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Comeback just fool’s gold 05.05.09 at 3:29 pm ET
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WALTHAM – Down 28 points midway through the third quarter, the Celtics nearly completed the biggest comeback in their great playoff history on Monday night.

But to coach Doc Rivers, that provided no consolation. And he made that much very clear at practice on Tuesday at the team’s practice facility, one day after dropping Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals to Orlando, 95-90, at TD Banknorth Garden.

“Execution was bad, defense was bad, offense was bad,” Rivers said. “And I don’t lean on the fact that we had a chance to win the game. I agree with Van Gundy. I’d focus more on the fact that they were up 28 points. To me, that’s far more important to me than we made a fool’s gold run that got everybody excited. That does nothing for me.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Celtics, Doc Rivers, Dwight Howard, Magic
Howard: Perkins makes me better at 12:32 am ET
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Dwight Howard has always been generous with his compliments of Kendrick Perkins.

“Kendrick did a Kareem shake tonight,” Howard said after the Magic’s win in March. “It shocked me, but that just shows me that those guys have really been working on their game and they’€™ve gotten a lot better.’€

He was just as quick to credit Perkins after the Magic’s victory in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Howard scored just seven points and got to the line once in the second half.

‘€œThey played great defense tonight,’€ Howard said of the Celtics. ‘€œThey pushed me out, I didn’t get into a good rhythm. Kendrick (Perkins) kept a body on me and that’s what he’s supposed to do. I have a lot of respect for Kendrick and he makes me a better player, something I look forward to next game. Me and Pat (assistant coach Patrick Ewing) will watch film, see what I need to do so that it won’t be another night like tonight.’€

Howard and Perkins will battle again in Game 2 on Wednesday night.

Read More: Dwight Howard, Kendrick Perkins,
Big men, old friends 05.04.09 at 7:35 pm ET
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Orlando’s Dwight Howard and Boston’s Kendrick Perkins have always been close.

They will renew acquaintances for the next two weeks when they battle in the low post in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series between the Celtics and Magic.

But ever since the two came into the league four seasons ago, the two have always shared a bond that only NBA big men can share.

“Me and Kendrick, we worked out together when we first got into the NBA at a big-man camp, with Clifford Ray actually,” Howard said before Game 1 on Monday night. “I think he saw how hard I worked and how skinny I was when I first got drafted. And how was I was able to grow into myself and my game.”

Clifford Ray would be the Celtics coach dedicated to coaching big men. Quite the advantage for Perkins as he looks for any and all advantages.

“I always battled,” Howard said. “Back then we had a lot fun together working out and just hanging out and just learning about each other.”

Kendrick Perkins said earlier in the day that he isn’t losing any sleep worrying about guarding Howard. And Howard said on Monday evening that Perkins has earned the right to be that confident.

“I’ve seen him grow over the past couple of years and he’s done an excellent job for their team,” Howard said.

Read More: Celtics, Dwight Howard, Kendrick Perkins, Magic
Perk on Howard: He’s the only guy that rebounds at 12:24 pm ET
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WALTHAM –Kendrick Perkins knows the mission before him as the Celtics get ready to take on the Orlando Magic in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series tonight at TD Banknorth Garden.

Make life tough on NBA Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard. And don’t get caught up in the stat sheet if Howard is putting up video game numbers, especially in the rebounding column.

“He has to work for it, 20 and 20,” Perkins said at this morning’s shootaround at the team’s practice facility. “You know one thing, he’s going to grab every (rebound). He’s the only guy that rebounds on their team. So, he’s going to grab all the defensive rebounds. He may grab 15 to 17 defensive rebounds so you can’t get caught up in that. If you can make 20 points on 20 attempts, that’s pretty good.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Celtics, Dwight Howard, Kendrick Perkins, Magic
Dwight Howard suspended 04.29.09 at 4:12 pm ET
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In a move that has some impact on the Celtics, the NBA suspended Orlando center Dwight Howard for throwing an elbow at Philadelphia’s Sam Delambert during Game 5 of their playoff series Tuesday night.

Howard was assigned a simple technical foul on the play and the Magic went on to win the game behind a monster effort from young Dwight–24 points and 24 rebounds. They now lead the series, 3-2. Game 6 is scheduled for Thursday night in Philly and the winner of the series gets the survivor of the Celtics-Bulls in the conference semifinals.

Delambert wasn’t the only victim of Howard’s wayward elbows. Magic rookie guard Courtney Lee also caught one in the chops and is also out of Game 6 with a fractured sinus. (Wasn’t everyone worried that Howard was too nice for the playoffs?)

