|Twelve minutes to make it count||02.08.09 at 5:40 pm ET|
‘It comes down to a fourth-quarter battle,’ he said on Friday. ‘They’re not going to come in and make small mistakes. They’re going to operate their offense. Defensively they’re going to know what they’ve got to do.’
Allen was exactly right. On Sunday, the Celtics entered the fourth quarter with a two-point lead and were outscored 31-23 by the Spurs. They lost 105-99 (RECAP HERE). It was the second time in two games the defending champs fell in the final 12 minutes. Last week they started the fourth quarter up by four on the Los Angeles Lakers before losing 110-109 in overtime.
‘When you play the top teams in the league it comes down to the little things,’ said Paul Pierce. ‘And I just thought last couple of games at home it was one or two-point games. It’s the little things — defensive transition late in the game, covering for one another, one possession. It’s like the playoffs, one play can kill you. Every possession counts and we got to understand that when we play against the top tier teams like the San Antonio Spurs and the Lakers.’
The Celtics have hit cold streaks in their last two losses. Up six with eight minutes to go against the Lakers, the C’s failed to build on their lead. The Lakers went on an 11-5 run during a five minute stretch to tie it up, eventually winning in OT.
On Sunday the Celtics allowed an 11-4 Spurs run in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter. Later in the game they watched a 93-90 lead slip away to a 101-93 deficit.
‘You’ve got to get stops, everybody’s got to be on the same page,’ said Kendrick Perkins. ‘Besides getting stops, on the offense you’ve got to execute, you’ve got to throw the extra pass when guys are open. Usually a team like San Antonio, you can’t beat them with the dribble. You’ve got to beat them with the pass. You can’t turn the ball over at all against San Antonio. So I just thought in stretches we played together and stretches we didn’t move the ball and that was the key.’
The Celtics have allowed a total of 215 points in their last two games at home. It is an overwhelming difference for a team who has held their opponents to just 92 points per game over the season. Nonetheless, head coach Doc Rivers was able to see a silver lining in the losses.
‘Well it tells me that we’re really good, because we’ve not played with our A-game, as Tiger Woods would say, I guess,’ he said. ‘And we still had a chance to win both. Both games we had the lead and gave it up. Gave up points, which is not like us. In a sick way I guess I’d rather be down and not be able to score than up and give up baskets, because we’re a defensive team. But we clearly have to improve. Our bench has to be more consistent. They gave up an 8-1 run to start the fourth. You know, that hurts you. It’s tough to recover from that.’
The Celtics will have two days to regroup before facing the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday. They are aware of their mistakes; now it is a matter of fixing them.
‘In general, you can’t turn the ball over,’ Allen said. ‘You have to execute on both ends down the floor in the fourth quarter.’
The Celtics know what to expect down the stretch. Lucky for them, there’s another 12 minutes to prove they can take care of business.
|Three’s Company||02.06.09 at 8:13 pm ET|
NEW YORK ‘ The New York Knicks have not held anything back from behind the arc against the Boston Celtics this season. In their first three match ups, the Knicks attempted 80 three-point shots, 22 more than the Celtics. On Friday night the Celtics were ready to counter the offensive assault.
Before the game Glen Davis extended his warm ups to the three-point line. Big Baby knocked down three consecutive shots from the top of the arc. Moments later, Ray Allen took target practice from the bench. In a close competition with Celtics assistant coach Mike Longabardi, Allen took shot after shot frim his seat. And not to be outdone, Leon Powe drained a three from the sidelines in front of a surprised Patrick O’Bryant.
The Celtics knew what they were in for. At the end of the first quarter alone, the Knicks had shot 4-for-10 from long range.
|Celtics snubbed again||02.04.09 at 4:08 pm ET|
Less than 24 hours after Ray Allen drained a game-winning three over the Philadelphia 76ers, he was not named to the 2009 Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout. It is the second time in a week that Allen has been snubbed. Last Thursday he was overlooked as a reserve on the Eastern Conference All-Star team.
Sharpshooter Eddie House was also left out of the shootout, despite his recent hot streak in which he shot 22-for-32 over a four-game stretch. He has also made more three-point attempts this season than any of the contestants.
Here is a look at who did make the team, compared to Allen and House: (As of February 4)
Eddie House, Boston: 144 – 339 (42.5%)
Rashard Lewis, Orlando: 137 – 327 (41.9%)
Danny Granger, Indiana: 120 – 299 (40.1%)
Ray Allen, Boston: 120 – 293 (39.8%)
Mike Bibby, Atlanta: 114 – 279 (40.9%)
Daequan Cook, Miami: 105 – 256 (41.0%)
Roger Mason, San Antonio: 103 – 229 (45.0%)
Jason Kapono*, Toronto: 52 – 124 (41.9%)
* Defending champion
|Davis jumps into new role||02.03.09 at 11:28 pm ET|
While Ray Allen was the hero of the Boston Celtics dramatic win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night, the Cs would not have been in striking distance if it weren’t for one player stepping up in Kevin Garnett’s absence. For the second straight game, Glen Davis has thrived in his role as the Celtics starting power forward.
