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Second quarter wrap: Celtics vs. Magic 02.07.10 at 3:35 pm ET
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Playing one of their most complete quarters in recent memory, the Celtics opened up a 51-40 lead at the half.

The Celtics opened the second quarter with five reserves on the floor, a departure from their usual rotation of either Ray Allen or Paul Pierce teaming up with four bench players. The second unit responded well as Marquis Daniels scored six quick points on post-ups.

Rasheed Wallace also continued his mastery over Dwight Howard by getting Howard to commit a needless offensive foul, the third of the half for the All-Star big man. Howard played just eight minutes in the first half with two points and three rebounds.

The Celtics gradually built a lead that grew to double digits after Rajon Rondo found Pierce for a 3-pointer with a gorgeous look-away pass in traffic. Rondo has 11 points, three rebounds and four assists, while Allen also had 11 points and Pierce added nine. Kevin Garnett was held scoreless but contributed five rebounds and his usual stellar help defense.

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First quarter wrap: Celtics vs. Magic at 3:00 pm ET
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With Paul Pierce back in the lineup, and Marquis Daniels suited up, the Celtics took the floor for the first time this season with all of their top rotation players. They came out suitably aggressive, attacking the basket and getting Dwight Howard in early foul trouble to take a 24-23 lead.

When Howard went to the bench, however, the Magic reeled off seven straight points to take a 17-16 lead. As he did in Orlando the last time these two teams played, Marcin Gortat gave the Magic energy when he came off the bench.

Pierce played 11 minutes and scored six points. Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo also scored six points apiece, while Jameer Nelson led all scorers with seven. Daniels checked in late in the quarter and received a nice ovation.

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Pierce, Daniels make Magical returns at 2:00 pm ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers confirmed before Sunday’s game that Paul Pierce and Marquis Daniels will play against the Magic. Pierce missed the last two games with a left mid-foot strain while Daniels has been out since having surgery on a torn ligament in his left thumb.

“I didn’t think he looked great [Saturday] so we’ll just see,” Rivers said. “A lot of times, it’s just him testing it out instead of playing on it so it can fool you.”

Rivers said he did something he rarely does. He asked Pierce how he feels the day of the game.

“I went to him today, which I rarely do and went back to him, ‘Are you sure?’ And he said, ‘The pain’s on the top of the foot. It’s not anything under the foot. I can push off fine I just hope I don’t get kicked in it or stepped on.

“I said, ‘I’m sure that’s going to happen now.’ That’s all he’s concerned with.”

[Click here to hear Rivers talk about Pierce’s return before the game.]

Pierce didn’t speak before the game about his return but Daniels did.

“I’m pretty excited,” Daniels said. “I’m ready to get out there and get active.”

His only concern is not having the thumb tested by getting it whacked in practice first before game action. To soften the expected blow, he will wear a bandage with a cushion on his left thumb.

“I still didn’t get it hit,” Daniels added. “I’m quite sure that somebody’s going to hit it today.”

Read More: Celtics, Magic, Marquis Daniels, NBA
Kiki on his Nets: ‘We hung right in there’ 02.05.10 at 11:23 pm ET
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Nets head coach Kiki Vandeweghe addresses media after Celtics beat the Nets, 96-87, in Boston to drop his team to 4-45 on the season.

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Doc on Pierce: Still ‘Day-to-day’ at 7:45 pm ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Paul Pierce continued his cardio workout on Friday but is still unsure whether the team’s captain will be able to return on Sunday for the showdown with the Orlando Magic at TD Garden.

“It’s day-to-day,” Rivers said of Pierce’s left mid-foot strain. “That’s about it, really. He’s moving around, shooting around a little bit. I don’t know yet.”

Marquis Daniels, meanwhile, will practice again on Saturday but Rivers said there’s still no guarantee he’ll be ready to play against Orlando. Rivers’ main concern is not the thumb but rather the ability of Daniels to run the team’s offensive sets that have been installed since he last played on Dec. 4.

“I’m not so sure about him on Sunday.” Rivers, whether Daniels will be prepared to return. “We’ll have to throw him in eventually.”

For Daniels, it’s his 28th straight game missed following ligament surgery on his left thumb.

[Click here to listen to Doc Rivers compare the 2010 Nets to the 24-win 2007 Celtics.]

Other pregame notes included Rivers’ thoughts on being the third-longest tenured coach with one team in the NBA behind Jerry Sloan [Utah] and Gregg Popovich [San Antonio].

