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Sobe Kobe… 02.05.09 at 1:43 pm ET
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The Boston Celtics are not in awe of Kobe Bryant.

That simple message was delivered at Thursday morning’s shoot-around here in Waltham, mere hours before they take on the reigning NBA MVP and his Lakers on the parquet of the TD Banknorth Garden.

That, and we’re not changing what we do just for Kobe.

“We just play him,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers announced. “We don’t have any Kobe rules or anything like that. We play our defense every night. We literally don’t change our style. Rarely, we may change them for a possession here or there, but you just try to keep him in front of you and wish for the best of luck because he’s tough. If it were easy to defend him, he wouldn’t be Kobe.”

Yes, Pau Gasol is starting to emerge as a scoring force alongside Kobe as they pick up the slack for their injured big man Andrew Bynum.

“They’re a good basketball team,” Rivers said. “They’re no different. Obviously, they miss Bynum’s length but they’re going to get through the regular season and get him back for the playoffs and they’ll be fine. Kobe has clearly picked it up the last couple of games but so has Gasol. Gasol has had 31 points the last couple of games himself.”

Yes, Kobe has gone off for a combined 97 points against the 21-27 Knicks and the 19-32 Raptors this week.

“We didn’t play in any of those games that we know of,” Rivers keenly observed. “We can’t do anything about that. That’s the way we always look at that. Let’s hope he doesn’t score 97 tonight. That would be very important for us trying to win this game, I can tell you that.”

Ask Rajon Rondo and the Celtics point guard is quick (and right) to point out that the Knicks have just as much to do with the 61 Kobe scored on Monday at MSG as anything else.

“He’s a great player,” Rondo said. “Sixty-one doesn’t happen all the time in the league but a lot of great scorers go off at times. That was transistion game he played against the Knicks. LeBron had 52 last night. That’s just the style (the Knicks) play.”

And yes, the Los Angeles Lakers come to town tonight with a Western Conference-best 39-9 mark, winners of four straight, playing on the same court they suffered their most humiliating loss in franchise history, that 39-point quit job last June in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.

“I’m sure they’ve seen it enough,” Rivers said. “I’m sure no one’s run that on TV at all. Well, they should be. Why wouldn’t they be? They’ll be up for the game. We’ll be up for the game.”

Therein lies the key difference between the Celtics and the Lakers. The Lakers are all about superstars, albeit great scoring superstars, but individuals nonetheless. The Celtics, during their second double-digit winning streak of the season, have built their dominance around defense.

Yes, the Celtics are weakened a little by the flu bug that has run through Kevin Garnett and the rest of the team.

“He felt strong,” Rivers said of Garnett at this morning’s shootaround in Waltham. “He’s fine. We’ll find out tonight. It’s easy to feel strong in a shoot-around but when you’re running up and down the floor when you haven’t done it, that’s a different story. I think there are six guys on Z-Paks, probably all due to Kevin, who knows.”

Z-Paks, for those who didn’t go to medical or pharmaceutical school, are antibiotics given to help those fighting off viruses.

The Celtics will want to be at full strength as they try to ward off Kobe and the Lakers.

Read More: Andrew Bynum, Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett
Sounds of the game… Celtics 109, Timberwolves 101 02.01.09 at 6:27 pm ET
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Who needs All-Star Kevin Garnett?

Not the Celtics on Super Sunday. When news of Garnett’s flu spread before the game, Paul Pierce knew it was time to step up his game, offensively. In his last three games against Dallas, Sacramento and Detroit, he has posted games of eight, eight and 20 points. Not exactly the stuff that All-Star reserves are made of.

But obviously, when Kevin Garnett, Eddie House and Rajon Rondo are picking up their fair share and more and blowing out the competition in the first half, Pierce has not needed to be THE guy.

But on Sunday, against old friends Al Jefferson (34 points), Ryan Gomes and a vastly improved Sebastian Telfair, he was THE guy, scoring a game-high 36 points from all different angles, including a clinching fadeaway with 2:24 remaining to put the pesky Timberwolves away and clinch Boston’s 11th straight win, improving the Green to 40-9.

Doc Rivers said Pierce had little choice BUT to pick up the slack for Kevin Garnett.

