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Fast Break: Celtics not pretty, but squeak by Pistons 01.19.11 at 10:13 pm ET
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Well, that was just about the ugliest game of basketball the Celtics have played this season. Or at least one of them. But the Celtics prevailed against the Pistons at the TD Garden, 86-82, thanks to a Ray Allen (who else?) jump shot that gave the C’s the lead in the final minute.

Paul Pierce led the Celtics (32-9) with 22 points, while Shaquille O’Neal chipped in with a double-double (12 points, 12 rebounds) in an ugly victory that saw the C’s shoot 44.7 percent from the field. Rodney Stuckey (15 points) led five players in double figures for the Pistons, who fell to 15-27.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Even when he’s poor, he’s money: Through 47-plus minutes of basketball — about 37 of which he was on the floor — Allen was just 1-of-7 from the field, but that doesn’t bother great shooters. And Allen is a great one. No doubt about it. Coming off a screen, he nailed a 23-foot jumper with 24.5 seconds remaining that gave the Celtics the lead for good. The shot was originally ruled a 3-pointer but rescinded upon replay.

Shaq provides diesel fuel: Of all the Celtics to show the most determination, it was 38-year-old Shaquille O’Neal — the oldest player in the league. On back-to-back plays, O’Neal chased an offensive rebound and got to the foul line on one end, and then blocked a Rodney Stuckey shot before chasing it into the stands on the other end. He finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds in 25 minutes of hustle-filled basketball.

Big Baby being Big Baby: With the Celtics trailing 56-50 midway through the third quarter, Glen Davis drew his 27,653rd charge of the season, or at least it seemed that way. Settling back into his Sixth Man role with Garnett returning to the starting lineup, Davis put together a typically efficient night off the bench: 11 points, six rebounds and three assists in 24 minutes.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Celtics play “hero ball” in the first half: Where was the passing that had made the Celtics the No. 1 passing team in the NBA? The team’s two leading assist distributors — Rajon Rondo and Pierce — had just three assists at the half (they finished with 11 combined). Meanwhile, Tracy McGrady had six assists himself running the show for the Pistons in the opening 24 minutes (he finished with just seven). The Celtics looked sluggish in the opening half, hoping perhaps that the talent gap alone would carry them past the Pistons. It did, eventually.

Boston becomes brick city: Fans have become accustomed to 50 percent shooting nights from the field from the Celtics — not to mention a few 60 percent shooting nights — but the Celtics shot just 44.7 percent, and most of the night it was worst than that. Not to mention the 14-for-25 effort fromt the free-throw line. For the season, the Pistons had been allowing opponents to shoot 48.0 percent (27th out of 30 teams) from the field.

Charlie Villanueva played Kevin Garnett tough: Ever since the whole “cancer patient” vs. “cancer to your team” ordeal between Villanueva and Garnett, the former had the edge over the latter. Their last meeting wasn’t really fair, since that’s when Garnett went down with his strained calf, but there weren’t any excuses for Wednesday night.

For the large majority of the night, until the final minutes, Villanueva had the edge. He finished with 11 points and eight boards. More spirited play from Garnett down the stretch gave him 11 points (on 5-of-14 shooting) and six boards on the night.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen
The Three-Pointer: The knee, or not the knee is the Kevin Garnett question 12.30.10 at 12:31 am ET
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Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

It’€™s fitting that the adage — Murphy’s law — came from an Irishman, as it probably crossed the mind of every Celtics fan who watched as Kevin Garnett crumpled to the floor in agony late in the first quarter of his team’€™s 104-92 loss to the Pistons in Detroit on Wednesday night.

It certainly entered Doc Rivers‘€™ thoughts.

