|Fast Break: Celtics-Clippers||01.25.10 at 10:10 pm ET|
This was the Celtics team we have grown accustomed to watching over the last few seasons. The passing was crisp, the open man was found and the Celtics played from the inside out. It’s been several weeks since we’ve seen that Celtics team on a regular basis and they picked a perfect time to rediscover the formula.
The result was loads of wide-open looks and four starters scoring in double figures (Kendrick Perkins had nine points) in a 95-89 win over the Clippers Monday night at TD Garden. The Celtics also clamped down defensively, holding the Clippers to just 15 points in the third quarter. It was their second-straight win, their first winning streak since Jan. 6.
It wasn’t all peaches and cream, to quote a favorite Kevin Garnett saying. They played uninspired basketball in the first 12 minutes, turning the ball over six times and allowing four offensive rebounds.
The Celtics also had trouble putting the Clips away in the fourth quarter, but give Los Angeles’ other team credit: They came to play. Former Boston College star Craig Smith was a beast in the fourth quarter, scoring all 13 of his points in the final 12 minutes, but none down the stretch after Garnett picked him up.
Player of the Game: If Rajon Rondo wanted to make one last good impression before the All-Star teams are announced he certainly stated his case well with 16 points, seven rebounds and 12 assists. Like the rest of his teammates Rondo started slowly, but he picked his game up early in the second quarter. It was one of his finest performances in weeks.
Turning Point: With the Celtics trailing by nine points early in the second quarter Doc Rivers subbed out his second team for the starters. That was when Ray Allen got hot, scoring 10 quick points and knocking down a pair of 3-pointers. The Celtics didn’t retake the lead until early in the second half, but that’s when they began to build momentum
* Kevin Garnett looked strong taking the ball to the basket on a couple of occasions. On one drive he made former Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Camby look foolish with a pump fake before jamming over a defenseless Clipper.
* There was a lot of talk about Rondo’s defense before the game, but none of it seemed to bother him before, and during the game. Rondo spent most of the pregame watching video of Baron Davis and talking strategy with assistant coach Armond Hill. He put that into practice keeping Davis in check, holding him to 5-for-13 shooting.
* Things got heated late in the game with Garnett going strong with Smith, Ricky Davis jawing with Ray Allen and Kendrick Perkins and Baron Davis also going at it.
* Speaking of Ray Allen, he scored 10 of his 14 points during a key stretch of the second quarter. He finished with a pedestrian 5-for-14 shooting line, but his hot streak was a big reason the Celtics were able to get back in the game.
* Perkins had a huge rebounding night with 15 boards. Paul Pierce led the scoring with 22 points and was a perfect 11-for-11 from the line.
|Doc on Davis: ‘He’s not a bad kid’||at 8:59 pm ET|
Actually, he’s dropping it altogether for “Uno Uno.”
While we wait to see how that goes over, one of the people who often used the “Big Baby” reference ‘ Celtics coach Doc Rivers ‘ believes there’s something more important to note about his biggest power forward off the bench.
“He’s young, that’s the one thing I keep saying about him,” Rivers said. “He has to grow up in front of a lot of people where most people his age don’t. He’s not a bad kid. We just have to give him time. Some you don’t, some you do and he’s one you do.
“The character and the ‘He’s not a bad kid’ part of it is the savior of it all.”
Rivers has shown support for Davis several several times this season. Whether it was the player’s fracas in an SUV the weekend before the season-opener in Cleveland that resulted in a broken thumb or the recent obscenity-laced tirade directed at a fan in Detroit that left Davis $25,000 lighter, Rivers has been there for his player.
Monday, as Davis searched for a new identity to go with his new image and moniker, Rivers was there for him again.
“I think we can all learn from his mistakes,” Rivers said. “I hope we can all learn from our mistakes and I think he can as well. Usually, his mistakes come from emotional [decisions]. Usually, his mistakes are nothing calculated.”