Davis posted 12 points (6-11 FG) and 11 rebounds against the 76ers (RECAP HERE). Of his six field goals, only one came in the paint. On Sunday, he added 12 points (5-12 FG) and six rebounds against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Davis isn’t just attacking the hoop like a traditional big man. Big Baby is getting the job done with his jumper.
‘I think it’s going to help my game tremendously,’ Davis said recently. ‘If I can spread the floor for my team … I can move up to the four, pick and roll to help out with Paul (Pierce), and hit the jumper. I kind of just train myself to be ready to hit that big shot.’
His preparation paid off when he hit knocked down a 17-footer with 1:30 left in the fourth quarter. The basket brought the Celtics back within three and sparked an 8-to-4 run to close out the game.
This season Davis has developed a knack for mid-range jumpers. Even though the majority of his baskets have come at the rim ‘ his biggest responsibility is attacking the glass ‘ he has been in the zone away from the paint. He entered Tuesday’s game shooting nearly 50% from just inside the arc and almost 40% from the top of the key. Davis has made it a point to fit his jumpshots into his training regimen.
‘It doesn’t take that long [in practice],’ he said. ‘I might go 30 minutes hard, just jumper, jumper, jumper, jumper, and get mine in for the day. I just try to do it every day.’
Davis’ shot has been a work in progress over the years, according to his childhood friend, Dallas Mavericks forward Brandon Bass. The two also played college basketball together at LSU. Bass has seen Davis transform from a banger to a finesse player. It’s a move that was necessary for the 6-foot-9 forward to adapt as an undersized big man in the NBA.
‘He never had a bad jumpshot,’ Bass said. ‘He always could shoot it, but he wasn’t necessarily a jumpshooter. He was more of a guy you could throw it to on the block and he could get you a bucket, or he’d eat the glass up and get an offensive rebound. When I left [LSU in 2005] he developed a jumpshot a little more.’
Garnett (flu) is expected to return for Thursday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers. While Davis won’t get as many looks off the bench, this extra playing time has helped his confidence with his shot. The skills are there; now it’s just a matter of showcasing them when given the opportunity.
‘I feel like I always had the talent to do a lot of things,’ Davis said. ‘It’s just all about working on them and doing them. But I always in college had flashes of myself taking the ball up the court, playing at a smaller position than the power forward and the center. So I know I can do it. It’s just about going out there and doing it and having confidence and working on it consistently.’
|Perkins ‘cool’ with call||02.02.09 at 12:24 am ET|
It’s only the first half of the season and Kendrick Perkins has already been whistled for nine technical fouls and a Flagrant 2. His latest call against Jason Maxiell during Friday’s game against the Detroit Pistons earned him a $10,000 fine. But Perkins isn’t worried about developing a bad reputation around the league. If anything, he says, his early technicals helped the officials understand his game.
‘I think it’s mostly gaining the respect from the referees, having a better relationship,’ he said prior to the Boston Celtics game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. ‘So now when I get mad at a call they’re not just quick to jump on me. It’s more of a respect thing.’
Perkins has noticed the referees have eased up since he got called for his ninth T in early December.
‘They let me get physical on the block as far as defending people,’ he said. ‘So I think since I’ve calmed down ‘ I haven’t got a technical in about 25 games ‘ so I’ve been pretty cool.’
As for the Flagrant 2 against Maxiell, Perkins attests he was not aiming for his neck. He’ll accept the consequences, though, knowing it comes with the territory of going hard on the court.
‘I think I’ve just got to keep going out there playing my game, being physical and just being smart at the same time,’ he said. ‘There are a lot of hard fouls that I’ve given that aren’t flagrant, so it’s cool.’
|Sounds of the game… Celtics 109, Timberwolves 101||02.01.09 at 6:27 pm ET|
Who needs All-Star Kevin Garnett?
Not the Celtics on Super Sunday. When news of Garnett’s flu spread before the game, Paul Pierce knew it was time to step up his game, offensively. In his last three games against Dallas, Sacramento and Detroit, he has posted games of eight, eight and 20 points. Not exactly the stuff that All-Star reserves are made of.
But on Sunday, against old friends Al Jefferson (34 points), Ryan Gomes and a vastly improved Sebastian Telfair, he was THE guy, scoring a game-high 36 points from all different angles, including a clinching fadeaway with 2:24 remaining to put the pesky Timberwolves away and clinch Boston’s 11th straight win, improving the Green to 40-9.
|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.’
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