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Joe Kennedy ‘proud to stand with’ Jason Collins 04.29.13 at 2:52 pm ET
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Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy, who roomed with former Celtics center Jason Collins at Stanford University, issued the following statement about his friend’s decision to come out as the first openly gay athlete in any major American sport:

‘€œFor as long as I’ve known Jason Collins he has been defined by three things: his passion for the sport he loves, his unwavering integrity, and the biggest heart you will ever find. Without question or hesitation, he gives everything he’s got to those of us lucky enough to be in his life. I’m proud to stand with him today and proud to call him a friend.’€

Kennedy played a vital role in Collins’ decision to write a Sports Illustrated article announcing his sexuality. Here’s what Collins said about his Cardinal roommate:

I realized I needed to go public when Joe Kennedy, my old roommate at Stanford and now a Massachusetts congressman, told me he had just marched in Boston’s 2012 Gay Pride Parade. I’m seldom jealous of others, but hearing what Joe had done filled me with envy. I was proud of him for participating but angry that as a closeted gay man I couldn’t even cheer my straight friend on as a spectator. If I’d been questioned, I would have concocted half truths. What a shame to have to lie at a celebration of pride. I want to do the right thing and not hide anymore. I want to march for tolerance, acceptance and understanding. I want to take a stand and say, “Me, too.”

The recent Boston Marathon bombing reinforced the notion that I shouldn’t wait for the circumstances of my coming out to be perfect. Things can change in an instant, so why not live truthfully? When I told Joe a few weeks ago that I was gay, he was grateful that I trusted him. He asked me to join him in 2013. We’ll be marching on June 8.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton declared on Twitter, “I’m proud to call Jason Collins a friend,” in addition to issuing the following statement on his website:

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Jason Collins, Joe Kennedy, NBA
Celtics coach Doc Rivers ‘proud of’ Jason Collins at 2:09 pm ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers issued this statement after former C’s center Jason Collins became the first openly gay active player in major American sports:

“I am extremely happy and proud of Jason Collins. He’€™s a pro’€™s pro. He is the consummate professional and he is one of my favorite ‘team’ players I have ever coached. If you have learned anything from Jackie Robinson, it is that teammates are always the first to accept. It will be society who has to learn tolerance. One of my favorite sayings is, ‘I am who I am, are whom we are, can be what I want to be. It’s not up to you, it’€™s just me being me.'”

Outing himself in this Sports Illustrated article, Collins quoted Rivers: “If you want to go quickly, go by yourself — if you want to go farther, go in a group.”

As recently as three weeks ago, Rivers discussed the inevitability of an openly gay NBA player. ‘€œThere’€™ll be a lot of talk about it, and then I think it will go away,’€ Rivers said before a Celtics practice on April 9, the day after he took the team to watch the “42” film about Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier.

SI’s Ian Thomsen caught up with Rivers after Collins’ announcement on Monday.

“He is terrific,” Rivers told Thomsen. “Losing him was hard for me because I just thought he was such a great teammate and such a great guy in the locker room. That’s what you want is those guys in your locker room.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Jason Collins, NBA
Kenyon Martin guarantees Celtics ‘funeral’ in Game 5 at 11:25 am ET
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On his way into TD Garden on Sunday, a Celtics fan who watched his team fall into a 3-0 hole in the first round admitted, “It feels like I’m going to a wake.”

Celtics guard Jason Terry, who provided the sunshine in a Game 4 victory, must have felt it, too.

“The guy was mouthing off before the game,” Knicks forward Kenyon Martin told the New York Daily News. “He told me, ‘You’re not dancing at my funeral today.'”

Terry’s 18 points, including the C’s final nine in their 97-90 overtime win, made true on that promise. So, Martin made his own vow to lay the Celtics to rest in Game 5.

“We’re ending it Wednesday,” Martin told the Daily News, requesting his teammates “wear black. Funeral colors.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Jason Terry, Kenyon Martin, NBA
Paul Pierce: ‘I had a certain calmness’ about Game 4 04.28.13 at 9:17 pm ET
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Paul Pierce wasn’t preoccupied with “what-ifs” heading into an elimination game Sunday afternoon at TD Garden. What if the Celtics lost? Could this be the last game in a Celtics uniform for the captain who is signed through next season.