Obviously the Celtics have their hands full and aren’t looking ahead to anything–except maybe for some Chicago deep dish–but it doesn’t hurt their long-term prospects if Orlando and Philly have to go the seven-game route. Also, if the Celtics are able to close out Chicago Thursday night, and Philly and Orlando go seven games, that would afford the C’s some much-needed rest.

Read More: Dwight Howard, NBA,
Rondo’s foul: Flagrant, or not? at 12:47 pm ET
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With time winding down in Game 5, Brad Miller caught the Celtics in a frantic switch and drove hard to the basket. Trailing behind the play Rajon Rondo reached forward and made contact with Miller’s face, which did two things. It prevented Miller from dunking to tie the game and it also drew blood.

The Bulls protested after the play that it should have been a flagrant foul since, in their opinion, Rondo didn’t attempt to make play a play on the ball. The Celtics, obviously, contend that it was good hard playoff foul.

Naturally, opinion in Boston is of the latter interpretation, but they are up in arms, so to speak, about the play in Chicago.

Here’s where it gets interesting. Last night in Orlando, Dwight Howard clocked Philly’s Sam Delambert with an elbow. That, as True Hoop’s Henry Abbott points out should have resulted in an ejection.

Now the question becomes: What, if anything, will the NBA do about this?

Here’s a video with both plays (via True Hoop):

UPDATE: According to a report by ESPN’s Chris Sheridan, the NBA is reviewing both plays.

Here’s the flagrant foul interpretation from Sheridan:

“If Rondo’s foul is upgraded to a flagrant-category 1, he would be assessed one flagrant foul point. Players earn an automatic one-game suspension if they accumulate four flagrant foul points during the postseason. If the foul is upgraded to a flagrant-2, Rondo would be suspended for Game 6 in Chicago on Thursday night.”

UPDATE II: Howard was suspended for Game 6 and it appears that there will be no further action taken against Rondo.

Read More: Brad Miller, Dwight Howard, Rajon Rondo,
Celtics not Magic’s biggest problem 03.25.09 at 12:34 am ET
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Boston Celtics (54-18) @ Orlando Magic (52-18)
8:00PM EST, ESPN

The Orlando Magic established themselves as a contender early on this season, positioning Wednesday’s game against the Boston Celtics as a possible Eastern Conference Semifinals ‘€“ or even Finals — match up. But before the Magic can think about playing the role of spoiler, they have their own issues to take care of first ‘€“ the Detroit Pistons.

‘€œWe can’t focus in on how they’ve played us in the past,’€ said Magic center Dwight Howard. ‘€œThis is going to be a different year for us in the postseason if we continue to do the things that we do on a night in, night out basis.’€

Over the past two seasons the Magic have made early exits from the playoffs at the hands of the Pistons. In 2007 they were swept 4-0 in the first round. Last season, in spite of earning their best record in over 10 years, they fell 4-1 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

With less than a month left in the regular season and Eastern Conference rankings changing every night, the Magic could very well face the Pistons in the first round of the playoffs.

‘€œI think mentally we’ve got to get over that hill, I guess, that they present to us,’€ said Howard. ‘€œThey’re a very physical team, they get away with it. They know how to score. They play great defense. And we know how to beat those guys, but it’s just going to take us to come out and do it. We know the way to beat them is to run, not let the defense set up, and then play help defense, and then rebound the basketball. So they’re a team that we can beat. We just have to be mentally on our game.’€

This season was the perfect opportunity for the Magic to reverse their luck. They have been soaring behind Howard, beating the Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Los Angeles Lakers. The Pistons, on the other hand, have plummeted since the Allen Iverson trade. But the Magic went 0-3 against the Pistons this season. The third loss came just a day after defeating the Celtics in Boston this month.

‘€œAny team is liable to get beat any night. But you’ve got to be able to beat both teams,’€ said Howard. ‘€œBoston is the world champion so they’re a tough team. And you’ve got Detroit, who’s been beating us like they’ve got our number. I think it’s just a mental block. It’s the same thing that happened to us with the (Atlanta) Hawks. They would always beat us until we got over that — ok, we can beat this team — then that’s when we started beating them. But we have to do that against a good team in Detroit.’€

The Magic did not capitalize on the Pistons’ struggles. They are not focused on exploiting the Celtics’ either. While they could view Kevin Garnett’s restricted playing time and the recent depletion of the Celtics bench as a window of opportunity to steal the second seed, the Magic are paying more attention to their own team.

‘€œWe’ve just got to continue to do things to win games,’€ Howard said. ‘€œWe can’t really focus in on how Cleveland or Boston’s playing. They’re still good teams without those key guys, so we’ve just got to come out every night and continue to get better. Hopefully we’re hot during the playoffs, and the team’s that hot during the playoffs is going to win.’€

Read More: Boston Celtics, Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic,
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