|Running on empty: Cavs outmuscle shorthanded Celtics||04.05.13 at 9:55 pm ET|
Life without Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett was ugly Friday night. Very ugly.
Second-year big man Tristan Thompson scored 29 points and grabbed 17 rebounds while the Celtics went ice cold in the second half and fell to the lowly Cavaliers, 97-91, Friday night at TD Garden. Pierce missed the game with a sore right ankle while Garnett missed his eighth straight game with inflammation in his left ankle. Cleveland won two of the three meetings this season between the two.
The Cavaliers used the Celtics to snap their 10-game losing streak while Boston fell for the third time in four games. The Celtics fell to 39-37 on the season but did not lose any ground on eight-place Milwaukee, which lost to the Knicks in New York. Boston remains in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, two games ahead of the Bucks in the loss column. Boston has six games remaining, including two games on its current four-game homestand. Jeff Green led the Celtics with 23 points and nine rebounds.
In a first half of unknown and unlikely heroes, it was Tristan Thompson became the latest opposing big man to dominate the Celtics inside. Behind Thompson’s career high in points and rebounds, the Cavaliers outscored the Celtics 52-38 in the paint and outrebounded Boston, 58-42.
Thompson, the second-year player out of Texas, scored 21 points and hauled in 11 rebounds in the first two quarters, as the Cavaliers (23-52) erased an eight-point deficit early in the second quarter, using a 10-0 run to forge a 52-52 halftime tie.
Shav Randolph had the best first half of his NBA career, scoring a career-high 13 points and grabbing five rebounds in the first 15 minutes of the game. But as has often been the case in his short stint with the Celtics, foul trouble limited his time on the court as he picked up three first-half fouls.
The Celtics built a seven-point lead, 62-55, on an Avery Bradley three with 8:13 left in the third. But then the wheels fell off as the Celtics went ice cold. Boston was just 6-for-27 (27.3 percent) from the field. Cleveland went on a 19-3 run to take a 74-65 lead before Jordan Crawford hit a three to cut Cleveland’s lead to 74-68 heading into the fourth.
But Cleveland scored the first eight points of the fourth to take a 14-point lead. Randolph picked up two fouls in a minute in the third quarter and then fouled out with 6:57 left in the fourth. Randolph finished with a career-high 16 points and seven rebounds.
Jason Terry hit a baseline three with 5:46 left to bring Boston within four, 87-83, as the crowd became a factor again. But Thompson’s put-back dunk with five minutes left answered the Celtics run, putting Cleveland back up by six.
With 3:18 left in the game and the Celtics down eight, 91-83, Bradley left the game and headed for the locker room with trainer Ed Lacerte. He suffered a bruised left collar bone and returned to the bench with two minutes left in regulation but did not play. With 2:09 left in the game Green completed a three-point play to draw Boston within four again, 91-87 but an easy alley-oop layup by Tyler Zeller and a jumper by Kyrie Irving with 1:22 left put Cleveland up, 95-87.
The Celtics are off Saturday before returning to action at home on Sunday night (6 p.m.) against the Wizards at TD Garden. Boston concludes its four-game homestand on Wednesday night. For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Was Avery Bradley firing a Twitter shot at Rajon Rondo?||01.23.13 at 3:08 pm ET|
After the Celtics’ fourth straight defeat — a 95-90 loss suffered at the hands of Kyrie Irving (40 points) and the Cavaliers — guard Avery Bradley tweeted: “Nobody will score 40 on [me] unless they take 40 shots.”
Irving scored his 40 on 24 shots, although just three of those attempts came against Bradley; meanwhile, the Cavs point guard made 6-of-11 attempts against Celtics point Rajon Rondo, according to Synergy Sports (h/t @ESPNForsberg. That may not even include plays like Irving’s isolation drive past with 22 seconds left in the fourth quarter, when he blew by Rondo and got (questionably) fouled by Jared Sullinger on a three-point play.
So, why wasn’t Bradley — considered by many the best on-ball defender in the NBA — facing the surefire All-Star, particularly in that situation? While he’s recovering from a rib injury, Bradley played 26 effective minutes and was on the floor for the span from 2:31 to 0:22 of the fourth quarter, when Irving scored nine points on four layups.
When the C’s guard took to Twitter just minutes after the conclusion of the game, many considered it a veiled shot at Rondo, although Bradley quickly deleted the tweet and posted instead: “No shots at anybody. It’s confidence.”
|Kyrie Irving, Cavaliers keep Celtics reeling||01.22.13 at 9:30 pm ET|
Kyrie Irving scored a game-high 40 points and Tristan Thompson added 21 as the Cavaliers added to the misery of the Celtics with a 95-90 win at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Irving completely dominated the Celtics in the final six minutes, scoring nine points and helping the Cavaliers win for just the 11th time in 43 games. After a season-high six-game winning streak, the Celtics lost their fourth straight and are again under .500 at 20-21. Rajon Rondo led the Celtics with 17 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists.
