|Fast Break: Celtics roll Kings||03.26.10 at 10:03 pm ET|
The Celtics treated the Kings exactly the way they should have Friday night at the Garden. The final score was 94-86, and despite some anxious moments in the fourth quarter it wasn’t really that close.
The Kings cut down what had been a 24-point Celtics lead down to six late in the game, but that came mostly against the second unit that had logged considerably more time than usual. The starters returned in the final five minutes and held serve.
The Celtics have now six of their last seven games since losing in Cleveland two weeks ago. With the win, and a Toronto loss, the Celtics clinched their third straight Atlantic Division title. That officially gives them the tiebreaker for third place in the East with the Hawks if they wind up with the same record.
The Celtics received even more good news Friday as the Hawks lost in Philadelphia. That puts the C’s a full game ahead of Atlanta.
The Kings were missing rookie Tyreke Evans, but it wouldn’t have mattered all that much if he had played. The Celtics jumped on Sacramento early and never looked back. They led by 15 points after one quarter and by 20 at the half.
Player of the Game: Rajon Rondo passed Rick Fox for the Celtics single-season record for steals with 167 and he moved passed Sherman Douglas for second on the single-season assists list. Next up for Rondo is Bob Cousy who has held the mark since the 1959-60 season (715). With a career-high 18 assists Friday night, Rondo has 696 for the season for the season. He could pass Cooz on this homestand.
Turning Point: With the Celtics leading by nine with 1:45 left in the game, they forced a 24-second shot clock violation and Kevin Garnett threw down a dunk at the other end to push the lead back up to double digits.
* Tony Allen came off the bench with the first wave of reserves and Marquis Daniels did not. Doc Rivers said before the game that Allen had earned some more playing time and he was as good as his word. This will be an interesting dynamic as the season plays out.
* Kevin Garnett had an incredibly active first quarter with seven rebounds. Garnett recorded his second straight double double with 18 points and 13 rebounds.
* Kendrick Perkins sat the game out with soreness in his knee. Rasheed Wallace started in his place and drew two quick fouls. Wallace wound up fouling out in 25 minutes with six points and just one rebound.
With Perkins out Shelden Williams got some extended time and played well with six points and three rebounds in 23 minutes.
* Ray Allen scored 18 points in the first half on 7-for-11 shooting.
* Nate Robinson sprained his left ankle at the 7-minute mark of the second quarter. Robinson was taken to the locker room and did not return.
|First half summary: Celtics vs. Kings||at 8:45 pm ET|
Thanks to the Rajon Rondo highlight show in the first half, the Celtics cruised to the locker room with a 57-37 halftime lead.
Rondo was credited with a steal midway through the second quarter, his 168th of the season, helping him pass Rick Fox for the all-time single-season Celtics mark.
He also had a remarkable 10 assists in the first 24 minutes to pass Sherman Douglas for second on the Celtics all-time single-season assist list. Douglas had 683 in the 1993-94 season and the way Rondo is playing, he should soon pass Bob Cousy’s 1959-60 mark of 715.
Several of those 10 assists went to Ray Allen, who had a game-high 18 points, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range.
The C’s held the Kings to just 17 points in the first quarter as they opened a 32-17 lead.
With his brother Marcus playing in the D-League for the Celtics in Maine, Carl Landry is putting on quite the show himself for the Kings in Boston. He has 18 to match Ray Allen for game honors so far.
The only bit of bad news was Nate Robinson turning his left ankle on a baseline drive to the basket. He suffered a sprain, left for the locker room in the second quarter and will not return.
|Doc on Rondo’s thievery: ‘He does have a gift’||at 8:00 pm ET|
The thing that has impressed Doc Rivers the most this year about Rajon Rondo’s single-season steals record is not the number itself but the effort behind it.
“That means he’s a better defender,” Rivers said. “You can lead the league in steals and not gamble all time. You can be solid and get a lot of steals and I think that’s what he’s done. With Rajon, you want to make sure he doesn’t hurt the team but he does have a gift and you always want to play to that gift as long as he’s not hurting the team.”
Rondo was credited with a steal midway through the second quarter, his 168th of the season, helping him pass Rick Fox for the all-time single-season Celtics mark. He had one more before halftime to give him 169.
He also had six assists in the first quarter to pass Sherman Douglas for second on the Celtics all-time single-season assist list with 684.
It appeared Rondo also stole the ball less than a minute into Friday’s game against Sacramento, which would have given him 168 for the season and a new single-season steals mark, passing Fox’s old mark of 167 in the 1996-97 season. But that steal was credited to Ray Allen, keeping Rondo momentarily tied with Fox.
|Perk out with sore left knee||at 7:15 pm ET|
The team did not say how long Perkins is expected out of action. Rasheed Wallace will start in his place.
|Preview: Celtics-Kings||at 11:23 am ET|
John Schumann of NBA.com recently broke down the numbers and made an interesting observation about the Celtics that has generated much discussion around the Internet. Schumann’s main finding is that the Celtics are a poor second-half team, particularly in the third quarter. This was most clearly seen against Utah earlier this week when the Jazz rallied from a five-point halftime deficit and turned a Celtics lead into a blowout loss.