‘€œI thought it was his knee the way he did it — the knee or the Achilles,’€ Rivers told reporters in Detroit. ‘€œYou’€™ve heard me say it before: Injuries when nobody’€™s around, to me, are always the severe ones. There was no one around when he grabbed it, so I thought it was a bad one. Let’€™s just hope it’€™s not. I don’€™t think it is, but we’€™ll find out later.’€

It looked like the knee as Garnett limped up the floor to commit a foul on Tayshaun Prince and stop the clock. It definitely looked like the knee as trainer Ed Lacerte rubbed Garnett’€™s leg on the bench. And it had to be the knee when replays looked eerily similar to Garnett’€™s season-ending injury in 2009.

But Garnett hobbled to the training room on his own accord, the first sign that it wasn’€™t, in fact, the knee. Later, he walked gingerly (but better) to undergo X-rays that eventually revealed no fractures.

During the game, the Celtics were quick to calm the nerves of their fans, their coach and even their players, as the team stressed that Garnett suffered ‘€œa lower left leg injury’€ — not a knee or ankle issue.

After the game, the C’€™s claimed that tests revealed no structural damage to the knee, and Garnett most likely injured his calf muscle. That noise you’€™re hearing is the collective sigh of relief from those same Boston fans, coaches and players.

‘€œI don’€™t think it’€™s bad, so I’€™m not that concerned,’€ added Rivers. ‘€œHe’€™s going to miss games, probably. I don’€™t know how many. I don’€™t think it will be that long, but, listen, it happens.’€

Watching Garnett hop on one leg, it wasn’€™t a few games most Celtics observers were concerned about. It was another promising season that had appeared to go up in flames before what can now only be termed as ‘€œgood news’€ came from the Celtics’€™ organization.

Which raises another Irish law, Coughlin’s, from the 1988 classic film “Cocktail”: “Anything else is always something better.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Charlie Villanueva, Detroit Pistons, Kevin Garnett
Fast Break: Pistons pound Celtics 12.29.10 at 10:09 pm ET
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Kevin Garnett left the game with a lower right leg injury late in the first quarter, but even before that the Celtics were in trouble during a 104-92 loss to the Pistons on the road on the second night of a back-to-back. Paul Pierce scored a game-high 33 points on 11-of-16 shooting, but only one other Celtic (Ray Allen) reached double figures. The Celtics drop to 24-6, despite Pierce’s effort to fuel a failed fourth-quarter comeback.

Meanwhile, despite the absence of their leading scorer (Rodney Stuckey), six Pistons scored in double digits: Tracy McGrady (21), Tayshaun Prince (18), Charlie Villanueva (14), Austin Daye (12), Ben Gordon (12) and Chris Wilcox (10).

WHAT WENT WRONG

Kevin Garnett goes down: Late in the first quarter, Garnett went up for a wide-open dunk, held on to the rim for an extra second as he grimaced in pain and limped up the floor on his left leg. Moments later, Celtics trainer Ed Lacerte worked on the same right leg that kept Garnett from finishing the 2008-09 season and hobbled him last year. Then, the official word: Garnett was out for the remainder of the game with a “lower right leg injury.”

Later, the Celtics stressed it was not a knee or ankle issue, but indeed a lower right leg injury. Garnett underwent X-rays, which showed no fractures, and he’ll have an MRI on Thursday. He walked to the locker and training rooms on his own accord.

Is it New Year’s Day? As Tommy Heinsohn said on the television broadcast, “They’re playing like they’re hungover.” The Celtics looked sluggish, even before the injury to Garnett. In the first quarter alone, they committed eight turnovers and allowed the Pistons to shoot 11-of-20 (55 percent).

In all, the C’s committed 21 turnovers, leading to 23 Pistons points. Detroit also shot 39-of-69 from the field (56 percent) and 10-of-14 from 3-point range (71 percent) for the game.  The Celtics even made McGrady appear like the McGrady of old, as he totaled 21 points, eight assists and four rebounds.

Sharing the wealth: In their first matchup of the season, with Rajon Rondo in the starting lineup, the Celtics recorded 20 more assists than the Pistons (33-13) in a 109-86 victory.

