know I want to get into the one that’s in Dallas.”

Ask the Mavericks and they’ll tell you there will be plenty of chances to Green to dunk again.

“He’s a tough young player,” said Wright. “I think he’s going to be in the league a long time.”

***

During his two seasons in Boston, Green played with six members of the Celtics 2008 championship team. He was happy to see his former teammates win the title, and even happier for those off the court.

“They deserve it. Those guys deserve it,” he said. “I was happy for them, but I think the most I was happy for was those people in sitting in the yellow and black seats out there. Those people, when we were losing 18 in a row when I was here, those seats were still sold out. So I really enjoyed it for my ex-teammates because I know where we came from, but those fans deserved it. They stuck with it, through winters and snowstorms.”

And how about that championship bling? Tony Allen was the first to show it off, and Green was so impressed he placed a Blackberry on his fingers to demonstrate the size of the 92-diamond ring.

“I started to steal it,” he joked, “But it said a big ‘Tony Allen’ on it.”

Read More: Antoine Wright, Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, Gerald Green
Celtics-Mavericks Game Blog: Second Quarter at 1:37 pm ET
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At the half … Celtics 74, Mavs 47

Second Quarter Observations:

7: the number of field goals Dirk Nowitzki has attempted.

0: the number of field goals he has made.

- The Dallas Mavericks looked unmotivated in the first quarter and the Celtics enter the second with a 38-23 lead. The Garden crowd, which was a bit sleepy at the start of the game, have more energy than the Mavs right now.

- The Mavs are trying to take advantage of the Celtics second unit at the start of the quarter. Scal on Nowtizki could be worrisome as Dirk is getting wide open looks and rebounds.

- That didn’t last long for Gabe Pruitt. He got called for three fouls in two minutes, sending him to the bench.

- No jumpshot? Rondo has hit three Js against a Mavericks team who two seasons ago purposely left him open … to miss.

- For those of you waiting to catch a dunk from Gerald Green, there’ll be no dunking going on in street clothes. Green is inactive for this game.

- Nomar Garciaparra and Lou Merloni are in the building.

- Ray Allen’s getting a breather with six minutes to go after scoring 19 points in 17 minutes. He has made more field goals than Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, and Josh Howard combined.

- 6’1 Rondo picked off an overhead pass from 6’11 Erick Dampier. This is the type of focus the Mavs have been playing with today.

- At the half … Celtics 74, Mavs 47

Read More: Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks,
Celtics practice notes 01.24.09 at 3:12 pm ET
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There was a media circus on Saturday at Health Point with several outlets taking advantage of what has become a rare Boston Celtics practice.

- Tony Allen, who has missed the last 10 games with an ankle injury, consistently knocked down long-range jumpshots after practice. However Doc Rivers, who does not get involved in the medical side of the game, has not been given the green light yet from Celtics trainer Ed Lacerte.

“I have no idea [how he's feeling],” Rivers said. “He seems like he’s doing well, smiling and laughing today. I didn’t check updates. He’s not playing so I just talk to him as a guy. I don’t even ask him about the injury. So he’s feeling good.”

- Rajon Rondo was also working on his jumpshot, a hot topic as of late. Rondo attests that Rivers has not asked him to spend any more time on his J than he usually does.

“In practice when I have the opportunity, I shoot it,” he said. “But other than that I try to continue to do what I do best.”

- The Celtics spent an extra day in Florida on Friday after beating the Orlando Magic on Thursday night. Temperatures reached nearly 70 degrees in Orlando yesterday compared to 40 in Boston.

“It’s great, any time you can stay in warm weather it’s got to be good for the body, good for the soul,” Rivers said. “The players wanted that and they earned it, so they got to stay.”

As for Rivers, he used the extra day to spend time with his family. “I slept at home, I never saw the team,” he said before adding with a laugh, “So it was perfect for me.”

- The Celtics will take on the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday at 1pm at the TD BankNorth Garden.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic, Rajon Rondo, Roc Rivers
A Big All-Star Push 01.23.09 at 9:47 am ET
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When is there a possibility that 22 points and nearly 11 rebounds per game not good enough for an All-Star selection? When you play on the 13-27 Minnesota Timberwolves.

“Big Al” Jefferson has been quietly running up the leaderboards since being traded from the Boston Celtics in July of 2007. His performance, which includes 22 double-doubles, went relatively unnoticed in fan voting. So the T’Wolves are doing everything they can to make sure Jefferson receives the recognition he deserves in spite of their losing record.

The organization has less than a week to win the votes of the Western Conference coaches who will vote on All-Star reserves. They have developed a marketing campaign – “Big Al’s Road Trip: Navigating his way to Phoenix” – and mailed each coach a Sony GPS device. The devices have been named the “Double-Double Machine” and play a highlight video set to Lupe Fiasco’s “Superstar.”

“It would mean a lot,” Jefferson told the media. “Just growing up, before I even knew I was going to be an NBA player, just watching the All-Star games on TV you always wanted to be there as a kid. Me having that chance to make it, it would mean a lot to me. It’s something I could talk about for the rest of my life.”

All-Star reserves will be revealed next Thursday, January 29. Celtics Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, and Kendrick Perkins are also on the Eastern Conference ballot. Kevin Garnett was named as a starting forward for the East.

Read More: Al Jefferson, Boston Celtics, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett
Are the Magic a threat? at 12:01 am ET
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The Orlando Magic had the best record in the East, so it was only fair to say they were the best team. At least that was the credit the Boston Celtics were giving them before Thursday’s match up. But of the 41 games the Magic had played entering the game, only one had been against the Celtics. It was a loss.

