|Inside job: Nikola Pekovic, Dante Cunningham dominate as T’Wolves finally beat Celtics||04.01.13 at 10:21 pm ET|
Another road game. Another undermanned Celtics team. And another road loss.
The Celtics, playing without Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, were overpowered by Nikola Pekovic, Dante Cunningham and the Minnesota Timberwolves in a 110-100 loss at the Target Center Monday night. Pekovic took advantage of an undersized front court with a game-high 29 points while Cunningham added 19 points and five rebounds off the bench for Minnesota, which beat Boston for the first time in 12 meeting dating back to the pre-Garnett era in Boston.
The defenseless Celtics (38-36) fell for the second straight night and dropped their seventh in nine games. With Milwaukee beating Charlotte, the seventh-place Celtics are just 1.5 games ahead of the Bucks (one game in loss column) for eight-place. If Boston, which has eight games left, finishes eighth, they will face Miami in the first round.
What Monday’s game lacked in star power it made up for in offense from unexpected places.
The Celtics were without Garnett (left foot) and Pierce (personal reasons) while the Timberwolves were still without U.S. Olympic champion Kevin Love (broken hand).
The Timberwolves (27-46) turned to Pekovic and he responded with a huge opening quarter. The 27-year-old native of Montenegro scored 15 points as Minnesota dominated the paint and took a 27-25 lead after 12 minutes.
Since acquiring Garnett – the most accomplished player in Timberwolves history – after the 2006-07 season, the Celtics were 10-0 against Minnesota. Overall, the Celtics had won 11 straight against Minnesota dating back to Boston’s last loss, 109-107, on Feb. 11, 2007 in Minnesota.
Adding to Boston’s misery on the inside, big men Shav Randolph and Chris Wilcox each picked up three personal fouls. Courtney Lee’s three with 3:15 left in the second quarter tied the game, 45-45. But the Timberwolves came back with the next four points before Avery Bradley connected on a jumper as the game kept a quick tempo leading up to halftime. Bradley’s hit 6-of-8 in the first half and single-handedly kept Boston within range with 15 first half points. Bradley led the Celtics with 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting.
Boston was manhandled in the paint in the first half. Pekovic scored 21 points in the first half, part of an effort that had Minnesota outscoring getting outscored 34-18 and allowing Minnesota to grab a 57-52 halftime lead.
The Timberwolves went on a 10-4 run midway thought the third to open their biggest lead, 80-66, before Jason Terry responded with a long two-point jumper. Terrence Williams followed that up with a baseline three to cut Minnesota’s lead down to nine, 80-71, with just over three minutes left in the third.
Randolph picked up his fifth foul seconds later but stayed in the game to give the Celtics some size in the paint. As the Celtics were making a run late in the third quarter, Jeff Green came up limping, holding his left hip. Green, who played the entire first half and the first six minutes of the third quarter before finally coming out for a breather, took a knee from Pekovic to the left thigh/hip area. Green stayed in the game and was part of a 12-4 run that cut Minnesota’s lead to six, 84-78, heading into the fourth. Green finished with just 10 points in 38 minutes.
With the Celtics defense forcing a near turnover, Derrick Williams hit a three to open the fourth quarter and push Minnesota’s lead back to nine.
Lee came in for Green with just over 10 minutes left as Celtics trainer Ed Lacerte tended to Green’s left hip. The T-Wolves went on a 7-0 run midway through the fourth that was capped by an Alexey Shved three with 7:45 left to put Minnesota up, 96-82. The Celtics could get no closer than eight the rest of the way.
The Celtics are off Tuesday before hosting the Pistons on Wednesday night at TD Garden. For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Paul Pierce (personal reasons) out against Timberwolves||at 8:06 pm ET|
Paul Pierce will not play Monday night against the Timberwolves in Minnesota due to personal reasons. Pierce was not with the team as they prepared for their second game in as many nights on a trip through New York and Minnesota.