“To be honest, I was calm,” Pierce said. “I had a certain calmness about the game today,” Pierce said after scoring a team-high 29 points in a 97-90 overtime win against the Knicks that kept the season alive and sent the series back to New York for Game 5 Wednesday night.

Pierce played nine seconds shy of 50 minutes on this day that his Celtics career might have ended. He didn’t want it to end like this, on his home court, blowing a 20-point third-quarter lead and missing a trademark iso shot that would’ve won the game in regulation.

‘€œYeah you know every game is tough in the playoffs,” Pierce said. “We had a sizable lead, but we understood that they could make a run. They’€™re a good team. But you know, we gotta limit their runs. We gotta be better, especially in the third quarter. That’€™s been our Achilles heel in this series, and so hopefully we can look to improve upon that in Game 5.’€

Pride is a word that gets thrown around a lot but the Celtics showed a lot of it in the fourth quarter when the Knicks had already gotten back into the game and could sense the kill. But Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry rallied the troops.

‘€œYeah, there was a lot of pride,” Pierce said. “Us, as [leaders] of the team, we’ve got to instill it in these guys. You saw with the attitude before the game, we knew we were gonna come out with the force we did today, and it carried over into the game. And this crowd. You gotta give a hand to this crowd. They really gave us a boost. Everytime I look up there, you feel it, you see it, you hear it; there’€™s just so much pride when you look around, the banners, the crowd and everything going on with the Boston Celtics history.’€

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Carmelo Anthony, Jason Terry, Kevin Garnett
Kevin Garnett: ‘It’s all out from here on out’ at 7:42 pm ET
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Kevin Garnett isn’t making any excuses for the way the Celtics played in the first three games of this series.

“We put ourselves in this 3-0 position,” said Garnett after his team’s 97-90 win over the Knicks. “That’s not where you want to be as a team, but it’s what it is. Today we fought for another day, and we’ll do the same Wednesday.”

Garnett grabbing 17 rebounds for the second straight game while adding 13 points on just seven shots and dishing out six assists, helping the C’s avoid a sweep for the first time since 2004.

“If we want to survive and continue to play, this is what it is,” said Garnett. “This is the position we put ourselves in. To continue to play, we’ve got to continue to win, so it’s all out from here on out.”

Garnett insisted their mentality never changed between Games 3 and 4. Shots started falling. That’s it.

“Instead of talking, we actually came out and did it,” he said after the C’s scored 80 points for the first time all series. “There wasn’t a lot of verbal. This is it. We were down 3-0. What else is there to say?”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett, NBA, New York Knicks
Doc Rivers on Jason Terry: ‘He brings sunshine’ at 6:24 pm ET
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Doc Rivers knew Jason Terry was fired up and still ticked off from the J.R. Smith elbow on Friday night late in Game 3.

That fire and determination paid huge dividends on Sunday in a 97-90 overtime, season-saving win at TD Garden. Terry drained the go-ahead three with 1:32 left in overtime, as he scored the final nine points of Game 4.

Was it the elbow that Smith threw that got him fired up?

‘€œHe was definitely vocal,” Rivers said. “Someone said it [Saturday]; maybe that elbow ‘€“ who knows? [Terry] said it changed the events for all of us. Definitely Jason Terry was angry that it happened. He let his teammates know yesterday and today. But he’€™s just a fighter. I’€™ve told you that before. You know, I didn’€™t know him until this year and I said it the other day: he’€™s just one of those guys you want around your team, whether he’€™s playing or not. He brings sunshine. There’€™s guys ‘€“ I would say probably most of you guys, you bring those dark clouds every time I see you ‘€“ a couple of you don’€™t. But the sunshine-bringers, that’€™s who you want. And Jason Terry is one of those guys.’€

Terry scored 18 points in 41 minutes off the Boston bench, both playoff highs so far.