(Listen to Rivers explain his stance on Davis by clicking here.)
|Doc: ‘Slight’ chance Daniels returns before break||at 7:21 pm ET|
Monday was the 22nd straight game that Daniels missed following surgery on his left thumb. Initially, the Celtics didn’t anticipate his return until after the All-Star break, but if a checkup goes well on Tuesday, some basketball activities could be in the offing followed by practice, and then, games.
“We’ll find out more [Tuesday] about Marquis,” Rivers said. “We’re hoping first game after the All-Star break.
“There’s a slight chance he may be able to play by the New Orleans game [Feb. 10], which would be a huge benefit for him because he gets one game in before which helps him once we come out of break. We’re out of break on the West Coast, so we want to come out of break playing well.”
Meanwhile, Brian Scalabrine, who missed his second game on Monday with a separated right shoulder, is expected to miss a week.
He also will be re-evaluated on Tuesday.
|No more ‘Big Baby’||at 7:14 pm ET|
It took a broken thumb and a $25,000 fine to convince Glen Davis to shed the identity he carried into the NBA.
But now, Davis wants a new nickname. He wants to leave Big Baby behind.
‘I’m not a Big Baby anymore,’ he said. ‘ I’m not feeling that anymore. You got that? No more Big Baby.’
So what does he have in mind?
‘Call me ‘Uno Uno!’ Yeah, I like that,’ he exclaimed after a reporter suggested the moniker. ‘’Uno Uno,’ that’s my new name.’
Big Baby represents a past from which Davis wants to move on. It’s a past that includes fighting in a car during the preseason and yelling obscenities at a fan just last week. He appreciates the opportunities he has been given by the Celtics organization and never wants to revert back to the player who had to be granted second ‘ and third ‘ chances.
‘Being Big Baby, I just realized throughout my life I’ve been called Big Baby, and throughout my life I’ve been going through different changes. So really, I’m not Big Baby,’ he explained. ‘You know, it’s like I’m in a cocoon and now I’m coming out as a different player and as a different person also. Basically just the fact that the new person is growth, so you want to shed that Big Baby off. You want to be perceived as something else, not the past.’
To Rivers, Davis’ personality has nothing to do with the name he goes by. Regardless of whether or not he is Big Baby or Uno Uno, he is still a young player who is learning his way in the league. Davis asked that fans believe he is not a bad person or a troublemaker, and Rivers echoed his request.
‘He’s young, that’s the one thing I keep saying about him,’ he said. ‘He has to grow up in front of a lot of people where most people his age don’t. He’s not a bad kid. We just have to give him time. Some you don’t, some you do and he’s one you do.’
So while Davis figures out who he is and who he is going to become in the NBA, he is turning to his veteran teammates for advice along the way.
‘I look up to a lot of these players on this team and Ray Allen gave me some great advice,’ he said. ‘The 26-year-old man has to think for the 36-year-old man. The 36-year-old man has to think for the 46-year-old man. So every decision I make is more than just today.’
|Marcus Camby all grown up||at 10:41 am ET|
WALTHAM — Marcus Camby has come a long way from his days at the University of Massachusetts.
He is no longer just a lanky, talented big man in the middle. He is widely regarded as one of the best defensive post players in the league.
Camby led the John Calipari-coached Minutemen to the 1996 Final Four and was the second overall pick in the first round by the Toronto Raptors. And yes, he showed signs of dominating his Atlantic-10 competition. And yes, he set the career record with 43 blocked shots in 11 NCAA tourney games.
But then trouble hit. Following his junior season, the Hartford native was tied to two sports agents, a scandal that eventually led to the NCAA stripping UMass of its Final Four appearance in its record books. He had no future left at UMass and declared for the NBA draft as a junior.
After two seasons in Toronto, he led the Knicks to the NBA Finals against the Spurs in 1999. But that was his highlight as he played four seasons in New York before being dealt to Denver. He spent six seasons in the Rockies, earning the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award in 2007. Another trade in the summer of 2008 landed him in Los Angeles, where he’s now in his second season with the Clippers.