Pierce was spotted with an ice wrap on his right foot in the closing moments of Sunday night’s loss at Madison Square Garden. But Rivers told reporters before the game that his foot had nothing to do with the absence and that Pierce would return to the lineup on Wednesday against the Pistons at TD Garden.
Monday marks just the second game Pierce has missed this season in 74 contests. He leads the Celtics in scoring at 18.8 points per game in 72 games.
For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Keyon Dooling signs with Memphis Grizzlies for playoff run||at 12:50 pm ET|
The 32-year-old veteran guard has agreed to terms with the Memphis Grizzlies to help them in their playoff push in the Western Conference. Entering Monday, the Grizzlies are 49-24 and in a tight three-way race with Denver and the Clippers for third place in the highly competitive Western Conference.
Dooling made the announcement Monday on his Twitter page: “I am so honored to announce that I AM BACK! I am heading to officially sign w/ @MemGrizz and am looking forward to being back on the court!”
Dooling had been serving as a player development coordinator for the Celtics before accepting the offer to play with the Grizzlies on Monday. Dooling will be playing for his seventh NBA team since entering the NBA with the Clippers at the age of 20 in 2000. Dooling has averaged 7.0 points and 2.2 assists in 721 career games. He averaged 4.0 points and 1.1 assists in 46 games for the Celtics during the 66-game schedule in the 2011-12 season.
On Dec. 9, 2011, Dooling and a 2012 second-round pick were traded to Celtics in exchange for the draft rights to Albert Miralles. Then at the end of last season, Dooling re-signed with the Celtics.
But after being waived by the Celtics on Sept. 20, he decided to retire from the Celtics and accept a front office/coaching position with the team. Dooling thanked GM Danny Ainge and head coach Doc Rivers on Monday after announcing his return.
— Keyon Dooling (@AmbassadorKD) April 1, 2013
Dooling is also a former Vice President for the NBA Players Association.
Dooling will join former Celtics guard Tony Allen, who also welcomed him back to the NBA via his Twitter page.
@ambassadorkd. Welcome My Guy!!!
— Tony Allen (@aa000G9) April 1, 2013
|Easter bummer: Hot-shooting Knicks overcome Jeff Green and Paul Pierce, beat Celtics||03.31.13 at 10:03 pm ET|
Pierce had 24 points and 15 rebounds while Green led the Celtics with 27 points on 10-of-14 shooting from the field as the Celtics (38-35) had their modest two-game winning streak snapped. Carmelo Anthony scored 24 points to lead the Knicks, who won their eighth straight to improve to 46-26. Big man Chris Copeland came off the Knicks bench to score 22 points, as New York won the season series, 3-1.
While Pierce and Green were highly productive, Boston’s three other starters, Avery Bradley, Chris Wilcox and Brandon Bass could only manage two points apiece and combined to shoot 3-for-11 from the floor.
The loss all but assured the Celtics of seeing their five-year reign atop of the Atlantic Division come to an end. Boston is 8.5 games behind the Knicks but more importantly, now 2.5 games behind the sixth-place Hawks in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics are now just 2.5 games ahead of eighth-place Milwaukee, two games in the loss column.
The Knicks raced out to a halftime lead of 65-48 thanks to a scorching performance from beyond the 3-point circle. The Knicks made 11-of-16 attempts from 3-point range as the Celtics allowed a season-high in first-half points. New York finished 14-of-27 from long range while the Celtics were just 7-of-25 from 3-point range.
Anthony had 18 of his 24 points in the first half to lead New York.
The Celtics were within 11, 55-44, when the Knicks closed out the first half on a 10-4 run. Boston closed to within 11 again midway through the third but the Knicks again closed with a big run, 11-4, to head into the fourth quarter with a comfortable 86-69 lead.
Avery Bradley continues to struggle, finishing with just two points in 24 minutes on 1-of-5 shooting with one rebound and one assist before fouling out in the final two minutes.
Pierce did not play in the fourth quarter as the Knicks built their lead up to as many as 21. Pierce was spotted with an ice pack on his right foot for the entire quarter. The Celtics said it was simply a precaution and that there is no serious injury involved.