This time around? The Pistons actually recorded eight more assists than the C’s (26-18), as Nate Robinson (one assist) got the start in place of the injured Rondo. In fact, the Celtics totaled more turnovers than assists.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Paul Pierce does it all: With Garnett out for the remainder of the game, all eyes turned to Pierce for leadership on both ends of the floor. He responded — even though his teammates did not. Pierce scored 33 points to go with eight assists, five rebounds and five steals. Allen was the only other Celtic to reach double figures, finishing with 12 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

Jermaine O’Neal contributes: In 23 minutes off the bench, Jermaine O’Neal — who had shown little to nothing since returning on Christmas Day — recorded six rebounds and seven points, making his only two shots from the field. He even drew an important fourth-quarter charge on defense.

While it wasn’t much, O’Neal produced more in this outing than he had in the two previous games combined. If Garnett misses significant time this season, a giant magnifying glass will be focused on O’Neal’s impact.

Free-throw shooting: The Celtics didn’t get to the free-throw line much, but when they did they made them count — making 18-of-19 (94 percent). Pierce, Allen and O’Neal were a combined 14-for-14 from the charity stripe.

In fact, the C’s shot pretty well from everywhere on the floor, making 34-of-66 shots from the field (51 percent) and 6-of-15 3-pointers (40 percent).

Read More: 1994 NCAA Tournament, Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons, Kevin Garnett
Kevin Garnett to George Karl: ‘Nothing personal’ about cancer comment 12.08.10 at 11:07 pm ET
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Kevin Garnett approached Denver head coach and cancer survivor George Karl following Wednesday’s game at TD Garden and told him that he meant no offense in the wake of his comments about Charlie Villanueva on Nov. 2 in Detroit. After the Celtics beat the Pistons, Villaneuva, who suffers from Alopecia, accused Garnett of calling him someone who ‘looked like a cancer patient’ during the game.

Garnett said he called Villaneuva ‘a cancer to his team and the NBA’ but denied the ‘cancer patient’ charge. Garnett wanted to make sure that Karl was not offended.

“I went up to him as man and told him what I said and I told him that I had nothing personal towards him nor any other cancer patients that are out there struggling, dealing with life situations,” Garnett said. “I wanted to say that man-to-man. I was going to do it before the game when the [game] clocks were messed up but I wanted to get the game out of the way and then approach him.”

Karl was diagnosed with throat cancer in February and missed time coaching the Nuggets while he was getting chemotherapy for the disease which is treatable and curable, according to doctors.

Read More: Boston Celtics, cancer, Cancer patient, Charlie Villaneuva
Kevin Garnett tunes into his ‘unplugged’ side 12.04.10 at 2:27 am ET
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Kevin Garnett wasn’t just on his game on the court against nemesis Joakim Noah but he was just as sharp off of it, talking about everything from his battle with Noah “The Nobody” to a potential labor stoppage next season, his future and his respect for “ring brother” Brian Scalabrine.

Sounding a very philosophical tone, Garnett said he is not looking for any sympathy for the nagging injuries he’s played through but rather just trying to enjoy himself as long as he can and as long as the NBA is still in business.

On Friday against the Bulls, Garnett showed the dominant form from the 2008 championship season, scoring 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting while grabbing 17 rebounds in Boston’s 104-92 win at TD Garden.

Garnett’s loudest statement wasn’t about silencing Noah but rather enjoying the moment.

“Especially with the lockout coming up, who knows if this is my last year or if we don’€™t play next year what it’€™s going to be,” Garnett said. “So I’€™m trying to enjoy the guys now, you know.”

He also addressed questions about his rivalry with Noah, the only player he refused to greet on the court just before tip-off Friday.

‘€œI’€™m going to tell you something about people, man,” Garnett began. “Everybody has an opinion, and obviously, he had one. I’€™m not entertaining nor addressing nobodies. I’€™m not even entertaining them. I’€™m focused on basketball and these wins and trying to make this team better. Other than that, I’€™m not on anything’€

Asked specifically if he considered Noah a “nobody”, Garnett smiled, winked and said more with less.
like he did with Detroit’s Charlie Villanueva and Milwaukee’s Andrew Bogut exactly a month earlier at the Garden.