“Really, I didn’t know that,” Rivers said. “That’s unbelievable. You Boston guys [media], I thought you were tough. That’s surprising. They’re some guys out there that clearly should be doing this a lot longer than me. You know how this league is – it’s a talent-based league. If you have enough of it and do your job with it, then you stay.

The pregame discussion ended with his thoughts on Sunday’s big game between Indianapolis and New Orleans.

Super Bowl predictions?,” Rivers said, repeating the question asked of him. “The Saints, what the [heck]. No reason for that. Maybe the reason is I’ve heard about Colts. I wondered if [the Colts] were playing anybody so I’m going with the other team.”

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Preview: Celtics vs. Nets at 9:35 am ET
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This, ladies and gentlemen, is the NBA version of the dreaded trap game. On the face of things, there is no conceivable reason why the Celtics should lose to the Nets. But when you factor in the absence of Paul Pierce, the nationally televised showdown with the Magic looming on Super Bowl Sunday and the fact that the All-Star beak is right around the corner, this is the kind of effort and focus game everyone has spent so much time talking about.

The Celtics are beginning to get on a nice little role. They’ve won two straight and should make it three against New Jersey. That would give them a chance to calm down all the rumors and innuendo, and there is nothing the veterans on this team like more than calm. A loss would bring all those distractions back into play.

NETS (4-44, 1-9 last 10)

Points Per Game: 90.0

Points Allowed: 101.7

Differential: -11.7 (30th)

Offensive Efficiency: 97.5 (30th)

Defensive Efficiency: 110.2 (27th)

Pace: 92.2 (17th)

Likely Starters: Devin Harris, Courtney Lee, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Yi Jianlian, Brook Lopez

Injuries: None

CELTICS (31-16, 4-6 last 10)

Points Per Game: 99.3

Points Allowed: 93.8

Differential: +5.6 (3rd)

Offensive Efficiency: 107.8 (13th)

Defensive Efficiency: 101.8 (1st)

Pace: 91.5 (22nd)

Likely Starters: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Tony Allen Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins

Injuries: Marquis Daniels (Thumb), Paul Pierce (Foot) Read the rest of this entry »

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Daniels feels like Forrest Gump 02.04.10 at 5:32 pm ET
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WALTHAM — When Marquis Daniels eventually returns to game action, he shouldn’t be that much out of breath.

That’s because the most versatile player on the roster has been put through a strict running program to make sure he’s in shape once his surgically repaired left thumb is ready for game action.

‘€œI think they did a good job of running me,” Daniels said. “I’€™ve turned into Forrest Gump a little bit. I’€™m glad to be back. It feels like the first day of school, very excited. I’€™m just ready to get back out there and play and be a part of the team and just feel more wanted out there. Hopefully, I can another good practice in and maybe [play] Sunday.’€

And while he wasn’t doing much running on Thursday in practice (see below), he was busy learning new plays that coach Doc Rivers has installed in his 27-game absence.

‘€œHe put a couple more sets in, but for the most part it’€™s pretty much the same thing. I just have to learn three positions, the point guard, the 2 and the 3. It’€™s coming along pretty simple, so hopefully I can pick them up by next practice.’€

That next practice will be Saturday, meaning it’s highly unlikely he plays ‘€” or is needed for that matter ‘€” against New Jersey on Friday. When he does, he wants to be sure his thumb is ready for a hit. If he can take a hit in practice, he believes he’ll be game-ready.

‘€œJust getting hit,” Daniels said Thursday. “Everything else is pretty much mental. I think my conditioning is OK. It’€™s not the best, but it’€™s the best it can be without playing basketball. Other than that, once I get that first hit on it, I think I’€™ll be OK.’€

Rivers spent nearly 30 minutes with Daniels and the second unit at the end of practice as he tries to help Daniels get back to speed in time for a possible weekend return to action.

After several days of shooting and basketball-related drills, Thursday marked Daniels’ first practice back with the team.

Daniels said the biggest hurdle for him will be taking a blow to the thumb, which was wrapped in white protective bandage for his first practice back.

‘€œIt wasn’€™t a great practice for him,” Rivers said. “We didn’€™t do a lot. We didn’€™t do really anything live, so it wasn’€™t a great practice for him. Just trying to get him some rhythm, which is good.’€

Rivers added that he doubts Daniels will be ready to play against New Jersey on Friday but more likely set for a Sunday return against Orlando.

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