|Dwight Howard: ‘We will win the war’ vs. Shaq, Celtics||01.18.11 at 12:47 am ET|
After all the hullabaloo over who’s the real Superman, there’s no wonder Dwight Howard rolls his eyes when he’s asked about Shaquille O’Neal. Thinking for a moment, the Magic center made a bold prediction.
“The matchup is awesome,” said Howard, tongue firmly planted in cheek. “He won the victory tonight, but we will win the war.”
Howard actually dominated the individual battle during Monday night’s Celtics victory against the Magic. He totaled 33 points and 13 rebounds, while Shaq finished with just 12 and 2. But the C’s walked away with a 109-106 win to even the season series between the two Eastern Conference rivals, 1-1.
“It was OK, I guess,” he said. “They combined did a good job. They held him to 33, and you know — whatever.”
The Celtics lost to the Magic on Christmas Day in Orlando, 86-78. Shaq and Howard combined for eight points and 11 personal fouls in that matchup. Round 3 of the battle for Superman supremacy is Feb. 6, in Boston again.
|Fast Break: Kevin Garnett, Celtics cast spell on Magic||01.17.11 at 11:00 pm ET|
The Celtics handed Kevin Garnett a pretty nice welcome home present, delivering a 109-106 victory against the Magic at TD Garden on Monday night. Of course, the C’s All-Star forward — who returned for his first game of 2011 after missing nine games with a strained calf — had a hand in the win, totaling 19 points and eight rebounds.
A Paul Pierce jumper plus the foul with 38 seconds left put the Celtics up 107-104, and a Garnett steal with 15 seconds to go led to a pair of Ray Allen free throws that sealed the victory. Allen led six Celtics in double figures with 26 points as the Celtics improved to 31-9. Rajon Rondo (10 points, 13 assists) notched his 16th double-double of the season, as the C’s avenged their Christmas Day loss in Orlando.
Dwight Howard had a monster game for the Magic (26-15), finishing with 33 points and 13 rebounds.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
The return of KG: Obviously, any time a former Defensive Player of the Year returns to the lineup, it’s a bonus. When that guy also averages 15 points a night, it’s basketball’s version of a double rainbow.
In his return, Garnett showed no signs of the strained calf that kept him out of the last nine games. He was active on both ends of the floor — especially the defensive end — and saw plenty of playing time until foul trouble somewhat limited his minutes. He finished with 19 points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals in 31 minutes.
Banging the (defensive) boards: Entering the game, the Magic owned the league’s fourth-best rebounding percentage because they have a guy named Dwight Howard who’s fairly tall, pretty strong and kind of good at grabbing boards (13.3 per game upon arriving in Boston). Led by the Big Three’s combined 18 rebounds, the Celtics out-rebounded the Magic on the defensive end, 24-21. However, the Magic grabbed 13 offensive boards to take the overall rebounding edge, 34-30. Still, not a bad showing against one of the NBA’s best boarding teams.
Rajon Rondo’d Jameer Nelson: Lost in the discussion of the recoveries of Garnett, Delonte West and Kendrick Perkins is any talk about Rondo’s resurgence after missing time for an ankle sprain. The Celtics point guard had a remarkably efficient night, recording 10 points (on 5-of-6 shooting), 13 assists (and only 1 turnover), four rebounds and three steals. His best pass of the night — a transition delivery to Allen that led to a pair of free throws — didn’t even result in an assist. Rondo’s counterpart, Nelson, had just nine points and five assists.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Hack-a-Howard: Whether Howard forced the issue or not, the Celtics went to this strategy early and often. In the first half alone, Howard took almost as many free-throw attempts (12) as the entire Celtics team (13).
The results were two-fold: 1) Howard made 13-of-18 foul shots for the game, which was a win for Orlando, considering he entered the game shooting just 58.9 percent; and 2) the Celtics’ bigs got into foul trouble, as Garnett, Shaquille O’Neal and Luke Harangody all had three personals at the break.
Defending the perimeter: The Celtics ranked sixth in the NBA in opponents’ 3-point percentage, but on a few occasions they’ve failed to successfully get out and defend the 3-point shot. Orlando takes more treys per game than any other team. When the Magic are making them, they’ll be in the game. That was the case Monday night, as they shot 11-of-27 from beyond the arc. Ryan Anderson killed the C’s, making 4-of-6 from downtown.
Technical difficulty: Doc Rivers was all over the refs all night, picking up his fifth technical foul of the season (arguing a Howard walk that wasn’t called) and he very well could’ve gotten whistled for his sixth. Shockingly, Rivers’ archnemesis — referee Bill Kennedy — was not involved in the game. Rivers and Pierce are now tied for the team lead in technical fouls with five apiece.
|Irish Coffee: Shaq & Big Baby unimpressed in Orlando||12.27.10 at 10:28 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
In the aftermath of the Magic’s 86-78 streak-busting win over the Celtics on Christmas Day, both Shaquille O’Neal and Glen “Big Baby” Davis couldn’t keep quiet.