‘€œHe was great,” Rivers said. “You know, that’€™s what he does. He’€™s made so many big shots in his career; you knew in transition’€¦It’€™s amazing, you know, you guys don’€™t get to see it but when you watch all the guys, and not just Jason Terry, but when you watch them practice on the floor on their own, they work on certain shots. And that’€™s the shot, that transition three is something he works on all the time. And you knew once he got it what he was going to do. I thought it was interesting when you watch the play, I thought Jason Kidd knew it too. Because you could see him coming from the basket, from them playing with each other. So it was a big shot. And the other shot he made was big as well. So, that’€™s what he does. That’€™s good.’€

Rivers said the go-ahead three wasn’t the only huge shot Terry made in his 9-0 run.

‘€œYeah, yeah, but the five were big,” Rivers said. “The three, and the two off the pick, those were huge. I’€™ll take all of them, but the five, they were huge.’€

Here is the rest of Doc Rivers’ postgame press conference from Sunday.
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Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, J.R. Smith, Jason Terry
Fast Break: Jason Terry saves Celtics season at 4:12 pm ET
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The Knicks erased a 20-point second-half deficit and took their first lead of the game with 78 seconds remaining on a Raymond Felton jumper. It took a 17-footer from Kevin Garnett and two Carmelo Anthony misses just to force overtime. But Jason Terry finally came up clutch, scoring the C’s final nine points for a 97-90 OT victory.

Meanwhile, Paul Pierce played 50 minutes, totaling 29 points, eight rebounds and six assists to help avoid a sweep and force a Game 5 on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden. Pierce, Garnett (13 points, 17 rebounds), Terry (18 points) and Jeff Green (26 points) combined for 86 of the C’s 97 points.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Melo out: Without J.R. Smith to share the load, Carmelo Anthony (36 points) tried to put the Knicks on his back, but Brandon Bass had other ideas. Bass gave Anthony fits, even jawing with the MVP candidate, holding him to 10-of-35 shooting and forcing him into seven turnovers. The rest of the Knicks didn’t help, shooting 34 percent from the field, but it started with a valiant effort from Bass, who fouled out in the fourth quarter.

Closing out: While the Knicks looked to close out the series, the C’s just hoped to close out a quarter. And for once they did. In the second, they finished the final two minutes on a 12-3 run. Pierce, who looked cooked in Game 3, scored eight of his 17 first-half points in 72 seconds, and then assisted on Jason Terry’s 16-foot jumper that beat the clock. The result? A 54-35 advantage that helped punch their plane ticket back to New York.

Green with emotion: Green’s recipe for success is simple: attack, attack, attack. The guy who stands around the perimeter watching his teammates take jump shots isn’t so good. In the span of 44 seconds of the second quarter, Green stampeded his way to the basket for a running five-footer and got to the line twice more on drives to the hole. In other words, he attacked, attacked, attacked, and the result was 26 points and six boards.

WHAT WENT WRONG

First mistake: The Celtics shot 50 percent from the field in the first quarter while holding the Knicks to 6-of-18 shooting and forcing six New York turnovers. And thanks to an off-balance Anthony and-1 to close out the first quarter, the C’s only led 22-17. That five-point lead should’ve been 15. Allowing the Knicks to stick around was a dangerous game, even if the Celtics ended up taking a 19-point lead into halftime.

Handle without care: Turnovers cost the Celtics Games 1 and 3. Their offense practically must execute to perfection to compete with New York’s potent attack, and coughing up opportunities before they even get off a shot compounds the problem. Yet, the Celtics committed 16 turnovers on Sunday. Dumb ones, too, like Avery Bradley throwing a pass to someone in the fourth row and Pierce’s failed feeding of Bass on a fast break.

Foul mood: Midway through the second quarter, Garnett picked up his third foul from an officiating crew that featured C’s coach Doc Rivers‘ nemesis Bill Kennedy. Minutes later, Green picked up his third, and Bass joined the club two seconds before halftime. Within five minutes of the third quarter, all three had four fouls. Of course, Anthony and Tyson Chandler had four before the fourth quarter, too. But with little faith in Chris Wilcox or Shavlik Randolph off the bench, Rivers pulled Garnett but left Green and Bass to defend the paint. Bass soon picked up his fifth, and the Knicks closed within three on an 11-1 run to end the third, setting up a nail-biting fourth quarter and overtime.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Jeff Green, NBA, New York Knicks
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