‘€œNext question,” he responded.

“I’m not dealing with nobodies anymore,” Garnett said back in November of his on-court run-ins with Villanueva and Bogut and the criticism that he is a “mean” player.

But most of all, he sounded like a veteran who was just enjoying getting his health back so he could show off his considerable talents, talents that will take him to Springfield someday and the Hall of Fame.

‘€œAnytime you win, it’€™s enjoyable, to be honest with you,” Garnett said. “Playing with Shaq, some of the new guys, JO’€¦I’€™ll be glad when he gets back. I’€™ll be glad when Perk gets back’€¦.Delonte. We have a real vibrant team and I love our team. I don’€™t like it, I love our team. I love our guys and this is the first time in a long time I’€™ve allowed myself to actually enjoy them. But I do have a certain way and a certain style that I like to be when I hit the court. Shaq gets a smile out of me very now and then, but for the most part I’€™m still me.”

But perhaps the funniest and most telling quote of the night came when he was asked about seeing Brian Scalabrine for the last time this year at TD Garden. Scalabrine got into the game in the final minute during “Gino Time” to chants that even KG had to respect.

“I love Scal to death,” KG said. “Right after the game, always go and show him respect. That’s my [championship] ring brother. But Gino’s my dude.”

Read More: Andrew Bogut, Boston Celtics, Brian Scalabrine, Charlie Villaneuva
Kevin Garnett on Charlie Villanueva: ‘He’s a nobody’ 11.06.10 at 1:12 am ET
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Kevin Garnett said he is tired of talking about his run-in with Detroit’s Charlie Villanueva on Tuesday in Boston’s win over the Pistons. Villanueva accused Garnett, via twitter, of calling him a cancer patient during a trash-talking session on the court. Garnett spent Wednesday trying to diffuse the situation, claiming there was a misunderstanding and he simply called the Pistons big man a ‘cancer’ to his team and the NBA.

Friday, Garnett said he’s done talking about it.

“He’s a nobody,” Garnett said. “I’m not paying attention to nobodies any more.”

It has been quite the emotional week for Garnett, who also got into a shoving match with Andrew Bogut the next night in a home-court win over Milwaukee.

Read More: Andrew Bogut, Boston Celtics, Charlie Villanueva, Detroit Pistons
Ray Allen on Twitter & NBA: ‘It’s a very fragile world’ 11.03.10 at 8:42 pm ET
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Not that this is news but Ray Allen is no Kevin Garnett. He admitted as much before Wednesday’s game against Milwaukee when asked his take on “Twitter War” between KG and Charlie Villanueva.

“I don’t want a mic on those guys in the NFL and I don’t want a mic on these guys in the NBA,” Allen said. “You have the opportunity to hear some things that maybe you don’t want to hear or some kids don’t need to hear but that’s the heat of the battle, that’s in competition. I’ve never been a trash-talker. I believe in close competition you can find something you can beat your guy at. Most guys know when they’re beat and I’m not a pound-on-my-chest player and never have been.

“If I just made a three or a dunk, whatever it may be, I think everybody saw it. I don’t need to draw more attention to it.”

Allen said the first he heard of the ‘Twitter war’ between Villanueva and Garnett was while he was on his way to Wednesday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks. Allen said athletes have to be careful what they say on and off the court and now on-line.

“It’s a very fragile world that we live in now,” Allen said. “You almost have to have people around you to protect everything that you say and do and somebody has to watch you. As athletes, I think we have to be more responsible.”

Villanueva, via his Twitter page after Tuesday’s game in Detroit, accused Garnett of calling him a ‘cancer patient’ while Garnett said in a statement Wednesday that it was a misunderstanding and and that he called Villanueva a ‘cancer’ to his team. Allen said he believes athletes are under a spotlight that’s getting hotter and hotter.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Charlie Villanueva, Detroit Pistons, Kevin Garnett
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