|More than trade bait||01.30.09 at 6:21 pm ET|
An NBA title with the Boston Celtics has made it easy to forget about Kevin Garnett’s days with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He is no longer the player who couldn’t win it all. Rather he is the champion who proved anything is possible.
Yet the former Celtics who were involved in the blockbuster deal are still known as ‘the guys traded for Garnett.’ It has been two seasons, though, since the move and now they are ready to make a name for themselves in Minnesota.
‘We’re thankful for what [the Celtics] gave us but now we’ve got to set our own trends, set our own careers,’ Ryan Gomes said in a telephone interview. ‘We’re not with the Celtics anymore. We know who they have and what they’ve accomplished, but now we’ve got to try to set other goals for ourself.’
Gomes, Al Jefferson, and Sebastian Telfair are the only remaining players on the Timberwolves from the 2007 trade. (Gerald Green and Theo Ratliff have signed with other teams.) Last season they finished 22-60, their worst record since the pre-Garnett era. In attempt to establish a new identity, the Timberwolves made off-season moves to acquire a highly-touted rookie and veteran shooter. Nonetheless they got off to an eight-game losing streak.
‘What people should understand is that we had high expectations coming into this season, with the trade of Mike Miller and getting Kevin Love and Brian Cardinal and Rodney Carney,’ explained Gomes. ‘We had high expectations and it didn’t work out for the first 35 games.’
The Timberwolves were 4-15 when head coach Randy Wittman was replaced by former VP of Basketball Operations Kevin McHale. Ironically it was a Celtic great who got the Timberwolves playing their own style of basketball. They headed into the new year hot off a five-game winning streak.
‘In the beginning we did go through a rough time,’ Gomes said. ‘Our schedule in the month of December was real tough and we were trying to find ourselves. But now we’ve found ourselves and I think that’s why we’re playing well. Everyone’s understanding their roles and fulfilling them, and I’d say that’s the most important thing. Whenever you have success that means everyone’s doing their part.’
Gomes points to a demoralizing loss as the source of their improved play. In December the Timberwolves (then 6-24) blew a 29-point lead in the third quarter to the Dallas Mavericks. In spite of losing, the Timberwolves gained confidence and momentum.
‘We ended up losing that game and that was what turned it around,’ said Gomes. ‘We had seen what we could become and where we were at, and then they took it away from us. They kept fighting and kept pushing through it and believing they could win, and I think that’s what we took out of it. We had a tough stretch where we lost 13 games in a row early in the season and that game showed that we can bounce back and we can make something of the season. There’s a lot more games to be played, and once that came in January we got off on the right foot and we’ve been rolling ever since.’
The Timberwolves are 9-3 since January 1, including upsets over the New Orleans Hornets and Phoenix Suns. They will look to continue their streak when they face the Celtics on Sunday in Boston. Their former teammates have taken notice.
‘First of all, Big Al’s playing like an All-Star,’ said Kendrick Perkins. ‘Second of all, Randy Foye has stepped his game up. Rodney Carney, the rookie (Kevin) Love, Sebastian (Telfair), they’re all playing well. Since coach Kevin McHale got the job, they’ve been playing well. They’re playing good defense and I’ve been watching them lately on TV, so they’ve been playing really well.’
With just under 40 games left on their regular season schedule, the Timberwolves are nine games out of the eighth spot in the Western Conference. A postseason berth is a longshot, but Gomes doesn’t mind waiting. Even if their time doesn’t come this season he is confident it’s only a matter of time before the Timberwolves establish themselves as a playoff contender.
‘I think the Timberwolves are a team on the rise and this year is not over,’ Gomes said. ‘We’ve got a lot of games to play and if we play the way we’ve played this month for the rest of the season, who knows where we’ll be. Hopefully we can maybe sneak in the playoffs and if not we could be right there. Next year should be our breakout year to take what we did this year and carry it over next year from the beginning and have a successful season. So the Timberwolves should be a team that teams should be worried about in the West and in the East because of the way we’ve been playing lately.’
|A closer look at House’s streak||at 12:58 am ET|
Eddie House has been unstoppable from behind the arc, knocking down eight three-pointers against the Sacramento Kings this week. So just how well is House playing? It’s the best basketball of his nine-year career.
Game- High 3PG Made (Regular season)
07-08: 5 (2x)
04-05: 3 (3x)
03-04: 3 (4x)
01-02: 4 (2x)
00-01: 2 (3x)
3PG % when making 5+ treys
House isn’t just topping his personal bests. He and Ray Allen are the only two players this season to hit eight three-pointers in a single game. He is also shooting better this season than those who once ruled from behind the arc.
For more on House’s streak, listen to Sounds of the Game.
|Scal speaks…||01.28.09 at 8:19 pm ET|
The Celtics are 6-0 this season when Brian Scalabrine starts. Scalabrine has his own fanclubs on Facebook that were trying to get him on the Eastern Conference All-Star team in Phoenix. Every time he touches the ball at the Garden is cause for a standing ovation and a personal chant of “Scal-uh-breen-ee”
But now, thanks to poor Patrick O’Bryant, those chants will be silenced over the next 7-10 days as the best red-head basketball player ever to hail from the University of Southern California recovers from his second concussion in a week, suffered when he took an elbow from O’Bryant during practice Tuesday.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers gave the prognosis for Scalabrine prior to Wednesday’s game.
But Scalabrine was healthy enough to talk before Wednesday’s game. And here’s what he had to say about getting his bell rung.
Meanwhile, there continues to be speculation that the Celtics could wind up with as many as four All-Stars when the reserves are announced on Thursday. Garnett is already in the starting lineup, while Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo are all getting consideration for reserve status.
|Celtics commit to Marbury?||01.26.09 at 8:38 am ET|
The New York Post has reported that the Boston Celtics have made a verbal commitment to Stephon Marbury. Marbury, who is still under contract with the New York Knicks, said the Celtics are one of two teams who have expressed interest in him.
The banished Stephon Marbury acknowledged for the first time yesterday he has a verbal commitment from the Celtics – and accused the Knicks of not accepting his latest buyout offer because they don’t want him winning a championship in Boston.
WEEI.com first reported in December that the Celtics were interested in Marbury.
UPDATE: Citing a source close to the situation, the Boston Herald has reported the Celtics have not made a guarantee to Marbury.
The source went on to say the two sides have spoken (the Knicks gave Marbury permission to talk with other clubs) and that the Celts would definitely like to add him under the right circumstances.
Celtic director of basketball operations Danny Ainge had no comment on the Marbury situation, but the club is not prepared to give him major playing time.
|Green passes up dunk||01.25.09 at 5:32 pm ET|
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.’
|Celtics-Mavericks Game Blog: Second Quarter||at 1:37 pm ET|
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.
– 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
|Celtics practice notes||01.24.09 at 3:12 pm ET|
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.’