The Magic have said they wanted to beat the best to be the best. In the last two seasons they lost to the Detroit Pistons early in the playoffs. Now the Celtics are the measuring stick in the East and after Thursday’s 90-80 loss to the defending champs (RECAP HERE), the Magic have failed to stack up twice.

It’s true the Magic haven’t received all the recognition they deserve nearly halfway through the season. Despite winning 16 of their last 19 games, they have flown relatively low under the radar and the talk of the East is still LeBron James vs. the Celtics. But there is a reason for that. Even with one of the most dominating big men in the game, the Magic do not have what it takes to unseat the Celtics in the postseason.

Leadership
There is no denying the power and talent of Dwight Howard. He is a beast on the glass and can body through the paint with authority. But the reality is Howard is 23, only three months older than Rajon Rondo. The Celtics point guard has three proven veterans to turn to whereas the veterans on the Magic turn to Howard.

On Thursday the Celtics held Howard scoreless for the entire second and third quarters. In that time he picked up four fouls and had to limit his defensive intensity late in the fourth before fouling out with 2:30 to go. The glaring question is, can Howard lead a team in a seven-game series?

Point Guard Play
Jameer Nelson is having a breakthrough year, averaging 17 points up from 11 last season, and is finally emerging as the point guard the Magic have been anticipating since 2004. However surging performances aren’t always consistent. It’s been said that as Rondo goes, so go the Celtics. The same can be said for Nelson and the Magic.

Rajon Rondo (through 44 games)
Wins: 11.9 PPG, 54.8% FG, 8.2 APG, 5.1 RPG, 2.5 PF
Losses: 7.0 PPG, 32.4% FG, 7.3 APG, 4.1 RPG, 3.0 PF

Jameer Nelson (through 36 games)
Wins: 18.1 PPG, 54.4% FG, 52.1% 3PG, 5.7 APG, 2.9 PF
Losses: 12.9 PPG, 37.4% FG, 19.4% 3PG, 4.0 APG, 4.1 PF

Long-Range Game
The Magic are the best three-point shooting team in the league. They hit an NBA-record 23 treys this month against the Sacramento Kings and entered Thursday’s game shooting 53.9% 3PG in their last five match ups. At some point, though, legs get tired and the finesse can fade, especially in a six or seven-game series.

The Magic’s leading three-point shooter Rashard Lewis may be dangerous from inside and out, but he wasn’t a threat when he only shot one-for-four from long range against the Celtics. The team as a whole shot 7-for-22, which was actually worse than the Celtics 0-for-6 performance. The Cs compensated for their slump by going inside. The Magic, on the other hand, lived and died by the deep three.

The Celtics weren’t wrong for giving the Magic credit. They are one of the hottest teams in the league centered around one of the most exciting players to watch. But the season isn’t even halfway over and the Magic are not prepped for a title run just yet. They wanted to beat the best in the playoffs to be the best, but the first step is beating the best in the regular season.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, Orlando Magic
One less option 01.22.09 at 3:16 pm ET
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When rumors began buzzing about the Boston Celtics need for a back up center. Alonzo Mourning’s name had been mentioned in the mix of veteran big men. On Thursday, Mourning put those rumors to rest when he announced his retirement from basketball.

“I truly feel it’s best that I retire,” Mourning said at his press conference. “When you’ve got something you love and you’re passionate about, it’s hard to let that go. But at 38, I feel I’ve physically done all I can for this game. It has been an amazing ride.”

Mourning had been rehabbing from a knee injury he suffered over a year ago with the Miami Heat. The 15-year veteran, who had already overcome a kidney disease to win an NBA championship in 2006, decided to leave the game with a positive attitude.

“It’s not a sad day, but it’s a day to celebrate,” he said. “I can think of a million people right now that would have loved to walk the path I’ve walked. The ups and the downs made it even more joyous.”

In addition to Mourning, the Dikembe Mutombo and Joe Smith were also mentioned as possible acquisitions for the Celtics. Mutombo re-signed with the Houston Rockets in December after losing patience with Cs. Smith is still under contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Read More: Alonzo Mourning, Boston Celtics, Dikembe Mutombo, Joe Smith
Walker committed to Boston at 12:10 am ET
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Bill Walker has close ties to his community. So close, in fact, that he tattooed the numbers of his childhood address on his neck. When the Boston Celtics rookie got recalled from the NBA Development League this month, he was eager to give back to the city he’s now calling home.

Last weekend Walker, along with Kendrick Perkins, Gabe Pruitt, and J.R. Giddens, served home-cooked meals to 150 men and women at the Boston Rescue Mission. The food was prepared by members of the Celtics staff as part of the Shamrock Foundation.

“[The best part was] just them being so happy that we’re there,” Walker said. “Just being somebody who actually could take enough time to come down there and just sit and talk with them, serve them food, things like that. Little things like that do mean a lot to people.”

Boston is one of the many places where Walker, 21, wants to make a difference. Even though he is just starting his NBA career, he already has made plans for years to come.

“That’s just something I want to do when I’m done with basketball, just to try to help the communities that I’m in first and then expand,” Walker said. “So that was just fun, going back and trying to cheer up a couple people.”

For more information on the Celtics community outreach, visit www.celtics.com.

Read More: Bill Walker, Boston Celtics, Gabe Pruitt, J.R. Giddens
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