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Powe making a comeback 02.12.09 at 12:03 am ET
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It’s not often that an NBA power forward can be compared to a Major League pitcher, but in this case,  Celtics head coach Doc Rivers thought it was fitting. For two seasons, Leon Powe was a relative unknown in the league. A breakout performance in last year’s NBA Finals changed that. Since then, opponents have been paying more attention when scouting the low post player.

With that comes struggles, said Rivers, who has not been overly concerned by Powe’s inconsistency in his third NBA season. The better an opponent knows a player, the more effective they can be in slowing him down. After a cold streak during January in which he went scoreless in three consecutive games, Powe is finding his place again on the court.

‘€œI told myself to be aggressive,’€ he said. ‘€œSometimes in the past, I wasn’t that aggressive when I got it because I missed a couple shots. So then I stopped being aggressive and became a little passive. Then, the coaches told me the other day, ‘If you’re going to go out there on the floor, just go out there and play and be aggressive.”€

Powe did just that on Wednesday night against the New Orleans Hornets. With Ray Allen sidelined in the first half by a hyperextended thumb, the Celtics needed the bench to step up. Powe offered a fourth quarter surge, scoring seven of his 11 points in just under eight minutes. His hustle at the basket (5-for-6 from the line) helped the Celtics defeat the Hornets, 89-77 (RECAP HERE).

In the first six games of February, Powe is averaging 19.3 minutes, 8.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, and shooting 62.1 percent from the field. It’s an improvement after averaging 14.6 minutes, 4.9 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 38.3 percent from the field in 15 games last month.

‘€œI just wasn’t making my hook shots,’€ Powe said. ‘€œMy hook’s been off a little bit from game to game. But I work on it every day and that’s one thing I had to get better. I think that’s why coach said they’ve probably been scouting me harder. But my hook’s been off.’€

The Celtics, though, cannot afford for anyone’s shot to be off. In a tight race for homecourt advantage where every game counts, Powe has been watching from the bench while Glen Davis has been getting the minutes. But he doesn’t compare his playing time to Big Baby’s. His best motivation is his next opportunity.

‘€œI’ve just been doing the same exact thing, just trying to work on my game and get my game better,’€ Powe said. ‘€œ[I’m working on] stuff on the block, one-on-one on the post moves, and just trying to keep my game in tact while I’m sitting down. Sometimes I get the minutes, sometimes I don’t, and I’ve got to make sure my stuff is sharp.’€

Just because he is scouted doesn’t mean he can be stopped.

Read More: Big Baby, Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Glen Davis
Nike All-Star Kicks 02.10.09 at 8:33 pm ET
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Nike is rolling out a special line of sneakers for the 2009 NBA All-Star Game, including a pair for Paul Pierce. The shoes will be red and blue to match the Eastern and Western Conference uniforms. There will also be artwork to represent the host city of Phoenix, Arizona. Check out the shoes and a list the players who will be wearing them, from NiceKicks.com.

Eastern Conference: Chris Bosh (Nike Huarache 09), Danny Granger (Nike Zoom Phenom, not pictured), LeBron James (Nike Zoom LeBron VI), Rashard Lewis (Nike Hyperdunk), Paul Pierce (Nike MAX P2 V, not pictured)

Western Conference: Kobe Bryant (Nike Zoom Kobe IV), Pau Gasol (Nike Hyperdunk), Dirk Nowitzki (Nike MAX Spot Up), Brandon Roy (Nike Zoom Phenom), Tony Parker (Nike Huarache 09), Amare Stoudemire (Nike Foamposite Lite), David West (Nike Foamposite Lite)

Read More: Amare Stoudemire, Boston Celtics, Chris Bosh, Danny Granger
Big Al tears ACL 02.09.09 at 2:54 pm ET
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Former Boston Celtic/Minnesota Timberwolves big man Al Jefferson is out indefinitely after tearing his ACL during Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Hornets, according to multiple reports. An MRI revealed the extent of the injury on Monday. Jefferson, who received a standing ovation at the Garden earlier this month, was having a breakthrough season. He was averaging 23.1 points and 11.0 rebounds through 50 games. No date for surgery has been set. Jefferson was the centerpiece for the Kevin Garnett trade in 2007.

In a statement on Timberwolves.com, head coach Kevin McHale said, “This is an unfortunate situation for Al and we wish him a quick recovery. Al has been playing at an all-star level all season and has been our go-to-guy on the court. Knowing Al, he will work hard in his rehab efforts to get back on the court as soon as possible.”

Read More: Al Jefferson, Big Al, Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett
Twelve minutes to make it count 02.08.09 at 5:40 pm ET
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Ray Allen knew what to expect days before playing the San Antonio Spurs.

‘€œIt comes down to a fourth-quarter battle,’€ he said on Friday. ‘€œThey’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.

‘€œWhen you play the top teams in the league it comes down to the little things,’€ said Paul Pierce. ‘€œAnd 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.

‘€œYou’ve got to get stops, everybody’s got to be on the same page,’€ said Kendrick Perkins. ‘€œBesides 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.

‘€œWell 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. ‘€œAnd 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.

‘€œIn general, you can’t turn the ball over,’€ Allen said. ‘€œYou 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.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kendrick Perkins, LA Lakers
Three’s Company 02.06.09 at 8:13 pm ET
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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.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Glen Davis, Leon Powe, New York Knicks
Celtics snubbed again 02.04.09 at 4:08 pm ET
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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

Read More: Boston Celtics, eddie house, Ray Allen,
Davis jumps into new role 02.03.09 at 11:28 pm ET
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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.

‘€œI think it’s going to help my game tremendously,’€ Davis said recently. ‘€œIf 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.

‘€œIt doesn’t take that long [in practice],’€ he said. ‘€œI 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.

‘€œHe never had a bad jumpshot,’€ Bass said. ‘€œHe 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.

‘€œI feel like I always had the talent to do a lot of things,’€ Davis said. ‘€œIt’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.’€

Read More: Big Baby, Boston Celtics, Brandon Bass, Glen Davis
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