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Fast Break: Rockets shoot past Celtics 01.10.11 at 10:06 pm ET
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This is not how Doc Rivers and the Celtics envisioned starting a season-long six-game homestand.

The Rockets came to Boston without the services of their leading scorer, as Kevin Martin was out with a sore right wrist. They had lost their last five and six of seven.

But the Celtics fell behind at halftime and couldn’t overcome the energy of Kyle Lowry, Luis Scola and the rest of the Rockets in a 108-102 loss to Houston Monday night at TD Garden. (Recap.) It’s the third straight win for Houston in Boston.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Defense: Quite simply, on a night when Kevin Garnett remained in street clothes, it wasn’t there in this one. Forget the fact that Houston shot 53 percent for the game — they made 11 of 19 shots in the third quarter alone to build a six-point lead heading into the fourth. Worse yet, every time the Celtics got a big lay-up from Paul Pierce or an offensive rebound or jumper from Glen Davis, the Rockets not only scored on the next possession, but got very open looks, including Aaron Brooks on a killer 3-ball with 4:26 left that put Rockets up, 101-90. Another three by Brooks with 3:10 left put Houston up by 12.

Glen Davis’ stamina: He worked hard but looked very, very tired in the third quarter. He had huge problems keeping up with Scola in the third quarter as the Rockets improbably built upon their lead by going inside and the Celtics didn’t play very good defense, allowing Houston to score 30 in the quarter on 58 percent shooting. Rivers was also on Davis early about the number of passes he was dishing out and the Celtics were guilty of shot clock violations on back-to-back possessions in the first quarter.

Not taking Kyle Lowry seriously: Yes, the Rockets didn’t have their leading scorer, Martin - out with a sore right wrist. But the Celtics apparently forgot that Lowry is very quick and developing as a legitimate two-way guard in his fourth year. Lowry played 18 minutes in the first half and had 11 points. But more than that, the former Villanova Wildcat brought the energy on both sides of the court. It continued into the third quarter as he took it to the basket just like he did when he played with Randy Foye and Allan Ray on the Main Line. Tough kid.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Marquis Daniels and the bench: After a rough showing on Saturday night in Chicago, the Celtics’ bench woke up Wednesday out of necessity as Daniels led the way, making 7-of-8 shots from the field and finishing with 19 points, tied with Allen for the team lead. He also chipped in with seven rebounds. He played practically the entire fourth quarter as Rivers held Nate Robinson and Jermaine O’Neal on the bench.

Domination in the paint: When they made the commitment to get there, the Celtics owned the paint, with mid-range jumpers, cuts and lay-ups. They finished with a 48-22 advantage over the Rockets.

Ray Allen takes a licking and keeps on ticking: The last thing – obviously – the Celtics need is another star to go down with an injury, and so the sight of Allen taking a vicious hit on a blindside pick early in the fourth quarter was troubling for Boston. But after Allen had his left shoulder examined briefly by trainer Ed Lacerte, he returned with five minutes to go. He drilled a 3-pointer with 2:10 left to bring the Celtics to within seven, 106-99.

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Leon Powe in Celtics’ prayers 01.07.11 at 11:01 pm ET
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Former Celtics forward Leon Powe underwent surgery for a meniscus tear in his right knee on Friday and is expected to miss six weeks for the Cavaliers, according to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.

Even before his time as a member of the 2007-08 NBA champion Celtics, Powe’s knee problems plagued him, as he missed his entire sophomore season at the University of California. Powe later tore his left ACL and meniscus in Game 2 of the C’s first-round series against the Bulls in 2009.

Powe was a popular member of the title team, and Glen Davis expressed what many Celtics felt after their 122-102 blowout of the Raptors: “Yeah, I just heard about it,” said Davis. “It’s tough. He’s a great guy, and he’s had some bad breaks. I pray for him and his family, and just hope that he’s OK.”

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Glen Davis: I love Doc Rivers but wish he would ‘pipe it down sometimes’ 01.05.11 at 11:42 pm ET
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After the Celtics survived the NBA-best San Antonio Spurs by two points on Wednesday night, Glen Davis wanted to share a different kind of family story – the one involving his head coach.