First, O’Neal ripped official Bob Delaney — the only man to wear No. 26 on the floor during the game — and that might cost him a hefty fine from the NBA offices. Here’s what he said, according to ESPN.com:
“We have two premier big men out there. He is pushing, I’m pushing. Let us play. I guess they [fans] come out to see No. 26 play. He was a great player out there today. They paid all that money to see No. 26 come play. My thing is, if you’re going to call it, call it the same way every time. Don’t pick and choose who you are going to call it against.”
Then, Davis sounded off about the weaknesses of both the Magic and their superstar center, Dwight Howard. Just a few days before Christmas, Davis said he didn’t “really care” about Orlando, and it turns out he still doesn’t. Here’s what Big Baby had to say:
“They can’t beat us. They can’t. With Shaq in the game. We just have too many guys. They came out and played better than us today, but if you are talking about a seven-game series. I don’t think they can beat us.” (via the Orlando Sentinel)
“I have been playing Dwight since 2004, when I was playing against him in the AAU circuit. His game hasn’t really changed. It’s not like he has a jump shot, or a new spin move. He has the same moves since high school. He has the same post moves.” (via CSNNE.com)
|What the Orlando moves mean for the Celtics||12.18.10 at 10:31 pm ET|
In two separate trades over the course of one day, the Orlando Magic turned over almost half of their rotation for an upgrade at the scoring guard position (Jason Richardson) and high-priced gambles on two of the league’s worst contracts (Hedo Turkoglu and Gilbert Arenas). In doing so, they ditched the services of two former All-Star wing players whose production has plummeted (Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis) and two well-paid role players (Mikael Pietrus and Marcin Gortat).
There are a lot of moving parts for the Magic, who over the last two and half weeks have lost six of seven games and watched as the Celtics asserted themselves as the favorites in the East and the Heat established themselves as the best team in their division.
The Celtics have always considered the Magic their toughest conference challenger and many of their offseason moves have been done with the Magic in mind. Orlando general manager Otis Smith clearly felt that his team needed an overhaul to try and keep pace.
The particulars are as follows:
Orlando gets: Gilbert Arenas from Washington and Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkulgu and Earl Clark from Phoenix.
Orlando gives up: Rashard Lewis to Washington and Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat, Mikael Pietrus, a 2011 No. 1 pick and $3 million to Phoenix.
Phoenix and Washington’s motivations are clear. The Suns, who are going nowhere fast, shed Turkoglu’s onerous contract, which still has two years remaining after this season and get an intriguing big man with potential in Gortat along with a serviceable player in Pietrus. The cash will help the inevitable $4 million buyout on the last year of Carter’s contract. The Wizards obviously get rid of Arenas, who still has three years, $60 million and just as much baggage next to his name.
But these trades are all about the Magic, or more specifically, Dwight Howard, who as Yahoo’s Kelly Dwyer points out, can opt out after the 2012 season. If this team had reached its limit, then it does them no good to continue playing out the string until Howard becomes a free agent.
Assuming for the sake of argument that the personalities of the new players will mesh with coach Stan Van Gundy, which is the huge blinking neon light of an X-factor in this discussion, the Magic have gotten better offensively. They have shooters everywhere to put around Howard and in Arenas they have a scoring guard who can create his own shot.
That is particularly important against the Celtics, who are one of the few teams capable of playing Howard straight-up. Without the double-teams, the Magic had trouble getting their shooters open for shots against the Celtics in the playoffs until they switched to a constant pick-and-roll attack. Carter was supposed to be that player, but he wasn’t able to do it.
The Magic should also play faster, an obvious adjustment for a team with so many perimeter players, a dominant rebounder and a lack of size beyond Howard. All of this makes it even more important that Delonte West is able to return from his broken wrist because Van Gundy now has a number of different lineup combinations he can use and the Celtics could use West’s defensive versatility.
Here are five essential realities of the deal from Orlando’s perspective. Read the rest of this entry »
|Irish Coffee: NBA conspiracy theories||10.13.10 at 10:28 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
It’s time for a conspiracy theory. I’m sure you’ve all heard about Game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference finals between the Kings and Lakers — one of several games former NBA ref Tim Donaghy accused the NBA of rigging in order to squeeze an extra game out of the series. Well, after yesterday’s unrelated arrest of one of the Lakers-Kings Game referees, let’s take a look at the aftermath … again.
- On July 20, 2007, New York Post columnist Murray Weiss reported an FBI investigation into Donaghy for betting on NBA games he officiated.