Making matters worse, the Cavaliers were playing without their starting center Anderson Varejao, who was ruled out for the season this week due to a blood clot in his lower right lung.
Paul Pierce had 12 points, seven rebounds and seven assists while Jared Sullinger had another big game off the bench with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Kevin Garnett was the only other Celtic in double figures in scoring with 16 points, as Boston shot just 38.1 percent from the field.
Defense was non-existent in the first quarter as the Celtics allowed the Cavaliers to shoot 59.1 percent, as Cleveland made 13-of-22 shots from the floor in building a 31-27 lead. The Celtics cut the deficit to 54-53 at the half.
The Celtics built their lead up to six 64-58 early in the third on back-to-back threes from Avery Bradley but couldn’t pull away.
Irving’s pull-up jumper in transition gave the Cavaliers a 76-75 lead with 7:30 remaining but Pierce found an open Rondo moments later for a layup to give the Celtics the lead right back. Sullinger picked up his fifth foul with just under six minutes remaining and the Cavaliers immediately began their charge behind Irving.
The Cavaliers reassumed the lead 82-81 when Pierce missed a jumper and Tyler Zeller raced out on the break for a layup. But again it was Rondo who answered, this time with a layup with just over four minutes remaining, as the Celtics went back in front, 83-82. Rondo then drew Irving’s fifth foul when he took a charge with 3:30 remaining. But the Celtics couldn’t convert as Garnett missed with the shot clock winding down.
Irving’s reverse layup with 2:30 left gave Cleveland the lead again, 84-83. Replays showed rookie Zeller kicking the ball ahead to Irving but no violation was called and the basket stood. Irving scored 15 of his 40 points in the fourth quarter as he took control of the game.
Then Rondo committed a mental mistake on a loose ball that careened into the Celtics backcourt. He tried to throw it off Irving but was unsuccessful, allowing Irving to go in for an uncontested layup with just over two minutes left.
Garnett drew the sixth foul of the night on Zeller with 1:30, with Garnett hitting both free throws cutting Cleveland’s lead to one, 88-87. With a chance to give Boston the lead, Garnett missed a baseline fallaway jumper. That led to another spectacular coast-to-coast drive by Irving to put Cleveland up, 90-87, with 52.9 seconds remaining.
The Celtics host the Knicks Thursday night at TD Garden. For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Doc Rivers: ‘We still haven’t sustained a 48-minute game’||12.19.12 at 11:39 pm ET|
At this point, Doc Rivers will take any victory, any way he can get them.
But even Wednesday night, what looked like a 20-point laugher late in the third quarter against a 5-21 team on the parquet turned into nail-biting time in a matter of six minutes.
The Celtics led 80-60 with just over three minutes left in the third. Then Rivers subbed his starters and turned to his bench. The unit that was very productive and active in the first half, fell apart, allowing the Cavs to start a 20-2 run that got them back in the game.
“Honestly, our bench came in and didn’t give us a lift,” Rivers said. “And they were fantastic in the first half. We still haven’t sustained a 48 minute game; we had that one stretch. We have to get better. We had a 20-point lead, you sub in, and I think guys think when you have that lead it’s scoring time now. And it’s really defensive time; you’ve got to continue to get stops. Then you can score. And I thought we short-cutted that part of it.”
The Celtics finished shooting 59.7 percent on the night and scored 103 points, thanks in large part to their captain Paul Pierce, who had 40. Did Pierce just get tired of losing?
“Well I don’t know. Whatever it was, it was great,” Rivers said. “It was efficient, though. A lot of open shots. A lot of ball movement down the stretch. He caught fire and created his own. For the most part, I just thought the ball movement was really good for our guys. We shoot 60 percent, basically; a lot of good things are happening. And then we hold a team to 40 or 41 percent, a lot of good things happen. I thought Jason Collins play with one point, two rebounds – I thought he had a main impact on the game for us. Especially for Kevin (Kevin Garnett). I thought Kevin enjoyed playing with him.”
A three-game losing streak ended Wednesday because the Celtics found some resiliency against a 5-21 team. Not pretty but Rivers will take it.
“I think [Pierce] and Kevin and (Rajon Rondo), they all took it to heart,” Rivers said. “They don’t like the way we’re playing, they believe we’re better than what we’re playing, but we haven’t done it. And at some point, you’ve got to stop talking about it. And Paul did that tonight.”
|Fast Break: Paul Pierce’s 40 points end Celtics skid||at 9:54 pm ET|
His Celtics in desperate need of a victory after a winless three-game road trip, Celtics captain Paul Pierce scored a season-high 40 points for the first time since 2010 to will the C’s over the Cavaliers, 103-91.