Following his most productive night of the season in the scoring column, Davis said coach Doc Rivers continues to give him plenty of tough love this season. But Davis added that Rivers is working with him this season harder than ever to get the most out of him.

“He has, he has worked with me,” Davis said after scoring a season-best 23 on 10-of-18 shooting from the field. “He’s given me the opportunity to show what I got. He is still hard on me. He’s still hard. It’s like a love hate thing. It’s like you love it but pipe it down sometimes.”

Asked to describe their relationship, Davis – who detailed his new role as father in December -said it’s a very complicated, but effective one.

“For sure father son, like step-son,” Davis said of Rivers. “He loves me. But it’s like I still love you, but I’m hard on you. It is what it is.”

Davis and Rivers got into a heated argument on New Year’s Eve when the Celtics lost to the Hornets at the Garden, with Davis missing an ill-advised three-pointer to tie it late. Rivers afterward said Davis was guilty of playing too much “hero-ball.”

But then there was the loving part of their relationship, which Rivers clearly showed after Wednesday’s dramatic win, not possible, according to Rivers, without him.

“I’ve been saying it all year, he’s been terrific,” Rivers said. “Baby has his days but overall, he’s had very few of them. He’s been terrific all year. He’s had a tremendous team attitude in a contract year, which is very difficult. I don’t think he gets enough credit for that part of it. The only time he gets himself in trouble is when he forgets he’s Glen Davis, and I don’t know how you can forget something that big, personally.”

Rivers didn’t stop there, maintaining the team’s 27-7 mark wouldn’t be possible without Davis.

“He’s just been fantastic,” said the Celtics coach. “Our record is where it’s at because Glen Davis is on our basketball team. The minutes, playing him at four, playing him at five, he’s just turned into a terrific player for us.”

Speaking of contract, Davis is in the final year of a two-year, $6.3 million deal, a situation Davis said he’s not worried about – for now. When owner Wyc Grousbeck and GM Danny Ainge are ready, Davis will be ready to listen.

“Contract? You know what, I’m going to be honest with you,” Davis began. “Do you think about your job? You do, right. Man, I hope I get that next bonus or that next check. You have to think about it but you try to stay within yourself and the team and know that it’s going to happen. You have to control yourself. You can’t control what Danny or Wyc might put on the table. You just have to control yourself. That’s what I’ve come to realize. You have to keep wishing and don’t worry about that kind of stuff.”

Paul Pierce is no father figure to Davis. Instead, the big brother can appreciate what Davis has done in Kevin Garnett‘s absence.

“He’s given us a big spark for us playing for Kevin, the things he’s given us off the bench as a sixth man, probably the best sixth man in basketball right now if you ask me,” Pierce said. “He’s doing a lovely job at that, we’re asking him to do so many jobs, things that Kevin does, asking him to duplicate what Kevin does, but defensively he’s really given us a spark, offensively the way he spreads the floor. I just get on him a little bit, when it comes to rebounding but he’s playing great”

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Fast Break: Celtics outlast Minnesota 01.03.11 at 10:05 pm ET
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The Celtics won’t get any style points for their 96-93 win over the Minnesota (recap), but no one will care about that in April. And after not closing out a similar game against New Orleans in their last home game, it was a win they were happy to get.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Paul Pierce came alive: After a dreadful start, Paul Pierce made his first shot with two minutes left in the first half. The second half was a completely different story as he made 5-of-8 shots and scored 15 points in the third quarter. Pierce made only one shot in the fourth quarter, but it was a huge 3-pointer.

He finished with 23 points, six rebounds, three assists and a very smart foul in the final seconds that prevented Michael Beasley from getting a good look at a 3-pointer.

Von Wafer: Wafer had his best stretch of minutes this season in the second quarter when he scored four points and emerged as the Celtics’ best rebounder (this was not a difficult honor to achieve on Monday). Still, Wafer showed some of the ability that has kept him employed by the Celtics this season. His timing couldn’t have been better because the deadline to guarantee contracts for the season is approaching next week.