Camby, who turns 36 on March 22, is one of the best defenders in the best basketball league in the world. A close look at the numbers shows that.
He is third in the NBA in the rebounding, grabbing 12.0 boards per contest. He has been in double figures in eight of 11 games this month, including 20 or more rebounds twice.
In a Jan. 20 win over the Bulls, Camby pulled down 25 rebounds. Exactly a week earlier, he had 20 rebounds in a loss at Memphis.
Then on Sunday, in a win over the Wizards in Washington, Camby had 19 rebounds while showing he is also one of the best shot-blockers in the game (see below).
But listen to Doc Rivers and he’ll tell you that Camby also can get it done on the offensive side.
“We say he’s overlooked, but it was three years ago, he was Defensive Player of the Year,” Rivers said. “So, he’s not that overlooked. Where I think people sleep on him is he is a far better offensive player than you think because he can make that little elbow jump shot.”
|Preview: Celtics-Clippers||at 10:39 am ET|
The second half of the season begins with what might be the most important week the Celtics will have in the regular season. They start with the Clippers but then run through a back-to-back session with Orlando and Atlanta and finish with a home showdown against the Lakers on Sunday afternoon.
With Kevin Garnett back in the lineup, it’s time to seriously consider how good the Celtics are, and whether Danny Ainge needs to make a move to shore up the roster for the stretch run. How well they do this week, and how well Garnett holds up, should help fill in some of the blanks in terms of what this team needs.
The two primary areas of concern are turnovers and defensive rebounding. They have lived with being a high-turnover team in the past, mainly because they shoot the ball so well and they have also been among the best teams in the league in rebounding. They still are a great shooting team, but by giving away so many possessions, and failing to recover them on the defensive end, their shooting isn’t the cure-all that it’s been in the past. For that reason, another big man would probably make sense, but there aren’t any P.J. Browns out there right now.
Tonight’s game is a chance to provide some breathing room in what will be an arduous test.
CLIPPERS (20-23, 5-5 last 10)
Points Per Game: 96.2
Points Allowed: 98.7
Differential: -2.5 (20th)
Offensive Efficiency: 104.5 (23rd)
Defensive Efficiency: 107.3 (18th)
Pace: 91.8 (20th)
CELTICS (28-13, 5-5 last 10)
Points Per Game: 99.8
Points Allowed: 93.8
Differential: +6.0 (Third)
Offensive Efficiency: 108.1 (12th)
Defensive Efficiency: 101.6 (Second)
Pace: 91.6 (22nd)
|Car & Driver: Garnett cruises through practice||01.24.10 at 6:25 pm ET|
WALTHAM — No, Doc Rivers didn’t have a 1976 Pinto in his younger years. He had a Buick Skylark.
“I didn’t have a Pinto, that’s for sure,” Rivers said Sunday, two days after Kevin Garnett compared himself to a mid-’70s Pinto. “I didn’t have a back seat in my car, but that’s good. I was driving in front.
“It was burned somehow. Mysteriously, the back seat caught on fire and my dad wouldn’t replace it. So, I had to drive around with a Skylark. It only had the front seat. You could see the trunk through the back seat. No double dates. So, that’s that my car story. It smelled like smoke and that’s the way it was.”
Garnett apparently was on to something when he drew an analogy to an old beat-up mid-’70s economy car to describe his physical condition following Friday’s game ‘ his first since a hyperextended right knee forced him to the sideline for 10 games.
“Some minor adjustments to it and it’s ready to roll,” Garnett said. “Tires changed, transmission checked and everything is pretty much where it needs to be. But at the same time, it’s still, it’s a ’76 vs. a ’10. That’s what it is.”
That was Garnett’s way of saying he had a little bit of rust but feels ready to get back to action on Monday after scoring 13 points, hauling in two rebounds and dishing out three assists in 30 minutes of action in Friday’s overtime win against Portland.
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