- On Feb. 11, 2008, one Kings-Lakers Game 6 referee, Bob Delaney, spoke with ESPN about his upcoming book, “Covert: My Years Infiltrating the Mob.” The former New Jersey State Police trooper admitted to these criminal activities during his investigation: “stolen property, loan sharking, gambling, purchasing of guns.”
- On June 11, 2008, The New York Times cited court documents in which Donaghy called out NBA executives and referees for manipulating games, including the 2002 series in question. Keep in mind, Donaghy had already pleaded guilty to conspiring with gamblers at this point.
- On June 13, 2008, we learned from ESPN’s Chris Sheridan that the FBI questioned at least two former NBA referees about another Lakers-Kings Game 6 ref, Dick Bavetta, more than they did Donaghy. In that report, the game’s third ref, Tim Bernhardt, said: “I stand by my calls in that game. I was right on. I believe in Dick Bavetta, and I believe in Bob Delaney, and I believe in the NBA for that matter.”
- On Dec. 8, 2009, in an interview with Dennis & Callahan, Donaghy said, “I had many conversations with Dick Bavetta and he claimed that he was the NBA’s go-to guy and he was put on certain games to make sure a certain team win.”
- On Oct. 12, 2010, according to WFIE.com, Bernhardt was arrested in Indiana for violating a restraining order taken out against him by his ex-girlfriend and allegedly burglarizing her residence.
So, to recap the facts, in the last three years the refereeing trio of Kings-Lakers Game 6 has: a) admitted to gambling with the mob, albeit during an investigation as a New Jersey State Police officer (Delaney); b) been the subject of the FBI’s questioning during their investigation into NBA referees (Bavetta); and c) been arrested and charged with burglary and violating a restraining order (Bernhardt).
While none of those incidents implicates any of the three officials or directly relates to the outcome of any NBA game, including Kings-Lakers Game 6, I give you this — in Delaney’s own words — from an interview with ESPN’s Bob Ley: “I have dealt with criminals and informants, and I know full well they are capable of doing and saying anything.”
Now, I know there are more holes in this story than there were in Sonny Corleone‘s car, but that’s why it’s called a conspiracy theory, right?
|Shaq on D&C: ‘I would have played for free’ in Boston||09.28.10 at 8:49 am ET|
In an appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show, new Celtics center Shaquille O’Neal, who has made no less than $10 million in his last 14 NBA seasons and at least $20 million in his last nine campaigns, said that he had no problem taking a pay cut in excess of 90 percent in order to come to the Celtics. O’Neal signed a two-year deal for approximately $3 million this summer, and he suggested that money was virtually irrelevant in making his decision to join Boston.
“I had other options where the money would have been greater. But this franchise, this team, has a tradition of winning,” O’Neal said. “I’ve been one of the luckiest guys in the history of the game. I’ve had four max deals and one lifetime of play. So money wasn’t an issue. Money will never be an issue. But Danny Ainge had $1 million left, which was the minimum. If I had to, to come here and play, I would have played for free. Doesn’t matter to me.”
O’Neal ‘ who said that he wanted to be called The Big Shamrock while with the Celtics — also discussed whether he will be able to “blend in” in Boston both on and off the court, his bucket list, his experience of last year’s Celtics-Cavaliers playoff series from Cleveland’s perspective and his feelings on Dwight Howard and LeBron James, among several other topics.
A transcript is below. To listen to the complete interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
This is Shaquille O’Neal. Don’t mess with Dennis & Callahan, weekdays from 6-10 on the WEEI Sports Radio Network.
Skip the boring basketball questions. Is Boston big enough for your personality?
I always tell people that I was raised Karate Kid style. My father took me many places as a youngster. I started off in Northern New Jersey, born and raised. Went down south to Hinesville, Ga., then to West Germany, then to San Antonio, Tex. I say that to say that I can blend in anywhere.
You probably can’t blend in.
I can blend in. If people are looking for me in Boston, I’ll be in Sudbury. If you’re looking for the Big Shamrock, he’ll be in Sudbury, in the fields of Sudbury.
You’ve settled on the Big Shamrock?
Yes. The Big Shamrock. Yes.
|Shaq on feuds: ‘It’s marketing’||09.19.10 at 10:31 am ET|
It can be hard to keep track of all of Shaquille O’Neal‘s battles. One day he’s killing Mo Williams, and the next he’s saying it’s all for show. That’s Shaq in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel. “I know what I’m doing when it comes to selling out games,” he told the paper sounding like Don King trying to get a good house.
Shaq went on to say that he has a good relationship with Dwight Howard off the floor, but it’s different when they’re on the court. “He’s a great young player,” Shaq said. “But on the court it’s not about making friends, it’s about doing what you’re supposed to do to win that game to win a championship.”