Rajon Rondo is finding his groove: It seems clear that Rondo isn’t 100 percent back to being Rondo. Before the game Doc Rivers suggested that Rondo’s ankle would probably bother him all year. What remains to be seen is if he can recapture his explosiveness. He only took four shots and rarely drove to the basket.

But even in a reduced role, Rondo is still a great facilitator (he had 16 assists) and adept at finding, and exploiting mismatches. He worked Shaquille O’Neal against Kostas Koufos every time the opportunity presented itself.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Rebounding: This was predictable. Kevin Love is the best rebounding forward in the league and the Celtics were without Kevin Garnett, who is the second best. But, the Celtics got killed on both the offensive and defensive glass and Love had more rebounds (15) in the first half than the Celtics had as a team (14).

But the Celtics also got killed on the defensive glass for the second night in a row, which is not something they can afford to have happen. Even without Garnett.

Glen Davis tried to do too much, again: Love destroyed Davis on the boards, and Davis didn’t do himself any favors by getting into foul trouble and launching too many jump shots. It has been a rough transition into the starting lineup for Davis, who had a not-as-good-as-it-looked line of 17 points on 7-for-15 shooting. One rebound in 30 minutes told a much different story.

Bench woes: In 29 minutes of court time, Nate Robinson and Luke Harangody took eight shots between them. They missed all of them. Neither player registered an assist, either. Thankfully for the Celtics, Wafer supplied some offense and a whole lot of energy off the bench. Robinson did make two clutch free throws in the final seconds to put the Celtics up by three for the game’s final margin.

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Fast Break: Rondo’s return helps rally Celtics past Raptors 01.02.11 at 8:31 pm ET
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Rajon Rondo returned to the Celtics lineup after missing seven games with a severely sprained ankle, and while he wasn’t in top form, he had a definite impact on the Celtics, who snapped out of their recent funk with a 93-79 victory over Toronto on Sunday night. (Recap.)

The Celtics outscored Toronto 50-37 in the second half and shot 54 percent. Their double-digit win was even more impressive when you consider they also allowed 19 offensive rebounds. There’s no rest for the Celtics, who play the Timberwolves in Boston Monday night, but this was a much-needed win after two weeks of struggles.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Rajon Rondo returned: The Celtics led 13-8 after six minutes and Rondo was feeling so good he even busted out his fake behind-the-back layup move. Then he picked up his second foul and went to the bench. So long, early lead. Rondo played nine more minutes in the second quarter and went the whole way in the third as the Celtics opened up a nine-point lead.

Rondo wasn’t great — four points, eight assists, five turnovers in 33 minutes — but you could see the difference in how the Celtics got into sets quicker and the passing was much crisper. In the third quarter, the Celtics made 12-of-17 shots and had assists on 10 of them. That’s the kind of impact Rondo has on a game.

Paul Pierce made amends: Pierce had a bad game against the Hornets on Friday afternoon. It happens. Pierce took the extra step of taking the blame for the loss, which wasn’t necessary, but was in line with his role as team leader. You know what speaks more loudly? Taking over the next game. In the first half, when the Celtics were struggling for offense, Pierce scored 20 of their 42 points. That’s leadership.

Center depth: Shaquille O’Neal got in foul trouble again, which is like saying the sun rose in the east. The good thing for Doc Rivers was that he had options. Rivers kept Shaq in the game after he picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter and the big guy was able to convert a layup. He could afford to take the risk because he knew he had Jermaine O’Neal waiting behind him and Semih Erden, if necessary.

The O’Neals combined for 13 points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots, which is exactly the kind of production they need from the position.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Glen Davis continues to struggle: It’s not that Davis hasn’t been able to do a decent Kevin Garnett impersonation. He hasn’t even been able to be Big Baby the last game and a half. Davis seems to be fighting himself as he adjusts to his new role as a starter, but after starting the game by missing eight of nine shots, Davis came alive in the third quarter.

He finished with 15 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists in what might have been the best bad game anyone on the Celtics has played this season.