The Celtics left immediately after the game for a game Monday night in Minnesota against the Timberwolves. Boston returns home for a Wednesday night game against Detroit, a game that kicks off a four-game homestand at TD Garden. For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|The Celtics love them some Shavlik Randolph||03.30.13 at 2:12 am ET|
When security opened the Celtics locker room after Friday’s 118-107 win over the Hawks, reporters rushed to Shavlik Randolph‘s locker, but the PR staff announced he had already left. The Duke product generally makes postgame small talk for a bit with anybody willing to listen, so his absence came as a surprise to some.
For the C’s, though, it should be refreshing. On the best night of his NBA career, Randolph ducked the media scrum, dodged questions that would have made his China-to-Boston journey the headline in Saturday’s papers and generally just avoided becoming the focus on a night when veteran teammates Paul Pierce (20-10-10 triple-double), Jeff Green (game-high 27 points) and Jason Terry (24 points on 10 shots) all performed better.
In other words, Randolph knows his role. That or he wanted to watch his alma mater’s Sweet 16 date with Michigan St. Either way, his new teammates welcomed the opportunity to heap praise upon the journeyman.
“He understands who he is,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers, “and he does it.”
Terry passed another milestone as he became the fourth player in NBA history with more than 1900 3-point field goals. Entering Friday, only Ray Allen (2,841), Reggie Miller (2,560) and Jason Kidd (1,976) have more.
|Doc Rivers on Rajon Rondo: ‘They say he’s doing tremendous’||03.29.13 at 11:39 pm ET|
The Celtics got an added boost on their bench for Friday’s showdown with the Hawks.
Rajon Rondo made his first appearance on the sidelines with the team since having season-ending ACL surgery on his right knee.
‘It was nice. It was nice,” coach Doc Rivers said. “He told us today he was coming in, and it was good to have him back around. He’s moving okay. You know, it’s funny, I’m looking at it knowing he’s nowhere near, but that’s the first thing you look at. Having gone through that experience, we sat and talked about a lot of the stuff you have to go through. So, it brought back these horrendous memories, actually. But he’s, from his doctors, they say he’s doing tremendous.’
Rivers was asked to describe Rondo’s spirits while on the sidelines.
‘Oh, I don’t know, I have no idea,” Rivers said. “I mean, I don’t care who you are, especially if you’re on a team sport I think these types of injuries are very lonely. Very hard, because rehab is all by yourself with some stranger. And you’re away from your team. Just brutal rehab. That’s what it is. He’s been in ‘ wherever, Jacksonville, wherever, Florida, Pensacola ‘ and that’s tough. His family has been going back and forth. But he’s made the commitment and he’s been great.’
Asked if Rondo tried to exert himself in the huddle, Rivers laughed, “No, no, no. I told him to be nice. And he was.”
The players were the most affected – and inspired – by Rondo’s presence.
‘Definitely,” Paul Pierce said. “It’s good to get him around the guys, to see some of his new teammates. Who knows ‘ a lot of these guys might be here for him next year. It’s good for him to get acquainted with them. He’s done his surgery, he seems to be in good spirits, so its good to see him.’
“It was fun. It was good to see him. He’s got a little fro now,” Jeff Green laughed. “It was good to Rondo, glad he’s doing well. Wish he were on the court but I think it was a big emotional boost for us to have him on the bench with us.”
How big of a boost was it to the players?
“It’s big,” Green said. “I think a lot of people counted us out when he went down, when Sully [Jared Sullinger] went down, too. But we’ve been coming together, doing our part, playing hard. We’ve been talking and he’s been seeing things from a different point of view.
“Definitely, most definitely,” Green added. “He sees us playing hard and that’s all you can do.”
Since Rondo had his ACL repaired on February 12, the Celtics have added several new players, including Shav Randolph, DJ Williams, Jordan Crawford (at the trade deadline) and Terrence Williams.