There are many conclusions one can draw from that bit of information, but what it really seems to boil down to is that the Celtics have done a poor job of executing after halftime. Whether it’s age, focus or some other factor, Schumann’s analysis helps bring this whole nebulous conversation about their struggles into sharper focus.
As the Celtics continue through the regular season pay close attention to their play after halftime during their final 11 games. That might help tell us if they are actually becoming a contender again.
KINGS (24-48 3-7 last 10)
Points Per Game: 100.4
Points Allowed: 104.5
Differential: -4.1 (24th)
Offensive Efficiency: 105.4 (21st)
Defensive Efficiency: 109.7 (23rd)
Pace: 94.2 (6th)
CELTICS (46-25, 6-4 last 10)
Points Per Game: 99.0
Points Allowed: 94.4
Differential: +4.6 (8th)
Offensive Efficiency: 107.4 (14th)
Defensive Efficiency: 102.4 (1st)
Pace: 91.8 (20th)
Injuries: None. Read the rest of this entry »
|Doc on D&C: ‘We’re close’||03.25.10 at 8:51 am ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning to talk about the state of the Celtics. “We’re closer,” Rivers said. “I don’t think anybody can say they’re there right now as a team.”
Rivers said the Celtics’ recent improved play can directly be attributed to the team’s improved health. “We were 23-5 [to start the season], we were completely healthy,” he said. “I felt this throughout that whole streak. It’s amazing how conveniently everybody forgot about that. … So many different guys had to play so many different roles. … That took a toll on us.”
Rivers said he’s focused on continuing to get the team in rhythm the rest of the regular season, but, “I still want to get them rest as well.”
Rivers was asked about the NCAA tournament and which underdog he thinks has the best chance of advancing. “I think Cornell’s the best [underdog] that’s still available,” Rivers said. “Unfortunately, they have to play the best team [Kentucky]. … If that game is close, I think Cornell wins that game.”
Rivers said he has been getting grief from Nate Robinson since Robinson’s alma mater, Washington, knocked off Rivers’ school, Marquette, in the tournament’s opening round. “I’m still getting [teased],” Rivers said. “Every time he walks by me, he sings the Washington fight song.”
To hear the interview, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
|Rondo: ‘We’re starting to put it together’||at 12:05 am ET|
Echoing the thoughts of his general manager Danny Ainge on WEEI earlier in the day, Rajon Rondo can feel things finally start to come together for the Celtics.
And the timing couldn’t be any better.
While Paul Pierce led the team with 27 points, it was Rondo who was the floor general with his seventh career triple-double – fourth in the regular season – in Boston’s 113-99 win over the talented Denver Nuggets Wednesday night at TD Garden.
“We’re starting to put it together. We had a little hiccup at Utah but we’ve done a pretty good job. We’re getting better each game. We’re not going to play perfect every game. We’re not going to win every game from here on out probably but at the end of the day, as long as we continue to get better and work toward our goal, we’ll be fine.
“We haven’t blown as many leads as we did early on in the season so we’re getting better.”
Rondo had 11 points, 15 assists and 11 rebounds in helping the Celtics hold off Denver and clinch a playoff spot in the East.
“We got to the line tonight,” Rondo said. “Myself, I was trying to be aggressive early. I thought they had a problem getting matched up with their man so I tried to push myself or advance the ball with the pass and Paul did as well. He started off the game great, got to the line, got a couple of easy layups and got his rhythm.”
As for avenging the loss to the Nuggets in Denver on Feb. 21, Rondo said it was no big deal.
“It doesn’t mean anything,” he said. “It’s just another game.”
Perhaps the Celtics showed why they are peaking at the right time when the game got close at the end of the third quarter. Earlier in the season, when J.R. Smith’s desperation 3-pointer went through the hoop, the collective shoulders of the Celtics might have sagged.
But not on this night. When the Celtics lead was cut to 87-80 at the end of the third, Nate Robinson sank a three himself to start the fourth and the Celtics steadily built their lead back up through the teens, eventually putting the game away.
“They made a run but that’s part of the game,” Rondo said. “We knew in the second half they would make a run so during halftime we just tried to stick together. We told ourselves we have to just handle adversity better. When teams do make a run, let’s not get down or bicker amongst each other. Let’s stick together and make a run ourselves.”
The Celtics won their fourth straight at home for the first time this season and now stand 22-12 at home after losing just six at home last year.
“Whether it’s home or away, it’s about time for us to get some momentum,” Rondo said, before admitting, “It might be too late for that. We feel we’re a team where it should be that way but we’ve lost a lot of games here. Twelve and we lost only six last year but at the end of the day, the playoffs are a totally different atmosphere so we’ll be ready.”
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