Transition defense: This has become the new watchword for Rivers, and the Celtics are struggling a bit in terms of getting back on defense. They gave up 27 fast-break points against Toronto, who is one of the fastest teams in the league in terms of pace. The Celtics play a number of young teams over the next few weeks and you can believe they will want to get out and run, rather than try to go toe-to-toe with the bruising Celtics.

Defensive rebounding: Attention, Celtics big men: Kevin Love is waiting for you on Monday. You might want to tighten up on the boards.

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Doc Rivers: ‘There is no rotation right now’ 12.31.10 at 2:54 pm ET
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The easy question for Doc Rivers and the Celtics is replacing Kevin Garnett in the starting lineup. That job will fall to Glen Davis, as expected. The harder part is figuring out what to do what to do when Rivers has to go to his bench. For the time being, that’s a game-by-game process.

Rivers can go big with Semih Erden and Jermaine O’Neal backing up Davis and Shaquille O’Neal. Or he can go small with Paul Pierce and Marquis Daniels as forwards.

“We’re going to do both,” Rivers said before the Celtics took on the Hornets. “Again, for right now, there is no rotation. There’s the starters and then we’ll figure it out from there on. “The game will dictate that, foul trouble may dictate that. We just have to be ready as a staff.”

Rivers said he’s not a fan of going small, although circumstances and matchups may push him in that direction. Beyond the uncertainty, Rivers is also concerned that players may try to do too much without Garnett, and he’s not just talking about Davis. “That’s my biggest concern for everyone. Not just Glen, but everyone,” Rivers said. “That’s the human nature. We’re going to win games for this period of time with being a team. We’re not going to win any other way.”

Rivers also appealed for patience with Jermaine O’Neal, who is working his way back after missing 19 games with a knee injury. “It’s a tough time for Jermaine too,” the coach said. “Coming off the injury, he has to make sure he’s not trying to doo to much himself and we have to be careful with his minutes.”

But Rivers isn’t giving up on these games. The Celtics play 11 of their next 13 at home starting with this afternoon’s contest with the Hornets and he anticipated trying to make a big push during this stretch when the season started.

“Right now we are a game to game team, and that’s all we can be with all the injuries we have,” Rivers said. “But we have to be a game to game team that’s trying to win games.”

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Doc Rivers on D&C: ‘I think we’re in good shape’ with Kevin Garnett 12.30.10 at 9:47 am ET
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Doc Rivers (AP)

On his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show, Celtics coach Doc Rivers expressed optimism about the health of Kevin Garnett, but added that he will know more later Thursday after Garnett has an MRI. Garnett suffered a leg injury Wednesday night in the first quarter against the Pistons. There was no contact on the play, which fueled fears that Garnett had possibly re-injured his surgically-repaired right knee. The team thinks that the injury was related to a muscle, and not his knee, however.

“I can’t tell you much more than what you know already,” Rivers said. “He’s going to do more tests today. We do think it’s muscle-related. We don’t think it has anything to do with the knee, but we don’t know. So we’re going to wait and see.”

Rivers added, “I think we’re in good shape here, but you just never know. I’m just going to wait for the MRI. I should know by mid-afternoon.”

To hear the whole interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Garnett is still likely to miss some games. Rivers said that he expects to start Glen Davis in Garnett’s place and go with a combination of Marquis Daniels and Luke Harnagody in a rotation.

He is also looking for more from Jermaine O’Neal who has played the last three games after missing time with a knee injury. “We need him,” Rivers said. “He struggled against obviously Orlando, first game back. I thought Indiana in the second half he was terrific. I thought [against Detroit] he was one of the few bright spots. He played with great energy and did his job defensively.”

Rivers also said that Rajon Rondo continues to be day-to-day with his ankle injury and he may not be available Friday when the Celtics play the Hornets. “I don’t know if we’ll see him tomorrow or not but he’s getting close,” Rivers said. “Each time he’s worked out there’s been some swelling. That’s a concern. We’re going to take it slow. We’re not going to push him back, we’ll just wait until he’s ready to play.”

Here are more highlights from the conversation: Read the rest of this entry »

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