Rivers said the T’Wolves will be good soon.

Paul Pierce on picking up the scoring slack.

Pierce said he enjoyed watching Big Al, Gomes and Telfair return to Boston.

Al Jefferson said Minnesota killed itself early with turnovers.

Jefferson said the T’Wolves had their shot without KG in the lineup.

Minnesota coach Kevin McHale said his team was alseep in the first half.

McHale said the T’Wolves had some big boo-boos on defense.

Read More: Al Jefferson, Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kevin McHale
Scal speaks… 01.28.09 at 8:19 pm ET
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The Celtics are 6-0 this season when Brian Scalabrine starts. Scalabrine has his own fanclubs on Facebook that were trying to get him on the Eastern Conference All-Star team in Phoenix. Every time he touches the ball at the Garden is cause for a standing ovation and a personal chant of “Scal-uh-breen-ee”

But now, thanks to poor Patrick O’Bryant, those chants will be silenced over the next 7-10 days as the best red-head basketball player ever to hail from the University of Southern California recovers from his second concussion in a week, suffered when he took an elbow from O’Bryant during practice Tuesday.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers gave the prognosis for Scalabrine prior to Wednesday’s game.

But Scalabrine was healthy enough to talk before Wednesday’s game. And here’s what he had to say about getting his bell rung.

Scalabrine said he’s feeling it after getting his bell run at practice on Tuesday.

Scalabrine said he’s not sure exactly when he’ll be ready to return.

Doc Rivers updated Scal’s condition before the game Wednesday.

Meanwhile, there continues to be speculation that the Celtics could wind up with as many as four All-Stars when the reserves are announced on Thursday. Garnett is already in the starting lineup, while Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo are all getting consideration for reserve status.

Rivers said four all-stars would be nice.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brian Scalabrine, Doc Rivers, NBA All-Star Game
Scal out, TA back and Kings up… 01.27.09 at 3:14 pm ET
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The Celtics had a longer than normal practice on Tuesday at their training facility in Waltham.

Here are some nuggets from the day.

Brian Scalabrine, who already was dinged up from a mild concussion on Sunday during the win against Dallas, took a serious shot to the head from Patrick O’Bryant and had to be taken off the court and given medical treatment. He was having pain from the light and has been ruled out for Wednesday’s game against Sacramento by head coach Doc Rivers, who added they might have to check with the Patriots for advice.

Tony Allen looked “great” to Rivers and with Scalabrine being out, will likely return for the first time since spraining his right ankle on Jan. 4 in New York against the Knicks.

Rivers said he will remind his team that they embarrassed the Kings by 45 points on Dec. 28 in Sacramento (their lone win on the West Coast swing) because “every team in the league has pride” and they will be “out to show that that game was a fluke.”

Here is the audio version of the above.

Rivers said Scal’s second concussion in four days is not good.

Rivers explains what happened to Scal.

Rivers said the Kings will show their pride.

Rivers was happy with what he saw from Tony Allen.

Ray Allen explains what he saw when Scal got hurt.

Ray Allen on why he feels for Scal.

Read More: Brian Scalabrine, Celtics, Doc Rivers, Patrick O'Bryant
Sounds of the game… Celtics 124, Mavericks 100 01.25.09 at 8:09 pm ET
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Another Western Conference team makes the trip to Boston and wonders why it even bothered.

Lakers Game 6, 2008 NBA Finals. Portland on Dec. 5. Phoenix last Monday. The Dallas Mavericks were the latest team on Sunday to quit in the middle of a game, knowing they were hopelessly out of it. It’s pretty sad to watch, actually.

The Celtics should get all the credit in the world for taking all of the heart out of the competition early and that’s what Ray Allen, Eddie House and every player in green and white was talking about afterward. That, and the fact that the team is passing so well right now that they are playing at a level even HIGHER than during the 19-game winning streak. Wow.

The Celtics shots 66 percent in the first quarter, 65 percent for the first half, led by 32 points in the second quarter and 35 in the third quarter. They could’ve played Gino on the big screen at the end of one. It was THAT bad.