With help from veteran teammates Rajon Rondo (20 points, 8 assists), Jason Terry (15 points) and Kevin Garnett (12 points), Pierce also contributed eight rebounds and five assists to push the Celtics above .500 (13-12).
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Raging Rondo: Add another strange stat line to Rondo’s resume. He finished the first quarter with 12 points, four rebounds and zero assists. More importantly, he attacked the basket, attempting all five of his field goals in the paint and making four of them. Rondo also set the tone early against Kyrie Irving on the other end, holding his Cavaliers counterpart to four points and no assists in the opening quarter as the C’s took a 27-25 lead.
Captain on course: Slowly, inevitably, Pierce is righting his ship. After shooting a respectable 13-of-23 (4-8 3P) in his last two games, Pierce started a perfect 6-for-6 from beyond the arc against Cleveland. He finished 13-of-16 from the field and 8-of-8 from the free throw line. Pierce’s 10 first-quarter points staked the Celtics to an early lead, and his 17 third-quarter points kept the Cavaliers at bay. All in all, Pierce’s best night of the season.
JET grounded no more: A night after attempting just two shots against the Bulls, Terry returned to the starting lineup, scored 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting and drilled a trio of treys, including a dagger with 2:48 remaining.
|Doc Rivers goes extreme: Starts Jason Collins at center||at 7:37 pm ET|
After losing their third straight game Tuesday night in Chicago, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he would continue to search for answers to shake his team out of its early season funk. On Wednesday, he followed through, replacing Courtney Lee in the starting lineup with Jason Terry, who got only two shots in Tuesday’s 100-89 loss in Chicago.
“Nothing more, until Avery [Avery Bradley] comes back,” Rivers said of the decision. “Jet just doesn’t get involved unless [Rajon Rondo] is on the floor. It has nothing to do with anybody else, it’s more to do with getting Jet more involved.”
In a more drastic measure, Rivers said Jason Collins would take over the starting center role from Kevin Garnett in order to move Garnett back to his more natural spot of big forward. The move would mean Brandon Bass would come off the bench. Bass has started 21 of Boston’s 24 games this season, including the last 16 straight.
“Just because of his size,” Rivers said in explaining the move for the 7-foot, 255-pound big man. “[Coaching staff] has been talking about it a lot but just haven’t done it. We’ve just been trying to find ways of getting Kevin off the ’5′ spot all game. Right now, even when we put the other guys in, the same [opposing players] are guarding him and the only way you can force the action is with Jason.”
If Rivers sticks with the new starting lineup, Celtics fans can expect to see Rondo and Terry in the backcourt until Avery Bradley returns in early January, with Garnett and Paul Pierce at the forward spots and Collins at center.
|Fast Break: Nothing Cavalier about Celtics victory||02.28.12 at 9:44 pm ET|
In a battle between two teams vying for eighth in the Eastern Conference (yup, you read that right), the Celtics blew a 16-point lead but salvaged the night when Ray Allen sandwiched a fast-break layup and two free throws around a big Kevin Garnett offensive rebound in the final minute to secure an 86-83 win over the Cavaliers.
Allen (22) and Garnett (18) combined for 40 points to help the Celtics (16-17) avoid the first six-game losing streak of the new Big Three era and stretch their lead over the Cavs (13-19) to 2.5 games for the eighth seed.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Welcome back Bass: The Celtics finished 1-5 in Bass’ recent six-game absence, and it didn’t take long for the consistent big man to demonstrate his value on the court, scoring 10 points on six shots by halftime. Bass brings a combination of scoring and toughness that the C’s simply don’t have outside of Garnett. If the Celtics have any hope for success in the second half of the season, they need a healthy Bass contributing like this.
Nothing but Garnett: Garnett reportedly called a team meeting prior to the All-Star break, and even if the entire team didn’t respond in its first game since, at least KG came to play. Wincing at times, possibly still battling the hip injury that kept him out of a game before the break, Garnett totaled 18 points and eight boards while playing his usual staunch defense. In the final seconds with the C’s leading by one, Garnett willed an offensive rebound off his own miss, got fouled and made both foul shots.
Jumping the run: Perhaps the result of an aging team benefiting from the five-day NBA All-Star break, the Celtics rattled off runs of 9-0 and 13-0 in the first quarter to establish a rare double-digit lead early (28-15 after one). Rondo recorded six assists in the first 12 minutes, including one on another fast break with his new running mate Chris Wilcox. The have only led after the first quarter in 16 of their 33 games, accumulating a 12-4 record.
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