Now, the Sacramento Kings head to Boston for a match-up on Wednesday. You remember them, don’t you? The Western Conference team that kept it close in the pre-game warmups before losing by 45, 108-63, in Sacramento on Dec. 28. One can only hope for a competitive, if not close game this time around. But forgive me if my expectations aren’t very high.

Doc Rivers said the team is playing well together right now.

Kevin Garnett said the team is playing better than in its 19-game winning streak.

Eddie House said the Celtics have been moving the ball well of late.

Ray Allen said the Celtics have re-discovered their killer instinct.

Allen said the 19-game winning streak is a blur right now.

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said the Celtics just blew them off the court.

Jason Kidd says the Celtics have been doing a great job with the early knockout punch.

Read More: Celtics, Doc Rivers, Jason Kidd, Kevin Garnett
Suns expecting big game from Shaq 01.19.09 at 7:38 pm ET
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The Phoenix Suns have the size advantage almost every game with Shaquille O’Neal. Take the Boston Celtics biggest player off the court and the Suns are feeling good about the mismatch.

‘€œAny time we get an opportunity to have a size difference with Shaq in the paint, we always try to go to him,’€ Amare Stoudemire said prior to Monday’s game. ‘€œWe try to feed it to him, see if he can take advantage of that. And if not, we go to our other options. So tonight will be a pretty good night for Big Fella if he can dominate out there and stay out of foul trouble.’€

The Celtics have to alter their plan of attack without Kendrick Perkins (shoulder). Doc Rivers is looking for Kevin Garnett to use his quickness to outplay Shaq, while the biggest mission for back ups Leon Powe, Glen Davis, and Brian Scalabrine is keeping a body between O’Neal and the basket. The Suns, though, aren’t changing their gameplan.

‘€œI think it changes the fact that having Scalabrine starting as opposed to Kendrick Perkins, that’s a bit of a difference. But as opponents we can’t look at it that way,’€ said Stoudemire. ‘€œWe’ve got to attack it as if he were playing, so we should go inside to the big fella. Shaq should have a pretty good game tonight.’€

The Suns are one of the few teams who figured out the key to beating the Celtics last season. Stoudemire scored 28 points off of 10-for-23 shooting and Steve Nash added 18 in the Suns’ 85-77 victory. Combine that with former Charlotte Bobcat Jason Richardson’s success against the Cs and the Suns think they know how to get it done tonight.

‘€œI’m pretty sure he knows how to defend the guards out there,’€ Stoudemir said of Richardson. ‘€œAs a team, we’ve just got to pull together. We beat them last year, Bobcats beat them. What we’ve got to do is just keep playing how we’ve been playing.’€

Read More: Amare Stoudemire, Boston Celtics, Brian Scalabrine, Doc Rivers
Sounds of the game… Celtics 118, Nets 86 01.15.09 at 10:37 am ET
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When the Celtics were in the midst of a slump that had them losing seven of nine, captain Paul Pierce said they needed to get their swagger back, especially on defense.

Well they can thank the Toronto Raptors and New Jersey Nets for helping them to regain some of the confidence that was on display when they opened the season 27-2.

Pierce hit all five of his three-pointers in the third quarter as the Celtics romped to their thrid straight win. This looked more like the romps that were common place in the first two months of the season. The defense forced 20 turnovers and even without Kendrick Perkins, the Green dominated the glass. And on the offensive side, Rajon Rondo, when he wasn’t throwing in half-hooks, dished out 12 assists helping the Celtics ease to their 32nd win, by 32 points.

Doc Rivers said the team’s rhythm isn’t back but it’s getting there.

Paul Pierce feels the team’s confidence is coming back slowly but surely.

Pierce on his five three-pointers in the third quarter.

Rajon Rondo said the team is playing better after their 2-7 dip.

Rondo said he can sense the team is starting to play better together.

Eddie House said the Celtics are getting back to where they were early in season.

Bill Walker said his improved defense will keep him up with the Celtics.

Nets coach Lawrence Frank said the Celtics just kicked the Nets good.

Next up for the Celtics, after a day off on Thursday and practice on Friday, a rematch with the Nets in New Jersey on Saturday afternoon.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, eddie house, Lawrence Frank
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